Guest View: Social data — the great enabler

Julian Quinn

For as long as there have been businesses, there has been a critical need to measure the landscape within which they operate. In the past this might have been as simple as talking to the customers who came into your store. However, the rapid advances made in technology has resulted in the creation of ever more information and data which businesses need to manage and digest in order to gain real business changing intelligence.

If you're to move the needle on the area of the business which you're trying to improve - principally, customer experience - you need to measure all the signals and make the most of your data. As consumers themselves become increasingly familiar with the notion of personal data, 'Big Data' and brands knowing more about them, it opens up a relationship whereby a fair exchange is expected.

A consumer will release relevant data and social data signals in return for relevant messaging, offers and opportunities that make for a better customer experience. Brands need to get closer to their consumer, but this engagement needs to be accurate and appropriate. Customers no longer tolerate bad use of their data and so being smarter, nuanced and in tune with the customer experience is where the greatest difference can be realized.

The modern customer experience is non-linear. We know customers go through their own journey on the path to purchase and have their own understanding and relationship with brands. In a multi-channel world, the customer can pick and choose which elements of getting to a purchase outcome they take and 'we' the business cannot always control their route. However, we can make it easier for the customer to do business with us. If we measure the relevant data signals at various stages of the customer journey and are prepared to make changes based on tangible quantitative and qualitative insights, customer struggle is greatly reduced.

You get the behaviour that you measure

Consider this notion; 'You get the behaviour that you measure.' There is no sense in measuring anything, if it does not result in a commercially valuable behaviour. Measurement must start with the behaviour that businesses want to drive and should only seek to measure those things that are connected or drive the desired behaviours. We anticipate that 2014 will see not only an adjustment in what is measured but as a result, outputs from listening and reacting will drastically impact business operations as siloes, departments and objectives align. 

What does social intelligence tell you about the amount of conversation about your brand or the products and services you provide? Volumes could be in the hundreds or thousands and return a data-set of generalised conversations, or it may be that there are lower levels of more focused and specific conversations you can zero in on. Extracting a volume of social conversations or 'buzz' around your brand is nothing without drilling down into the substance of the noise. Mostly, what people are talking about online are their offline experiences.

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