The Importance of Social Listening for Customer Support and Brand Loyalty

Social media is growing in popularity as a support channel. Customers love it because it allows them to get help right where they’re already spending time, and all companies should love it because it’s an excellent way to gain insights about your customers and cultivate brand loyalty. Paying attention to your customers on social media, also known as “social listening”, allows you to do a few key things that can help build lasting relationships with your customers. You can:

  • Know what’s being said about your brand in real time
  • Track social media mentions on every platform
  • Analyze those metrics to find trends
  • Produce reports to show to clients and colleagues

With that amount of information, you can do all kinds of things: customize experiences based on the way that people respond on via social media, or even shift the way that you offer support based on trends and historical data. But, with that much information, it can be difficult to know where to start. Marccx Media recommends that companies focus on three main aspects of online conversations as a starting point.

First, start with conversations related to your brand. Focus on identifying both positive and negative aspects mentioned by users to gain insight into how your business can improve its services. Second, pay attention to conversations around your industry, which will help you stay on top of trending topics and the latest news. Finally, pay attention to conversations around your competition. These will help you identify the online marketing strategy of your competitors and how their customers are rating and criticizing their business. This, in turn, helps you understand how to win your customers and generate loyalty. 

Building Brand Loyalty

Kristin Smaby writes in her book ‘Being Human is Good Business’: “In an era when companies see online support as a way to shield themselves from ‘costly’ interactions with their customers, it’s time to consider an entirely different approach: building human-centric customer service through great people and clever technology. So, get to know your customers. Humanize them. Humanize yourself. It’s worth it.”

Modern customers are shifting away from buying products or services—instead, they are attracted by the idea, ethos or experience around the product. Given how easy production and development has become, there are tons of products that are almost exactly the same as one another. The only way they can be differentiated is by their mission, and how they align with the things their customers care about. That is why brand loyalty is so important: after you’ve created that alignment it makes the experience of selling to and supporting your customer that much easier. They are committed to you.

As you get to know your customers and what their needs are, especially by listening to them when they least expect you to, you are better able to surprise and delight them. For example, say you sell a physical product, like a backpack, or jacket. Through social listening, you uncover a customer tweeting about losing the item, and how dear it was to them. Likely they wouldn’t even direct the tweet with a mention to you. An excellent way to surprise and delight that customer would then be to reach out to them and either offer a replacement free of charge or, if that’s too costly, offer something like a discount coupon for a replacement. You surprise the customer because they weren’t specifically reaching out, but you also create an excellent experience for them by offering them something unexpected and showing them that you care.

Social Listening for Better Customer Understanding

Social listening gives you better insights into what your customers care about because they aren’t directly reaching out to you and it’s not a painful situation for them like it can be when someone is reaching out to support. You can see how people talk about your brand and the things that you offer outside of the pressure of an interaction when something has already gone wrong. That way, when something does go wrong, you know how to respond as you’ve learned from listening.

Forging a relationship outside of support gives you the ability to create those delightful moments that can mean so much to a customer. These moments are so meaningful, even if they weren’t hard for you, as a company to do. But outside of the feel good factor, there’s also a gain to be made from social listening— it boosts the lifetime value of a customer. According to Motista, consumers with an emotional connection to a brand have a 306% higher lifetime value, stay with a brand for an average of 5.1 years vs. 3.4 years, and will recommend the brand at a much higher rate (71% vs. 45%). That’s a huge deal. By providing excellent service to your customers, hearing them out, and making your support team’s job easier, you also greatly increase the value of the individual customer to your business.

Implementing it in Support

So, now that we’ve explained why it’s important and how it can benefit you and your company, you probably want to implement social support in your support strategy, right? The same strategies that impact brand loyalty also impact customer support.

Social listening helps you understand a little bit more about a customer’s sentiment. Sentiment analysis can be an effective tool to better understand your customers’ behavior and see when they are unhappy before they reach out to you. Sometimes, for example, customers will talk poorly or vent their frustration on social media, but not directly to the company. Social listening helps your team to pick up on those cues and address them before they get out of hand—a converse side to the surprise and delight moments mentioned above.

For every customer that reaches out to you in support, there are several that give up before they even get there. The same thing goes for NPS—not everyone is going to tell you what they think because not everyone wants to put the effort into responding, especially if they aren’t loyal. Social listening helps you gain a deeper understanding of what your customer wants without requiring them to do any work.

In fact, it makes it much easier for you to provide proactive support. Like the surprise and delight moment above, but on a smaller scale, social listening allows your support team to reach out about issues that people might not even realize are issues (or bugs!). For example, imagine if a customer tweets a picture of something in your user interface that they didn’t expect. You see it and realize that it’s actually a bug or defect. The first thing that you can do is reach out to an internal engineering team to track the issue and let them know it’s happening. Second, you reach out to the customer directly and clarify the situation for them: let them know that that’s not expected and is an actual issue, and tell them what you’re doing to fix it.

From the customer’s perspective, this is amazing: they didn’t reach out to support or have to do anything other than tweet about it, and now their issue is being resolved. From your company’s perspective: you were able to catch something before it got out of hand.


Social listening at face value seems very simple: you pay attention to what your customers say and reach out when it becomes dire. But, there’s much more to it than that: gauging customer sentiment, tracking what’s happening with your competitors, and providing moments of proactive support are integral aspects of what makes social listening valuable, both for marketing and support teams. Once you’ve implemented tooling that allows you to do these things, you’ll find customer loyalty and satisfaction increasing, thus pushing the lifetime value of your customers and the effectiveness of your support team.