Listen to your competitors customers, you might learn something! Getting honest and unsullied opinions from consumers regarding your competitors has never been easier. In fact, you don’t even need to ask them! Traditionally, surveys and focus groups have always been useful sources of measurement on customer sentiment. Neither, however, offer the currency and (arguably) the honesty of some discreet social media monitoring.
By now many businesses are using social media monitoring tools. The most obvious application is what some call ‘Ego monitoring’. ‘Ego monitoring’ is listening for any mentions of your own company online, be it positive or negative. This style of monitoring can be useful, but instead, why not take things up a notch?!
If you read yesterday’s blog on determining your competitor’s KPI’s, then you have a perfect framework for zoning in on their strengths and weaknesses. One example we enjoyed reading about was from Harley Manning’s book ‘Outside In’. Accor Hotels (owners of the Novotel and Sofitel chains) prepare daily reports from head office for their individual managers, these reports contain up to the minute customer sentiment online. This way they can detect potential problems, branch by branch, and can then act to nip them in the bud before they snowball.
A savvy social media manager would have the same reporting set up, except they’d report on other chains in their market, such as the Radisson Group, Best Western and Marriott Group. The company can probe for weaknesses in the competition across different territories. Now armed with this easily sourced, hugely insightful customer data they can base a marketing or ad campaign around highlighting these shortcomings. Cheeky yet highly effective! All from gold plated, freely sourced competitor information.
David Vs Goliath – smaller size equals nimble reaction
A 2012 study by Conversocial has shown that a mere 13% of customer complaints delivered to the door of America’s biggest brands (including Footlocker, GAP) are responded to. They receive so many @mentions per week (over 8000 in some cases) that even the largest brands are buckling under the weight of this volume.
At home, with high streets containing empty shop units like missing teeth, independent retailers that are determined to grow could use this to their advantage. Maintain a laser focus on the big players in town for these type of complaints and service gaps, filtered by geography. A clever, smaller retailer could jump into the conversation, offer to fill the gap in experience the customer has suffered and hey presto! You’ve got yourself a lead.
Now, just ensure when they enter your store that you have the means to deliver on any promise you’ve made. But that’s a project for another day. One step at a time!