Social Listening: How to Create Feedback Loops Between Your Company and Your Community

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February 25,2016 by
Suzi Nelson

It’s every business’ worst nightmare…

A social media FAIL.

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A customer complains about a company on social media – and no one from the company responds. Even worse, check out who DID respond: a competitor!

Social media faux pas like this one are embarrassing and costly. Don’t let this happen to you.

It all comes down to social listening…

Monitoring and responding to customer service and reputation management issues on the social web.

….which is, at its core, social customer service.

Enter…

The Feedback Loop

 The feedback loop is a critical step in avoiding customer service disaster.

And as community manager here at DigitalMarketer, identifying and setting up feedback loops is right in my wheelhouse.

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Generally speaking, a feedback loop is a procedure that helps businesses respond and address customer issues on the social web. It often works behind the scenes in the eyes of public-facing social media, but it’s an important step in making sure your customers feel valued and heard.

By the end of this post, you’ll know…

  • The 4 steps to the feedback loop
  • The 4 common types of feedback loops
  • The major benefits of implementing a social listening and feedback loop procedure

Let’s see it in action:

Social Listening Feedback Loop Step #1: A Customer Raises a Concern on Social Media

This concern directly or indirectly involves your company, products, or services and is posted on social media accounts, often for the whole world to see.

Here’s what this looks like…

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In the age of social media and digital communication, this is a common occurrence. Twitter is rife with customer outbursts like this one, directed at Wells Fargo – and the user even threatens to move their finances to a competing bank.

Instances like this aren’t just limited to the Twittersphere. Check out this complaint on Facebook:

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This customer is frustrated that his veteran status was not recognized at a home improvement store, and voiced his concerns on the store’s Facebook page (that is, by the way, made public for everyone who visits the page to see).

Though his complaint is worded strongly, he is reaching out for recognition of his issue.

However, not all customers are searching for a solution to their problems…

The Customer Concern Exception

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This is what we fondly refer to as a “troll”.

These are people who aren’t posting because they’re genuinely unhappy with the company and want to find a fix.

A troll wants to get a negative emotional response out of anyone who reads their post. They don’t want a solution to their problem – they want a fight.

You might have heard the old Internet adage, “Don’t feed the trolls.” Here’s why:

Sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between a frustrated customer and a genuine troll.

Well, allow me to tell share the secret — the quickest way to detect a troll is to engage with them… once.

A troll will make it abundantly clear right away what their intentions are instead of spending any time engaging in the conversation. Remove their comment (to the best of your ability) and move on.

Your time is much better spent putting fires out elsewhere.

So what happens when you spot a genuine customer service concern?

First things first — don’t panic! You can handle this.

That’s because…

Social Listening Feedback Loop Step #2: Your Community Manager Listens for Concerns

…and responds in a timely manner.

The social media universe moves at lightning fast speed. Twenty-four hours might as well be a thousand years, especially when unhappy customers are involved.

That’s why it’s crucial to have someone in your company who is listening to what’s being said and responding to issues quickly. Here at DigitalMarketer, we try to respond within 12 hours to Facebook messages – and even less for Twitter (things tend to move a little faster in the Twitterverse).

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Sometimes issues simply cannot be resolved in that timeframe and that’s okay.

Just letting the customer know that their message has been received is enough to make them feel respected and appreciated — we call it the “you’ve been heard” response.

(NOTE: Want a step-by-step plan for tracking, measuring, and monetizing social media? See Digital Marketer’s Social & Community Mastery Specialist training and certification program by clicking here.)

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Social Listening Feedback Loop Step #3: Your Community Manager Identifies the Type of Feedback Loop

…and routes the concern to the proper channels.

The next step is to determine who in your company’s hierarchy is equipped to resolve the issue.

The important thing to realize here is that there are many different kinds of feedback loops, so where a concern is routed has a lot to do with the size and organization of your company. Here are some examples of common feedback loops:

The Customer Service Loop

This is probably the most common (and essential) loop you will come across. Someone raises a customer service issue, and it is routed to the appropriate channel.

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The Content Loop

Many times complaints can also point to a problem or gap in your content. The community manager can alert your content team to address the issue, and they can get to work creating the missing piece.

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The Technical Loop

Links break, websites go down, customers have technical issues with products. These things happen. The important thing to do is address concerns quickly and make sure the right people in your company know about the problems.

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The [Insert Your Category Here] Loop

Feedbacks loops aren’t limited to these categories by any stretch of the imagination. As I mentioned before, how you structure your loops depends a lot on the structure of your company and the type of products or services you provide.

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As you can see, other teams and loops can be included. Perhaps your legal team needs to be in the know on certain concerns. Maybe your CEO needs to address particular issues that are voiced on social media. Your products team definitely needs to know about how customers feel about characteristics of your product that are or are not present.

Social Listening Feedback Loop Step #4: Your Community Manager Responds

.…back with the solution or the appropriate team handles the response.

No matter what type of feedback loop your community manager identifies, it is crucial to put a consistent response procedure in place. If a resolution is required to resolve the issue, who responds to the customer? The community manager? The customer care team? Or are you assigning particular people in each department to handle responding?

Ultimately the decision depends on what makes sense for your team. Just remember that in a perfect world, a resolution should be presented to the customer within 24 hours of the original complaint.

Social Listening Tools

There are a ton of social listening tools on the market – some extremely sophisticated – that can make this process much easier. Social listening tools like Mention (which is what we use here at DigitalMarketer) and the more elaborate Radian6 can equip your community manger with live streams of social media alerts specialized by keywords:

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These platforms also have the ability to assign individual comments and tweets to specific members of your team, making the feedback loop process a breeze. Here’s a screen shot I took in Mention as I assigned a social media post to our customer care manager:

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Social listening is fundamental to social media success because it’s basically customer service. If you are listening to the social web – where people are complaining, praising, and assessing your products and services – and responding appropriately, your business will benefit.

The Power of Loops

Manage Your Reputation

Businesses who fail to respond to social media mentions get a bad rep, and it’s easy to see why. Setting up a feedback loop procedure can do wonders for making sure that your customers are happy with your brand, and turn a complaint into praise in no time.

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Increase Your Retention and Reduce Refunds

Happy customers are customers that stick around. They often advocate for your brand when they see other unhappy people. This is a good thing!

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Identify Product Gaps

Listening for complaints about how customers experience their purchases means that your product team has a unique window into problems and gaps in your product line. Feedback loops keep them in the know on where to improve.

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Identify Content Gaps

Feedback loops are also valuable to your content team. Common FAQs from your customers are a great place to start for developing missing content that can help preemptively solve customer service issues and give them a great brand experience.

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Social listening can make a huge difference for your brand (and your revenue) and setting up proper feedback loops can go a long way in managing your social customer service efforts.

What is your business doing to avoid social media fails?

(NOTE: Want a step-by-step plan for tracking, measuring, and monetizing social media? See Digital Marketer’s Social & Community Mastery Specialist training and certification program by clicking here.)

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Suzi Nelson

About Suzi Nelson

Suzi Nelson is the Community Manager at DigitalMarketer. She has a degree in Journalism (Strategic Communications) from the University of Kansas and is an avid defender of the oxford comma. You can find Suzi connecting with our customers and followers across any of DigitalMarketer's social profiles, and in our DM Lab Facebook mastermind group, DM Engage. Connect with her on Facebook.

View all Posts by Suzi Nelson