Yesterday I identified a few ways to engage your customers to listen to their opinions, wants and needs. But in some frontier markets, customers are not very accessible for face to face focus groups. At the same time, companies have a tendency to focus on customer feedback from the capital city where they are based, and do not sufficiently gather insights from more rural populations. Although it is not always a preferable solution, technology such as SMS and social media can provide other ways of engaging the remote customer.
There are a few scalability issues that need to be considered here. If you are an organization with the budget for it, it is probably best (and easiest), to hire a firm to process the data for you. But most of the examples I list here have a free option, in case you need to process the data yourself.
Just about every country these days has a provider that can conduct SMS surveys for you. But if you don’t have the budget for that, Frontline SMS is a great resource. Download the program, hook it up to a SIM card with a worksheet of phone numbers for your customers, and you can start sending out texts that they can respond to. If you need help, they also have a ning-based social network to address your issues.
Jana used to be known as TXTEagle, and has a great SMS survey model as well, but you have to pay for their service. They have partnerships with telcos around the world, and pay survey takers in cellphone credit when they complete a survey you send via SMS.
You are either operating in a space where your customers use social media, or you’re not. The applicability of social media depends greatly on who you are targeting. That being said, Brazilians and Indonesians are some of the most prolific tweeters on the planet, and Facebook penetration has grown to include many people in the developing world who are on the network even though they don’t own devices to access it, so don’t assume that because you are in a frontier market, you can’t get value out of these resources.
Here are 3 ways you can use social media in this environment (there are more!):
- Track comments on social media sites that specifically refer to your organization or area of interest.
- Create a fan page on social media that allows customers to communicate with you and use it proactively to ask questions of your customers. This also allows you access to private conversations that they only have with “friends” that you would otherwise not see.
- Use a social media site to create a virtual focus group of customers that you may supply with the technology to access it (e.g. give your BoP customers cell phones and credit)
Facebook for every phone is a java –based application that allows feature phones to get on Facebook, but if you are targeting a BoP segment, they are going to be less likely to want to pay for communicating with you. This might be a way to conduct long distance focus groups: give a small group phones with the app, and then have them check in periodically to update their profiles regarding your experience. There are many ways to do this though, and Facebook is only one of many resources for community management.
Wisdom is a quick, freemium app in Facebook that allows you to identify affinity rankings for users in a given space. It will pull up user statistics based on the parameters you chose, or it can also tell you about fans of specific fan sites.
Tweetreach provides basic metrics on your tweet penetration. This is good to track who is reading what you write, and can give some basic metrics. Use this in conjunction with comment tracking.
The real way to use social media though, is to create a page that you can use it to interact with your customers, promote it with your customers, and respond when they comment. It is essential that you provide quick feedback so that customers will believe that you are listening and want to hear what they have to say.
There are plenty of private networks that you can set up and use as well, and community management solutions have exploded in the past few years. Whether you use one or another should depend on ease of accessibility for your customers, whether you can afford or need analytics support, and whether you are up to being a community manager.
These are just a few resources that are out there, and I will periodically include updates on other examples. If there is one you’d like to include, feel free to share!