‘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.
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.
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!