The advent of social media has thrown up so many new opportunities and even more new challenges for businesses, that it can be hard for companies to know where to start. In a survey by IBM Institute for Business Value, they discovered that although 79 per cent of companies have social networking profiles, only about a quarter of companies confidently assert they have social media policies and training.
It seems that with the perceived urgency to jump on the social media bandwagon, coupled with a hefty bombardment of statistics about the rapid adoption of social media and opportunities for businesses, many companies are making the jump without a decent Social CRM strategy in place. But with CRM being driven now by social media more than anything else, this is going to be a critical element for businesses large and small.
CRM software and strategy traditionally looks after customers who are dealt with on the telephone, via the company website and in brick-and-mortar outlets. They are less well prepared to deal with customers in the blogosphere and social media channels, yet it is almost more important to have a watertight management strategy in place here: after all, negative comments about the brand or service on Facebook is not at all private.
For a company to really make the most of social media, it is time to implement a social CRM approach:
- Stop separating marketing and customer care: it can be easy to put your marketing department in charge of channel marketing through social media outlets, and leave your customer service guys to deal with email and phone calls. But as more and more customers start to engage with you via your social networking channels, it will be important to have able and qualified representatives ready to deal with these enquiries.
- Begin to see social media as an opportunity for genuine growth: by letting social media become a leading light in your CRM strategy you will be able to reduce your costs, as call centre activities are deflected to social media; increase sales through recommendations by your followers; boost loyalty by customers seeing your brand as dependable and increase your market share by being the company on your customers’ minds every day
- Train, mentor and develop your employees to make the most of social media: as well as the training in how to do things online, you’ll need to start analysing risks and concerns within the social media market if you are to get a good ROI.
- Use social media to spot marketplace trends: the social media world is a valuable insight into the minds of your customers. Help your employees to spot trends and develop a process for reporting valuable information back, so that your company can act on the changes immediately.
- Get it running through everything you do: don’t see social media as a nice ‘add on’ anymore – it isn’t. It has gone far beyond that and should be at the heart of everything you do as a company. Introduce internal social networks as a way to share ideas and cross-pollinate strategies between departments.
- Analyse and interpret ROI: in the IBM study, over a third of companies cited the establishment of an ROI strategy as their biggest challenge for social media. A challenge it is, but your business needs to find a way to measure and analyse the benefits of social media so you can find out what works best for your customers.