Tapping into VOC insight through social media: CX Mini Masterclass – E77

By March 26, 2020 No Comments
This CX Mini Masterclass explores how organizations can leverage social media as a rich source of Voice of Customer (VOC) insight. It can be frustrating for brands to have their journey pain points laid bare for the entire internet to see, but social media platforms also provide a unique window into the priorities, motivations and attitudes of customers. Show host and customer experience expert, Julia Ahlfeldt, shares the top 3 ways that CX teams can tap into social media to learn about customers’ wants and needs. If you’re looking for tips and ideas on how to turn a thorn in the side of the business into a fountain of rich VOC insight, then this episode is for you.

Social media is here to stay

Love it or hate it, social media is part of the fabric of our modern world, and it is here to stay. The platforms have evolved over time, their popularity ebbing and flowing, but the overall trend of global social media usage has steadily moved in one direction, and that’s up 📈. The 2020 Hootsuite/We are Social Digital Report, found that there were over 3.8 Billion social media users globally. This is up from 3.5 Billion global social media users in 2019. The report also found, unsurprisingly, that social media is a huge part of our lives. Internet users who are on social media spend an average of 2 hours and 24 minutes on various platforms.

The tip of the iceberg

In the late 1980, the White House Office of Consumer Affairs conducted a research study, which found that only 1 in 26 consumers actually says something when they’re unhappy with a brand. The vast majority, or 97% of people, stay silent. This study might yield slightly different results in a modern context. With social media, the barriers to providing feedback are much lower, but it’s likely that most consumers still say nothing.

Reflect on your own experience for a moment. How often do you provide feedback when you have a bad experience? Certainly not all the time. Probably not even most of the time. That means that unprompted inbound customer feedback, like what we see on social media, is still just the tip of the iceberg. Below the waterline, there are a lot of unhappy customers who said nothing.

Every bit of customer feedback is a gift. It provides an opportunity for the brand in question to rectify their relationship, and look for the root cause of customer experience pain points. Through what they say, customers are highlighting what’s important to them. Plus, the presence of unprompted feedback also indicates that a customer cares enough to say something. Again, reflecting on your own experiences as a customer, how often did you remain silent because you didn’t care enough or thought the feedback would fall on deaf ears? If customers are providing feedback on social media, it means both that they care enough about their relationship with the brand in question, and that they have some faith that the situation will be fixed. CX teams shouldn’t let these tiny gems from customers go to waste.

Leveraging social media for VOC insight

Social media has brought about challenges and opportunities for customer experience management. It’s not surprising that CX leaders often have mixed emotions about social media. On the one hand, it’s a public forum for consumers to share their feelings about brands, which means it can be a real sore point for CX leaders. On the other hand, it’s an incredible source of data about customer perceptions, opinions and priorities. The key is to effectively harness that information.

  • Topic and trend analysis – if customers are organically telling a brand, en masse, that they love or hate something, that’s incredibly valuable information. Teams can leverage this insight to identify trending feedback topics which could become opportunities for product innovation or journey enhancement. It’s very difficult to get this information through a survey, as surveys nearly always contain some element of bias. If you ask a customer to rate or prioritize particular attributes of the customer journey, they are already confined predetermined categories of what is important, potentially excluding aspects of the journey the research team hadn’t thought of.

  • Sentiment analysis – like analyzing incoming data about topics and trends, sentiment analysis allows brands to take a pulse on how happy or unhappy customers are with particular aspects of the journey or the brand as a whole. On its own, broad sentiment analysis might be more of a CX metric, but when combined with topics, trends or ethnographic insights, sentiment becomes an incredibly powerful source of aggregated VOC insight.

  • The “cookie crumb” trail – social media provides an opportunity to do a deep dive into a customer’s journey and their experience with a brand. Examining a single customer’s historical engagement with a brand through their posts, CX teams can paint a picture of the customer’s journey and emotion. If there are opportunities to integrate interactions through other channels (e.g. call center or in store), this creates an even more robust picture. Cookie crumb trail stories can become incredibly emotive examples of where and why a particular journey needs improvement. These can help make the case for change and make the customer journey tangible for executives or others who are behind the scenes but play a key role in shaping experiences.

Want to keep learning about CX?

If you’d like to checkout more of these CX Mini Masterclasses or listen to my longer format CX expert interviews, check out the full listing of episodes for this CX podcast.

Decoding the Customer is a series of customer experience podcasts created and produced by Julia Ahlfeldt, CCXP. Julia is a customer experience strategist, speaker and business advisor. She is a Certified Customer Experience Professional and one of the top experts in customer experience management. To find out more about how Julia can help your business achieve its CX goals, check out her customer experience advisory consulting services (including CX strategy, voice of customer and culture change) or get in touch via email

Julia Ahlfeldt

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