Measuring Business Results from a Social Customer Experience Program

Social Media ManagerSuccessfully managing a social customer experience program means measuring results and then using those measurements to guide that program.

Today, I’ll show you a great way to gather insights through measurement. I’ll also offer some tips and pointers on where to collect the data you need.

To get started, connect what you measure to your underlying business objectives. You already know you can measure the change in sales or expenses to understand the financial return (ROI). But you can also measure to verify other benefits, for example: increased loyalty, measured by either surveys (NPS), or customer churn. Whatever your measurements, ensure that they are quantitative, specific and tied financially to your business objectives. Our chief community officer Joe Cothrel puts the importance of measurement this way:

“It’s important to connect your metrics to your business objectives: in an expression like ‘A * B = C,’ if neither A nor B has a dollar sign in front of it, then C won’t either. If that’s the case, you should be worried.” 

Measurement leads to insight; it helps us better understand customers and markets. These insights can explain what’s behind your performance and return metrics, enabling you to drive those metrics higher. This is valuable when you are trying to fine tune and improve results.

Measurement can be of even greater value when directed to the parties inside your organization. For instance, they can tell the PR group which messages are getting the most traction among customers online; the product group how customers are liking the product just launched last week; and the support group what issues are emerging that may drive support volumes in the future. On the individual-customer level, they can even help the organization deliver the right offers to customers who are ready to receive them. All of these ultimately contribute to positive ROI.

You’ll want to measure all of these, so the obvious question is then, “Where does one get the data needed?”

To create an effective measurement and reporting program, you need to call on three data sources:

Social Platform Data

First, there’s the data that comes from your social platform itself. You’ll want to draw from all of the metrics available from the chosen technology (and if the set is sparse, consider a different platform!). You’ll also want to understand the continuously evolving set of tools that social networks like Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter make available to you.

Web Analytics Data

Second, there’s the data that comes from web analytics platforms, such as Google Analytics or Omniture. Your website is often the heart of your “owned” digital experience and web analytics measures what happens on that website.

Most social platforms stop short of providing the capabilities that exist within web analytics tools, so you need to add web analytics skills and tools to your toolkit in order to move from an assessment of Likes to assessment of “who bought because of or following a Like.” It’s an important step.

Business System Data

Finally, you have the data that exists in your business systems. It should go without saying that you can’t measure the impact of social on sales if you don’t have sales data. You can’t measure cost savings if you don’t have cost data.

How can you tell whether social participants are customers, without connecting to your CRM systems? You can’t. Unless you have transaction history, you can’t tell whether social customers are buying more, less, or the same as other customers. Measuring return is always a process of marrying up social data with business data, relating what you are doing to the business results—to Joe’s point, generally measured in dollars—accruing as a result.

Ultimately, measurement is used help people understand how well social channels are performing. How many customers arrived via this or that channel today? What did they do? What did your organization do to drive customer activity? What did your team do to manage or respond? These metrics include some of the most commonly reported metrics in social, including visits, views, posts, and like.

If you are the champion or otherwise responsible for you social technology program in your organization, metrics are critical to understanding what’s happening and how this translates into and drives business results.

Consider the social data sources above and study your operational metrics versus purely financial metrics. Combine these, tie them to your business objectives, and guide your social technology to success.

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