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Engagement & Performance

Social Listening: how it can improve business performance and develop sales and channel engagement

For the last ten years companies have been desperately trying to find business benefits from social media, other than as a customer service vehicle (and a very demanding one at that). What if we told you, Social Listening can help improve your business performance?

Business executives have been stating the need to factor social media into their sales and marketing efforts, but without really knowing what that might look like. Well, at long last there may be a breakthrough, specifically in markets which adopt a channel sales approach and wish to improve business performance.

What is social listening?

Social listening is not about overhearing the conversations of friendship groups in Costa, it’s the term used for monitoring what customers are saying on social media and, increasingly, it is becoming part of channel performance strategies.

While big brands have their own social media customer service teams, what they don’t tend to have is a way of monitoring what customers say about channel experience such as automotive dealers, retail stores and technology resellers.

Brands often have very slick performance programmes in place for their channel. Customer service is rewarded, sales teams are incentivised and efficiency is monitored. Social listening can be incorporated into these programmes as a way of seeing what customers are saying, unprompted, about all aspects of service.

The benefits of social listening for your business

By monitoring Facebook comments, tweets or other social media posts it’s possible to create a new way of monitoring business performance. Mystery shopping is fine, but it’s expensive and somewhat false. CSAT surveys are forced and rarely give an unprompted view of the customer experience. Social Media is the ideal real-time performance indicator.

By incorporating a feed from publicly available websites like Twitter, it is very straightforward to establish a dynamic view of performance on social media. Combined with more standard measurement and sales metrics, automotive dealers, high street retailers and IT resellers can be better equipped as part of a business performance improvement plan.

As a next step, once this general monitoring is in place, there is also the potential to respond quickly to any social media posts that are either significant complaints or glowing commendations. This, of course, demands either real time monitoring or an alert mechanism which responds to the sentiment of any given post or comment.

Like it or loathe it social media is here to stay.

Identifying positive and negative social media posts about your brand

Sentiment is one of the most interesting aspects of social listening. Within most social listening tools is a sentiment engine. This is a complex analytics algorithm that analyses the words and phrases within a social media post to assess whether it is generally positive, negative or neutral – the sentiment of the post. Using natural language processing, computational linguistics and even biometrics, these sentiment engines assign each post a score between 1 and 10, where 1 is the lowest (a strong complaint) and 10 is highest (a great accolade).

While these technologies have come on in leaps and bounds there is always room for error in sentiment analytics. Computers don’t read sarcasm and sometimes what is clearly a negative statement to the human eye can appear as praise to a software tool. Thankfully, most good social listening tools have an easy over-ride facility where those using it can change the sentiment manually.

A monthly sentiment assessment can be an excellent measurement device (assuming all necessary manual interventions are completed). If a car retail group scores 6.5 one quarter then their objective could be to hit 7.0 the following quarter, and all on the basis of real time customer commentary.

How social listening is becoming a huge part of improving performance of the work team

At BI WORLDWIDE we are developing social listening as a performance metric for a number of retail, automotive and technology companies. When real-time customer feedback is combined with behavioural economics we have a powerful set of tools for improving and developing channel partners and business performance.

And, of course, there is a competitor analysis aspect as well. When we spot a loyal customer considering a competitor it’s an opportunity to refer back to the brand’s customer communications team to make contact and encourage ongoing brand loyalty, hopefully preventing churn to the competition.

Like it or loathe it social media is here to stay. Instead of adopting either Ostrich thinking and hoping it will go away, or total immersion thinking it will bring about world peace, BI WORLDWIDE is looking for a thought-through middle ground. In social listening, we may well have found it.

If you’d like to learn more about social listening and how it can develop your channel partners and business performance, get in touch!

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