Striking the Right Balance With Social CRM

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In my last post on social CRM, I talked about a common mistake that some businesses make when engaging customers through social media: failing to make effective use of data from these engagements to shape business strategy. In this post, I want to talk about a very different but related mistake – gathering intelligence without engaging customers. Each of these mistakes results from striking the wrong balance between engagement and intelligence-gathering in social CRM strategy, and either form of imbalance means you’re not getting the most out of your social CRM investment.

When different companies seek to develop their social CRM strategies, they start the process with different strengths and weaknesses. One company might have a strong history of interacting with the public through social media and needs to focus more on developing strong CRM practices. Another might have an excellent CRM process in place and tends to lean on that strength rather than taking full advantage of the ‘social’ side of social CRM. This company, which I’ll call Acme Corp., closely monitors Twitter and Facebook comments about their products, effectively analyzing and distributing that information to shape overall strategy in their marketing, customer service and product development departments. They are effectively carrying out their social CRM strategy, but because the strategy itself is imbalanced they’re not reaping the full benefit of social CRM.

Reaching out to your target market through the channels that they prefer creates great benefits. Consumers today are overwhelmingly turning to online social channels of engagement and expect their voices to be heard and even the most basic evidence that someone at Acme is listening to the concerns of customers is valuable. By engaging directly Acme could better shape brand identity, bolster customer loyalty, and develop brand advocates and thought leaders.

Besides the ability to improve loyalty and customer relationships, Acme is also missing the opportunity to generate more, and more useful, intelligence about their customers and their desires. The company might do a good job of grabbing 100 percent of the useful information that’s currently circulating about their brand and products. If a customer’s tweet about Acme’s flagship product simply states that he is disappointed in the product, the only useful information Acme has is that the product could be improved. That’s not much for the product development team to go on. But by engaging customers, starting conversations and asking questions, Acme can get better information, such as being able to precisely identfy what specific improvements to their flagship product would have the greatest impact.

Although at times the rules might seem to have changed, the basic principles are still the same – the company that does the best job of identifying the desires of the consumer and meeting those needs is the company that comes out ahead. Consumer engagement and intelligence-gathering, when effectively integrated, can help you identify and meet needs in a continually-improving process, resulting in ongoing success.

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