Incorporating Social Media and Social Listening into your Voice of the Customer (VoC) Strategy

August 18, 2021

Marley Wagner

Category: Customer Experience, Customer Retention, Customer Success as a Service, Customer Success Maturity, Customer Success Strategy

Are your ears burning? They should be! Your customers are talking about you. The real question is, are you listening?

The most effective Customer Success organizations (and entire companies) are paying attention to what their customers are saying about them. But you can’t just wait around for your customers to gush (or complain!) about your business. You need a strong customer feedback strategy that includes asking your customers what they think in different ways via multiple channels.

One frequently underutilized channel to gather this invaluable intelligence is social media. Of course, marketing usually takes the lead when it comes to publishing, monitoring, and reporting on social media, but Customer Success stands to gain a lot by keying into what’s happening on these channels. But before I get in too deep to how CS can benefit from a marketing channel (you know I love it when that happens!) let me take a step back and talk about why you would want to do that in the first place.

Voice of the Customer (VoC) and Customer Success

Voice of the Customer (VoC) is a research methodology to capture the feelings, needs, complaints, and ideas of your customers and potential customers. The ultimate goal is to share the results across the organization to continuously improve upon the customer experience. VoC initiatives proactively gather customer intelligence and data in a variety of ways. These include activities like conducting customer interviews, sending out customer surveys, interacting on community platforms, and analyzing online customer interactions like email click-through rates, user behavior on your website, and yes, their interactions with your social media pages and posts.

Every department at your company can benefit from Voice of the Customer data, but CS is particularly well-positioned to take this information, organize it, track it through the customer lifecycle, and act upon it. From uncovering the reasons customers churn to proactively building a collaborative partnership with their customers, CSMs are collecting and acting upon VoC data all the time, whether they know it or not!

Marketing and Customer Success: A winning combo

Chances are, jumping into a social media VoC project means working with the marketing team. Yay! If your CS team isn’t already buddies with the marketing peeps, here is a golden opportunity to break the ice. Customer Success can learn a lot from marketing and vice versa. Marketing can help you understand the social media metrics they already track and how your brand interacts with the community on various platforms. In turn, CS can brainstorm new ways to actively engage with customers in this medium.

It all adds up to better dynamics, healthier customer relationships, and a more robust social media VoC strategy than if either department was going at it alone.

Social listening is key to a strong VoC strategy

Social listening is the act of monitoring online discussions for mentions of and about your brand, in order to collect customer feedback and data (like keywords and trends). Effective social listening is the key to unlocking true insights into your customers’ behavior. Social media offers a direct window into the thoughts and feelings of your customers so it’s the perfect place for social listening. Think about it – your customers (and former customers and prospects) are probably already out there talking about you. Aren’t you dying to know what they’re saying?!

Through platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram, you can quietly observe customer conversations from the shadows. Going undercover to research your target audience…it’s kind of like spying, but in a good way! Lurking on social media means gaining a deeper understanding of your customers’ likes and dislikes, interactions, and preferences, leading to better and better customer experiences. This kind of “spying” benefits both you and your customers – no James Bond tuxedo needed.

Social listening is all about gathering data. What other words are most commonly used in association with your brand name? What kind of sentiment (positive or negative) is behind those words? How does that validate or contradict other feedback you’re receiving through surveys, customer interviews, etc.? After the listening phase, the next step is analyzing all that data you’ve gathered. This usually requires some kind of data analytics tool or specialized VoC technology, but I’m getting a head of myself!

Other ways to leverage social media in your VoC research

Social listening isn’t the only strategy Customer Success can employ to leverage social media to measure customer satisfaction and gather constructive feedback – here are a few more to consider.

Have one-on-one conversations with customers – Social media presents the opportunity for a brand to interact with people on a one-on-one basis. If a customer tweets about your product, you can answer them directly in the thread or DM them. CSMs can view the customer experience from an entirely new angle with this kind of real-time connection. They can ask follow-up questions to get a better sense of particular experiences, build a better bond with customers, and even give customers timely support if needed.

Join in on the conversation – The opposite strategy works just as well, and CSMs can jump onto Facebook posts, Twitter threads, and LinkedIn comments to engage customers in friendly dialogue and keep the conversation going. Again, marketers have been doing this since social media was invented, so don’t be afraid to join in on the fun. And don’t forget to take notes!

Surveys – This is a classic CS tool that can be applied to social media to gain insight from those customers who may not always respond to email or phone surveys. Most of the major social media platforms have survey functionality, so they can be deployed on your platform of choice to ask more targeted questions. Social media is perfect for short, simple surveys like single-question multiple-choice and thumbs up or thumbs down.

Notify customers about upcoming events and product updates – You’re already letting customers know what’s happening via email or in-app notifications, but those are one-way communications. When you make announcements via social media, you get to see your customers’ reactions in real-time. Are people excited about an update? Or nervous? Do they want to come to your training webinar, or have you missed the mark? Then, CS can dig in deeper by asking for specific feedback.

Learn about what’s trendy – Go beyond what your customers are saying and learn about what’s happening in your industry. It’s too easy for CS to get tunnel vision when it comes to their specific product or service. Broaden your research on social media to current events that could be affecting your customers, new and exciting goings-on, and even what your competitors are doing. All of this information will deepen your understanding of your customers’ world.

You can open up a whole new world of possibilities to expand your customer feedback strategy by practicing social listening and engaging directly with your customers on social media. Through VoC initiatives like this, Customer Success teams can gain the data and insights they need to truly act as the voice of their customers with internal stakeholders, leading to happier, more successful customers and companies.