Social media is one of the most effective means of collecting information about current and potential clients. Companies have free public access to information that is uncensored, and customers want to be heard through the channels they enjoy using most.
Here are the five ways companies can use data from platforms like Twitter and Facebook, etc. to gain new customers and increase retention of current consumers.
Why are customers thinking about leaving? When customers perceive a better value somewhere else, they're more likely to leave your company. This is especially true in a commodity business, where there are more options and less price difference, so you have to compete on customer service. Social media provides a place where you can gather information directly from your current customers on why they are considering leaving. You have a direct line into finding out where there may be glitches in your service or whether your rates are too high. Once the issue is established, you can remedy the problem much faster.
For example, if a telecom company is considering launching a new product or service, and customers are reacting unfavorably to the announcement on social media, this gives the company the opportunity to adjust and fix the issue before it becomes a real problem.
Why are they interested in your competitors? After you've researched why a customer may want to leave your service, go a step further and find out who they're going to. What is it, specifically, that is leading them to switch to the competition? Perhaps the competitor offers faster service, a lower price or a quicker response time to service requests. Use this data to capitalize on improving current practices.
Ideally, your company should look at all the competitors in your space, but it is especially important for you to look at the specific company that is attracting your current customer base. Look at why your customers are leaving you behind for the competitor. This will help you determine what your customers truly value so you can adjust and re-evaluate your current model and/or services. It's important for you to document these issues so that you can avoid making similar mistakes in the future.
Why are they leaving your competitors? The great thing about social media commentary is that it's unfiltered. You can easily track your company's performance by reading what your customers are saying online. Similarly, social media can provide you with great insight about what other consumers think about your competitors' goods and services. What do they like? What do they dislike? What do they wish the company was offering or doing better? Use this data to avoid falling into similar traps and service ruts and then channel that information to engage with your new potential consumers.
For example: Your biggest competitor announced a new price hike for a service that is similar to one that you offer and were considering adjusting the price on, as well. By mining and analyzing the valuable public social media data and commentary from your competitor's customers, your company gets feedback before it affects you. This data gives your organization time to adjust and capitalize on a potentially more favourable offering.
Engage with those who are considering leaving your company. Social media offers a way for companies to communicate directly with a customer who may have had an unsatisfactory experience and attempt to right the situation. By leveraging the information you have found through social media data, you have the opportunity to engage in real-time with customers to find out what they want, what they need and what they're expecting from the services you are providing.
For example: Company A decides to offer the newest smart phone, but in only one colour or memory offering. When sales open for the new product, social media is alight with customers who are unhappy with this decision and are threatening to switch to a competitor that they perceive as a better value. By monitoring these real-time comments on social platforms, Company A can quickly adjust its offerings to address the negative feedback and retain its customers.
Do things to attract and support current customers. Just as it is important to address customers that have expressed frustration with your company or service, it's also important to regularly connect with customers who are happy with your services. Offer them your gratitude for their praise of your company and give real-time recognition to those who support your business. This will help keep them feel connected to your brand and keep them coming back to your service over others. This small act can go far with your customer base. The satisfaction of being recognized, especially if your company is a large brand, can be valuable beyond compare.
John Huehn, CEO of In the Chat, is a veteran of the traditional call centre where he made his way through the executive ranks of Canada's Telco industry. Recognizing that the future of customer service was quickly moving beyond the traditional tools in use, Huehn built a world-class digital service experience to deliver the next generation of customer service and help companies better serve their customers through social media.