I recently read an excellent blog post titled The Consumer Survey is Dead by Sam Fiorella, which was published about the same time I participated in a #CXO Twitter chat regarding customer surveys. I left comments with a common theme in both venues:
Surveys require consumers to opt-in to a TASK you give them in a format of YOUR choosing. Other than perhaps having some free-form comment opportunities within the survey, the consumers must CONSTRAIN their input to the questions and “scoring system” YOU provide.
Tasks and constraints are not the best techniques for nurturing a relationship!
Here’s the scoop: Folks are already talking about your brand. In fact, you no longer exclusively own your brand message, and you might not even be part of the discussion! Consumers are expressing their passions, their frustrations, and perhaps even their glowing praise for your products and services. They are venting on their favorite social platform, and it definitely isn’t a survey! Here’s the real kicker…those outspoken consumers have friends and followers who take that candid consumer feedback and (sometimes gleefully) pass it along to everyone in their networks. Ha, bet your survey can’t do that!
So what do we do about these outspoken consumers? We monitor for them. We look for mentions of our brands in the social sphere. In the interest of disclosure, I represent one of the enterprise-class monitoring tools called Mantis Pulse Analytics. However, some free and nearly-free tools like Hootsuite are great for a basic level of monitoring on social platforms like Twitter. You can add Google Alerts if you want to expand your monitoring to a broader range of sources like blogs and review sites.
Those simple monitoring solutions can give us the Who, What, When and Where…but what about the WHY? If you step up to enterprise-class monitoring, then you can also perform sentiment analysis on those mentions. About this time in the discussion, someone generally blurts out “SENTIMENT ANALYSIS IS CRAP! It can’t pick up sarcasm/etc.” And you’re right, sir/madam – partially. Sentiment analysis does have trouble picking up slang and sarcasm. In fact, I’ve had to go into data collections and “teach” Pulse Analytics that use of the F-bomb in certain situations is a GOOD thing (think guitar riffs, skiing, or anything that’s preceded by “hey guys, check this out”). I heard a great quote at a conference last year: “Big Data is the New Algorithm.” Even if sentiment analysis is not 100% accurate, collecting and scoring brand mentions over time still allows us to capture and respond to urgent concerns, identify trends around topics related to our brand, and proactively steer our brand message.
Monitoring over time = actionable intelligence!
In conclusion, perhaps it’s time to recognize the small sample sizes that contribute to your survey results. Instead, take that sampling to the social streams. Find out what people are saying about you, and WHY they feel strongly enough to share it with their followers. Then develop a strategy for engaging those outspoken consumers, where they want to be engaged, to provide a rewarding consumer experience!
I love my wife and two daughters. I’ve been married over 23 years and love my wife more than ever. I’m blessed in that I also love my job as a principal and EVP of the Rocky Mountain Region for Mantis Technology Group. I’m excited to promote our Pulse Analytics social media monitoring and sentiment analysis solution as well as our software development and business intelligence services. I welcome your engagement–let’s have some fun! And while you’re at it, feel free to follow me on Twitter and check out my blog.