So­cial Me­dia as a Pow­er­ful Cus­tomer Ser­vice Tool

Great Tips from Lead­ers in the In­dus­try

Arabnet - The Quarterly - - Content - By Ema Li­naker | @Ema­li­naker

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.

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