Saturday, April 16, 2011

Social Media Customer Intel

Each of the instructors at NAB's 2011 Post | Production Conference made this same point in different ways: monitor your social media sources for the best possible customer feedback. In particular, Rod Harlan and Scott Bourne drove this home. And if that wasn't enough, so did the inflight magazine from American.

The piece by Chris Warren titled "Damage Control" in the April American Way (look for Michael Stipe of REM on the cover if your flying) focused on one reputation management company (Revinate) in one particular industry (hotels). It's an interesting read, particularly in how something as evil empire as monitoring vast amounts of social media can be made warm and fuzzy.

If knowing what your fans are saying about you isn't sufficient reason to get into this game, even if you couldn't give two flips about what semi-anonymous commenters are saying about your school or teams, Warren has this little passage with the head of Revinate, Marc Heyneker.

Heyneker is being a little too chuffed with his service, calling out that a particular hotel Vegas should be paying more attention (hmm, shameless ploy for business?) . Warren asks why he would be monitoring someone who wasn't his client.

To know where the competitors are screwing up, and use that intel to improve themselves.

How's that for some counter intuitive thinking?

The heart of the story is about the detail to which some are using the service to tune up their own operations before complaints and to go after people who complain and with hyper-customer service repair the problem and turn them into evangelists for the hotel.

The concept remains a three part process. You have to take it seriously (one of the hotel managers makes a point to say she treats all the comments as if they were "real letters"). You have to wrap your hands around a vast amount of data (thus the services and tool sets). And, you need to work in near real-time.

Here another rub: it's a team sport. Alexandra Gebhard hit this hard in her presentation.  Gebhard gets the money slide here, after saying that social media can't stand alone she drives it home with it should be part of the marketing, sales and customer service.  She and others made the same point - too often it's just given to the intern because they are young and they "get" new technology. 

I think it was Amy DeLouise that amplified that by saying that yes, great chance for a young professional but they need to be paired with upper management on this - the people with the experience in the industry and who you want out there as primary voices.

Needless to say, the in-flight magazine went home with me tonight.

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