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BizReport : Social Marketing : August 19, 2011

Brands: Why you need unsolicited feedback

If you think handing out customer surveys are the only thing needed to learn what shoppers like or don't like about your product, store or event, think again. Yes, preconceived surveys are good to get baseline information but today brands need more than baseline. They need feedback that isn't influenced by the questions asked or unasked.

by Kristina Knight

Moving toward 2012, brands are realizing the wealth of information hidden in social networks. Positive feedback, negative comments. The problem is that many brands aren't sure how to analyze social feedback compared to the survey-based feedback of the past. Unsolicited feedback, though, is growing in importance as customers ignore long surveys for quick 'I Like/Dislike' social posts.

"We're seeing a great need to pay attention to unsolicited feedback," said Dan Lee, Senior Director of Technology, Medallia. "It's great that a customer posts [via social network] about a mean, but the restaurant needs to be able to react to that post - does there need to be a change to the menu? Service?"

Medallia's platform helps brands place the right amount of attention on social media posts, analyzing them much like the surveys of the past so that brands get a good idea of how consumers are reacting to them in the online space. Content from Facebook and Twitter can also be location-targeted so that a national brand with a problem in one specific location doesn't make across the board changes with are unneeded. For example, a hotel chain in Miami may have construction happening in their area and need to upgrade guests for a specific amount of time, but the chain location in Kansas City wouldn't need that type of upgrade.

"The interesting thing with unsolicited feedback is that you have to determine what the customer's issue was," said Lee. "The beauty is that it brings problems forward that maybe you didn't know about because, to that point, you'd only looked at solicited feedback where you controlled the questions asked."

Solicited feedback is still important though. Competitively speaking, that hotel chain could look to review sites to find out how competitor's surveys stack up to theirs and make broad changes to appeal to a wider customer base. Those surveys can also help obtain specific information about the business. And, looking at both solicited and unsolicited feedback, businesses can create a plan of action to push their brand higher.

"From a corporate standpoint, managers can look at specific locations and compare to determine whether issues at Location 1 are also happening at Location 2 and possibly Location 3, etc.," said Lee. "That way big picture changes can be made before a small issue becomes a big problem."

Tags: Medallia, social analysis, social feedback, social marketing, social media

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