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Listening to Your Customers

Posted on : 20-11-2008 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Brands, Customer Service, Social Media

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I have discussed a few aspects of the work of my team and the importance of companies to listen to their Customers through any communication channel.  Those that heard me speak know that I like social media because it is unaltered, not interpreted story of the Customer.  Through all my years in Customer Service, I have always been a proponent of change.  I believe change is important for individuals and companies.  The trouble is I have found companies do not always change based on numbers.  Yes if they lose a lot of Customer or income, maybe but that does not always address Customer pinch points that exist.  What I have always found is companies have the most change when they can relate to what a Customer is going through.  A great place to find this is in social media.  This is in blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and numerous other places.  It is really wherever your Customers are.

 

Many companies do not know how to listen.  Listening is not hiring a firm to provide all kinds of numbers based on finding in the blogosphere.  I have also heard people say if companies want to know what Customers think to search google for the company name and “sucks.”  Sorry they are both wrong answers.  I applaud companies that understand the important aspects of social media that they are collecting both of these data points.  But these are really just data or numbers.  The better option is to actually read stories or posts.  It is also just as important to review the comments that go with those posts.  I am not recommending companies spend thousands of dollars on fancy gadgets.  What I recommend is so easy, anyone can do it.  Here are just a few ideas:

  1. Google Blog Search – Simply follow the link, search your brand, then click on posts for the last day, or last week (this is an option on the left hand side).  This will provide some recent stories of how people use your products, good experiences they have had and some opportunity areas.
  2. Twitter Search – This usually provides much more immediate information before blogs.  But again just as simple, type in your brand name and see what people are saying.  If you find an interesting tweet, click on the name to see other tweets from that person.  An even better idea is to open Twitter search in a new tab or window and just search the Twitter name.  This will allow you to view more of the 2 way conversation.  Imagine if you had the ability to review conversations about your product or company?  Well with Twitter you can (at least portions of it – some posts may not be in search because they are from someone keeping information private.
  3. Forums – We all know forums that are dedicated to the business we are in.  Drift in and read through some of the posts.

These are great tools that make it really easy.  But after that is where is becomes key.  You can share some of the data that you find, but did you find an interesting story?  If you want to prove my point about stories, than over a few day period share some numbers.  After a week or so, add in a story that you find and watch what happens.  People will ask more questions and they will be more passionate about what you are finding.  The same reaction will happen when sharing data from other sources.  I have worked in Customer Service centers.  Most of the time I shared numbers.  Once in a while I would add Customer stories to the numbers.  This always brought reaction.  You do not even have to share negative stories, because the same happens with positive stories.

When is the last time you shared a story at work?  Did you receive a different reaction compared to data?