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Put Social at the Center of Your Customer Universe

Most organizations have a huge blind spot when it comes to social media. Sure, we’re well past the days of people ignoring social altogether – and that’s great. But most organizations still haven’t given social customer feedback the spotlight it deserves, and that translates into missing huge opportunities for the bottom line. For example, did you know that brands that regularly engage with customers will have six times the number of loyal customers? In other words, six times as many customers will return or recommend your business over those don’t if you regularly engage with them online. It doesn’t take a CFO to recognize this means real revenue and a significant impact on the long-term success of your business.

How to achieve Social Media Maturity

Marketing executives from major brands like PetSmart, Southwest Airlines and Dick’s Sporting Goods have all told us that social listening for marketing along simply is not enough. Only when using social feedback throughout the organization – for everything from informing strategy in the boardroom to perfecting the supply chain in the warehouse – can a business truly reach social media maturity for happier, more engaged and more loyal customers. Here’s how to do it.

Listening is the first step

According to Accenture, most businesses have marketing teams that listen to social mentions about their brand, and as many as 40 percent of these organizations have begun to engage with online reviewers. Listening and engaging both have a significant impact on revenue – in fact, newBrandAnalytics data shows that as little as a one percent increase in engagement can increase customers’ overall sentiment by as much as 25 percent – yet only about 30 percent of consumer product and services companies put a large emphasis on this effort. The missed opportunity is huge.The Social Media Maturity Model

… but what really matters is what you do with what you hear.

Some of the best brands in world have matured their social media programs beyond listening and into measuring and planning business strategy. They apply their social intelligence to help improve the customer experience, grow business and drive investments.

Five Guys, the wildly popular burger chain, used social data to drive their corporate wide strategy to roll out new menu items to their more than 1,000 restaurants. Hyatt Hotels utilized social competitive intelligence to focus marketing dollars for their billion-dollar, multinational hotel chain. And Dick’s Sporting Goods, a sporting goods retailer with more than 500 locations, tracked the success of national ad campaigns by monitoring their social feedback.

Use that social intelligence to defeat the competition and create insane customer loyalty.

For service-driven organizations, social customer feedback can help both attract new customers and optimize their experience with the business by sharing social insights beyond the marketing department and using them in conjunction with other data. Hotels can combine social data with RevPar (a.k.a. “revenue per available room”) data to make important correlations between bookings and things like front desk service and amenities. Restaurants can map online feedback on wait staff and menu items to their point of sale data to determine how such factors are impacting customers orders and frequency.

The biggest value of all comes when social data is fed to the teams that can use it to better serve local, in-store customers. For example, social data can help tailor staff and merchandise the regional needs of guests: for a sporting goods retailer, this might mean providing special training for staff in the Northeast where lacrosse is all the rage, and monitoring social data to ensure that customers are satisfied with the expertise and helpfulness of the sales associates.

Take practical steps to increasing business maturity

Not only does a more mature approach to social media make customers happier and your business more profitable, there’s more good news: it’s not hard to do. Make customer feedback a hub around which all departments rotate:

  • Integrate your social customer feedback to your CRM
  • Create workflows that match the speed expected by social customers
  • Push social feedback about individual locations to local managers and challenge them to resolve issues quickly
  • Plan a new product rollout and monitor its success on social channels like Twitter and Facebook, adjust as needed and let the online community know you did
  • Consider giving social feedback a seat at your next board room discussion

These are just a few ways to use the massive volume of social data at your disposal to help improve your business. Remember: you know your business best and you may even suspect own blind spots – but with social at the center of your customer universe, you have the power to shine a light on them in a way that was never possible before.

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