Every once in a while we hear about how mining social media is the best new way to gain feedback. This Marketing Daily article with a sensational (not in a good way) headline, “Goodbye To Surveys For Companies That Mine Social,” by Karl Greenberg is a good example.
In the article, social media research firm newBrandAnalytics says “surveys are defunct…companies get a 25% increase in online customer reviews on their social sites.” While there may be a bump in customer reviews due to social media, that doesn’t mean it’s time to throw everything else out the window.
It’s time to take off the rose-colored glasses and take a good look at feedback and see it for what it really is – a very small piece of a much larger puzzle. This goes back to the Feedback vs. Measurement argument that can be found right here in the pages of this blog. And social feedback isn’t any different than any other kind of feedback and should be taken with a grain of salt.
The problem with opt-in feedback devices such as customer reviews and social media pages is that you typically hear from either customers who are pure loyalists (where the company can do no wrong), or, at the other end of the spectrum, those who had a completely miserable experience with the company. These are the squeaky wheels, if you will. Very rarely do hear from the silent majority – the biggest portion of your customer base.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a place for feedback…it’s just not in the boardroom where game-changing decision are made. It’s difficult to steer a shopping cart that has a wobbly, squeaky wheel, right? So why should you use feedback to steer your decision making?
You might be thinking that I’m defending surveys because you think ForeSee is a survey company. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m not defending surveys – there are more bad surveys out there than good, and companies need to be aware of that. Furthermore, ForeSee is a technology company that uses a proven and successful methodology to measure the customer experience. Surveys just happen to be one of the tools it uses.
And these aren’t simple surveys. ForeSee uses random intercept surveys backed by a patented, scientific methodology to view the experience through the eyes of the customer. All of them.
This is a technology that really entrenches itself in the customer experience (be it web, mobile, social media, etc.) allowing company leaders to better understand their customers – that middle core that goes unheard most of the time through opt-in devices.
So, feel free to mind social media because there is some useful information to be found there. But, by no means should you mine it to the point where you think you can base strategic, tactical, or operational business decisions on it.
Feedback alone can misguide you and will eventually lead you down the wrong path. So, use social feedback to supplement, not supplant.