Customer feedback is a business owner’s best friend. It guides product development, helps to enhance the customer experience, and gives you a leg up on your competition. However, you’ll only reap these benefits if you care enough to recognize and employ feedback when you see it.
One of the easiest ways to get an idea of what your customers are thinking is by going through social media with a fine toothed comb — which sounds far more difficult and time consuming than it actually is. Here are a few simple ways to utilize social media and acquire valuable feedback to manage your brand reputation.
If you’re looking to perfect your business and marketing strategies, start by listening to your customers. Not only will they provide you with the tools you need, they’ll do it free of charge and in a public forum. All you have to do is pull up your social accounts.
Social networking sites have become sounding boards where people review recent purchases, rave about favorite products, and communicate with brands in a way they never have before. According to Convince & Convert, there are three things you want to keep an eye out for when scanning through comments on your social accounts.
- The first is customer sentiment. Is the response positive, negative, or indifferent?
- Second, look at tone, or how customers have portrayed their thoughts and personality.
- Finally, what are the key issues. Do you see any recurring themes that customers continue to point out?
TIP: You can also use social media to your advantage when rolling out a new product/service or making changes to an existing product/service. After the initial uproar (and there always is one), look for genuine user experience and design issues that your team may have missed during development.
In addition to social listening, you’ll also want to set up a Google Alert for your company and product names. This will automatically send you an email whenever you are mentioned.
Respond, Respond, Respond
It’s incredibly important to respond to customer feedback online. Not only does it show that you care about their peace of mind, 85% of customers actually expect you to interact with them on social media according to a Cone Communications Study. If you disappoint them, it may come back to bite you in a real way.
Acknowledge questions, suggestions, or complaints as soon as they appear on your social media channels — and do so whether they are good, bad or indifferent. Respond publicly (rather than via direct message) as it insures that your customer receives a notification, and resolves the issue for anyone else viewing the post.
Take an Individualized Approach
You’ll want to approach each reply differently, depending on the type of feedback you receive. If a customer asks a question, provide an answer and ask if there’s anything else you can help them with. If you’re presented with a suggestion, thank them for their investment in your company’s success, adopt said suggestion if it’s feasible/beneficial, and follow up with them at a later date. Not only will they appreciate the knowledge that they were heard, they might even end up as a dedicated brand advocate.
Handle Complaints with Care
Complaints require a slightly more delicate approach. Start with an apology — whether you’re at fault or not. Next, do whatever is necessary to resolve the issue. At times, this may require you to contact the customer by phone or e-mail to facilitate the problem-solving process. Finally, let them know that you’ll use what you’ve learned from their situation to make better decisions down the road.
By responding to customer feedback promptly and appropriately, not only does your company look great, potential clientele get a look at just how outstanding your customer service is.
Getting the Most Out of Social Media
Many business owners shun social media because they believe it takes up too much of their time. While it does take up a bit of time, it’s not as much as one might think — and it’s well worth it. After all, you can’t respond to complaints you don’t see.
Promoting Social Feedback
While many customers will offer an opinion voluntarily, others will need a bit of prodding. There are a couple of ways you can go about this. The first is by posing a question via status update. Since the majority of your followers are bound to be customers, you’ll garner instant feedback and determine precisely what they thought about your product/service.
Another way you can gather feedback is by creating a survey and sharing it on your social media channels. This will help to secure unfiltered criticisms from customers who would prefer to remain anonymous.
Making Sense of the Chatter
Businesses are quickly learning the true value of social media. According to Forrester research, social media spending will increase greatly in the next five years, from $13 billion in 2016 to $30 billion in 2021. While business may earmark some of that for marketing, most of it centers around social listening and customer service.
If you have a customer support or marketing team, have them allocate a few hours a day for social listening. If you’re on your own, set aside at least 20 to 30 minutes a day to spend on your social media accounts, responding to customer feedback. Not only will you need to monitor your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Instagram accounts, you’ll also want to keep an eye on customer review sites such as Yelp or other industry specific sites.
Social media has the potential to be one of your greatest tools, if for nothing more than collecting critical feedback to help advance your business strategy. So get out there. Your customers are already talking — are you ready to listen?
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