Listening to your customers

Have you ever created a Facebook page for your company? Do you tweet for or about your company? Or did your boss ask to figure out what’s being said about your company?

All important questions as companies large and small embrace social media. But none is more important than this:

Do you have a good customer service culture or a great one?

The answer extends beyond the folks on the business end of your 800 number. As you embark on a journey evaluating social media monitoring services or social CRM solutions, ask yourself about customer service. A great customer service culture will help you understand the conversations happening in the social space. Evaluating everything from the quantity and the quality of those conversations is key to understanding your customers. And by customers, I’m not merely referring to folks who buy your stuff. This group includes anyone with an opinion or voice in the matter. ‘Consumers’ might be a better label.

Because even if these customers aren’t becoming part of your share of wallet, they’re already part of your share of mind. These people will influence whether or not I buy a Netbook or an iPad, they’ll help convince me to trade in my fifth Ford for a Chevy, they’ll praise Coke over Pepsi. And they’ll do it loudly and consistently. Here’s what kinda sucks… they might not even have a clue what they’re talkin’ about, but you gotta listen. Some of the time our customers haven’t done their homework. Most of the time they have an informed opinion. These opinions can help you craft your next marketing message or identify the blogs and forums where like-minded folks share their knowledge and experiences.

Social media monitoring is a powerful tool for any SMB or large organization. You can learn a lot from what you hear. You needn’t spend a lot of money for basic metrics, either, but they are some amazing enterprise-class tools out there.

Here’s a brief list of (free) tools I use, and why I use them. I also use Radian6, along with a budget to support it. I’ll explain below the table:

TOOL WHAT I USE IT FOR
HootSuite Track activity and basic metrics, Manage updates for multiple social channels, Schedule tweets in advance, Workgroup access to accounts, Desktop and mobile apps.
CoTweet Track activity, manage updates for multiple social channels, Schedule tweets in advance, Workgroup access to accounts.
SocialMention Basic social analysis and email alerts. A good intro to enterprise-class monitoring services, covering many social channels.
TwapperKeeper Search and download data files of Tweets I can manipulate in Excel.
Facebook Insights Track activity of your fan pages, effectiveness of your Facebook ads.
Bit.ly URL shortener w/ basic metrics and social app integration. I use the Pro version with custom URL.
WordPress A great blog platform, waiting for your social stuff. I’ve used it a while now, even as a CMS for SMB sites.

 

To be clear, Radian6 doesn’t do many of these things. Nor should you expect it to. This list is heavy on Twitter tools and I could use R6 to manipulate tweets and other social traffic. Like Radian6, SocialMention offers sentiment scores and topic trends, but these measures aren’t customizable by the user. Enterprise-class monitoring services do allow that kind of deep dive, as well as the ability to dive into your competitors’ social activity, even providing for workflow-based monitoring for your social media team. Please comment below about your favorite tools.

You can learn a lot. Not just complaints or testimonials, but how your colleagues manage and internalize that information. Does it influence their approach? Does it influence your approach?

As the old adage goes… customers ARE right. And when they’re wrong, they’re right. So, choose a tool that fits your needs. Then listen up and listen well.

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