How to Create Successful Customer Conversations with Social CRM - dummies

How to Create Successful Customer Conversations with Social CRM

By Kyle Lacy, Stephanie Diamond, Jon Ferrara

Armed with knowledge, the social customer requires a relevancy in social messaging. This digital diva of a customer wants offers, discounts, apologies, recognition, recommendations, more information, transparency, and entertainment. It takes a shift in the mindset of a business to reach this customer.

It’s all about the customer. To implement a successful social CRM strategy, you have to accept that fact and grow to love it. This customer wants to be wowed, courted, heard, understood, and appreciated.

Think of your own dating experiences and what you did to keep the attention of your would-be sweetheart. You put on your best behavior, crafted exciting outings, and cleaned up real nice. You listened to what he or she had to say about the past and future. You processed the new data and came up with a plan to win his or her heart forever.

Marketing to social customers closely resembles that courtship, but you probably didn’t provide a list of features and benefits and ramble off the reasons for a second date. With social customers, you have to listen and react accordingly.

Fortunately, social customers are forthright regarding what they want and don’t want. Mirroring social customers’ behavior can win trust. Tell them upfront what a relationship with you will entail. Show them that you’re listening and help them when they least expect it. And give them gifts.

Market beyond messaging

If the social customer is in control, marketing has to be more than brand speak that’s aimed at the customer. Social CRM, social business, and the social customer revolve around conversations that build trust. An ideal result from that trust is brand loyalty, but you’ve got to earn it. And today’s social customer is going to make you work for it. Traditional marketing messaging isn’t enough to gain that trust.

Social CRM is a philosophy and strategy. Customer centricity drives success in social CRM. That customer focus must reside deep in an organization. You have to convince every employee who carries responsibility for your brand to hop on board, to live and breathe this strategy. Tailored messaging can come through in the social world, but at the heart of the message you must incorporate tactics like the following:

  • Building relationships: Transactions no longer act as the only desired result of engaging with customers in social media. Generating fans and advocates based on trust represents business done well with the social customer.

  • Solving customer issues: Helping your customers on the social stage, with their friends and network watching, places you in the well-earned spotlight. Truly thinking of how you can assist your customer makes for a natural way to build trust and a fan.

  • Entertaining: If you can provide content that evokes an emotion, you’ll likely gain shares and word-of-mouth action. The social customer demands creative and attention-grabbing content.

  • Offering incentives: People sometimes engage with your brand because they want to see if they can find a deal. When you can provide a discount or incentive, you’re giving your customers what they want. That’s a good thing.

Add value for your customer up front

Offering incentives marks a significant piece of social business. The social customer has told enterprise through many studies that they want coupons, discounts, and incentives. So why do so many businesses avoid it? Perhaps it’s because traditional messaging is just a habit that dies hard.

Permission-based marketing harnesses a captive audience of people who actually want to hear what you have to say. The empowered social customer can easily ignore marketing today. On Facebook, users can click an ad to remove it. Facebook then asks the user why he no longer wants to see the ad and requests information on what the user would prefer to see. That’s power in the hands of the consumer.


More information is becoming available about your customers’ online behaviors. The unfortunate side effect is that many of them feel a bit exposed. When people feel like a target or number to be gathered, they tend to tread more lightly toward an interaction. If you can present your business like an open book with no secrets to hide, you can help the leery customers take the next step toward engagement.

Try messages like the following to add up-front value for the social customer:

  • “When you like our page, you’ll receive weekly coupons.”

  • “For up-to-date product information, follow us on Twitter.”

  • “We’ll be running daily photo contests on our Facebook page. Great prizes await!”

Provide customer service they didn’t expect

Some of the greatest social media success stories arise from unexpected, personalized customer service. One of the best examples — and one that’s maybe a bit over the top — took place on Twitter, with Morton’s steak house. Author Peter Shankman cried out in a tweet for a porterhouse steak amidst his weary travels through multiple airports.

To his surprise, Morton’s sent a representative to meet up with Shankman’s arranged driver and deliver to Shankman a steak dinner, sides, and tableware. Shankman of course tweeted out the super delivery to his 10,000 Twitter followers. Big win for Morton’s!


Granted, Shankman wrote a book on customer service and has an advantageous audience for any brand. However, Morton’s steak house had to be listening to its social customers to realize the awesome opportunity in front of it. Small business and enterprise alike can hear opportunities to wow customers when they’re primed to listen.