Business Analysis, Information Technology, Social business, Social Technologies

‘Man is a social animal’, – as human beings, we do have instincts, but we also have emotions, sentiments and experiences. It is these that separate human beings from animals. In our professional and personal lives, we tend to use the right side of our brains as much as our left brains. Or should I say our hearts step into action and not just our minds in almost all our activities and decisions. People’s behaviours and interactions on the social and professional networks are not any different. That’s why it is critical for businesses to listen to the voices of the people and understand the emotional aspects underlying their conversations. This post dwells on how listening (a.k.a social customer care) help businesses to understand not only people’s voices, but also help them with the right solutions.

Listening is an art and science too

I think the two most critical factors that made social media popular are freedom of expression and the ability to go viral in no time. People on the social networks are free to express their views and opinions. Most often these comments tend to be positive or neutral, but occasionally users do express negatively. Also, note that these are not just about the products and services, but also extend to the brands, organisations and people too. Businesses have been realising increasingly that these conversations and comments – positive, negative or neutral, are a great source of improvement. Companies like Dell, Kodak, Lego and Sainsbury’s started actively listening to the customers’ views and opinions on the social and professional networks.

You are a good listener
Image credit – Quinn Anya, Flickr

What is listening

Listening in the context of social media refers to the monitoring of the activities, interactions and mentions by users.  Also referred to as Social Customer Care, the social media monitoring is one emerging areas invested by most leading brands. The main goal for the monitoring is to understand the activities and derive insights to help take business decisions and help support the customers. Listening does not necessarily mean looking out for the problems alone, but also for potential ideas, insights and innovative approaches. More organisations in private and public sectors are actively engaging with their customers and monitoring what they are up to on various social and professional networks. Small wonder then that today we have some fancy job titles such as CLO (Chief Listening Officer) and Insight Managers.

“Dell has been listening for four years and created a position called ‘Listening Czar’ two years ago. We are a leader in the listening space.” 

– Richard Binhammer, Communications Executive, Dell

How does monitoring help businesses

Social media monitoring is not just a passive observation of what’s happening on social networks. It is extremely proactive in trying to identify the problems of people, understand their pain areas and resolve them in the quickest possible manner. Not just the problems, some times analysing the mentions and comments will help businesses with new and fresh ideas for improving their business, products and services. Often these conversations could potentially lead to new features and functionality but also new products. At a macro level, the social media monitoring and listening helps organisations to understand the customers’ “image” and compare it with their “identity”. Also, the mentions and comments on these networks move beyond just products and touch upon the experiences, emotions and feelings. Businesses can now reach out and unearth these, with minimal effort, cost and time.     Social Customer Care_Texavi on listening

Thanks to the explosion of the Internet, mobile phones and social media, individuals and businesses nowadays are facing a big challenge. Information overload, BIG Data or whatever you may call it as, this data deluge is a bane as much as its a boon. Sample the impact of the social media usage and the amount of data its creating, just the “Retweet” button on Twitter is creating a data equivalent to 2 TeraBytes in one day.What should businesses do to overcome this challenge and make use of the data to their advantage to service their customers better? To sift through this data deluge and make some meaningful relations amongst them, businesses have to plan and approach this in a structured manner. Also, they must use the right tools to help them get the best and draw meaningful and actionable insights.

 

Social customer care tools

Some of the prevalent tools in use today for the social media monitoring are sentiment analysis, NLP (Natural Language Processing). Also,  a few statistical tools such as Cluster analysis, Factor analysis are also being used to analyse the variables and dimensions. These and other similar tools and techniques enable us to look at and filter through the BIG data. The objective is to find the patterns, map the relations and draw usable insights from them. The outcomes are qualitative as well as quantitative and will aid businesses to take the right decisions in the right time.

“We get about 300,000 new mentions of Kodak every month and we don’t censor the comments or videos people create about our company.” 

– Beth LaPierre, Kodak’s Chief Listening Officer

One important suggestion is to ensure that businesses must not ignore the negative comments or mentions about their brands and products. Instead, they must actively look for them, understand the root causes and step in to resolve the issues. They must also ensure that the problems are addressed to help prevent their re-occurrence in the future.

Hope you find the post useful. As always, feel free to drop in your feedback for continuous improvement. Wishing you all a very Happy New Year 2013. May the new year bring in joy and success to all of you. Until next post, ciao!

 

Behavior Modeling & Design, Life, Social business, User Experience

It’s that time of the year again when we make resolutions for newer and better things. While some of us vouch to take the route of a healthier lifestyle, some others may opt to being more productive at work. New year resolutions are indeed a nice trigger for behaviour change. At an individual level, people themselves initiate changes in their behaviours, being driven by their own goals.  However, businesses also attempt to change the behaviours of their customers and users. In this post, let us look at what behaviour change really is and how to define correctly the target behaviours.

What is behaviour change

Behaviour change can be defined as acquiring new behavours, increasing or decreasing or stopping altogether the existing behaviours. It can result from the motivation to change and the simplicity in adopting the new or changed behaviours. Sometimes these behaviours, over a longer term, can result in the formation of new habits or cutting down on the current habits.

 

Habits and behaviours

Behaviour change can happen when you attempt one of the following:

  1. Do new
  2. Do different or do more of the existing
  3. Stop or do less of the existing

For instance, a change in the existing behaviour can be to wake up from bed 30 minutes earlier. Whereas a new behaviour can be to learn ice-skating, a decrease in existing behaviour can be a resolution to cut down on eating high-fat food every Thursday.

What are behaviours

It is important to understand what target behaviours are and how we can make use of them to our advantage. First, let us look at the common misconceptions and myths about behaviours. Please note that behaviours are not

  • About tasks or processes alone
  • Those that effect people in a short term
  • Always linked to the attitudes and personalities

BehaviourChange_Texavi

This brings us to the question as to what behaviours actually are. I would like to highlight the key aspects of a behaviour in the following points:

  • Can be about actions and their outcomes – personal, professional or both
  • Spread over a longer period, potentially leading to habits
  • Involve creating new ones, changing or stopping the existing ways
  • Are purely about the actions or behaviours

Defining the target behaviours – the right way!

Before you attempt to change the behaviours, an important step is defining the target behaviours and defining them correctly. When defining the behaviours ask the following questions:

  • Am I defining a behaviour, in the first place?
  • How crisp is the behaviour definition?
  • Can I make it any crispier?
  • Who are the target people for this behaviour?

An example of a good behaviour definition that I recently came across is the “Get London Reading” campaign. Launched by the Evening Standard newspaper, this campaign is aimed at increasing the literacy levels in schools. With a crisp definition of the objective, this campaign  is an example of defining the target behaviours well.

Here is how to define behaviours

After defining target behaviours, let us look at what makes a good behaviour definition. I give below a few simple rules that you might want to keep as a reference checklist:

  • Start the behavior definition with an action word/verb
  • Use simple words and terms. Eg., get, make, do etc.
  • Be brief and specific. Verbose statements don’t help anybody
  • Focus only on behaviour – leave out attitude and personality
  • Ignore the process or implementation. Aim at the end result

As they say, “Well begun is half done”, by now you have completed the most important thing in behaviour change.  After this step, we need to identify the ways and means of how we are going to achieve the target behaviours. Let us look at this topic in the upcoming post. Hope the new year 2013 brings in joy, peace and success to all of you.