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By: Act! Blog
Social media has slowly but surely become the dominant paradigm for instant communication. And as our understanding of the implications of social media has evolved to a somewhat mature degree, experts have started to spot trends that could prove to be useful in some way or another.
One such trend is the exponential growth in the role social media plays between businesses and their customers. According to Twitter, customer service interactions over Twitter have increased 250% in the last two years. If the data is anything to go by, it is high time businesses recognize social media as the gold mine for online customer relations that it is, and hop on board.
The rise in said online business-customer interactions has snowballed to the point where it warrants its own name in CRM lingo: Social CRM. Businesses have started paying attention to Social CRM, with hopes that it will improve their customer experience and boost brand image. And if utilized correctly, Social CRM may very well end up doing just that.
It is easy to overlook certain marketing trends in a sea of hype-infested buzzwords. Social CRM might be considered such, though you would be doing your business a grave injustice.
Traditional CRM vs. Social CRM
Unlike traditional Customer Relationship Management (CRM), which predominantly glances at the customer from the outside by making suggestions based on the customer’s data and preferences, Social CRM attempts to engage with the customer in a more direct, one-to-one fashion. Businesses do not have to play the guessing game anymore; customers will use social media to speak their minds directly.
Put bluntly, Social CRM incorporates the customer’s social media interaction into the CRM. You can track your customer’s queries, suggestions and complaints systematically using Social CRM. At the core of Social CRM is customer experience management – it helps you organize all instances of online customer interactions, and reply quicker than ever using social platforms. You also get to combine the newly acquired data with pre-existing knowledge to construct a clearer picture of customers’ wants and needs.
What does it mean for you
Practically, businesses can use social platforms like Facebook and Twitter to engage with customers in real-time. Social CRM is mutually beneficial for the business and its customer; the latter does not have to wait for an e-mail reply or on a phone call, while the former can swiftly respond to queries and get back to work.
When times change, so should you
A recent survey of consumer behavior conducted by J.D. Power concludes that 67% of consumers have interacted with a businesses’ social media account. That is not by mere chance; the on-demand nature of the modern world has also left its mark on customer behavior. Today, customers expect lightning fast responses to their business queries. And if these expectations aren’t met, businesses suffer.
Social CRM, by design, is there to help you cope with these expectations. By tracking online customer interactions, it enhances customer experience to unprecedented levels. Because businesses can now respond within minutes to any customer engagement, Social CRM provides a chance for them to show their customers just how valuable they are to the business.
It’s the statistics, stupid
Statistics show that missing out on Social CRM is hardly a matter of choice for any burgeoning business. Customers are much more likely to spread positive word regarding a business if they get quick, satisfactory responses on social media from the business. In another survey, around 43% of customers ranked direct responses from businesses as the most important feature of their customer experience. But even amidst such a high demand, a meager 36% concur that their online queries are resolved in an acceptable manner. All this shows that there is plenty of room to grow in the Social CRM space. What’s more, customers are conscious of great customer support, and will in fact reward businesses for providing it.
A friend of the little guy
Small businesses can achieve equal footing with their corporate counterparts if their social media game is on point. In a recent survey, HelpScout found out that about 80% of businesses claim to have ‘superior’ customer service, while only 8% of customers of said businesses agree with their evaluation. Small businesses can greatly capitalize on this complacency on part of their competitors, by utilizing Social CRM astutely.
Rapid response is the right response
The most crucial aspect of Social CRM is ensuring swift, relevant responses to customer queries. In fact, response time should be the focal point of your customer experience strategy as it relates to Social CRM. Fanhub reports that 25% of social media users expect businesses to respond to their complaints within an hour. That might sound unreasonably demanding, but is in fact achievable given a framework of Social CRM is in place at the business. It is imperative for businesses to treat each customer as the most important one, as 70% of customer experience is based on how customers think they’re being treated. By replying quickly and effectively to your customers, you can get a leg up over the competition.
Social Listening is all the rage
You might have already heard about Social Listening. The term refers to businesses employing various techniques to monitor how they’re being discussed in the online social sphere.
Examples of active social listening leading to positive results are increasing quite a bit. In one of the more famous instances, a German utility company was able to retain 60% of potentially leaving customers through social listening. It did so by monitoring phrases similar to ‘change of provider’ on social media, and channeling resources in those customers’ direction in due time. Resultantly, it saved itself a hefty sum worth €200,000.
Something similar happened in Vancouver, when a Delta Hotels customer Mike McCready, who was attending a conference, tweeted that his room had a far-from-ideal view. He didn’t even use the hotel’s name; mentioning the conference’s name with a hashtag was enough for Delta to notice the tweet. Delta not only gave him another room, but also treated him with a plate of dessert.
Reward loyalty and sweeten the pot
Beyond merely responding to customer questions, businesses can take initiative and actively reward customers from time to time. Because Social CRM gives businesses the chance to track and monitor customer engagement, it is fairly easy to pinpoint the loyal customers, who will typically comment, like and share your posts. Businesses should return the favor, by frequently commenting on those customers’ posts. It will not only make those particular customers more loyal, but also let the world know just much invested you are in your customers.
Of course, you can go the extra mile and pamper the odd customer like Morton’s Steakhouse. When asked by a customer to deliver an order to the airport when he landed, Morton’s not only welcomed him with the meal, but did so without charging a penny. Customer service doesn’t get better than that.
Facebook and Twitter
Okay, so you’re convinced of the miracles of Social CRM. But which social media platforms should you target? Well, a good place to start is Facebook. The de-facto leader in online interactions, Facebook gives businesses multiple metrics to gauge customer experience. You can monitor comments, likes and views, all of which can collectively tell you how well your customers think they’re being dealt with. Make sure your responses are contextual; if a customer asked something in the comments, try to respond there. If there’s one thing customers are not very fond of, it’s being passed around.
Twitter is another solid choice. In fact, Socialbakers claims that Twitter receives 19% more customer questions compared to Facebook. This claim is further bolstered by HBR’s findings, which indicate an increase of 2.5x in tweets that use handles of businesses from 2013 to 2015. Twitter’s popularity with customer service experience can be measured by the fact that 86% of customers say they want to hear back from businesses on Twitter when reporting a complaint.
Leave no one behind
People below 35 years of age use social media approximately 4 hours/day. This segment of your customers is moving beyond Facebook and Twitter. It is equally important for businesses to maintain a presence on alternative social platforms.
Instagram can be the perfect customer service tool in a visual economy, if you want it to be. Make sure to use relevant hashtags, as they can connect more people with your posts, resulting in a higher chance of landing new customers. Also, include call-to-actions in your captions; any increase in customer engagement is a win for your business.
Finally, make smart use of Instant Messaging. Be it WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, ensure your customers have your ears on these platforms. You can even automate certain customer interactions with Messenger for Business, using Facebook’s AI bots.
In this day and age, where efficiency can make or break your business, using social media to deliver customer support is imperative. The math is heavily skewed in favor of businesses that are able to deliver robust customer experience through Social CRM. Yes, we get it: social media is relatively new, and it is easy to stumble into its pitfalls if not given due attention. But the opportunity is too big to pass on. And with Act!, businesses can easily integrate their customer’s social media information with their CRM. See for yourself by ordering the demo now!