An extract from our report in collaboration with Atos Consulting called ‘SocialCRM: Towards enhanced Customer Relationship Management‘, we take a look at the key elements of a social CRM strategy:
Social CRM introduces the notion of reciprocity where traditional “one-way” marketing strategies are used, e.g. company-to-consumers/prospects. Consumers are willing to enter into a dialogue with a company and share their suggestions, fuelling brand creativity. They will, however, expect their input to be acknowledged in return.
Community forums, such as the American Express “Open Forum”, are good examples of this indispensable company/ customer exchange concept.
Open Forum is intended to provide SMEs with the knowledge, tools and social network they will need to develop their business. In addition to providing a contact directory to enable SMEs and experts to get in touch with each other, the forum also hosts various multimedia information from company CEOs and experts who have been contacted by American Express (in the form of pdfs, videos, podcasts, posts, etc.), and has a collection of first-class content produced by Internet users to enrich the community environment.
Sundays and public holidays are of no importance to Internet users – they post information on social media whenever they want. The speed at which the message spreads varies depending on the nature of the conversation, i.e. whether it is negative, sensitive or simply amusing.
Maintaining this conversational aspect and keeping the exchange of views flowing means that expectations in terms of responsiveness are higher on social media than on other channels. It is therefore crucial that companies set up a Social CRM tool as soon as possible to allow them to detect situations with potentially high virality (mass propagation), so that they can respond with minimum delay, including outside office hours. The aim is to avoid the development of controversial debates and to deal with crisis situations as soon as they arise.
In this respect, tools on smartphones are proving to be the preferred method for companies to stay connected to their communities and to empower their employees.
Mobile company management is a new but very worthwhile practice that has already proved itself, as Dell again illustrates. Dell provided its 10,000 managers with mobile phones that have Seesmic installed on them and are set-up to accommodate the main social media as well as Dell’s internal social network. This was done with the help of Chatter, a tool developed by Salesforce. The aim was to put a ‘social radio’ in the pocket of each manager, allowing them to hear what is being said about Dell and to communicate amongst themselves. The benefits of this mobile strategy were proved during the mini crisis relating to the cost of Air France tickets after the earthquake in Japan. Despite the fact that the conflict began on a Sunday, mobile management of social media meant that the communications managers from the company could provide the necessary response and appropriate solutions within a very short period of time.
Loïc Le Meur, Founder of Seesmic
Initiatives on social media must not only be consistent with one another, but also with other contact channels if there is to be synergy between online and offline strategy.
This requires an understanding of both community needs and codes to ensure that the right methods for handling contacts are used, as well as effective circulation of information within companies, which is facilitated by internal social networks.
Brands can no longer expect to be adorned with virtue. Consumers know all too well that brands are not perfect; they exchange enough views about this on social media!
They are willing to excuse companies for some mistakes, providing that companies acknowledge the mistakes and put an action plan in place in order to rectify them properly.
By not being transparent, open and honest, the brand is seen as an entity that inspires little confidence. Contrary to advertising, social media are often considered to be like ‘a bath of sulfuric acid’ in the sense that they first bring out negative aspects – that advertizing would simply omit – so that they then focus on positive aspects. Instead of hiding negative elements, it is better to highlight them to reassure customers and create a trust relationship. In some ways, social media function like ‘word of mouth’. At Seesmic, this is exactly how it works; any comments about our shortcomings can be found on feedback.seesmic.com. We acknowledge these comments and do
our best to provide responses with suggestions for rectifying them. This attitude helps foster an environment of trust, authenticity and transparency within communities.
Loïc Le Meur, Founder of Seesmic
Engagement in a true corporate approach
Social CRM impacts a lot of people: customers, prospects but also employees. Commitment to the approach is essential. Firstly, so that members of teams who are directly affected can ensure that company initiatives are implemented correctly and secondly, because employees themselves are members of social media sites. When they express their opinions about employers, including on personal social networking sites such as Facebook, it is important that their comments respect the image that the company wishes to project.
The search for influencers and ambassadors must begin within the company itself.
This requires education, information and training. Contact centre agents appear to be best placed for taking concrete action on social media (monitoring, detecting prospects and responding to complaints). They already know the company culture, are experienced in Customer Relationship Management and are better able to manage delicate situations. Their training should be a priority.
But company engagement in Social CRM must occur at all levels and be seen as a clear priority. The commitment shown and example set by senior management is fundamental in this respect.
In the next blog post in this series, we’ll be sharing “The truth about a few Social CRM myths”
And our report on SocialCRM: