Expert Advice for Medium and Midsize Businesses

  • November 24, 2015

Social Listening Gone Bad

Almost 50 million Americans will be traveling over the river and through the woods this Thanksgiving week, according to AAA. Along the way, many of them will be posting reviews of their experiences on search engine and travel review sites. The travel industry was one of the earliest to be disrupted by crowd-sourced reviews because travel is very personal and emotional and because review sites are plentiful and easy to use.

Last February, I co-authored an eBook, Modern Best Practice for the Social Business with Oracle’s SVP Reggie Bradford, founder of Vitrue (now part of Oracle Social Cloud). The tenets of Social Relationship Management (SRM) are easy to understand—unify and orchestrate your social strategy. Monitor and engage on social channels to listen, learn, and adjust.

Too often, however, businesses miss the point of social monitoring and engagement. They choose to question the validity of customer feedback—disagree with it or explain it away—rather than choosing to learn from it and adjust their strategies accordingly

You Shouldn’t Say You’re a Silk Purse When You’re More of a Sow’s Ear

Case in point—my wife and I checked into an inn close to Santa Fe’s historic plaza the evening before Easter Sunday. It was very highly ranked and rated on a popular travel review site. We didn't think we'd be disappointed.

But we were disappointed. We didn’t have a bad experience—just not what we expected, given the inn’s stellar online reviews. Back home, I penned reviews relating to our trip. I gave that inn three stars out of five, pointing out its strong qualities while also explaining the nature of our disappointment.

A week later, I received a notification from the inn’s manager. Apparently, he passionately monitors his inn’s online reviews. That’s good. But he had posted a rebuttal to my review, announcing that it was unfair and inaccurate. And, he challenged me—in public, on the review site—to delete it or else he’d pressure the travel review site to have it removed.

How can someone tell you that you weren’t disappointed?

Through private email exchanges with the inn manager, I learned that he was not in the least bit interested in the sources of my disappointment—he was doggedly determined to protect his ranking on the travel review site. Based on the tone of his correspondence, I pondered just how far he was willing to go to achieve that goal.

I caved. After all, I wasn’t defending my family or my country. Who needs the grief? I didn’t want to invest one more minute of my time trying to explain my position to someone who didn’t care what his customers thought. Of course we'll never stay their again. Of course we'll tell all our friends (Santa Fe is a wonderful destination and just a scenic 6 hour drive from our community).

Companies should thank their lucky stars when customers are willing to share honest feedback so that they can continually strive to improve performance. But they can't learn and take action on that feedback unless they have modern and effective SRM strategies in place. It's one more way to show your customers that you really care.

If you’re just starting with social, or want to unify your social relationship management activities by adopting Oracle Modern Best Practice for Marketing, download the free eBook.

Jim Lein

Oracle Cloud GTM Strategies | Modern Best Practice | Solutions for Growing Companies

Modern Best Practice exploits new capabilities made possible by cloud, mobile, social, analytics, big data, and IoT, making it possible for your organization to achieve more, faster and with fewer resources. It is flexible, supports growth and innovation, and enables new ways to achieve consistently superior performance.

The views expressed here are my own, and not necessarily those of Oracle.

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