Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Listening Skills

Lets say you were on a bus full of people and just a few rows back you heard someone mention your spouse, child, or even boss by name, clearly and specifically what would you do?

Would you :
1 Go back and smack them around until they stopped?
2 Turn around and stare at them directly, or inject yourself into the conversation?
3 Completely ignore it and go about your business?
4 Just perk up your ears a little and try and move a little closer so that you could hear the conversation? Perhaps position yourself speak up if necessary after you knew to content of the conversation and who the converse-rs are?

Your answer to this question may direct how you feel about social media use in your industry.

If your answer was 1... You might be on the road to becoming one of those embarrassing stories of organizations who develop a poor online reputation because of brand damaging behavior on the web. Discussion of your product or service even if negative can be an opportunity to improve or at least admit that you have things to work on. You are not really stopping the conversation by doing at best you are just moving it to a place where you cannot listen.

If you answer 2... You understand that listening is important, and transparency is good, but you are being creepy! Often listening and noting is enough. Sure get involved if there is some customer service that you can truly contribute, but if not just hang back.

#3's Just because you ignore them, does not mean that they are not talking about you. If it was your daughter's teacher on the back of that bus talking about how she skipped school (neg) or how great she was doing in class (pos) this might be good information to have from a strategic perspective. I recently heard someone say it was like having a phone in your office, advertising your number and not ever picking up that ringing phone.

Of course I recommend answer #4 whether you are on the bus, answering the phone, checking e-mail or monitoring social media mentions of your name, products, or keywords. Listen to what your customers or non-customers are saying about you, and respond accordingly. EXAMPLE; I found out about a feature of our site that did not work on on Firefox in Mac from watching twitter. I was able to fix it based on simply listening to the conversation.

For us I am listening out for current patients, perspective patients, caregivers to patients, people diagnosed with cancer and looking for answers and professionals looking to connect with our professionals. If I see a trend I note it, if I see an issue, I flag it, and send it to the appropriate department, if I see someone I can help, I ask them if there is anything I can do to help.

Right now, I am finding it with RSS feeds from Google Blog search, Technorati & Twitter search and collecting it all in a fairly messy excel document for reporting. I am in the process of looking for out of the box social media management tools. I will let you know what I come up with.

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