Retailers generally consider social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and in certain cases YouTube, as marketing avenues; these are means of promoting the brand and developing relationships with customers.
But Maria Ogneva, director of social media at Nimble, recently wrote a column for Mashable.com (Jan. 2) explaining how these connective tools can also be used to create better customer experiences.
Customer experience is one of the cornerstones of an effective business strategy, she writes, particularly since social media have put customers in the driver's seat. “However, companies don’t need to live in fear of the next Kevin Smith or Nestle Fanpage episode. They just need to fix their customer experience to ensure that products and services actually do what they’re supposed to do and the company’s support and service are actually helpful.”
Social CRM Connects Social Customer to Social Business
As your company interacts with customers via social media, you must address additional dimensions in a given customer’s experience, Ogneva writes. “You now have many more channels to listen to and participate in, while keeping the experience consistently excellent.
“Where it gets complicated is wading through the noise, turning data into insights that the whole company can use, and sharing these insights. Because there is so much data being hurled at you, solutions that help unify and share information in a usable format have become necessary.”
Ogneva notes that, according to Gartner Research, over 80 percent of growth in enterprise use of social networking tools will be driven by customer engagement projects and estimates social customer relationship management to be a $1 billion submarket of CRM in 2011.
Ogneva outlines the following key principles about social CRM:
- Listen and engage.
- Have a 360-degree view of the customer.
- Adopt transparency and customer service as cultural foundations for your business.
- Share and align with your team; develop necessary workflow.
- Social engagement must be enterprise-side.
Using Social Media to Enhance Experience
- Listen and Respond. “You should be listening for signals from social media for needs of existing and potential clients,” writes Ogneva. “You want to engage proactively: listening at the point of need; as well as reactively: listening for indicators that someone may need help.”
- Cross-reference social and internal customer data. “To successfully serve someone or give them an unforgettable experience, you need to know what your relationship is with the person who tweeted, your history of communication, as well as purchase history, if it’s a customer. For example, at my company, we help you cross-reference people from the social media stream (either your own or as a result of tracking keywords) to the internal record for a full 360-degree view.”
- Understand context of relationship. “Quick caveat: This new level of customer intelligence should be used in context of the relationship,” she adds. “While the customer may want you to get the full scoop on him or her in a customer service scenario, a company should never appear like it is using the personal information of someone who has no relationship with the company.”
Share and Collaborate, Rise and Repeat
“As you do all of the above, make sure that your team and key external parties are on the same page with you. Cross-reference social data with internal data, retain and reference current and prior conversation threads and ensuing action items,” writes Ogneva. Communication and alignment are vital to delivering a quality customer experience via social media.