In the current 7DEE series, we're talking about analytics in the age of customer empowerment. I emphasize analytics, because I think there's a danger of regarding some of the great advice we're hearing as just common sense customer relations.
That's only the half of it, as Paul Gillin demonstrated in today's excellent presentation: 'Haters Gotta Hate': How to Measure Negative Sentiment & What to Do About It.
In the message board discussion that followed, I asked him whether "the analytics angle here is the volume and velocity of the feedback," remarking that most of his advice "would make sense, even if we were still dealing by mail." He agreed:
"You're absolutely right. A lot of this is basic crisis communications, but the channels and speed have all changed."
Channels, velocity, and -- as I like to emphasize -- volume, too.
I've argued before in this space that velocity, as well as volume, is a defining characteristic of big-data. Of course, the channels along which data is now vectored include the entire portfolio of social media platforms, as well as telecom, email, blogs, and even plain old newsprint.
For any enterprise facing authentic market discontent (and not merely the usual chronic complainers), Paul's tips were invaluable:
- Don't be silent.
- Don't be defiant.
- Don't yell.
- Don't make assumptions.
- Don't tell lies.
You can find all this stated more elegantly in the slides that accompanied his talk.
Some years ago, I was responsible for preparing the media spokesman for a major trade association for his media appearances. I told him, as kindly as I could, all the above. What tended to frustrate him was the necessity of not making presumptive statements -- "Oh no, our industry would never do that" -- before the facts were in. He was understandably worried that he'd miss the news cycle, and his informed response would be lost.
These were the days when the news cycle turned, at best, once every 24 hours.
The velocity of today's digital news cycle, on the other hand, is breathtaking, as is the velocity of consumer feedback on products and campaigns with which enterprises now need to grapple. Monitoring the conversation, across multiple channels, is no easy task.
One solution, as Gillin explained, is to get ahead of the curve. Predictive analytics can alert enterprises to issues before they become intractable. Look for key words and phrases that signal problems within your industry. Because volume is so important, monitor for unexpected spikes in feedback: They may be good news or bad news, but they probably do indicate news.
Above all, combine the right automated solutions with clear policies. Multiple vendors offer tools that can siphon the social torrent into intelligible streams. Dashboards or visualization can help make sense of the conversation. When it comes to responding, staff should be trained in best-practices, and be empowered to engage.
The focus group can't be contained in a conference room any more.
— Kim Davis , Community Editor, Internet Evolution