Using Social Media for Customer Service – Feedback

Customer feedback can be one of the greatest sources of learning for a brand/business. Feedback gives an understanding of the why’s behind revenue numbers and other implicit metrics. In our last article, we looked at best practices in handling/answering customer queries on Social Media. We noted that complaints – a form of feedback, are just the customer’s way of reaching out to a brand/business. In addition, we advised that brands/businesses were to take the ‘making lemons out of lemonades’ stance with regards to negative feedback. This attitude involves getting to the bottom of the customers need – that is, peeling the emotional layers and getting to the core.


On the brighter side, many customers want the opportunity to offer input on your products and services. Using Social Media as a way to garner their opinions makes them feel valued, enticing them to continue following that brand/business. Merely listening and collecting information should not be an end; it is how you act on the feedback that really makes the difference.
Social media gives you the ability to get the kind of quick feedback your brand/business requires to stay agile in the marketplace. This is valuable feedback that will help improve a brand/business’s service offerings.
In this article, we will discuss How to Gather Feedback on Social Media and Translate it into Meaningful Information.

WHY USE SOCIAL MEDIA?
The characteristics of social media allow it to fit seamlessly in feedback collection. The following are some of the benefits:
• It is much simpler: Unlike other channels of soliciting feedback for instance Suggestions Boxes, feedback on Social Media can be immediate, personal, and easier for consumers (than filling a form).
• It can give your brand/business a competitive edge. Paying attention enables you to successfully navigate today’s customer feedback landscape and turn that feedback into your competitive edge. One way is through customer poaching (See previous articles on http://www.exactmedia.wordpress.com ).
• Opens up communication: Garnering feedback is an open invitation for customers who otherwise had nothing to say to a brand to communicate with it.
• Social customer feedback can help you uncover flaws in your business because customers are more likely to take to Social Media. Their attitude regarding your communication may be an indication of a technical problem with your content or whether your prices are too high.
• Gathering feedback on Social Media can be considered a lesser invasive way to approach a customer – it can generate critical feedback that advances your business objectives quickly.
• Social Customer Feedback can help your brand/business to tailor your product or service to your customers’ needs.

HOW TO COLLECT FEEDBACK ON SOCIAL MEDIA
You can engage your audience in a conversation that will help you gather information through polls, asking questions, asking for your customer’s opinions and ideas etc. For this to work, you need to create a culture in which your employees are always looking and listening.
The following are some of the ways you mine Social Media to garner consumer feedback:

a. Observation
You can find what your customers are looking for and other customer issues just by observing behaviour. By studying the manner in which your consumers interact, which posts make them tick, what they ask/complain frequently about, you can get some pointers on what you are doing right or wrong. This is not direct in your face questioning but a ‘spectator’ approach to feedback. Informal customer feedback

b. Monitoring
Another way to gather feedback is by monitoring for mentions of the brand/business to spot potential trouble. Support staff should engage customers quickly if they learn of a problem and should help the customer solve that problem. Monitor mentions of your brand and your competitors. Monitoring your industry’s environment keeps you abreast with trends that have the potential to affect the brand/business. A brand/business must remain aware of what people are saying about it elsewhere on the internet. When you monitor, you can give instant customer support and feedback to people having issues with your product or service, regardless of whether they contacted you for help or not. And by monitoring competitive mentions, you can also capitalize on customers who are unhappy with other brands in your industry. Learn why they are dissatisfied, and see if you can provide a better solution for them. At the very least, you can learn how to differentiate yourself from competitors; in the best circumstances, you can nurture them as a lead and turn them into your new favourite customers!

c. Polls and surveys
Do not be afraid to ask your consumers for help in improving their service experience on Social Media – platforms like Facebook and Twitter (www.twtpoll.com) give the opportunity to conduct quick polls of this nature. Ask your social network to share their opinions on a critical issue through a survey or poll.

Tip: to make it more attractive for your customer to participate, Attach some incentives like discounts, gifts and prizes.
Surveys help your brand/business to collect customer feedback easily and efficiently. It gives general information on trends and behaviours. Brands can learn specific reasons for their customer/prospect behavior/attitude.

d. Focus groups
Effective focus groups have segmented audiences, and many social networks have advanced in such a way that there is sufficient functionality to perform your own Research and Development. You could use Google+ circles to segment people by industry or location to better target your questions. You could also use Facebook groups to gather a community of similar interests within you customer pool. Features like Twitter Chat can enable you delve deeper into user-generated suggestions.
Encourage your customers to speak up; this will help you to understand them better, build customer loyalty and drive growth. There is an amount of time commitment involved with Social Media. You can Budget some time each day, possibly 20 to 30 minutes for social listening.

LEARNING FROM FEEDBACK
It is no secret that people resist change. Product adjustments and changes may always be met with some hostile responses from customers but as we discussed earlier we have to peel the layers of emotion. Is it just a resistance to change or legitimate user experience and design issues that your team did not identify during development?

Tip: When gathering feedback, log suggestions separately from complaints. Complaints should be priority number one – set up a policy to deal with them swiftly and efficiently. Use suggestions to generate ideas to improve your product or service. Note what your customers want. If similar queries come up regularly, look at how they can be avoided by changing your processes. If this is not possible, add an FAQ section to your website and Social Media pages (some allow manipulation to some extent – e.g. Facebook tabs) to answer regular queries

From your Community: Before launching products or services, leverage your network to solicit the feedback of people you trust. The great thing about social media is that your network probably consists of not only current customers, but also prospects, target customers, and industry influencers. You can get a wide range of feedback on new products and features — whether they are easy to use, whether they are worth developing in the first place, or what should be next in your development queue. Your community is a way of keeping your ear to the ground and getting the all-important customer buy-in for greater adoption rates at launch time. I have seen Facebook use this a lot when trying new features on the platform.
From Industry Experts: One of the benefits of using social media is the expansion and strengthening of networks. Take advantage of your brand’s reach to get answers from the best of the best. When searching for certain kinds of information, for example ‘who offers the best of a particular service/product, you do not have to go to Google, simply ask your network to introduce you to the best service provider/producer of something. Not only are you getting helpful advice, but you may also have the opportunity of meeting someone new and influential and strengthening your relationship with your mutual contact.
From Content: Feedback is a powerful tool in ensuring that you are posting the right substance and getting the maximum engagement and results from your Social Media presence. Watch your audience’s response to your content.

Tip: Asking your network to share their most common challenges will be an indicator of how you can be of help. Their responses will give you lessons on the things that matter to them. This can be developed into the kind of content that will resonate with your audience.

Give feedback when resolutions are made
When you have made a change that is customer-driven and meaningful, acknowledge or notify customers who were part of the feedback process. Customers will be encouraged to give input if they know they are being heard and know they may be driving change.

Tip: generate a boilerplate response initially thanking customers for their feedback, follow up after the problem is corrected and get back to that customer with a more detailed response.

STEPS TO HANDLE NEGATIVE FEEDBACK
Dealing with negative feedback promptly can reduce the potential for full blown scandals and PR disasters online. Investigate any complaints thoroughly and contact the customer directly to apologize and offer a solution: Going through these steps might help quell a storm:
– Thank the customer for reaching out/expressing his/her concerns
– Acknowledge the concern
– Apologize or empathize (where appropriate) for the trouble they are experiencing – even if they brought it upon themselves
– Do not indulge someone who wants to argue or simply defame you.
– Instead of responding to every customer, simply put up a status which addresses the issue in the event of mass outages

Tip: Similar to the traditional suggestion boxes which can be found at customer touch points, make feedback forms easy to find online by linking them on all of your online customer touch points (i.e. your website and social media pages.) You can further add this survey link to printed promotional materials and even receipts.

Social Media has made customer interaction today a whole new ballgame; are you prepared to play and win? Share the creative ways you have used social media to gather crucial feedback from your audience, and let us know how it helped your business! To comment on Facebook visit: http://www.facebook.com/exactmediagh, Twitter: @enyaadie, #BeInspiredGH or leave your comments on this blog post – http://www.exactmedia.wordpress.com)


DIGITAL BULLETIN
Lets us review some tools that can help to proactively get feedback about your business, new product ideas, marketing campaigns, or other issues relating to your brand.
• Polldaddy: If you want to conduct polls on your blog or Twitter account, you can try PollDaddy. With PollDaddy you can collect responses via your website, e-mail or on your iPad or iPhone. Use the survey editor to create surveys quickly and easily. Visit http://www.polldaddy.com for more information.
• Twtpoll: A feedback tool that helps you to create and distribute polls/surveys on Twitter and Facebook is Twtpoll. With Twtpoll, there are a lot of different options for your survey needs including a simple poll (one-question surveys), complex multi-page surveys, #Hashtag Surveys and quizzes. Custom options exist for studies such as customer service surveys. It has a built-in option that allows poll respondents to retweet your poll question and in turn give your poll a wider audience Visit http://www.twtpoll.com to access this tool or for more information
• SurveyMonkey: You can create polls on Survey Monkey and link back to your social media pages. The Facebook Collector on SurveyMonkey allows you to easily share surveys on your personal pages. With the Web Link Collector, you can post a survey questionnaire directly on your Facebook fan page. Visit http://www.surveymonkey.com for more information.
• Facebook – Take advantage of the ‘call to action’ button at the top right corner of your Facebook business page and link surveys on your website to your Facebook page. With applications like this OpinionPolls ( https://www.facebook.com/OpinionPolls), you can also create a direct survey or polling on your page.
• Groups – groups and communities in LinkedIn and Google+ are a collection of people who work in the same industry or have similar interests etc. This is another excellent place to get feedback for your business. People here gather to share content, find answers and network. You can start conversations, discussions and pose questions.

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