Can You Hear Me Now?

We already know that social media and direct email campaigns are an integral part of a successful marketing plan. We post, we tweet, we update, we blog. We put our corporate image out into the ether for public consumption and let the social media machine spread that message exponentially. In the past, this would have been enough: get the message across and see results. However, today’s marketing is no longer a one-way street. We no longer advertise; we converse.  Truly successful marketing campaigns are now reciprocal. We start the conversation with our marketing materials, and now, the public talks back. The question is…Is your company listening?

Can you hear me now?
Being aware that your company’s message is being shared and discussed online is important, but it’s not enough. Today’s forward-thinking companies are employing active listening strategies to effectively utilize the online feedback their social media and other marketing materials elicit. One such strategy is the involvement of a Chief Listening Officer (CLO). This executive-level position has become increasingly common in recent years, and it’s a lot more involved than simply moderating Facebook posts or reviewing customer emails.

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” ~Ernest Hemingway

CLOs are heavily involved in active listening and data mining. They monitor the Internet for company mentions, sort and analyze data, and propose actions within their companies based on the public conversation. They also work with marketing personnel to discuss which strategies are working. CLOs share online feedback with appropriate departments to improve product quality or address consistently reported problems. For example, if consumers were frequenting message boards asking for advice on a software glitch, the CLO would determine whether the problem merits a review by Research and Development and then pass on all relevant information so the issue could be resolved.

We are the champions, my friends.
CLOs often take on the role of Customer Champion, vigorously advocating for the consumers and effectively serving as the consumers’ proxy during internal conversations. Customer Champions, however are not always CLOs. Sometimes Customer Champions are appointed within various departments to represent the users’ interests within a company. The logistics are highly dependent on company infrastructure. The goal, however, is the same for any company employing Customer Champions: give the consumer a seat at the board table. Give the consumer a voice. Then listen to what he has to say.

Your customers are talking. Are you listening?