Once upon a time brands could offer a quality product, follow it up with good customer service, and customers would remain loyal for years. Those days are over. Catching consumers’ attention and cultivating their loyalty now means creating a can’t-miss experience – at every stage of their journey.
When does the customer experience begin?
The answer to this question isn’t as concrete as you’d think. With digital media putting more information in front of consumers by the minute, and social media amplifying brand and – especially – consumer messaging, it’s less about where the experience begins, and more about the fact that it never ends.
The consumer brand experience is a living, breathing animal that in the best case feeds itself infinitely, and in the worst case drives consumers to choose your competitors instead. This is why customer experience management (CEM) matters so much. If you don’t understand what drives consumer actions, you can’t possibly create an experience that keeps them coming back.
What kind of experience? The specifics depend on your audience. What works for one brand may not work for another. Then again, tweaking another brand’s approach might be exactly what you need to win market share. In either case, you’ve got to look to consumers for the answer.
Determining where you are – and where you need to go
Consumer feedback is paramount to understanding what move your brand needs to make next – and in some cases you can simply ask for it. Structured data that comes from phone calls, emails, focus groups and surveys tells you a lot – but that’s hardly the end of the story.
Equally – if not more – important is the unstructured data found on social media, where consumers offer up unsolicited feedback all day, every day. And these insights aren’t limited to mentions of your brand – they can be found in mentions of your competitors or category, and in every conversation consumers have about their lives, both online and off.
Accumulating that data and analyzing it is an ongoing process requiring high-level social media monitoring tools capable of delivering these customer feedback analytics, which are tied into social analytics overall.
With regard to CEM, there are a few components you particularly need:
1. Advanced Natural Language Processing (NLP)
Unstructured text doesn’t have the benefit of being tied to a specific question, so you need an NLP engine able to decipher clues about your brand from consumer posts on social media.
Some of these clues may be directly related to your brand – discussion of a product or experience which includes a brand mention. Others may not call your brand out specifically, but can still benefit your strategy by supplying you with competitive intelligence through mention of other brands, or something relevant to your category.
What’s important is the way these insights are delivered. They might be fairly straightforward, but more likely they’ll be couched in slang, pop culture references, netspeak and emojis. Without a reliable means of accounting for these language variances, you’ll miss a lot of crucial data.
2. Advanced Sentiment Analysis
What consumers say doesn’t mean much if you can’t also assess the degree of feeling behind it. Are their comments off the cuff and casual, or are they a passionate reflection of how much they love – or hate – your brand, other brands, their work, what they watch on TV, etc?
Everything social consumers talk about is relevant to creating a personalized brand experience they can’t say no to. After all, it doesn’t matter how great your sales and marketing ideas are if they’re not what your audience wants. Even creating a new product can draw from consumer passions if you’re listening well.
Best of all, the most impassioned voices on social point you toward two things: influencers who can amplify your efforts, and detractors who need tending – whether it’s disgruntled customers needing customer care intervention, or Internet trolls capable of reputational damage if left unchecked.
3. Real-time insights to guide brand strategy
One clear advantage social analytics has over the structured feedback mentioned above is its constancy. To make the most of this always refreshing data, you can’t wait for weekly, monthly or quarterly reports – you’ve got to understand what’s happening right now.
This is the biggest reason surveys, focus groups, and the like aren’t enough on their own – because the data from those efforts is already historical by the time it’s analyzed. Social data, on the other hand, provides unending information about the present – with the potential to forecast the future as well.
Social media listening allows you to track both short- and long-term trends as they’re emerging, so you can react to consumer preferences in time to benefit from them. You can completely change the course of a marketing campaign in the moment with this level of knowledge – saving resources that would otherwise be lost if you had to stay on a course that wasn’t working.
Customized dashboards for decision-makers
The beauty of having all analytics coming through one place is being able to see everything that’s happening when you need to – but also having the option to customize your view at any time to focus on a specific business area.
This is particularly handy when you need to present an overview to the C-suite for quick decisions, or when you need a more detailed view so your Customer Care Manager can form a response strategy for their team.
Each area of your business can gain from understanding the consumer perspective – and those insights are what craft your customer experience strategy.
Everyone is responsible for the customer experience
Similarly, every move your brand makes creates that experience. For example, with customer complaints on social: Even when you can’t immediately change something, timely awareness of the issue, and speedy acknowledgement, can make the difference to not just the customer having a problem, but to every consumer on social watching the interaction.
But it’s more than that. With social analytics you can map out the entire customer journey to learn where your customer experience strengths and weaknesses are.
Industry-leading power company NRG used NetBase to do exactly this. They wanted to understand how their customers were engaging with their brand on social, so they used NetBase’s social listening tools to follow consumer feedback along the entire customer lifecycle.
They surfaced data they could apply in several areas of their business – not just measuring the effectiveness of social marketing. They quickly saw these analytics could also complement their market research, inform development of new products, and offer competitive analysis insights as well as industry-level insights on major trends.
NRG’s results drive home one crucial fact: social media analytics and customer feedback management are bigger than any one department. Each moment consumers are touched by your brand is part of the overall experience – and has the potential to make or break their loyalty.
The data uncovered by your analytics tools is critical to informing the experience you offer. And the most important thing to remember? Customer experience management is about the customer. Now, more than ever, they are always right – so listen to them.
For a one-on-one demo of how to use our industry-leading social media analytics tools for customer experience management, get in touch!
Image from Citrix Systems
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