“Seek first to understand, than to be understood”, Stephen Covey said. A very simple message indeed, but often overlooked by organizations. Understanding what your customers want and tuning in to the eco-system of your business is essential, if not a necessity.
Social media fortunately lets you tune in to the constant stream of conversations and updates as it happens, and the best part is that many of the tools that let you do so is free!
So what are the benefits of listening on social media …
1. Feedback: Consumers are talking about your brand, product or service on social media and the medium fosters unbiased feedback about their experiences and interactions. It is imperative for organizations to take cognizance of this and monitor the feedback for continuous improvement.
2. Competitive intelligence: Don’t just listen about yourself; seek to also understand about the competitive landscape through social media. If you are a late entrant into social media, follow the best practices of your competition, understand what your customers like about your competition. Use social media to create a benchmark of service standards and perceptions, which is usually a good indicator of how well the competition is doing (and where you stand).
3. Market Intelligence: If you plan to launch a new product or service, social media can help you understand about your market, the demographics and psychographics of your audience more than a traditional survey.
4. Product Development: Social media is a great place to gather suggestions about improving your product or even ideas that can spark a new product. Companies like Starbucks have even set up a dedicated website to “crowdsource” (harnessing the collective intelligence of the crowd) ideas that can be used for product development/ improvement.
5. Early warning: Look for signs of dissonance on social media and get your best resources to quell the situation before it is too late. Remember, anybody can be an influencer on social media.
An important word of advice, never get defensive with the customer and always try to be participative in your approach.
For all the benefits above, you must also be cognizant of the fact that the stream of conversations will also contain gibberish and overtime, you will get better at separating the noise from the signal.
However, I can say without a doubt that the benefits of tuning in to social media are immense and if you aren’t already doing it, the time is now!