In his best-selling book ‘Business @ the Speed of Thought: Succeeding in the Digital Economy’, Bill Gates had written, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” With this statement, he inspired businesses all over the world to introspect and re-invent their marketing and customer service practices in order to create and implement customer-friendly strategies. His inspiration has gone deeper and encouraged businesses to re-configure their product and service offerings, as well as invest in how they manage their customers and customer relationships.
This new paradigm of doing business has shaken up the industry. Where businesses and their marketing teams were focused on achieving their own business targets and satisfaction, they now have to focus on customers whom they had taken for granted all these years. Now, customers and their satisfaction have to be woven into business plans and strategies, and in achieving business targets. Where, once, businesses were sitting prettily on the strength of their brands and their reputation, and taking customer feedback lightly, they now have to listen to what customers have to say more seriously.
The importance of customer feedback grew with the popularity and growth of the internet. It was the mid-nineties, and search engines like Yahoo and AOL (Google started soon after in 1998) attracted millions of users, each one a customer, who could search for products and services on the internet and comment on their preferences and dissatisfaction. Amazon.com, which began around that time and created a revolution in online shopping, introduced customer reviews and made it easier for customers to provide instant feedback on products. Moreover, Amazon customers could comment on each other’s reviews and start conversations with each other.
But it was the advent of social media which really intensified the chatter on the internet and highlighted the importance of conversations, much of which had to do with customer satisfaction and dissonance over products, services, and brands they used. Customers not only voiced their opinions and shared them with friends and family, they also passed on comments and opinions expressed by others (whom they may or may not know) to people in their circle of connections. Some of these people, in turn, shared the comments and opinions with others. And so on.
Over the last 15 years, social media and the internet have become a bubbly universe of conversations (both private and public) between people, some of which have begun to influence customers in their decisions to purchase products and services and associate with specific brands and businesses. Businesses and their marketing teams are beginning to realize that ignoring customer feedback, overlooking an infraction in service delivery through an agent, business ethics and practices, attitudes toward preservation of the planet can make big differences to their business and profits.
The good news is since all these conversations on social media represent customer moods and sentiments, they provide wonderful opportunities for brands and businesses to become conscious of their customers and what is happening in the marketplace. Even unhappy customers are a gold mine of information. In fact, they are the first to alert businesses of unanticipated trouble and can be used as an early warning system. Since they are selfless enough to voice their unhappiness for the greater good, their commitment can be taken seriously. And, if businesses can manage their complaints swiftly and satisfactorily, unhappy customers can soon become loyal to the brand and the business.
Fortunately for businesses and their marketing teams, they can now use social media analytics tools to listen in to conversations between people on social media, analyze the nature and magnitude of these conversations, learn from insights extracted from these conversations, and formulate business strategies to address customer complaints and ensure customer unhappiness is reduced. These social analytics tools, like ours at Konnect Insights, offer a suite of products and features for Listening, Analytics, ORM / Social CRM and Publishing. The benefits they offer in discovering customer intelligence and business decision-making is worth the investment.