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newBrandAnalytics, a provider of social intelligence, has compiled some emerging trends on how businesses will use online customer feedback to deliver a better guest experience in the New Year. Predicted trends include:
Elimination of surveys: In 2012, organizations witnessed a 25 percent increase in online customer reviews. With consistent (and free) feedback coming from the web, social intelligence has trumped the need to spend money on solicited surveys. "Many of the more progressive brands have already decided to eliminate surveys and instead focus on social feedback as their primary source for customer experience information," said Kristin Muhlner, CEO newBrandAnalytics.
Eyeing the competition: Companies will use social intelligence to dig into their competitors' performance. They will not only benchmark competitors' social data to try to outperform on operations, but also as inspiration for product creation. "In 2012 we saw the hot brands using competitive data in new, previously unimagined ways," Muhlner said. "We predict that more than one-third of businesses adding products or menu items will be inspired by their competition's online customer feedback."
Performance assessments: Forward-thinking companies will see the value of using online feedback from customers, guests and co-workers to assess performance, make hiring/firing decisions and motivate staff. "Sharing online feedback places psychological control on employees. They recognize and accept that everyone is a critic and that they can read about their performance online daily, good or bad. They see now that they have to be 'on' all of the time. Every experience counts. That's powerful," said Randy Stanley, vice president of Parasole Restaurant Group.
Social media goes beyond marketing: As brands expand their myopic view of social media and position it as a strategic business function, social media will extend beyond the marketing department. Operations, human resources, customer service and product development teams will have their own personal views into the intelligence offered. Spreading the information to more individuals ensures that investments in new locations and product offerings have the desired results in revenue and profitability. As Burton Heiss, CEO Nando's Peri-Peri told Fast Casual Executive Summit attendees: "We push our data to store leads, as they know what best to do with it."
Reviews go beyond stars: Consumers and businesses alike will start ignoring the once-coveted star ratings as they are proving to be misleading, unreliable and not actionable. Instead, they will flock to online review analysis tools to gain meaty insights and details . Consumers will seek verbatim reviews in making their purchase decisions; businesses will decipher the true meaning and uncover important themes discussed in these unstructured reviews to drive improvements.
Location-specific intelligence: Companies will move from trusting brand level intelligence to wanting location-specific intelligence. The conclusion --- it's no longer about the brand. "Tip O'Neill said 'All politics is local.' It's no surprise, all customer experiences are local, too," Muhlner said. Savvy companies will use location-specific social reviews and alerts to quickly pinpoint trouble spots and react in a way best suited to deliver the best possible customer experience in that location or store.
Read more about social media trends.