Traditionally, collecting customer feedback has been a challenge for many organization. Formal polling costs money and time, particularly if it’s going to be effective (which meant that a third-party company was often required.) The results, when they were available, were often skewed: not everyone is willing to offer feedback, and there is evidence that customers are only willing to give their opinion when their experience has either been very good or very bad. More informal surveys, often delivered by IVR (if the customer is on the phone) or Web-site pop-up (if the customer is online) have been able to help somewhat, but once again, these methods are often skewed.
Social media and the age of digital “sharing” has been a boon to many companies looking for honest feedback (and a curse for those hoping to ignore negative feedback). The best method is to actively seek out all the feedback from a variety of different places. This way, you can gain a broader picture of what your customers think of you across a variety of demographics.
“There are all kinds of ways you can learn what your customers think of your operation: email, forms on your website, social media, review sites...today, there are at least a dozen ways your customers can have direct contact with you,” wrote blogger Emily for TeamSupport’s Website. “When it comes to good reports or commentary, you'll want to make sure everybody can see it. The bad experiences, however, should be able to be reported in a more direct manner. If someone's issue is persistent, it's best if they are prompted to send an email or call on the phone, instead of tweeting it.”
Essentially, you need to build formalized processes (with assurances that nothing falls through the cracks) to handle complaints as soon as they are found. Customers expect fast resolution today, and taking too long to address a social media posting can be almost as bad as ignoring it. The contact center should figure heavily into the process, as this is the department best equipped to address customer complaints in a timely and urgent manner. What you don’t want to do is mishandle a social media complaint and have it go across the globe in an hour, causing your organization to become the punchline of a viral joke.
Searching for feedback and putting a process in place for collecting, disseminating and making decisions based on it is about more than damage control or pats on the back, however. It can also give you deep insight into your organization from a perspective you simply don’t have.
“You might feel you know where your strengths and weaknesses are, but you may also gain another perspective entirely if a number of your customers all begin to point out a flaw which you didn't know about,” wrote the TeamSupport blogger. “On the other hand, these responses may highlight a strength you never knew you had which you can then capitalize on.”
Whatever your primary goals, it’s not enough to monitor feedback in an occasional or random way. Put some social media-savvy people in charge of the process. Have them set up alerts to be notified when your organization is tweeted about, blogged about or mentioned in a Facebook (News - Alert) post. Encourage these personnel to collaborate with others in the organization for resolutions. Log each mention (or notable mention if you’re a company large enough to have dozens of mentions each day) and ensure there is a timeline attached and responsible follow-up for each transaction. Finally, be sure that the individuals responsible share the feedback – negative, positive or in between – with the right people so the customers’ opinions can be turned into actionable intelligence.
Edited by Maurice Nagle