Data shared on social channels like Facebook, Instagram, forums etc., are places where target audiences share unfiltered opinions about brands – learning from each other instead of from brands directly.

More than 80 percent of consumers seek the advice of family or friends before making purchases online. According to a Nielsen study, that number goes up to 92 percent when the consumers are millennials. So knowing what’s being said on forums is just another way to understand those peer-to-peer recommendations.

Online customer reviews are typically dismissed as not worth investigating – which is a huge gaffe. Just as information in forums sways consumers, so do reviews.

Companies like Airbnb, Lyft, and Uber are only as good as their reviews – they’re built on a consumer review model. Want to compete with them? Look for the same info about your own brand – on Yelp, for example. You may be surprised what you find.

The takeaway here is you cannot limit the data used to craft brand strategy. It all matters, so you have to find a way to bring it all in to a central place for analysis. Otherwise you give precious advantage to your competitors – or worse.

The big channel often missed: online customer reviews

As you consider the data you wish to streamline, it’s important for brands to remember that digital isn’t all that counts. The digital and physical must converge for true representation of brand health.

Certainly, maintaining a successful physical presence relies on your customer experience knocking it out of the park. What do you offer that beats the one-click convenience of an Amazon or Alibaba?

It’s not a trick question. There are lots of ways brick-and-mortar is superior, but you have to know what they are to your audience and for your brand in order to effectively compete.

By the same token, ecommerce brands must know – and excel at – whatever sets them apart from physical locations where consumers can see and touch merchandise and ask questions that are answered immediately by a real person, not a lagging chatbot.

It seems brands and marketers know this – or at least know the importance of tracking products and services across digital channels. However, when it comes to tracking across specific locations like brick-and-mortar, there’s a drop-off. Less than half the CX specialists we questioned focus on the experience offered from location to location.

These brands are leaving themselves open to being bested by those that understand the customer experience must encompass every consumer touchpoint.

This is especially critical because bad experiences offline are shared online – like the Yelp review of a California location of global café Joe & the Juice below:

Even replies from the establishment don’t help when the reviewer calls out that their staff have been negatively reviewed in other entries.

Examining sentiment

Looking at Sentiment overall, and Emotions, within Sentiment Drivers in NetBase Pro, we see things are fairly positive most of the time:

Still, there’s enough negative sentiment to warrant examination. Where these issues are happening must be part of that. You might be doing fine in 99 of 100 restaurants, but that one is enough to plant doubt in diners’ minds if patrons on social are vocal enough.

It’s all about the experience

Your social posts may be clever, your commercials may get tons of YouTube views, but if something is lacking in-store, none of that matters. Conversely, you may have a fabulous in-store experience, with a Keurig on standby, and cheerful employees that spoil your customers – but if your ecommerce experience is lacking, or your digital customer service is terrible, you’re hurting your brand.

Everything counts in creating a winning customer experience.

Therefore, it’s paramount to have tools that bring Customer Experience data into the rest of your digital data.

How does that translate in-store?

Obviously, you can bring Point of Sales (POS) software into your data streams. You can also gather location data from brand apps activated in-store, loyalty program data, Geographic Information System (GIS) data and more.

And you can use social analytics to learn about geographical areas overall, as well as your brand’s location.

When you narrow search parameters to specific regions, you can monitor stock issues, weather obstacles, and any other regional distinction that could impact the experience your venue offers its customers.

You can also find out what regional offerings might appeal to local audiences. It’s yet another great way to define audience segments – and can be one that helps your brand stand out from others.

Like adding sweet tea to your menu for visiting Texans:

Location insights offer competitive advantages – and you want to take advantage of as many of those as you can. If you don’t, your competitors will.

Paige Leidig is Chief Marketing Officer at NetBase Solutions, Inc.

Original Source