This list, hardly exhaustive, is typical of the kinds of information that customers have and often share amongst themselves—and would readily share with you if asked. Ironically, this information rarely makes it all the way back to the product and service policy designers where it would do some real good. Importantly, this may be 8c h a p t e r 1: Social Media and Customer engagement information that you don’t have, information that precisely because you are so close to your business you may never see.
Collecting this information and systematically applying it is in your best interest. For example, someone may find that your software product doesn’t integrate smoothly with a particular software application that this customer may also have installed. How would you know? This information—and the ensuing pleas for help expressed in online forums—is something you can collect through social analytics (tools and processes). It can then be combined with the experiences of other customers, as well as your own process and domain knowledge, to improve a particular customer experience and then offered generally as a new solution.
This new solution could then be shared— through the same community and collaborative technologies—with your wider customer base, raising your firm’s relative value to your customers in the process and strengthening your relationship with the customers who initially experienced the problem. The resultant sharing of information—publishing a video, or writing a review—and its use inside the organization forms the stepping-off point from social media marketing and social analytics into social business.
From a purely marketing perspective—as used here, meaning the Marco/advertising/PR domain—this shared consumer information can be very helpful in encouraging others to make a similar purchase. It can enlighten a marketer as to which advertising claims are accepted and which are rejected, helping that marketer tune the message.
It can also create a bridge to dialog with the customer—think about onsite product reviews or support forums— so that marketers can understand in greater detail what is helping and what is not. Prior to actually making process changes, this listening and information gathering—treated in depth in Chapter 6, “Social Analytics,
Metrics and Measurement”—falls under the heading of “more information” and so drives a need for enhanced social analytics tools to help make sense of it. It’s worth pursuing. Access to customer-provided information means your product or service adapts faster. By sharing the resulting improvement and innovations while giving your customers credit, your business gains positive recognition.