For marketers all over the world, the customers’ social media activity has always been a source of intrigue, owing to the fact that until recently, it was not easily trackable or measurable. Fortunately, social media tools and strategies available today have eliminated such problems and made it easier to plan and improve a firm’s social media campaigns for better customer service and engagement. Therefore, it would be interesting to get a brief overview of social CRM and how it can impact a business.
The term “Social CRM”, actually has two very different meanings for businesses. One interpretation of this term refers to CRM systems that track the social media campaigns and the level of engagement with customers. It can also mean using social networking features for communicating and collaborating within and across business units. Let us focus on the explanations and implications of the first definition.
Social CRM can be defined as the customer relationship management and engagement facilitated by communication with customers through social networking sites, with the aim of forging trust and building a loyal customer base. It is a business strategy which augments traditional CRM channels like telephone, email etc. and together provides an all-round view of customers from all social media channels. It helps to build trust with the customers as it provides firms with an opportunity to personally interact with them on a one-to-one basis and help build a relationship with them. This sets it apart from traditional CRM as it doesn’t just deal with data and information, but with conversations and relationships. It is a two-way broadcast tool and also a lead nurturing process which helps reduce marketing costs and boost sales. Social media drives businesses towards subscription-style models that results in a regular stream of revenue. This allows businesses to focus on product innovation and improvement rather than closing individual sales.
Social media relies on certain parameters, or metrics, to measure the level of customer engagement. They are:
- Traffic: Social media helps businesses find out how many customers visit their sites and how the clicks can be tapped to provide value.
- Level of followers: Social CRM helps identify active and dormant followers and the way they interact with the company’s content.
- Engagement: SCRM helps in assessing an individual’s response to any offering such as product, service or website by monitoring their behaviour in the form of clicking on links, comments, downloads etc.
- Brand Mentions: Social CRM helps measure how many followers are talking about a company or brand.
Social CRM helps customers occupy the centre place of any organization. It allows firms to engage and respond to customers individually, on the channel of their choice. It gives a birds eye’s view of the brand’s influence and reaches and also the detailed, microscopic view of each customer interaction. There are some key points to consider when leveraging the abilities of social media to improve customer engagement:
- A comprehensive social platform that integrates seamlessly with other functions such as sales, marketing, service and finance for conducting CRM. It should include listening, monitoring and engagement capabilities and should be connected to the customer.
- Word-of-mouth and influencer marketing are the key ways to identify and engage with social influencers. Social media tools can be used to identify the people talking about the brand and then build a relationship with these loyal users.
- After winning over the people, the next step is to ensure their loyalty to the brand and the company by using loyalty codes, discount codes to entice them into purchasing the company’s products and services and reverting to positive feedbacks. These actions create a sense of exclusivity or preferred group in the minds of the customers which is priceless.
- The aim should not be to just push information towards the customers, rather, it should be a two-way engagement with them. The customers should be thought of as brand builders and not targets.
- People want to interact with real people and not nameless entities on social media sites. For example, the employees monitoring the social networks and interacting over them should be encouraged to introduce elements of their real personality, within the brand guidelines and goals. Another way is to allow employees to put their name at the end of the messages in their twitter account when interacting with the clients.
- The range of customer data that is available on social profiles data can help firms identify trends in their current customer base and help target the right segment in future marketing campaigns.
After taking care of the groundwork and other prerequisites, it is time to explore some social media strategies and practices that businesses should incorporate into their sales and marketing strategies.
- Personal Connections: It is necessary to integrate CRM systems with social media applications such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter so that customer details can be constantly be kept up-to-date with any changes that people may make.
- Brand Monitoring: Keeping a close watch on the ongoing and trending conversations in the form of feedback, criticism, reviews etc. by customers can provide an opportunity to create a positive impression in their minds and help gain insights into the customer sentiments.
- Citizen marketer tracking: Citizen marketers are users and consumers who spread the word about a product without any request from the company, purely because of their positive experience regarding the product. They are immensely beneficial and companies can identify such people to link their messages spread across different media like tweets, Facebook messages, blog posts etc. which can then be used to rank and grade the customer. This makes it easier to boost promotions and marketing in the social media landscape.
- Enhanced Support: The main areas where Social CRM impacts support is in pacifying angry customers and supporting in Support teams can search and monitor for keywords and forward those posts to support and customer service departments.
Some of the benefits of Social CRM are:
- It equips sales teams to better target prospects and prepare for client meetings and calls.
- It enables businesses to identify how online conversations are affecting their brand.
- It helps in discovering valuable leads and networking opportunities by tapping social media conversations.
- It helps customer service teams become more proactive in their approach and respond quickly to customer complaints.
- It enhances productivity and employee engagement through shared information and collaboration.
The advent and development of social media have been one of the key drivers of the change in the CRM world. Customers have a stronger voice and have the power to make or break the fortunes of multi-million dollar business empires.