The Role of the Social CRM Employee
The Social CRM employee’s role has shifted in many cases from being behind the scenes to interacting directly with customers. Therefore, you need to consider new ways to help social employees succeed in that role.
Previously, most employees were invisible to customers. Now given the opportunities social platforms offer, many more employees in support positions interact directly with customers. For example, in the past, employees handling shipping were unseen. Now if a customer has a question, the customer can contact the department’s staff directly for clarification.
When examining ways to empower social employees, use two specific measures to evaluate the direct contribution they can make on social media platforms. From within the organization, employees can contribute by doing these things:
Talk directly to customers and provide excellent service that encourages word-of-mouth recommendations. Customers talk about the service they receive, so employees who provide meaningful experiences can make a huge contribution. Previously, bad service could remain virtually anonymous. Now names and bad deeds can be recorded by unhappy customers for all to see. That makes employees who provide positive experiences even more important to the organization than in the past.
Talk to each other to facilitate customer service and effective collaboration with one another. Technology has made work flow processes more transparent. Therefore, they’re more closely scrutinized than they’ve ever been. Employees who facilitate work flow and find ways to improve collaboration make an important contribution to organizational growth.
There is another way, in addition to the two measures listed previously, that employees can contribute. They can use their personal connections on social platforms outside the organization.
Both measures listed previously are of equal importance to an organization’s health. When the employee’s potential is used in both ways, the impact on the enterprise can be substantial.
In his book The Conversation Company (Kogan Page), Steven Van Belleghem lays out the four possible outcomes for your company based on the degree to which you can encourage both employees and customers to participate in conversation. The following bullets introduce the range of participation your company may have from employees and customers:
Low to high participation from internal stakeholders (employees)
Low to high participation from external stakeholders (customers)
Given these continuums, here are the four possible outcomes, the impact of each outcome, and ways to improve upon each outcome:
Your participation from both employees and customers is low.
Designation: A boring company
When you have low participation from everyone inside and outside the corporation, you have what is bluntly designated as a boring company. When you look at this company through the lens of either social media or effective collaboration, you find it’s a veritable ghost-town.
No one is inspired to say anything about it or work together to do anything innovative. In a word, it’s boring. It has the potential to fade as competitors move more authoritatively along both measures.
Improvement tactic: If your company fits this designation, you need to amp up activity within the employee base to get the conversation started. You have to reward employees for providing the kind of service that they are eager to talk about on public channels. You also need to encourage customers to tell you what they think. Your company or brand is invisible. That’s the worst situation you can face.
You have high participation from employees and low participation from external stakeholders.
Designation: A proud company
A proud company designation is usually a result of the fact that employees are really excited about working for this company and provide tons of examples to customers of their quality work. This is great, but is such a closed system that customers feel they aren’t invited to comment.
Improvement tactic: In this situation, you need to encourage employees to invite customers to discuss their experiences and highlight the value your company has brought to them. This means that customers talk about how well they are doing as a result of working with your company.
You have low participation from employees, but high participation from customers.
Designation: An adored company
If you are considered an adored company, your managers are often reluctant to change anything. That’s because on the whole, this is a desirable designation to have.
Improvement tactic: You are so beloved by customers that employees don’t feel the need to participate in the discussion as often as they might. If you encourage more employee participation, you will increase their satisfaction, but clearly you are in an enviable position.
You have both high participation from employees and customers.
Designation: A conversation company
This is the most desirable designation. When you have both high participation from employees and customers, you are clearly doing something right.
Improvement tactic: None. Keep doing what you’re doing to encourage a high degree of participation from both employees and customers. Your company has the most potential for high growth in the future.
An example of a conversation company is Burberry. What makes Burberry interesting is that this high-end clothing retailer isn’t given to offering big discounts. However, Burberry’s Facebook Page has over 13 million likes. The company provides beautiful photographs of its merchandise to entice readers and has a very interactive community.
It is well known that Steve Jobs believed that the best ideas are generated when employees chat together in informal settings. The building he helped design for Pixar had an atrium in the center, where employees lunched. He believed that the interactions employees had with each other in that setting made for a much richer environment. The quality of movies Pixar developed suggests Jobs was definitely onto something.