Thinking one step ahead with social CRM

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Pat Perdue’s recent piece, ‘Social Media and Customer Engagement’, offered great examples of how, and how not, to provide customer service through social media. They also got me thinking about the ways good social CRM strategy could be effectively applied to similar situations.

A social CRM system works to improve overall customer experience by gathering data from customer conversations and delivering that data in meaningful ways to shape strategy and tactics on a variety of fronts – from customer service to sales strategy to product development. In the examples Paul provided, customers were complaining to Comcast and Expedia via Twitter about service outages or dropped calls to customer service. A well-designed social CRM system would improve such customer experiences in four ways:

1. Identifying problem trends. Through a keyword system, complaints about similar problems could be aggregated into reports that are used to identify and improve systemic shortcomings. For example, instead of viewing a random tweet about a dropped customer service call and assuming it was a one-time occurrence, customer service leadership could see in a single report that 50 similar tweets were made in a single month, pointing to an ongoing issue in the contact center that must be rectified. Another example might be frequent use of the term “wait time” in customer tweets. This might lead to the inclusion of a wait time counter on the company’s contact page or an automated message on calls to customer service that informs customers of the expected wait time and what they can do to get a faster response.

2. Improving response time. Because many businesses have only a small team of customer service representatives, scalability can be a problem in times of increased demand. Rather than making customers wait a long time for a meaningful response, automated responses can be keyed to tweets about particular problems, again based on a keyword system. If a telecom company knows that its systems are down in a particular area due to storms, they could set up an automated tweet response to complaints about service outages that explains the problem and tells customers when they can expect service to resume. In the example Paul offered in which a Comcast customer tweeted that they “need a call back ASAP” because they were told it would be ten days before their problem would be addressed, the social CRM workflow could recognize the key words “call back” and “ASAP”, moving this customer to the top of a queue and alerting a customer service rep to reach out right away.

3. Retaining current customers, gaining new ones. By automatically prioritizing tweets that indicate a potential lost customer, such as tweets that contain the words “cancel” and “Comcast”, social CRM can help companies such as Comcast act faster to help customers that are within minutes of severing the relationship. Similarly, whenever someone tweets that “AT&T sucks”, Comcast has an opportunity to gain a customer if they have processes in place to recognize it. Through a social CRM system, identification of tweets like this could be automated and a queue devised for sales outreach. The ROI of such efforts would be easily trackable, defusing a common complaint about the uncertain value of social media efforts.

4. Increasing successful outcomes. By tracking successful against less-than-successful engagement processes and aggregating data, a social CRM system can help companies identify the types of responses customers prefer and improve their methods accordingly.

These represent only some of the ways that social CRM can be used to meaningfully improve customer experiences. I’ll be writing more soon about how data gathered through social CRM can be used outside of the customer service department to better enable companies to satisfy customers and distinguish themselves from the competition.

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