Social Intelligence and the Customer Experience

White Paper

Customers now expect more than ever before from brands. This means companies need to be able to make more informed decisions about value propositions, brand strategies, and customer engagement. This whitepaper discusses how SDL’s approach to Social Intelligence provides the competitive data-driven edge companies need to gain competitive advantage.

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The Customer Experience

Today’s global business environment is highly competitive Organizations face challenges not only with recruiting skilled workers and navigating outsourcing concerns, but also with promoting products and services to a constantly shifting worldwide market.

Organizations can no longer simply rely on the 4Ps (pricing, promotion, product, and placement) to remain competitive. When customers control the relationship with the brand, organizations need to be able to understand and deliver what customers want, respond to their complaints immediately, and anticipate their next move. In fact, customer experience is widely acknowledged as the most crucial battlefield in the quest for new customers.

Yet, according to a Bain & Company survey 80% of businesses believe their customer experience is superior, while only 8% of customers agreed.

The disconnect between what brands think versus what customers experience presents an opportunity to be the brand of choice in the global market place.

80% of businesses believe their customer experience is superior, while only 8% of customers agreed

Critical questions that shape customer experiences:

  • How can you optimize the customer’s buying journey to remove barriers to completion and make it repeatable?
  • What are the key moments of opportunity and what are the key drivers of engagement?
  • In which channels should you engage them?
  • How do you convert customers into brand advocates?
  • Do I need to adjust my approach to customer experience to account for global marketplace differences, and if so, how?
  • What markets are ripest for opportunity around the world?

Organizations need to holistically envision the journey of buying a product or service and the journey to becoming a brand advocate or evangelist. This is best accomplished when companies glean information on the customer journey through listening, talking, and understanding the customer in their own words, in their own language and on their own terms. The companies that embrace the use of Big Data and social intelligence to meet this challenge are the ones better poised to take a leadership position.

The Role of Social Data

Statistics from IBM, along with many others, assert that 90% of the data in the world has been created in the last two years alone. According to IDC by 2020 there will be more than 35 trillion terabytes of data. Today, social and mobile data accounts for the majority of that which is being collected and stored, but analyzing and making useful sense of it all especially, when it comes in another language is still a challenge.

There are many facets of the customer experience that drive customer behavior; harnessing social data enables the modeling of all these otherwise seemingly chaotic behaviors and attitudes in an organized and structured, yet holistic, context. In a recent report, Gleanster asserts that using social data to understand the relative strengths and weaknesses of a brand in the minds of consumers can hone in on the variables that are truly impacting business and fine-tune their product development, messaging and marketing campaigns accordingly. Rather than guessing and wasting resources to try to resolve issues in their customer experience, organizations can now focus efforts on the variables that move the needle in the customer’s journey – from awareness to post-purchase support

What customers say they do in the social sphere models consumer behavior in the real world far more accurately than traditional focus groups and qualitative research surveys.

Through social intelligence, organizations can observe behavior rather than collect information on stated behavior gathered in surveys; meaning that what people do when they think no one is looking are often about what they have actually done or intend to do.

Additionally, the data coming from social channels illustrates in real-time the customers’ agenda and what matters to them all in their voice and in their language. It enables insight into a company’s brand, competitor’s brands, cultural nuances and the 360-degree context.

The value social data brings:

  1. Responsive and scalable: Collect and respond to insight in realtime, globally
  2. Competitive intelligence: View conversations about your competitors’ brands and products
  3. Targeted and actionable: Relate events and activities to a specific point in time
  4. User generated and unsolicited: Learn what your customers really think and feel
  5. Longitudinal and predictive: We can look back and see the future
  6. Global: Understand conversations about the topics you’re interested in regardless of language.

Our Methodology

Organizations make the common mistake of delivering what customers ask for assuming they will think/behave in the desired way, and as a result, the business will meet its goals. Too often customers don’t ask for what they want, don’t know exactly what they want, or they don’t behave in the way an organization expects as often is the case with global marketplaces.

Rare is the modern customer that stands patiently in line to complain to a customer-service rep about their poor experience. Rather, they take pictures, post it to a social network, and other savvy consumers read it before making a decision about your brand. Successful businesses are those who know how to listen to customers on the channels they engage with, promptly respond, and use that information to design better experiences going forward.

The information organizations can get from social data isn’t limited to just their brand’s customer experiences. They are able to understand everything from where their competitors succeed, to what cultural nuances they need to tweak to appeal to the local market which can be invaluable when forming a winning strategy.

Social data provides a rich and contextual view into exactly where the customer is while on a buying journey. Using social data as the basis for SDL’s Social Intelligence solution enables organizations to gain real time insight from one of the world’s largest and richest data sets. No other research methodology or measurement framework allows organizations to listen, analyze and react to customer needs in real time thus shortening the purchase cycle, ensuring constant relevance and removing the usual chasm between gaining insight and getting to action. This gives organizations the power to directly participate in, and contextually direct the quality of, their customer’s experience by adopting a data-driven approach to decision making, strategic planning and execution.

The Customer Journey

SDL’s Social Intelligence solution key performance indicators (KPI’s), complemented by its robust insights, delivers competitive advantages by giving data/business analysts and decision makers an actionable understanding of their customer’s journeys toward product and/or brand commitment.

The Shopping Journey

Spending money is the ultimate behavioral commitment to products, whether purchasing for the first time, buying more, or upgrading.

Designing an intelligent experience requires accurate modeling of consumer behavior in order to understand what inspires people to buy and the barriers to purchase that need to be removed.

Marketing tactics should focus on moving and assisting customers along the shopping journey from point of awareness to point of sale.

The Advocacy Journey

It is no longer a question of “if” companies should invest in brand advocacy, but rather “how” to do it. A brand or product’s identity is not complete until it’s being talked about by consumers in the marketplace. The benefits that accrue to a brand through word of mouth advocacy are well known and documented. Consumers who talk about a brand or product on- and off-line have a higher impact on an organization’s market success or failure than any marketing campaign run through traditional media channels. Also, consumers are more likely to choose a brand if people in their network trust and advocate on its behalf.

“The information that companies need to meet competitive challenges is moving quickly from published and proprietary sources to the open, chaotic world of social platforms. Social intelligence will sharpen strategic insights, and leaders must be immersed in the new information currents.”

- McKinsey Quarterly

Measurement That Drives Business Goals

Leveraging SDL Social Intelligence allows organizations to focus investments on those actions that are best suited as an active answer to all these questions. The solution provides organizations with a deeper understanding of the customer journey by delivering a measurement framework of key performance indicators (KPIs) as scores along with a set of diagnostics to both understand and positively impact a customer’s experience and commitment to the organization’s products and brands.

Created through statistical analysis techniques derived from quantitative research and applied to the social media dataset, the scores allows organizations to course correct and seize opportunities in real time, resulting in cost reduction, time savings and competitive advantage.

The SDL Social Intelligence solution employs a patent-pending metric system to drive measurement for the core business goals and drivers that align with the customer journey: purchase intent (PCS) and the liklihood to advocate for the brand (BCS) to measure and drive consumer behavior.

The system works in real-time allowing organizations to make data-driven decisions, pivot quickly and deliver on customer expectations based on what customers are communicating through their conversations. The KPI scores are leading indicators of future customer behavior. Armed with them, organizations are given a time cushion in which to create the best strategy, execute against it, and measure exactly how actions are affecting the customer journey.

Valid, Curated Data

SDL’s measurement system harnesses social media and online data, and is underpinned by proven qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. These research techniques influence how the social media data is collected, used, and validated; providing the rigorous approach that enables the results. This methodology has been validated by statistical analysis that demonstrates that the outcomes of the social data set, and the SDL Social Intelligence solution, are valid.

To further support the solution’s ability to measure and optimize the customer journeys, a curated and targeted social dataset comprised of conversations and other key data that indicate a customer is on one of these three journeys is utilized. This curated dataset provides increased precision for the KPI Scores.

With this curated dataset, SDL Social Intelligence provides four levels of information:

  1. KPIs in the form of scores product commitment, brand commitment around the customer behavior
  2. Customer experience and journey mapping aligning the KPIs against specific, measurable steps in the customer journeys
  3. Contextual customer segmentations highlighting the valuable customer targets groupings for optimal focus
  4. Customer personas mapping providing a comprehensive and deeper level of understanding of the behaviors and emotional drivers for the identified contextual customer segments

It is in combining these elements that organizations can truly measure and continually enhance the experience being created for customers and their commitment to the brand, product, and business.

SDL Social Intelligence in Action

Taken in its entirety, the SDL Social Intelligence solution is a structured methodology that utilizes the four levels of information previously discussed to deliver meaningful and highly relevant contextual business insight. It delivers the best results for organizations that take full advantage of all aspects of the process. The four phases give organizations actionable insight before, during and after activities, whether that’s a product launch, advertising campaign, brand initiative or any number of other business impacting activities. Leading organizations leverage this information to:

Model best practices

Reviewing where an organization lands specific to its top competitors validates perceived market position and gives perspective to help with real-time management of campaigns and initiatives. By viewing the competitive set through the lens of social data establishes best practices for an organization to efficiently support the customer journey. Best practices highlight which parts of the organization need to be engaged to either eliminate a barrier or enhance an opportunity in the customer journey progression, and can inform strategy as well as R&D.

Build playbooks

The insight from the best practice models facilitates the development of playbooks, which can then be used by the organization as a prescriptive guide for how to best impact the customer journey moving them toward desired behaviors and outcomes. Playbooks illustrate key audience personas, campaign guidance, predictive insight, and approaches to the customer journey at each step. This ultimately feeds into internal decision making processes within the organization fueling strategic planning, product innovation, branding efforts, etc.

Execute and align KPIs

Organizations armed with best-practices and playbooks guided by data-driven insight have the competitive intelligence and strategy to successfully execute key market, product and corporate initiatives. Moreover, social intelligence provides them with methods for tracking and measuring performance from the voice of the customer in tandem with organizational KPI’s.

Measure, monitor, pivot

Once all the above stages have been accomplished, and programs or campaigns are in place and running, organizations can continuously review the health of their initiatives through the lens of the customers’ experience. Established KPIs and the customer journey stages give a framework through which the organization can measure and monitor activities as it relates to the experiences they are creating for their customers. By doing so, organizations are able to make mid-stream course corrections and decision to better the customer’s actions resulting in desired outcomes.

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