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Integrating social feedback long-term within the organization is a must

With the constant drumbeat of the need to track feedback and respond within social networking channels online it is not surprising that marketers are drowning in the sea of “moment by moment” – with comments and issues moving in real time it’s all you can do to keep up and respond if needed (if your company is invested in the social space). Unfortunately, this type of cause and effect style of tactic doesn’t go deep enough in long-term actionable value for a brand. It’s reactionary (although extremely important), but not truly evolutionary on all levels of an organization.

The smart companies will recognize that value long-term and realizing ROI will come with integration with customer service and R&D. In the late 90s and early 00s companies spent hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars on shiny CRM systems to track customer “relationships” – isn’t it time we set benchmarks to incorporate all the wonderful feedback we’re getting from customers (and potential customers) within the context of the larger organization? One-off responses to blog posts & following people who mention your brand on Twitter is all well and good, but shouldn’t that feedback close a loop too? 

If, for example, I wrote a post outlining my customer service issues with company X, as a customer I’d really appreciate it if I not only heard from the designated communications person in the comments, but when I called customer service there was a flag there that identified me and my issues from that post. 

That information would empower and inform the CSR and would make me feel as an individual that the company was *really* listening and incorporating my feedback. Sure, this will cost money in the short-term, but imagine the possibilities inherent in actually collecting and acting on that data systemically.  

Truly being strategic about how feedback in the digital social space is used will ultimately set brands apart from the competition and provide valuable, actionable, and measurable results. You spend millions of dollars on customer service, customer relations, communications, and product development – smart marketers will recognize the long-term benefits of layering in direct feedback as well. Incorporating a solution such as this would also enable a broader shift within the organization to truly put customers first… why not, every person at every touchpoint would actually be listening to them.

It’s not only about the communications, but what you do with them.

“Social media” is not just about one person, or even a dozen, within a company, it’s about a shift in how you interact *as a whole* with your customers.

[photo credit: enggul via Flickr]

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