Imagine if your company could hire secret agents to sit in every cafe, bar or restaurant to eavesdrop on conversations. They exist only to report back when customers speak of your company. All things, good, bad and indifferent are discussed among friends in the course of conversation. You learn that there are people out there who love you. They sing your praises every chance they get. You also find there are people that hate you. They bash your company as often as they can. It turns out there are more from both groups than you knew about.
Eavesdropping like this is sort of a strange fantasy. It’s impossible and kind of weird. It’s too Big Brotherly. Instead, we often rely on formal data collection programs to glean just a fraction of the sentiment our customers are willing to share directly with us.
Formal data collection has it’s limits. We know that the people who fill out customer comment cards are self selecting. By interacting with you they are also, likely, modifying their behavior and their criticisms of you in some manner. A little 3×5 card and a golf pencil will never give us the same information our secret agents could. Luckily, we have Twitter!
Informal comments on Twitter can be insightful, at times to a startling degree. They are also easy to collect. There are applications that exist where you can enter your company name and every time someone tweets about you (even without using your Twitter handle) you’ll receive a notification.
There is an earnestness that you can benefit from by monitoring Twitter. It’s like listening in on a phone conversation. Even if you aren’t actively engaged on social media, this form of data collection can be amazingly insightful. It’s free, easy, instant and can even function as a sort of early warning system.
Imagine an angry customer who had a bad experience with an employee. Management rarely has the opportunity to get out in front of such a situation. Instead, they usually find out when the customer feels like letting them know. So often all management can do is react. Just as often though, the irate customer will tweet about their experience. A good notification program will let you know the instant someone tweets about you. By monitoring Twitter we have moved from reactive to proactive.