Industry 4.0 & IoT, CRM

Social listening – having your finger at the pulse of the customer

David Appel08/02/2017

Old hat – new interpretation: 360° view of the customer

Every customer counts since customers have always been the key component of a company’s success. Sales approaches and customer retention thus become more and more important in many businesses. This comes as no surprise since studies claim that acquiring new customers can be up to five times more expensive than retaining existing customers. Social listening helps keeping an ear on your customers without requiring a host of employees to do this job.

Today, many companies store customer data – and associated transactions – in databases. These data can then be integrated and processed to be available to every department of a company in an appropriate combination. Customer service is of key importance in this regard since every customer that can be retained today does not have to be acquired tomorrow.

However, due to competitors famously being only “one click away”, companies must increasingly utilise their customer service to set themselves apart from the competition. On the one hand, the increasing expectations of customers play a central role – generally, excellent service is taken for granted today. In particular if customers can select among several providers. On the other hand, today’s customers have way more possibilities of voicing their (possibly negative) opinion on a company than in the past and thus influence the public image of a company.

"to err is human"

It is only natural that things go wrong sometimes; after all, it is humans who work in companies. A popular proverb states that “to err is human”, it thus comes as no surprise that something can go wrong in companies as well. However, in our interconnected world, people (customers) usually rather post something on social media than contact the provider directly. The problems the US airline United Airlines was faced with recently serve as a good example of that. After they (somewhat roughly) removed a passenger from an overbooked plane, postings on social media led to a proper shitstorm taken up by numerous international media and leading to massive image losses for United Airlines. Of course, this also included a loss of bookings not to be underestimated since, due to the negative picture the shitstorm painted of United, many customers did no longer want to fly with this airline.

This example shows: Handling such complaints, i.e. not directed directly at the company, professionally gives companies the opportunity to retain existing customers or even to acquire new customers. The question is how these “potentials” can be identified in the myriad of social networks and the millions of postings. One option is to hire staff who exclusively search through social networks – regarding the number of daily postings in social networks this can hardly be the solution.

At the pulse of the customer - and the ears wide open

Another option is letting automated systems do the searching, aka social listening. These systems are able to monitor a variety of social channels fully automatically and to prefilter potentially interesting contents. The filtered results are then presented to an employee for a final decision. Ideally, such a system is directly connected to the sales system. When the desired potentials are identified, these must be made visible for the sales and support teams right away. This also means that the results and data must be included in the customer’s file directly and not get lost in some inbox.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Marketing is a solution to achieve this. The solution allows automatic searches of a variety of sources, prefiltered by keywords. The solution also allows directly deriving activities, leads and sales opportunities, all in one user interface and transparently linked to the respective contact.

Old hat – new interpretation: 360° view of the customer

Another valid question is: What about employees on the move? The system has the right answer in this case as well. On the one hand, the information gained is directly integrated into Outlook and, on the other hand, there is an app for all common platforms. This allows employees to react quickly even while on the move.

With Microsoft Customer Insights, Microsoft additionally provides a tool to collect data from different sources (e.g., sales, customer service, logistics, social listening, finance) and thus allows an omnidirectional view of the customer. The objective, or more specifically the final stage of the solution is a 360° view of the customer. Effectively, an omnidirectional view of all activities of a customer which are directly or indirectly connected with the service rendered.

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About the Author: David Appel

David Appel is product manager for COSMO CONSULT´s (formerly FWI) industry solution cc|environmental services and a IPMA certified project manager. He has many years of experience in the consulting area with a focus on international projects and many years of professional experience with Microsoft Dynamics AX. He studied at the University of Economics Vienna and at the Vienna University of Technology. David has a passion for innovative technologies, product design and the start-up industry.

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