Social CRM For Dummies
Moving from traditional customer relationship management to social CRM is a huge undertaking for your business. That’s because social CRM fundamentally changes the way your business interacts with customers; it's all about engaging with your customers wherever they are online. Find out what benefits social CRM can offer your business, how it enables you to discover valuable insights about your customers, and what best practices can keep your efforts on track.
Recognizing the Benefits of Social CRM
Social CRM presents some pretty significant changes — organizationally, technically, and strategically — for companies, but it isn’t for nothing. Social CRM reflects changes in the business environment and can help your business stay competitive. Here are just a few key benefits of implementing a social CRM strategy:
Locating where your customers prefer to communicate
Educating consumers wherever and however they like to hear new information
Engaging social customers, who can carry and share your messaging to their extended networks
Receiving constructive feedback about your brand so you can make strategic adjustments
Identifying new opportunities and generating leads
Reducing customer support costs with targeted monitoring software
These benefits are what inspire businesses to invest in social CRM. Just remember that your business won’t realize all the benefits overnight. The approach to social CRM requires long-term ideas and patience.
How to Gain Business Insights with Social CRM
Social CRM and the social business model are driven by customers interacting with your brand. As a brand representative, you help move the conversation forward. But how does a social business model work? Although each industry has variations, the following steps outline how to involve your customers in conversations that your business can learn from:
Identify the social networks on which your customers interact.
This will likely include the usual suspects — Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare — but don't discount newer sites like Google+ and Pinterest, or Yelp and other review sites or forums. There are niche sites for quite a few industries as well. For instance, those in the travel industry should look at TripAdvisor and FlyerTalk. Identify a few of these more narrowly focused sites and see if your audience is active there.
Listen to what customers are saying about your business.
Before you start addressing your customers (and potential customers), listen up. Find out what team in your business interacts most with customers, and ask that team about the most common questions customers have. Ask what other insights the team can offer into your social CRM. You can also check what customers are saying about your business on social websites. For example, try a few different searches for your business name or your products on Twitter.
Learning from customers is important to any social CRM strategy. You want to learn the following about your customers: What are their complaints with your business? Do they have any suggestions for improvement? And what do they love about you? Identify their pain points and favorite features to see how you can begin to give them what they want, and continue to deliver what they already enjoy.
Join the conversation.
Your Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter audience are mostly previous or current customers who like your brand. You need to evolve your typical marketing approaches into conversations to really interact with this audience. Begin by answering questions and providing suggestions to customers who are already talking about your brand.
When replying to questions feels natural, you can begin guiding the conversation by asking questions yourself, and posting content designed to grow the conversation around your brand.
Implement customer suggestions.
Now that you know where your audience is and what they're saying, it's time to take action, whether it's through content or actual organizational changes. If customers are confused by what time your business closes, or angry that it isn't later, try posting your hours more clearly in social media, or experiment with staying open later on certain days. Look at what customers already love and build more conversations around that.
Best Practices for Social Customer Service
Customer service is critical to the health of a company. Businesses that engage in social customer service reach customers on social platforms, dig for customer insights, and invest in and value customer relationships.
To keep your social CRM and resulting social customer service on track, follow these best practices as your business incorporates social media into its customer service:
Know your business goals before you develop your social customer service tactics. If your company rushes headlong onto social platforms without understanding what its goals are, you can waste time and resources.
Understand that you can't fake customer relationships. One of the hallmarks of social media is authenticity. A customer can tell everyone on Facebook that your customer service is a joke or a gem. People know the real thing. Make sure you have empowered your customer service representatives and other staff so that they can truly respond to customers' needs. Authentic service helps you gain and keep customers' trust.
Your business must constantly monitor the web, because you must be alert to potential problems. Plan to check in on your social platforms much more often than once a week. If you don't assign one or more employees (depending on company size) to constantly monitor your social media accounts, you're penny-wise and pound-foolish. If you're the last to know about some terrible problem with your product or service, it might be too late to save your company's reputation.
To provide customers with the content they need, learn where your customers consume information, read reviews, and follow news. This follows the old adage, "fish where the fish are." You can't expect to change your customers' long-established online habits. If they communicate on Twitter, you aren't going to get them to come to your website's newsroom to read boring press releases.
To know what your customer wants, your research and communication must be ongoing. It's not a one-time thing. Social media takes time. When you add it as a layer to your social CRM, you'll need to take the time to make the data make sense. Don't be frustrated that you don't immediately know how to value it. The benefits of social CRM accrue gradually over time.