Last time I described how the “Community Manager” is the key company representative to solve customer’s issues in the online community. In this post, I describe how the “Community Manager” is the Chief Market Listener. That is, they listen online to get the real, un-filtered truth of what customers are saying about your products and services in the online community.
This is key to identifying systemic issues that customers are complaining about so that they can be resolved. Survey after survey confirms that companies think they are doing a good job in the areas of customer service and the customer experience, but their customers don’t think so. So this is the way to find out what is really going on.
To begin, you need to join the conversation. Ok what conversation? The conversation about your company and products but much more broadly about what issues are relevant to your customers. These may have little to do with what you sell directly but it is where your customers hang out online. So identify where these places are. To get help identifying these places and joining the conversation, you may need a tool like HootSuite, Google Alerts or Social Mention. These work by sending you references to keywords you provide that are relevant to your customers.
So start by listening and then after you get your bearings, step in and join the conversation. When engaging your customers online, reply with something that is relevant to them, not necessarily relevant to your product or service. The point is engagement, not sales. Keep in mind that this is a process and takes time. You will know when you are successful — your brand will be top of mind.
In the next post I will discuss using social media as a channel to provide customer service.