Becoming a truly social business means dealing with feedback

One of the things which social channels do really well is highlight where your business is failing to provide the experience expected by your customers. And this can get quite expensive, not only because you risk losing your customers, but also because you have to hire extra people to manage and monitor all those pesky digital channels which people can complain by nowadays.  Often referred to as Twitter Tax (see this awesome blog by @jonathansalem) this is the price companies pay because of the ‘chronic mismatch between what consumers expect from brands and what they ultimately get’.

By engaging with communities on social media, you do inevitably open yourself up to all sorts of feedback – some good and some bad. But it’s important to remember that it’s not that your audience weren’t thinking about this before, it’s just you can see it now…as can the rest of your community…rather than a handful of their mates down the pub. And this means that you have to not only be open to feedback, but ready and willing to respond to it too.

None of us want to think of our customer experiences not living up to expectations, but it happens, and people are going to use social media to tell us. At Ecobuild this year respected industry blogger Su Butcher started a #nextyearecobuild hashtag to source thoughts and ideas about how to make the show better for 2014. As you can see from her blog post there were plenty of ideas and suggestions from the community which we might not have been privy to through the traditional post-show survey – Twitter is the live window into people’s thoughts and feelings there and then, rather than an emailed survey link which could get lost in busy inboxes.

In response we created an area on the Ecobuild website to house our community’s ideas for the following year. Using UserVoice as our feedback software we encouraged our social community to tell us more about what they’d like to see on site. What we really liked about the software was that the community could also vote each other’s ideas up and down, giving us an indication about what’s hot and what’s not.

By combining the social feedback with our traditional survey results, we have had a greater insight into the challenges, needs and desires of the community like never before. When we welcome everyone back to ExCeL in March 2014 we’ll not only be closely monitoring what’s being said, but encouraging more live feedback so that we can keep on improving and developing the event for all our stakeholders.

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