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Using social media to gain an advantage

My wife and I celebrated our wedding anniversary by going to our favorite restaurant. Usually, we have a great experience, but this time everything went wrong. The server was inattentive, the food was cold, the drink glasses went empty, etc. When we returned home, my wife and I were faced with a dilemma: What do you do when you have a bad service experience with a company you love?

As a subscriber to this restaurant’s Facebook updates, I logged on and thrust my opinion into cyberspace. My wall post clearly illustrated my disappointment. As a loyal, engaged customer, I felt I owed it to the restaurant to provide feedback about my experience. Besides, any responsible business would want to know about the experience of a loyal customer, right?

It has been weeks, and I have heard nothing in response to my feedback.

There is a lesson in this for all businesses. Social media has become the no. 1 online activity, so it’s essential for businesses to pay attention. When a small percentage of customers share their experiences with your company via social media, you have an opportunity to engage or re-engage these customers. To use social media to your advantage, consider the following:

Get involved.  Businesses should be actively monitoring what is being said about their brand on social media sites and across cyberspace. Seek out not only feedback posted directly on your Facebook page or directed at you on Twitter, but research your brand. Find out where your customers are talking and become part of that community. Take the opportunity to engage customers who mention your brand and learn from them.

Ask for more.  As it becomes more difficult to solicit feedback from customers through common survey methods, follow your customers online and connect with those who are already talking about you. With technology such as Allegiance SocialVoice, you can turn unstructured social media comments into structured data by reaching out to customers with a survey to ask specific questions about their experience or brand perceptions. You’ll find that many of these customers will appreciate your effort to engage them and learn more.

Actively manage feedback.  It’s okay to be reactive to specific social media mentions about your brand. Many times you’ll be able to identify “quick wins” where intervention is warranted to resolve an issue and save a defecting customer. However, it’s also important to allow social media data to paint a bigger picture. With Allegiance SocialVoice, you can pull social media feedback into a single platform and include it in analysis with other data collected across your organization. Here you can report on what type of feedback has come via social media alongside data collected with surveys and other tools. This gives you added insight.

If you’re only using social media sites to promote your brand and obtain additional customers, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. As customers see your willingness to consider their opinions posted online, loyalty will surely increase. Those companies who act on the wealth of information customers share on social media sites will surely gain an advantage.