“How to Use Social Listening to Improve Customer Experience” is a guest post written by Adela Belin, a content marketer and blogger at Writers Per Hour.
Social media has evolved from being a nice-to-have to a must-have.
Today, 63% of customers expect brands to use their social media channels for customer service.
However, businesses are still not doing enough to improve the customer experience as 70% of customer complaints on social media failed to be addressed. It looks like many are still struggling to find the right ways of improving customer experience on social media.
From creating profiles on Facebook to using the numerous social media marketing tools, the key to improving customer experience on social media starts with social listening.
Social listening helps you see what people outside and within your brand are saying about you. And take the step to stop any negative publicity from escalating or improve brand awareness.
Here are some benefits of social listening:
- Reduces costs
Twitter acknowledges that customer social interactions on its platform costs only $1 compared to call center interactions, which may cost a brand $6. With social media customer support, there is little to no infrastructure investment because most platforms are free to use.
- Attracts and retains customers
As you engage more in social listening, you will soon find what your customers like or dislike. You aim to provide an enjoyable customer experience by fulfilling the customer’s wishes or becoming a trusted source where customers can find solutions.
When consumers see you as a trusted source for information or social interactions, they will more likely become attached to your brand and services.
- Discover brand ambassadors
Social listening helps you find influencers and micro-influencers who may engage with their followers on things relevant to your brand and industry. This way, you can re-target these groups or restructure your social media marketing campaigns to address relevant matters to what influencers’ followers like most. Alternatively, you can personally reach out to these influencers and find out what users might have shared with them about your brand.
- Monitor competitors
Social listening not only helps you track your brand mentions but also competitors’ mentions, hashtags, buzzwords, and the conversations about them.
You can identify what is generating customer satisfaction and brand loyalty for the competitor and implement those or find ways of improving where they are at fault.
- Promotes real-time engagements
40% of customers using social media to engage with brands say they expect a brand to respond to their inquiries within an hour. This means a brand with faster responses will always win at customer experience.
Social media listening provides a way to respond in real-time, thus reducing customer waiting time. When you turn on notification, you can engage with the customer when they share something to do with your brand or a pain point that needs to be addressed.
Social media gives you the immediacy that other channels like call centers may not.
How to Use Social Listening to Improve Customer Experience
The primary aim of using social listening is to uncover insights about your brand. Such insights should guide your next cause of action with customer experience.
Whether you are a startup or have been in the game for a long, here are the ways to go about social listening if you want to improve customer experience.
1. Establish a strategic plan
The first process of social listening requires you to come up with a strategic plan. Usually, this requires that you use or start with what you know. One way is to look at the buyer persona. Another way is to take notes on places where the customers interact.
Find out what customers are looking to solve. Ask yourself what are your customers interacting with and with whom are they interacting? Don’t forget to dig into the past information you created and whether they are still important when developing your plan.
It is also a good idea to visit your competitors’ platforms and investigate the same thing. Find what they, or famous personalities, or their customers are doing on their channels or platforms. Once you have collected enough data, separate the factors that bring value from those you don’t need to include in your plan.
2. Decide what to track
Once you have established a strategic plan, you can now decide what to monitor because you have all the details at your fingertips.
Don’t just monitor exclusively what your customers say. Choosing what to monitor may require you to revisit your goals or objectives as this is what will guide you on what to monitor. When engaging in social listening, aim to:
- Track brand mentions and your competitor’s brand names
- Track industry buzzwords
- Monitor customer feedback and complaints
- Monitor hashtags, competitor’s hashtags, and those related to the industry
- Look for distinguished persons in your company or industry
- Track influences and how they engage with your brand and other brands
3. Choose a content distribution channel
Social media marketers’ main challenge right now with social listening is the several channels or platforms, each with distinct types of consumers.
While you may have a presence in many of them, it is prudent that you decide early on one or two social or content distribution channels to monitor. The best way to find the right medium for social listening is to choose where your consumers are most frequent.
You can find your consumer’s favorite channels by studying your demographics or customer personas or digging into your organic traffic.
For example, if you are selling trendy clothes or fashion accessories, you may look for millennials or Gen-Z. Therefore, settling on Instagram for social listening may be an excellent choice.
If you are selling SaaS products, you may probably find more of your target customers on LinkedIn. Choosing the right social media channel will enable you to easily find conversations surrounding your brand, competitors, and industry.
4. Turn on notifications
An advantage of social media platforms is that most provide an option to set up alerts and updates so you do not miss any conversations about your brand.
This also allows you to take part in these conversations and others about your brand right when they happen. On a platform like LinkedIn, you can do this on the communication tab as shown below, and track or listen to what matters to your brand most.
Other platforms also allow you to create alerts, which you can do by using your brand’s name, slogans. hashtags, keywords, and industry buzzwords or use competitors’ names and hashtags to find what they are talking about, sharing, and new trends.
Don’t just turn on notifications or create alerts and leave matters there, but also track these for the right conversations and take part in them.
5. Use social media marketing and listening tools
Notifications and alerts have limits in that you can’t find mentions that aren’t tagged to your brand or on platforms you don’t use. The solution to locating untagged mentions is through manual search.
However, social media tools offer better solutions as they do the heavy lifting of monitoring brand’s mentions not within your reach such as in community forums, search engines, and news sites.
Some also have powerful algorithms that may offer suggestions on how to respond to queries, saving your time, and from the tiring process of manually searching for conversation.
Besides, social media tools also help you find mentions of your brand using keywords. You can gather large quantities of data using these tools and sort what is helpful from what’s not. With this data, you can track for:
- Customer sentiments: that is your customers’ opinion on your brand
- Pain points: the problems your customers are asking you to solve
- Mentions: number of times your brand is mentioned daily or weekly on social media
- Trends: use tools to find if your brand mentions are increasing. Are they positive or negative? What about industry trends? What times are your customers active? Social media tools can help you find data on industry trends that you can use to your advantage
Here are some social listening tools that can help you gather data or monitor mentions out of your immediate reach:
- Hootsuite: use Hootsuite to find keywords, phrases, and brand conversations on all major social media platforms.
- Google Alerts: for monitoring phrases, keywords, and mentions of what is happening around the internet. It is easy to use and besides free.
- Mentions: a useful tool for tracking comments beyond social media such as blogs, forums, and websites.
- Follower wonk: a Twitter analytical tool for social media analysis and optimization and finding influences, new followers using keyword and location, and separating user’s followers into actionable segments.
6. Set up a customer service handle
The relation between social listening or social media and customer experience is one that cannot be ignored. Right when you open a social media account, your customers expect more from your brand than mere marketing messages. Hence, having a customer service handle on social media is essential if you want to use social media to improve customer experience.
Studies show that over 50% of customers would go on social media to inquire about a brand and its activities. Therefore, having a customer service handle, like the one shown below from Apple, will enable you to respond to queries promptly, find, and handle customer complaints not just from your brand but also from other brands.
Besides, you can use your social media customer service handle to share content, acknowledge feedback, and thank users for sharing something from your brand. It also helps you to be more proactive and tackle customer issues before they even emerge.
7. Monitor and report your progress
When a business undertakes any initiative, there comes a moment to judge such initiative progress and social listening is no different.
Though the evaluation process may differ from one brand to another, monitoring and reporting on your progress are very essential. A thorough evaluation may require you to view your objectives and KPIs. Some of these objectives or KPIs may be:
- Tracked X brand mentions on social media within the X period
- Number of inquiries completed
- Comparing the number of people using social media for customer service with traditional channels
- Response rate
- Resolved issues
- Complaint escalation rate
- Customer retention
There are other objectives or KPIs you can set or monitor too. Once you have done that, record the qualitative and quantitative feedback that gives you the right information. The most important thing is to look for positive and negative sentiments shared on your brand’s social media channel.
Track these mentions over time and measure or compare against a set benchmark. You can also make use of customer satisfaction surveys to gather data or gauge your customer service performance.
The benefits of monitoring and reporting on your efforts will help your brand in two ways:
a. Develop a way of responding and engaging
This includes selecting who is responsible for social customer support.
We know that social listening may cut across several departments, like customer success, sales, and marketing. With your findings or report, you can specify which areas need more attention or define who is responsible for social customer support so you can engage in social listening better.
It will also guide you to set up a structure for sharing information among the concerned departments.
b. For training and learning purposes
The key to providing an enjoyable customer experience is understanding what consumers say about the industry or brand.
It will help you learn how you respond to comments, limit complaints, and discover ways to offer better positive feedback. Hence, an evaluation of your progress will guide how you hire or train your team to understand what people are saying online or identify the right conversations to respond to and in what manner.
The fact that social media has grown out of just being a marketing tool also means that the level of noise and saturation of brands on the platform is at its peak.
Brands, therefore, have to do more if they want to keep customers loyal or maintain positive brand awareness. To do so, it starts by listening to what customers say about your brand and also other brands.