A recent report by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services called The New Conversation: Taking Social Media from Talk to Action (sponsored by SAS) covers a survey of 2100 companies across the globe on how they are using (or not using ) Social Media. Some interesting facts that emerge from this study, which you can read in its entirety here.

1. 2/3 of the companies are either using social media channels or have plans to use them. That means that 1/3 are not using social media or have no plans to do so. This is staggering, given the benefits of joining the conversation with customers, finding dissatisfied customers and finding and promoting positive customer testimonials in the form of reviews.

2. Many companies say that social media is just an experiment. What comes out in the survey is that many companies who are using social media still consider themselves to be in learning mode.

3. While still unsure of the best practices for Social media, 2/3 of companies surveyed expect their use of social media will grow over time.

4. Only 12% of the companies surveyed felt that they were ‘effective’ in their use of social media.

5. Many of the companies using social media are doing so as an outbound channel (sending their marketing messages out)  rather than listening to customers or responding to complaints.

6. Three-quarters (75%) of the companies in the survey said they did not know where their most valuable customers were talking about them.

7. Less than 25% are using social media analytic tools. There seems to be a fear that some of the sentiment analysis tools are not robust enough yet to discern between  linguistic nuance, differing context, or cultural factors in deciphering the meaning of a blog post or a tweet, since humans themselves often disagree on the meaning of a word or a comment. That means, without interaction, it is hard to know if a customer is satisfied or not, based just on what appears in social media.

8.  Most of these companies also said they were still struggling with how to best use the different channels, determine their effectiveness, and integrate social media into their strategies.

Quotations

Some key quotes I found interesting in this article that relate to customer satisfaction.

a. “Conventional marketing wisdom long held that a dissatisfied customer tells ten people. But…in the new age of social media, he or she has the tools to tell ten million.” says Paul Gillin, author of The New Influencers.

b. “My bottom line is anybody who isn’t actively listening in social media channels is naïve — anyone is crazy not to,” said the director of customer experience at a midsized B2B supply firm. “A lot of companies who spend a lot of money in formal customer data collection would be surprised at the extra dimension of listening to informal comments….”

c. Customers planning a vacation, a meal, or a haircut can turn to customer review sites like Trip Advisor and Yelp. Meanwhile, on multimedia sites like YouTube, companies can post promotional clips, while disgruntled consumers can capture scenes of poor service or damaged products on their iPhones and quickly upload the video.

d. “Without monitoring conversations on the Web, you won’t know who’s talking about your brand and your products or services, and what the positive and negative sentiments are about them,” says leading author and analytics expert Tom Davenport.

Summary

Companies and Organizations are slowly coming around to realizing the power and benefits of  social media, including improving customer satisfaction through engagement and providing superior customer service. Early adopters have jumped in and will model the way. But it is clear that social media is not a fad and won’t be going away.

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Adele Berenstein

Adele Berenstein is an Experienced Customer Satisfaction Executive, recently retired from a Large Global IT Organization after a long productive management career including Sales, Marketing, Services, teaching and education center management and most recently, 19 years in customer satisfaction management. She turned around divisions with customer satisfaction problems, implemented measurable improvements and management systems, and implemented programs to prevent problems from ever affecting customers.

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