8 Ways To Understand Your Customers’ Expectations


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I had a lot of fun kicking off the Word of Mouth Marketing Association’s Social Customer Care Certification program this week. In a series of webinars, we’re exploring everything from how to create a social customer program to how to scale it to the enterprise level.

Listening for customers’ expectations

As with any discussion about customer experience, I tend to start with the listening. We talked about that today, and I thought you might benefit from some of the ideas, too. If you are tracking and searching on social media, are you tracking just to respond or mitigate negative sentiment? There are huge opportunities in social media to really listen to understand your customers and their expectations.

A lot of social “listening” is related to brand mentions. But think of all the other ways you could listen to understand your customers, not just respond to them.customers' expectations

  1. Brand Mentions are important. Customers trying to get your attention on Twitter or other social channels might do so by using your brand name directly.
  2. Brand misspellings are becoming more important. Why? Because as more users rely on mobile devices, autocorrect and incorrect “Swyping” become more common. Consider the various ways your brand might be mislabeled by a hurried mobile user.
  3. Dive into the specifics. Product or service names might have a bigger conversation impact than your overall brand name. How do customers refer to your products? Are there abbreviations or shorthand references? Just think about how FedEx used to be Federal Express. The customers shortened the name. Are your customers doing that in social?
  4. Keep an eye on your competition. Competitors are probably watching your brand on social. Watch them back! Track competitor conversations to learn what makes their customers rant or rave.
  5. Your overall industry or category is important to track, too. There are potential customers out there who want what you offer but don’t know you offer it!
  6. Common questions are a great thing to monitor. If customers are often calling your customer service line for help on a particular issue, they are probably searching on social media, too. Be there to answer!
  7. Learn how customers research your brand and products. Purchase decisions can be tough, and there are moments of truth when a customer decides “this is right for me!” If you can identify the way customers make these decisions, you can search for those key terms they might be verifying before buying.
  8. Stay in touch. In B2B, it’s great to pay attention to your key clients or customers.

How can you listen to all this in a meaningful way?

There are quite a few tools out there focused on social media monitoring of all kinds. We use Hootsuite, and I personally like the various levels they offer for growing companies and teams. Most of the social media monitoring tools also allow you to set up lists and saved searches which really help cut through the crowded conversations. But starting off with a few good alerts to help monitor what’s important can be a great way to start listening effectively.

customers' expectations

Rumor has it the old standby, Google Alerts, might be on its way out. Lately I’ve been using TalkWalker for alerts on everything from our company name to key clients. It is a great way to listen through the noise.

The most important thing is to simply listen.

Don’t just listen to respond to the negative Nellies on Twitter or to rush to your legal team because of an “incident” on your corporate Facebook wall. Consider listening as ways to plug in to the real lives of your customers and enrich them because of that understanding.

Grab your team right now and brainstorm about all the things you could monitor. It’s amazing how long the list can get. Get creative and listen to understand.

Image credits: garryknight, hang_in_there via Creative Commons

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jeannie Walters, CCXP
Jeannie Walters is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a globally recognized speaker, a LinkedIn Learning and Lynda.com instructor, and a Tedx speaker. She’s a very active writer and blogger, contributing to leading publications from Forbes to Pearson college textbooks. Her mission is “To Create Fewer Ruined Days for Customers.”


  1. Nicely written and you make some great points about how to understand and thus serve your customer communities better.

    Thanks for the kind words about HootSuite Jeannie!

    -Connor from HootSuite


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