Recent articles in the Vancouver Sun highlight the growth in popularity of social networks as a means for disgruntled consumers to get back at corporate giants and even smaller businesses like the one in the coffee debacle.
Wednesday’s article about Telco customers using Facebook to bite back at Bell and Telus and June’s article on Gas Tax protest numbers soar on Facebook both showcase how these mediums are quickly catching on as a means by which the ordinary person on the street can have their say. They depict dire results for companies.
Rather than a threat, I look on these forums as an opportunity for companies to do vital research. Gripe groups provide a vital pulse on customer sentiment. Every company should be constantly monitoring the Internet and social media forums like blogs, microblogs and social networks to hear whats being said about their company or industry in these forums.
The more consumers gripe the better – its the perfect way for companies to find out what people like and don’t like about aspects of their product or service and to make it better.
Traditionally organisations have expended substantial sums to research their target audience using focus groups, surveys and questionnaires. Now there’s data available for free online. Granted the flow of gripes may not be controlled in the same way a focus group or survey would be but you cannot ignore the value of this information.
Use Google alerts, regular searches (on different search engines) and tools like Tweet Scan to monitor these forums and keep an ear to the web for what is being said. By doing so you will have the opportunity to act quickly to respond to adverse criticism and you will gain great insights into your customer opinions so that you can improve your offering.