Social Media as a Powerful Customer Service Tool
Great Tips from Leaders in the Industry
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) has always been a data-heavy discipline geared towards maximizing the value of a customer to a business. Today, however, given the unstoppable rise of social media, this has changed in two drastic ways.
First, every customer or stakeholder now has the potential to deliver equal or greater value through their advocacy and loyalty as well as their ability to tell their friends online and offline how great a product, service, or issue is. As a result of this, brands must start maximizing their value to that person – not the other way around.
This brings us to the second point: in this day and age, brands need to start adopting a customer-first approach, one where they care as much about what customers find valuable as they do about the experience they have with the brand. This entails converting CRM from a simple ‘email stimulation’ model into one that enables a better way to grow relationships. That is the very definition of ‘Social CRM’ – essentially it is about collecting or harvesting social media information from public and private social media websites. Equipping your company with that data will help you adequately engage target audiences or customers (based on behavior). That is why Social CRM is so powerful.
This year, we witnessed a deeper integration and fusion of CRM with social media – in fact, the industry is set to grow to a staggering $18 billion by 2018. Despite this, we are not seeing much traction here in the region. Why? Because companies here pay very little attention to what customers want or say about them. And therein lies the core of the issue. Remarkably, according to a recent survey by Satmetrix, 39% of companies do not track their social media responses at all; and 55% of companies ignore all customer feedback on Twitter and Facebook.
This is frankly alarming. Social media holds unprecedented potential for companies to get closer to customers – which in turn can help them facilitate increased revenue, cost reduction, and efficiencies. What has radically changed is the way that the interaction conducted on any given social channel fits into the permanent two-way communication model. Businesses should be rapidly embracing social media not only to build virtual communities, but also to create innovative social commerce programs, improve customer care, and streamline customer research.
Why Bother with Social CRM?
Customers now have strong opinions when it comes to a new product or service. And they make sure that their voices are heard. So, no matter how brilliant your sales experience is, you, as a company, must listen to the audience and become more socially intelligent in order to garner real success via the social media sphere.
Effectively enabling social customer engagement and management helps drive one of the most successful purchase behaviors – peer to peer recommendation. As a report by The Economist Intelligence Unit points out, consumers in the MENA region are influenced by their peers.
According to a Nielsen study, strong social endorsements dramatically improve the effectiveness of content. In parallel, social data – that is contextual and behavioral – can drive more effective personalization, which in and of itself, starkly increases engagement at every stage of the customer journey.
With the decline of organic reach on social platforms, marketers are facing an ever-increasing cost to reach specific audiences through these social channels. Amongst all the noise, creative has to be flawless and the delivery to the audience precise. There also needs to be a bit of luck as we are all suffering from ‘Content Shock’ – which refers to the barrage of content being flung at us constantly every day and across every device.
It’s only by applying Social CRM practices that you can solve how to target the right people at the right point of their journey with the right content. Social CRM connects first and third party data and devices to interests, behaviors, and personal connections – this is what forms the bedrock of the powerful ‘social’ engine.
So how do you go about implementing
an effective Social CRM strategy?
#1 Understand the Paradigm Shift Your Organization Needs to Make
The most critical Social CRM success factor is to recognize the cultural shift required for social communications. Companies must be willing to cede control of the conversation to the customer. You no longer control the timing, messaging or venues for communications affecting your brand, products, and services. Once the loss of control is understood, you can then respond with social strategies – such as finding the channels where social customers communicate and participating in the conversations pursuant to the accepted protocols of each particular channel. Alternatively, you can elect to build your own internal communities to draw customers in.
#2 Understand What You Want to Achieve from Your Social CRM Strategy
It might sound obvious but time and time again I see marketers begin implementation on the platforms without really understanding what they’re trying to achieve, what data matters to them, where that data resides, and how they will be successful.
Just like with any other big IT/ marketing project, getting started with Social CRM requires identifying stakeholder objectives and performance needs. It is also about asking the right questions. For example: why does the organization need to do this? What are the strategic and measurable objectives? Traditional project management organization and approaches also apply to social projects. Additionally, it is important to find out where your customers meet online, listen to what they are saying and only then respond in a personal and helpful way.
A Social CRM strategy also asks deeper questions that focus more on the people you are trying to motivate. Who do you want to reach and why? What do you want them to do? How can you help them? If you can answer these, you are well on your way to creating a focus ‘relationship’ strategy.
#3 Invest in the Right Social Tool
Before even incorporating a Social CRM strategy, your business should be managing its social media efforts through a social media analytics tool. The platform you choose will serve as the focal point for scheduling social posts across all active presences, monitoring who’s saying what and to how many people, and interacting with customers.
You need a Social CRM tool that can do all of those things (for a price that fits your budget) as well as integrate with whatever other existing CRM tool you may have.
#4 Choose Your Platform Wisely
While you may have active profiles on each of the major social channels, it’s important to designate one platform as your main customer support hub. The one you choose depends on your audience and where your customers are most active. Each option has its own benefits and drawbacks. Facebook is still the largest social network in the world, so naturally it gives you access to the largest audience. Facebook also offers a great deal of flexibility.
Many companies set up Twitter as their main social customer service platform because it’s quick, user-friendly and the 140-character limit forces customers requesting support to get right to the point. More often than not, Twitter is where customers go to voice complaints, and studies show they expect a response.
While an e-commerce site may want to post glossy photos of its products on Instagram or Pinterest and interact with customers there, an enterprise software company’s customers are more likely to be localized in the traditional trifecta
of Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin. If more and more of your customers are gravitating toward a new social network, that network may be worth monitoring. But your social media manager shouldn’t take hours to respond to a Twitter question because he or she was busy messing around with the Snapchat account your business decided to launch.
#5 Monitor Interactions and Mentions
Your Social CRM platform should have the ability to set up feeds and streams for each social network and specific parameters within them. In addition to one stream tracking customers’ direct tweets, comments, and likes, set up other streams that can monitor keywords such as your company’s name and the primary words associated with what your business does. The moment your company is mentioned or a social network user asks a question about an area of expertise, your business can quickly respond with a helpful answer that could turn a user into a customer or a lukewarm customer into a loyal one.
#6 Acquire New Customers Through Social Platform Targeting Options
A Social CRM strategy should leverage all of the existing capabilities social networks have to offer. For example, Facebook and Linkedin have groups while Twitter has lists. This functionality can help you group customers into segments naturally and within the context of the social network that is better suited for targeted interactions about a specific product or products. Social CRM is about using the individuality of a customer’s social persona to tailor smarter business interactions with him or her.
#7 Drive Impact Through “Cloning” on Facebook
Use ‘cloning’ modelling to target “twins” of people who expressed an interest for your brand and test multiple combinations for optimisation. Through an algorithm, Facebook identifies users with a similar profile to an audience you own. This is very powerful because these audiences allow you to reach new people who are likely to be interested in your business because they’re similar to your existing custom audience. You extract this from a combination of your website visitors, email database, position in the funnel, and fans of your pages. The aim is to identify the best performing combinations of lookalikes to improve paid performances. Lookalike audiences can be used to identify prospects and focus on similarity to your customer audiences rather than reach. This helps you deliver highly personalized creative, based on levels of consumption and drive
1. Respond immediately, even if you do not have the solution yet:
When you receive a query or request from a customer, immediately respond in a personalized manner in order to reassure them that you are working on providing a solution. Do not auto-generate your responses because that can reduce the customers’ confidence, making them feel like they are now apart of a waiting list.
2. Do not overpromise. Be realistic:
Overpromising will lead to high expectations and, eventually, disappointed and unsatisfied customers. Recognize your need for improvement, and then reassure your customers that you will try your best to deliver quality results. Transparency will help you gain their trust and respect.
3. Do not be arrogant:
Arrogance can be implied by language, tone of voice, diction, and the use of unspecified acronyms. You must use simple language when addressing your
Lujain Alabbas is the Senior Copywriter at The Marketing Department. She earned a B.A. in Public Relations and a minor in Business Administration from The University of Oregon after receiving an International Baccalaureate high school diploma from The Awty International School. She is committed to continuous learning and exploration. She enjoys reading and writing in both Arabic and English, further expanding her general knowledge as well as her editorial skills.