There was a time when companies manufactured what they liked, what they preferred, or what they thought was best. Once the final product was ready, they set about the process of finding ways to sell it. Today, nobody from a shoe manufacturer to a cosmetic products company or even a financial services company can consider taking this route. In the ever connected global marketplace and a world of social media dominance – where every consumer has a voice; not listening is perhaps the biggest mistake you can make as a brand!
So, what to listen to?
What your customers are saying:
Consumer reviews, customer satisfaction surveys and feedback forms are ever popular tools of finding out what your customers want to say. And you can use social media monitoring tools to track what people are saying on Facebook, Twitter, blogs or other online forums. As a brand, you should not just look at the positive feedback – but focus more on what issues are being raised by your loyal customer base. This can help you bring about important improvements in your offering. Say, you are a chocolate manufacturer and the test marketing results of your latest product shows that is not as successful as you would have expected. A quick analysis of customer feedback and discussions reveals that consumers are reluctant to pick up the product because the packaging uses a ‘repelling’ color. Feedback such as this, if collected in time – can help you save a lot of resources and deliver better and more successful products to your target market.
What your competition’s customers are saying:
While it is most important to focus on what your own customers are saying, it is as important to keep an eye on what your competition’s customers are most vocal about. If you can pick on their top grievances and create a campaign around delivering these effectively – you may be able to win over ‘brand switches’ in large numbers. Say, you are a telecom brand and your competition’s Facebook community is full of user complaints about ‘bad connectivity’. You could create a campaign about providing the ‘best connectivity in US’ and benefit with the resultant switchovers! Further, keeping a watch on your competition’s best features may help you improve your own product’s shortfalls.
What your prospects are saying:
Conduct surveys among your target segment to find out what they are looking for; or what factors are keeping them from becoming your customers. This can help you incorporate the key factors in your product or promotions to induce more trials and first purchases.
Tracking market/industry level trends:
Social media monitoring today allows for easy collection, collation and analysis of industry level trends. You can scan communities and blogs with tools that track information on almost real-time basis; and this information can then be sliced and diced to derive the latest and upcoming trends.
What your customers are not saying:
There are some hidden factors and motivations that qualitative research can help uncover. You can use tools like focus group studies and discussions to conduct in-depth research about what the customers or prospects are not saying, but ‘feeling’. This can help you identify factors that matter in subtle yet significant ways.
What to do?
The information collected using primary or secondary research and social media monitoring tools should be used effectively. They can be used to construct perceptual maps reflecting the position of your brand vis-à-vis others on visual scales representing key customer values. It may be possible that differences exist in real value offered and the value perceived by the customer. But in the end, what matters is your customer’s perception of reality! So, it becomes all the more important to keep a tab on your customer’s pulse – only then can you envision what exists in their heart; and strive to create improved offerings.
– Research Optimus