Before the Internet came along, it wasn’t always easy for companies to find out what their customers were saying about them. If a customer had a good or bad experience, the most they would probably do is share that with a few friends down the pub, or mention it over a meal with the family.
If companies wanted feedback they had to ask customers to fill out a ‘customer feedback’ form; and ask their customer service agents what customers were actually saying about them.
Both these channels give a very partial view. People giving feedback would be at either end of the spectrum: they had either loved dealing with your company, or had completely hated it.
Now of course, in the era of social media, customers have lots of channels to spread both their good and bad experiences of dealing with a company. Aside from leaving comments on that company blog, they can submit reviews to reviews websites, leave posts on relevant forums, and of course give feedback through Facebook and Twitter of their experiences.
This makes it so much easier for companies to find out what their customers are saying about them. And it means there is a lot more ‘colour’ and texture to their feedback, rather than a polarised view of ‘brilliant’ or ‘rubbish’.
And apart from finding out what customers are saying, it also gives companies the opportunity to take part in that conversation. If its a good comment, then a company can give thanks; and if its a bad one they can respond by trying to resolve that customers’ issue, or at least put their side of the story.
And from a product point of view, listening in to what your customers are saying about your product has to be one of the best ways to find out what you need to do to improve that product.
Despite all these opportunities, research out this week from digital communications company Quba has revealed that only half of businesses monitor what people are saying about them on the web. Just a third of businesses have someone who actively manages their online reputation.
Here’s a graph showing it all, published in New Media Age magazine:
For reasons we’ve stated, the reality is that all business should monitor what people are saying about them, and respond to it too. Doing this is called having a ‘social media strategy’.
Check out how to develop your Social Media Strategy in ‘What are your customers saying about you part 2‘.