Do you have an effective listening strategy for your business? If someone says something about you or your business online then you want to know about it. Good, bad or ugly, it is important that you let your audience know that you are all ears and you hear what they are saying.
How to implement a listening strategy.
In this day and age, people tend to voice their views online, especially if they have had a negative experience with an organisation. Customers do not always have the courtesy of tagging your business in the post or @mentioning you on Twitter or Instagram. If you are not being tagged then you will not receive a notification, so it is important to use other sources to find out if things are being said about you. If you don't know about it then how can you react?
The most popular channel for customer complaints is Twitter. Twitter actually increased the number of characters within their direct message feature to over 10k characters (from 140!) so that users can write more detail in their messages to companies. Twitter also recognised that there was a need to enable people to message another Twitter user without the need for that company to follow them back, so this feature was also changed a few years ago.
Even if you do not Tweet, it is important to implement a listening strategy for Twitter. You may not be on this platform, but your customers surely will.
Which tools are best for implementing a listening strategy?
There are three tools that I would recommend. I have listed them below in cost order (free to paid).
#1 – Google Alerts – free to use.
Creating a Google Alert is a good option. However, it has not been updated in a long time so the functionality is basic. It is a great tool for those who want to receive a notification for social media channels and articles that include your keyword in a blog title or subtitle, but if you require anything more detailed then this product is not for you.
#2 – Talkwalker Alerts – free
Talkwalker allows you to easily keep an eye on content online that features your name or brand. You can also set up alerts for your competitors or industry-specific keywords. Talkwalker gets its information from Twitter (yey!), blogs, public forums and other websites. It works in a similar way to Google Alerts, and you will receive an email if any of the keywords that you have entered into your alerts are “mentioned” online.
One thing that makes Talkwalker better than Google Alerts is the filters that mean you can really enhance your search. Talkwalker also uses Boolean String techniques, so the results are so much better.
Note: there is a free version of Talkwalker (which is hidden within their website, but you can find it here). If you would like additional functionality then there are payment plan options available.
#3 – Mention – from $29 a month
Mention.net is one of the best listening tools on the market, but it comes at a cost. They initially provided a free version of the software but that has recently changed. Features that I love within mention are the real-time activity monitoring and also the ability to respond from directly within the platform. The reports and stats are excellent, so if you need to report back to a senior manager then you will find this incredibly useful.
If you are a larger organisation, or perhaps you have a reputation that needs managing, then Mention.net is a great option for you.
There are many other tools out there such as socialmention.net, meltwater, SEMRush and more, but I do not feel that I can offer reviews of these tools as I have not used them. If you have a tool that you would recommend for listening to your audience then please let us know in the comments below.
Customers demand a response, quickly!
All of your alerts are now set up, and it is important to make sure that you have a strategy to deal with complaints. The golden rule is to make sure that you are not adding fuel to the fire, so do not be defensive in your response to a complaint.
Here are my top tips for dealing with complaints.
- If the complaint can not be resolved in two messages then take the conversation into a private forum. For example, ask the customer to DM you to resolve the issue, or “message the page” or even “email us”.
- Try to respond to negativity within the first hour of the post.
- Be nice!
- Be human. If you have seen the way that Amazon deals with complaints then you will realise that you do not always have to sound “corporate”.
- I am not a big fan of bots as you can spot them a mile off (until they become more intuitive).
- Have one tone for your business. If you have a mix of people answering customer complaints then make sure that they understand the ethos and culture of your business. Do not cause friction within the process. Everyone should be singing from the same hymn sheet.
- The key to dealing with complaints is to show your customer (and their friends) that you are the company that cares. You listen, you treat them with respect and you resolve their problem.
Complaints are an opportunity
Do not bury your head in the sand when you receive a complaint or a negative post online. Deal with the issue, and you will have an opportunity to build close relationships with your customers. You will win them over with your charm. Remember, listen, be nice and above all be human.