Field Notes: How to Up Your Customer Experience Game with a Social Listening Strategy

Why Social Listening Matters: From The Big Game to SMBs and Highly-Regulated Industries
By: Pete Mattson, Sann Nord

Whether you’re preparing for the @MinnesotaSuperBowl (great job MNSBHC!) or you work in a highly regulated industry, creating a meaningful customer experience is critical for a strong brand and good for business.

Highly engaged and invested customers expect help from companies with a wide variety of questions and issues. Not to mention, 96% of the people who discuss brands online do not follow those brands’ owned profiles (Source: Brandwatch). Are you listening and in all the right places?

Whether it’s a compliment from a loyal customer, or mitigating risk from an employee who just shared proprietary company info, listening to customers (and employees) where they live and speak online is key.

Social listening and monitoring is the active process of identifying and assessing what’s being said about your brand/company on the Internet, in forums, on blogs, and other social media outlets so that you can leverage that information and be part of the conversation.

Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to help small and medium sized businesses; Fortune 500 companies and highly regulated industries navigate this area successfully.

Recently, I served on the team that powered the Social Media Command Center for #SBLII, in partnership with the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee. This experience taught me a lot, and I wanted share five practical tips that any organization can employ to win on the field of customer service.


Excelling at customer experience is a team sport. #SBLive and The Big Game were two great examples of customer experience and service taken to the next level.

As a Shift Captain and Joint Information Center (JIC) Captain in the Social Media Command Center, I had the privilege of serving with a team of people who were stationed at specific events, in addition to other command center captains and specialists who coordinated efforts with the Joint Information Center, the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee (MNSBHC) and other communications/media professionals. The planning, documentation and protocols used by these teams helped make this event a huge success.

Despite the chilly temps, more than 1 million visitors from around the globe were treated to a warm Minnesota welcome for the Minnesota Super Bowl 2018. Fans returned the love with 35,969 Twitter mentions and over 62,000 likes on Facebook referring to the “Bold North” during the ten-day festivities. This positive outpouring was not an accident; customer experience (CX) happened in real-time and was only possible through social listening.

For any organization, architecting a great #CX will require leadership and people (e.g., customer service agents) who are empowered to tap into a larger supporting network to actually solve customer problems in real-time and ensure they are paying attention to and amplifying user-generated content that is positive.

The leadership in the MNSBHC clearly had this process nailed down which created a fun and unforgettable experience for fans, visitors and locals throughout all of the #SBLII events and festivities.


A playbook is key to empowering your team to respond with the speed and agility that customers have come to expect. Make sure that everyone on your team knows their role and is equipped to represent the organization with the right tone and personality for your brand. Food for thought:

  • What’s your editorial process for publishing brand messaging?
  • Are there questions you can anticipate and create pre-approved responses ahead of time?
  • Who needs to be involved when something needs to be escalated?
  • What does success look like?


Choosing not to participate in social media doesn’t eliminate risk for brands and companies. In fact, it could put you at great risk depending on the situation or industry. For example, if you’re in the financial services industry, the FFIEC guidance says

“A financial institution that has chosen not to use social media should still be prepared to address the potential for negative comments or complaints that may arise within the many social media platforms described above and provide guidance for employee use of social media.”

Do you have a company social media risk program? If yes, is it still relevant? If not, consider a few things to get the ball rolling:

  • Do you have a governing structure?
  • Clear policies and procedures?
  • A process to identify the difference between claims, questions, and complaints?
  • This is not a comprehensive list for a robust risk program, so feel free to contact me with any questions.


Choosing the right tool for social listening, organizing workflows and documenting escalations is critical.

The following list is only a small sample of options your organization could choose from (and I do not get paid by any of these companies). Examples of social monitoring tools could include: Brandwatch, Synthesio, Sysomos, Crimson Hexagon, Buzzsumo and social media management platforms that have components of listening integrated into their tool (Spredfast, Hootsuite, Sprinklr and many others).

There are other niche products available in the non-profit world, not to mention some other industry specific social media tools.  It’s important to understand that some of these tools are channel specific (e.g., Twitter only), some are social media-specific, and others scan everything on the Internet. Pricing can range from free to very expensive.

If a customer issue is a simple one-and-done, it can often be resolved directly within the confines of the monitoring tool—however, for more complex issues that do require multiple teams to help solve, it’s critical to have an underlying enterprise workflow platform like ServiceNow that issues can be routed to, automating necessary communication and resolution can be tracked over time.


It’s just as important to support your brand advocates online as it is to respond to issues and questions.

“I just learned skijoring. You put on cross country ski and strap yourself to a greyhound dog and hold the duck on. I’m going home to talk Minnesota winter vacation with my wife ASAP.” – Tweeted by Ralph Dale Earnhardt Jr. (over 4,000 Likes and 250 retweets)

One of the goals in the Social Media Command Center was to acknowledge our fans by responding to their posts as much as possible. A simple “like” or a retweet will go a long way to engaging people and meeting them in their moment of need or fun.

What’s your process for social monitoring? Partnering with the right players inside and outside your organization will be key towards designing a winning playbook and ensuring you have the right protocols in place on game day. If you have any questions, I’m always happy to connect.

Pete Mattson

Pete Mattson is a marketing and customer service consultant and founder of the firm Sann Nord, LLC, a digital marketing problem solver for companies that need to build and protect their brand.