Home » Listening to Customers Goes Beyond Answering the Phone

Listening to Customers Goes Beyond Answering the Phone

By Dana Pethia, Constant Contact Regional Development Director, Pacific Northwest

Hear what your customers have to say via survey and social media

You think you offer great a product or service to your customers and members, but do you know that for sure? Are you taking the time to listen to what your customers are saying about you? If the answer to both questions is no, you could be missing out on some valuable insight that could help grow your business or organization, or better shape some of your processes. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to “hear” what your customers are saying through multiple feedback channels.

Active listening

If you’re actively seeking feedback, you can ask every customer, member, or event attendee you come in contact with for his or her thoughts. While that’s not always possible, and it can sometimes be hard to aggregate and quantify, you can use an online survey to collect more structured feedback from your valued constituents.

I always stress to those starting out with a survey tool to keep things simple for both themselves and the survey takers. For example, limit the number of questions to five. If you must go longer, offer an incentive to those responding as a thank you for their time. But shorter is definitely better; you’d be surprised what information you can get out of a few well-written questions.

A slightly less formal method of active feedback is to pose a question to your Twitter followers and Facebook fans. It can be something simple such as, “What is your favorite item on our menu?” or “What service would you like us to add?” Facebook makes it easy to post a poll question to your fans via its Questions feature, giving you a way to get people engaging with your Page while at the same time providing feedback.

Everyday listening

Even if you’re not asking them, your customers and members could be sharing their thoughts about your organization, products, or offerings via social media and review sites such as Yelp, Google Places, and Angie’s List. It may seem a bit daunting to keep track of all this, but there are free tools and processes that can make the task of tracking online mentions simpler:

NutshellMail can be set up to watch for mentions of your Twitter handle, keywords or phrases, posts on your Facebook Page, LinkedIn mentions, Foursquare check-ins and tips at your location, and Yelp reviews. This aggregated information is emailed to you on a schedule of your choosing.

Twitter’s search tool can be used to monitor for mentions of your brand (even those tweets that don’t include your handle), product, or any keyword you want. The only downside is the search returns real-time results, so you have to be looking at it somewhat often to get the full value.

HootSuite is a social media dashboard that can be used to track Twitter mentions and search queries, posts to your Facebook Page, LinkedIn updates, comments to WordPress-based blogs, and Foursquare check-ins. HootSuite is web-based, so you can log in to your account from any browser to monitor how things are going.

Google Alerts allow you to save a Google search query and have new results emailed to you on a regular basis. The upside to this is Google seems to index everything. The downside is it can generate a lot of results if you’re searching for a generic term or product category.

SocialMention claims to be the Google Alerts for the social web. It lets you set up a search term to query more than 80 social sites (including all the popular networks) and get the results via a daily email.

You don’t have to be super active on one or all of the major social media sites to benefit from monitoring for mentions of your company. Sure, engaging with your customers, members, and prospects through social media will help generate more mentions, but it’s not a requirement to get started “listening.” In fact, it may help you to determine which social media sites your customers use most, allowing you to focus your efforts on those sites.

No matter which option you choose, you’ll find that listening to your customers and members will result in some powerful insights.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.