David Inches

Marketing Consultant


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Are you Listening and Learning?

Social media has made it much easier for companies to communicate with customers, receive and act on valuable feedback. Despite this, many businesses are not making the effort to find out what customers are saying about them online. As a result, they are missing out on valuable opportunities to connect with customers, create brand awareness and fine tune products and services.

Tracking Customer Comments

The marketing term ‘social listening’ describes the practice of finding online conversations, brand mentions and relevant posts through free tools such as Google Alerts and Mention. These tools allow businesses to track key words, phrases and comments on social media and join the conversations.

This practice has become increasingly important as customers turn to social media to provide feedback and share their experiences with other users.

Given how central social media has become to people’s lives it is surprising that a significant portion of companies do not engage in any social listening. A study by J.D Power found that just 41% of companies respond to customers on social media, including through their own channels.

According to Bain & Co’s research, customers spend 20% - 40% more with companies that respond to them online. Clearly businesses that are responsive have a significant competitive advantage, but there are also pitfalls to communicating this way that you need to be aware of.

Dealing with Negative Feedback

Customers frequently use social media to vent about poor experiences and service. Unfortunately, at the first hint of criticism some business owners may become defensive, make excuses or try to assign blame. If you fail to address your customers’ concerns, they will become frustrated and take their business elsewhere. Negative or perfunctory responses to complaints leave people feeling unheard and unvalued.

Being open to feedback not only increases customer satisfaction, it enables you to fine tune your products and services. A customer who feels strongly enough about your business to take the time to write a review or comment online is someone you can benefit from.

It’s fine to interact with critical comments on public forums, but only to offer apologies and solutions. You can turn a negative situation around by showing that you’ve taken the feedback constructively and are endeavoring to fix the problem and do better in future.

Remember, potential customers are judging you on how you respond to criticism and this will shape their impression of your brand.

Social Listening Tips

  • Use free tools such as Google Alerts and Mention to track feedback and comments about your business.

  • Make use of social demographic tools to find out where your customers are online and build a presence on these platforms.

  • Respond quickly to feedback and acknowledge positive comments.

To really hear what your customers are saying about your business you need to look in the right places, be open to constructive criticism and apply learning to your business experience.

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