March 23rd, 2012 by Lloyd Gofton
This post has been written as a follow up to our â€˜Defining Social CRM‘ post, which was developed to overview the basics of what is often a confusing but essential function for any brand that wishes to engage with the social customer.
In this post we want to look beyond defining Social CRM and offer a brief guide to developing Social CRM, identifying relevant focuses to allow you to get to grips with your brand’s requirements. But first, let’s remind ourselves of exactly what Social CRM is:
Mitch Lieberman defined it thus: “Social CRM is about bringing “me” [the social customer] into the ecosystem… It is not about the technology, it is about the people, process and cultural shifts necessary to support and grow a business.”
Or as Paul Greenberg put it: “Social CRM is the company’s response to the customer’s control of the conversation.”
Needless to say there has been a major shift in the way we communicate with our customers and we want to use this post to explore the technologies, people, processes and cultural shifts a little further.
In our last post, we referenced Esteban Kolsky’s four key areas of Social CRM as follows
1. Community management
2. Social analytics engine
3. Actionable layer unit
4. System-of-record integration layer
In this post we will break down each area and look at the relevant services/focuses that brands should be considering. Therefore we’ve re-developed the four key areas into the following action points, and offered key service areas under each:
1. Listen (to our customers and wider community to understand issues and identify pain points)
2. Capture (actionable and relevant data)
3. Learn (develop a Social CRM philosophy across the organisation.)
4. Engage (using knowledge built through phases 1-3, engage in a relevant and useful manner)
Let’s look at each area in more detail:
As with any area of social media, or any conversation for that matter, the best place to start is by listening. In terms of customer relationship management, the importance of listening cannot be over-exaggerated. We should only engage and add value when we have listened to and understood the issues that our customers are experiencing.
Services focuses/audit areas:
Digital / social infrastructure – Trying to run a Social CRM campaign without a socially-enabled website, relevant social profiles and the ability to engage is very difficult.
Before you go any further you need to build your brand’s Social CRM tools:
â€¢ Audit your website – are you open to customer listening/engagement?
â€¢ Audit your SEO – can your digital touch points be found online?
â€¢ Audit/build social channels – are you open and available for customer engagement and listening outside of your direct website?
Social Media monitoring – Social CRM is often confused with Social Media Monitoring. Let’s be clear, although Social Media Monitoring is a crucial element of your Social CRM armoury, and will form a central part of the campaign, it is not enough to use monitoring alone. You must identify the relevant mentions, use the data and build that into your organisational approach. The data is only relevant if it is acted upon.
Team - Does your Social CRM response team consist of one marketing / customer services junior? This is not acceptable. Consider your customers, consider the amount of conversation about your brand, do you have the team to support this volume of data and conversation?
Training – Remember Social CRM is not a marketing or customer services tactic alone, your business needs to understand the key elements of Social CRM and act upon them. This means training and understanding needs to be organisational.
Once you have the platform, processes and people in place to listen, you need to feed this infrastructure with actionable and relevant data. This is the fuel that drives the Social CRM engine and the quality of the fuel will relate directly to the effectiveness of the Social CRM process.
The first stage is to capture the data and process it into the relevant focuses for your business.
Once you have the data you will quickly realise that much of it is irrelevant. It is crucial that time is not wasted feeding this information through the business and bringing on analysis paralysis.
Therefore in this layer the focus is identifying and actioning the useful data that will tell the business something about its customers, identify issues to be remedied or help to build the business by way of market research or insights.
Services focuses/audit areas:
Data Capture - Social Media monitoring will play a key role here, but we need to go deeper. Website analytics and data captured from any customer communities will be vital along with metrics available through LinkedIn groups and associated networking tools/ industry bodies.
Data Analysis – Data analysis is crucial. Do not overlook this phase as you could either strangle the process with too much data, or starve is of any useful information by only feeding it with the basics. Use experience here, make the most of your data and it will drive you to real success. If you don’t have the in-house skills utilise experienced consultants or agencies. The value you derive from the data can be extremely powerful for the business as a whole.
The third layer is the key to Social CRM success, which is taking Social CRM beyond a marketing or customer services specialism, and building a philosophy that translates across the organisation. If Social CRM is purely a function of customer services we are missing the point and will ultimately fail to achieve the brand’s CRM potential.
In today’s socially connected world, customers can intersect and engage with an organisation at many different points, and social customers do not follow traditional channels of communication. Therefore, the Social CRM strategy must be implemented across the business to succeed.
Service focuses/audit areas:
Internal communications of findings – There must be a process in place by which each message gets automatically routed to the right person, classifying it by type (question, complaint or compliment), content (what it actually said), sentiment, action needed, and influence. This helps to smooth the process, as you push your business towards a more open and responsive way of thinking about your customers.
Workflow tools – these tools will ensure that information created is accessible to everyone in the organisation in the same way. This creates a context for each interaction and will enable the social customer to engage with you in way that he/she finds most relevant.
Business-wide social strategy – A social business strategy is the ultimate goal. This is the heart of social conversation and the essence of a social business. If an organisation’s Social CRM strategy cannot positively impact this process then it is failing, and to succeed it must be implemented across the board.
We now learn from and engage with our customers more than ever before, but if these learnings are not translated throughout the business, we fail.
Social CRM isn’t just about engaging consistently, within a reasonable timeframe and adhering to corporate guidelines. The engagement needs to be relevant and useful, and not always in the form of a simple text-based response. Content can be used to engage without a complaint and to convey a key part of your offering. So don’t just think of engagement as a response. Think of it as an opportunity to build a conversation.
Let’s also be clear that you should not hold back from engaging until you have completed the three previous phases. Of course you need to engage before you have successfully implemented your social business strategy, otherwise it could take some time before we actually respond to our customers. However, the point remains we should not look at engagement as the quick fix or the first action point. It is important to respond to customer issues, but as we have said above, engagement is so much more than just responding.
Social media guidelines – These shouldn’t be an onerous book of dictations. The social media guidelines are important to communicate key aspects of the business dos and don’ts but they are not a script. The key here is â€˜guideline’ we are not trying to stop our brand from engaging with humans as humans. Do not be tempted to speak in rigid legalese.
Content development – Content can be extremely powerful, from expressive video to simple slideshares, your content will make your brand more accessible, better understood and more useful. Think of content as your social currency, build it up, but don’t rely on irrelevant and slapdash content. Take quality over quantity every time. Not all content is the same, poor content will encourage a negative response, so get the right advice from those that have done it before and take the lead from the listening phase where you should understand exactly what it is that your customers want. You can find a recent case study example of a content community here.
Social tool management – this is very simple part of the process, but again it is very easy to mess up. Tone, frequency and unwritten rules are subtleties that can make all the difference. Just because someone in your team understands Facebook, it does not qualify them for the role. Invest in experience and training and heed the many case study examples of success and failure. Allocate resource relevant to your social/digital footprint and customer base. Look outside of the business if the skills are not in-house, do not give this job to the intern, because if/when something goes wrong, blaming an intern will only make the situation worse.
A thought to leave you with
If you’ve reviewed this post and ticked off the elements you want to take with you for your business or reconfirmed elements that you have already got in place, I hope the information was useful and best of luck. However, if you have written off Social CRM because your customers don’t act â€˜that way’ think again. Your customer is no different, you are now dealing with the social customer who doesn’t play by traditional rules and does not accept that your brand is in charge. The social customer owns the relationship, and you need to earn his/her trust.
This post was not been designed as the definitive guide to each service area of Social CRM, but offers an introduction to reflect the activity required to build successful Social CRM.
To learn more about Social CRM, or if you would be interested in discussing any of the areas raised in this series of posts please get in touch.
We will also be taking part in the upcoming â€˜Social Customer‘ event in London on March 29th, where we will be live blogging, so if you’re unable to attend please keep an eye on our blog for updates on the sessions and learnings.