Direct customer feedback vs social media feedback: Pros and cons
We all want feedback from our customers to learn about their likes and dislikes, needs and wants and identify any problems they may have experienced with the products and services we provide. We ideally want this feedback to be private and in real-time so that we can take actions to address any issues and turn a negative experience into a positive outcome. We want this process to be automated as far as possible with little additional effort required that interferes with our daily duties.
The challenge is how to get and manage this feedback. Is it better to use direct closed feedback channels to engage and communicate with our customers or is it better to monitor open social media platforms to see what customers have to say?
Let us start by defining both feedback options.
Direct customer feedback
A direct channel enables customers to provide feedback by sending a text message, completing a web form or sending an email. This feedback is immediately delivered directly to a limited number of people that are designated to review and act on the feedback.
Social media feedback
Social media feedback occurs when customers post comments on Twitter, FaceBook, Instagram, Yelp, and a variety of other social media, blogs and review sites. This feedback is either visible to everyone (public) or may be limited to the followers of the customer. To find this feedback usually requires you to search on #hashtags or keywords and identify those specific comments that relate to and are relevant to your business or brand.
So let us list the pros and cons of both methods:
DIRECT FEEDBACK: PROS
- Feedback is delivered directly to designated staff to assess and act
- Feedback is delivered immediately by text or email
- All feedback relates to your business or brand
- Action can be taken immediately
- Closed dialog can be had with customer
- Pre-empts any negative comments being posted on public sites
- Does not require dedicated resources
- Process can be automated
DIRECT FEEDBACK: CONS
- Requires special marketing materials/instructions on how to provide feedback
- These marketing materials/instructions must be visible and available to the customer
- Customers must read instructions – may be reluctant to do so
SOCIAL MEDIA FEEDBACK: PROS
- Social media already widely used – no learning required
- Most customers already use one or more social media platforms and familiar with them
- Social media tools are free
SOCIAL MEDIA FEEDBACK: CONS
- Business must monitor multiple social media platforms
- Feedback is visible to the public/community
- Negative feedback can impact others/go viral
- Must identify those specific comments that are relevant to your business/brand amongst all the noise
- Must monitor multiple #hashtags or keywords – the majority of feedback and comments are not relevant to your business
- Very labor intensive and time consuming to manage
- Typically requires dedicated resources
- More difficult to have a follow-up dialog with the customer to address any issues
So what option is better?
Ideally a business should do both. Direct feedback works best to address customer service related issues whereas social media enables you to monitor the buzz about your brand, products and services
To ensure success with direct feedback channels requires that marketing materials and instructions on how to provide feedback are visible to customers whenever they interact with your brand. This can easily be provided on table tents or napkin holder cards in a restaurant environment, posters, business cards, receipts, etc. Some examples are shown below.
Designated staff will receive text and/or email alerts directly to their phone/tablet whenever feedback is submitted. They can reply immediately and take the appropriate action. All feedback and communications will be captured and is available via a web portal. The entire process can be automated with tools such as TxtandTell and it does not require dedicated resources to manage the process.
Social media monitoring typically requires dedicated resources to monitor multiple social media platforms, continuously searching for comments using various #hashtags and keywords and then reviewing all the comments to identify those that are meaningful and relevant to your business amongst all the chatter and noise that is typical on a social media site. The relevant comments must then be forwarded to the appropriate staff members for follow-up action and communication with the customers. Although social media monitoring software may be free (e.g. SproutSocial, Hootsuite), dedicated resources are required and the ongoing cost to effectively manage these can be significant.
The question comes back to which option is more efficient and effective. With limited resources we would recommend the direct feedback approach – it is targeted, immediate, closed, and does not require additional manpower and all feedback is relevant to your business or brand. This will give you the biggest bang for your buck!