Social media is a growing source of customer intelligence, providing real-time, actionable insights that can fuel business growth, writes Ashish Gambhir.
Much is written about social media and its impact on marketing, brands, and consumer opinions. There is even more commentary on listening platforms used to help retailers capture all the feedback online. But, there is a key aspect to social feedback that remains unanswered for many marketers: What to do with all the feedback?
We know that brands need to mine real-time social media customer feedback to better understand what their customers are saying. We also know that doing so will help improve customer experience, increase revenue, and lower costs. The challenge, however, can be summed up in one word: HOW?
Social analytics are increasingly used to achieve these goals by helping retailers understand the meaning and hidden value behind the reams of social data. Unfortunately, the analytics gravitate towards tangible metrics like “followers,” “likes,” or star ratings but severely lack the actionable analysis and value executives need to drive business decisions.
Social business intelligence, or the intersection of social feedback, business intelligence, and industry specific technology, provides companies with clear performance indicators (specific to the industry) and opportunities to grow their business. By capturing and aggregating a complete, real-time view of social data and synthesising it into the richest insight, social business intelligence turns volumes of unstructured online data into a real time business indicator dashboard that provides actionable opportunities to improve customer experience.
A social business intelligence platform for generating this level of actionable insight should have a few key components.
Social customer satisfaction
There is no denying that your customers are talking about you online — and with great reach and influence. They are tweeting, posting, and blogging their experiences with your brand – both the good and not-so-good. They are also talking about whether or not they will return to your location, buy your product again, and recommend you to their peers.
As Jeff Bezos says, “Make a customer unhappy in the real world, they might tell six friends. Make a customer unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.” In fact, a recent study of more than 3,000 U.S. consumers by loyalty marketing firm Colloquy found that 75% of consumers will tell friends and family about a bad product or service experience. Platforms online make it that much easier to share feedback.
Knowing what customers are saying online and putting all of the social media activity to work in a productive way is a business imperative. Mining and interpreting credible guest feedback (where credible is defined on a per company basis) from social media and synthesising it into the richest customer insight gives retailers the actionable intelligence needed to drive operational improvements, enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty, and strengthen revenue.
Social competitive intelligence
In today’s socially-connected, consumer-led world, there are few places that are more effective helping companies gather a goldmine of information —- insights into their competitors’ products, services, customers, etc — than social media.
But harvesting competitive data is just half of the equation. Using this data to build strategy is the other, more challenging, part. Frost & Sullivan’s Growth Team Membership™ (GTM) recently completed its 2011 survey of competitive intelligence executives. The survey reported that a top challenge for companies is “creating actionable insights to drive strategic decision-making.” Implementing a social competitive intelligence strategy enables retailers to capture competitor performance, as defined by customers online, and analyze it so that they have an actionable, strategic view into their competitor strengths, weaknesses, and latest initiatives.
Social marketing intelligence:
With the rise of social media, how do retailers make sense of various touch points with customers? How do they better understand the different reasons why customers gravitate to them? How do they gain insights into when, where, why and how consumers choose to engage with their brand? How do they know what social media channels are most effective?
Surprisingly, recent research from eMarketer regarding Social Media metrics found that “CMOs were most likely to say they did not know the return from any channel other than their company’s online community. Even Facebook and Ratings and reviews, the two top venues with ‘significant ROI,’ failed to win over more than about 15% of respondents.”
Gaining insight into the most relevant customer impressions of their brand and identifying and accessing the most pertinent online influencers gives retailers critical demographic data and true voice-of-the-consumer insight —- the deep level of insights that helps them measure the value of specific social media interaction, which is vital to developing online marketing strategies and informing ROI.
Retailers know that a comprehensive social business intelligence picture is a must-have insight for executing more informed decision-making in an increasingly socially networked world. By gaining social customer, competitive, and marketing intelligence, retailers gain the depth and breadth of actionable insight needed to leverage social media for a true, bottom-line competitive advantage.