Customer relationship management systems are now merging with social media capabilities enabling organizations to build stronger relationship with customers.
Because of the increasing popularity of social media technologies, Customer Relationship Management now gives way to a broader perspective that acknowledges the new capabilities that are a result of social and technological shifts caused by social media applications.
In a recent professional discussion, some international relationship management professionals shared their perspective on social media and its capabilities to enhance traditional customer relationship management. I think there were some very interesting thoughts shared which can serve as a good reference point for organizations looking to refine their customer relationship management processes and ensure that they’re on the right track in terms of their CX initiatives.
Among the many great points of view shared, some interesting points stood out:
Social CRM can be defined as the integration of customer relationship management activities with upcoming social media technologies with the aim of drawing customers into collective conversations and of improving the relationships with them.
Social CRM capabilities refers to firms’ competency to create, integrate and react to information attained from customer interactions through social media applications.
Trainor, Andzulis, Rapp and Agnihotri (2014) describe four ways in which companies can actually use social media applications and increase their social CRM capabilities:
- SHARING: this refers to the technologies that support the ways in which customers can exchange and share digital information. Examples are video’s, images and “pins” on Pinterest.
- CONVERSATIONS: this refers to technologies that ease interactions between firms and customers and capture relevant information from those interactions. Examples are blogs, discussion forums, Facebook and Twitter.
- RELATIONSHIPS: this represents technologies that facilitate the generation of networks of associations with other social media users and permits companies to use the information about these networks. Linkedin, Facebook and Yammer are examples.
- GROUPS: this refers to the technologies that enable the creation of online communities concentrated on specific interests, brands or goods. Ideaforce and Igloo’s Customer Community are examples.
Many forward-thinking organizations today are utilizing the power of social media to increase interaction with clients. Clients get to have their issues addressed online because the transparency (and fear of backlash from a snowballing negative interaction) actually makes companies handle customer recovery faster and better. Therefore SCRM serves to make clients’ lives easier.
Social CRM only makes sense as part of an organization’s overall social strategy. Li’s POST acronym is probably the best guide for developing these types of social strategies:
- P – People. Don’t start a social strategy until you know the capabilities of your audience. If you’re targeting college students, use social networks. If you’re reaching out business travelers, consider ratings and reviews. Forrester has great data to help with this, but you can make some estimates on your own. Just don’t start without thinking about it.
- O – Objectives. Pick one. Are you starting an application to listen to your customers, or to talk with them? To support them, or to energize your best customers to evangelize others? Or are you trying to collaborate with them? Decide on your objective before you decide on a technology. Then figure out how you will measure it.
- S – Strategy. Strategy here means figuring out what will be different after you’re done. Do you want a closer, two-way relationship with your best customers? Do you want to get people talking about your products? Do you want a permanent focus group for testing product ideas and generating new ones? Imagine you succeed. How will things be different afterwards? Imagine the endpoint and you’ll know where to begin.
- T – Technology. A community. A wiki. A blog or a hundred blogs. Once you know your people, objectives, and strategy, then you can decide with confidence.
Social CRM is exciting, but one must think of employees and how they will interact with the customer. Your internal communication and operations must be appropriate or you take huge risk to expose negative elements to your customers. That could result in loss of opportunities.
Customer Relationship Management starts within the organisation itself. When an organisation aligns with it front line and mid level employees using technological advances to understand their needs in the workplace and responds appropriately these collaborators then in turn connect with the customer creating lasting and important relationships.