Social Business and Customer Relationship Management
Anecdotes are great. You’ll get no arguments here. Still, when you are trying to drive the conversation with your customers, you are going to want to focus more on actual experience, and less on a set of messages.
You want to build a business that works with the flow of social content. Not against it. You want to drive positive conversations. This requires an organizational model and business intelligence process that connects “inside” with “outside.” Outside are many places where consumers come in contact with your brand, product or service. This can happen in just about any way imaginable, be it billboard, message board posting, or an interaction with a customer service representative. Web strategist Jeremiah Owyang stressed this shift toward recognizing the new role of actual experiences when he said, “Marketing has spread beyond awareness and lead generation — support IS marketing.”
Consider the oft-neglected role of the customer service representative. This employee works in the reception division of your business. They should follow good practice of keeping track of current and past customers. This includes memories of conversations, purchase histories, warranty claims and more. They should illustrate this knowledge whenever possible. Remember, support IS marketing.
On the Internet, support starts by taking an interest and actively listening to what customers have to say of the formal CRM channels. The trick isn’t to gather data, rather to create an aura of listening. There are tools to help you do just that. Nathan Gilliatt reviews 30-plus tools, all of which do a respectable job of bringing back snippets of conversations in an embedded business context.
These new tools go beyond basic listening and manage to create a new approach. This is called social CRM. In early 2008, Brent Leary wrote a short post about social CRM: “[It] means creating a customer profile that helps us identify key pieces of information, helping to determine good customers from bad ones.” With a bit of hard work, you can get the information you need. Hey, being an innovator is never easy.
Salesforce.com customers are in for a treat as their social Web experience is being completely overhauled thanks to a series of applications. There’s Radian6, a social media monitoring tool and Lithium, an enterprise social CRM solutions provider. Expect to see usage of these applications start to grow as businesses begin to draft new customer service policies.
Then there’s Techrigy’s SM2 platform. It has CSV export capabilities, a robust API the ability to easily take results out of the core listening tool for extended analysis. For example, you can use the result set to create a specific list of influencers that pertain to your particular favored topics. With this, you can build a more cost-effective blogger outreach program. As a bonus, it will be organically grown.
Take a look at BuzzStream, too. Buzzstream is an interesting application. It is to CRM what Posterous is to blogging. It’s simple, fast and extremely low cost. Actually, it starts at free. Oh yeah, it also works. May as well mention that. It runs on the Amazon cloud services platform and offers concentrated listening with a complete user database. It’s easy to scroll through your results and pick out particular things of interest. It can find any Twitter mention of any keyphrase you are looking for, and that’s the start of what is on offer here. It’s a neat little tool.
It doesn’t matter which tool you choose, but choose something. The time is now. CRM is advancing, and along with it, your customers. You do not want to get left in the cold, cold Internet. All by your lonesome.
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