Customer Relationship Management has been carried out in the same way for a number of years. What’s so different about social media and why should social media change your approach to CRM?
1. You can’t “push” messages anymore
One way or another “pushing messages” within the traditional CRM approach means selling. Before social media, anyone interested in your product or service had to talk to someone in your company. This usually meant a salesperson.
With social media customers can decide when and how they want to interact with you, because there are communities of interest on line (forums) for your industry where good or bad experiences and reviews are shared, allowing people to make informed choices. You can’t readily sell to online users in the traditional way. You have to manage perceptions to create desire for people to make the effort to decide to buy from you.
This means you the marketer has to carry out activities which are not perceived as selling but “pull” believers or advocates to your product or service. These advocates then tell other people about you. It also means you need to manage some extra activities in CRM (see below).
2. Social media activity shouldn’t be owned by sales
Is social media activity “selling” as such? It’s much harder to track the success of lead generation activities when sales can’t follow up in the traditional way. It’s not about how good your sales people are it’s about how well you interact with queries.
The difference is that social media gives a potential buyer the opportunity to find out a great deal about your product, your service, and the very experience of dealing with you before the sale happens. This means it’s actually interactions with potential buyers that influence behaviours (and need to be tracked) in CRM not just sales opportunities. You then use CRM to identify which types of interaction are most likely to result in sales.
Should an on-line strategy be run by sales? It looks like a social media strategy may fit more comfortably with the PR function.
3. The customer has real time interaction with you – and everyone else
Information on the internet is available 24 hours a day, instantly. This creates an expectation of rapid response which means you are likely to need to structure your online activity to be able to respond far faster than traditional communications methods. After all, every other person on a forum could hear about perceived slow service the same day it happens. You have to interact with those communities and simply collaborate to help with their business problems, not sell.
Every area of the business which has contact with the customer or prospect has to be providing the customer experience in the same way and to a consistent high quality. It also means the metrics traditionally used in marketing may not be adequate in a world where interactions and engagements are important.
4. Online, Differentiation and Brand is everything
Guess what? Buyers have never bought solely on price. Branding is the means by which you build a perception of quality in the mind of your buyer and reduce the buyer’s dependence on price. Price is important but the commitment to you is made on the basis of a sort of perceptual bundle of goodies including how they feel about your product and service. Survey said on line 70% of the buyer’s journey is completed before they speak to a sales person (SiriusDecisions).
Online your credibility as a vendor and your brand are everything. In an environment of instant feedback having a clear message for how you are different to your competition and managing and maintaining that perception is more important than ever.
5. Social media moves the balance of power from vendor to customer.
The challenge is the customers POWER. By enabling so much more information to be gleaned without direct human interaction reduces loyalty and makes it far easier to switch vendors. The message really is that social media is here to stay and has to become part of your marketing profile. So ensure the online user has good experiences of you, be available, and use CRM to integrate your business processes so everyone can access up to date information on customers and prospects to deal with questions, challenges and opportunities effectively, as they arrive.
It would be a mistake to think social media is a black art. None of the above is fundamentally different to marketing off line, and social media is not so much totally different as more of a logical extension of traditional marketing practices. You still need metrics for tracking hard business results, you still need compelling messages, you still need to listen hard to customers. It’s still about building satisfied customers and champions. You still need CRM, because the speed and availability of information online means the customer becomes the centre of everything you do.
Tracking interactions has become more important online, with leads and sales happening as a consequence of managing collaborative customer engagements and interactions to solve their business problems. What is a waste of time is the idea of collecting fans and followers. The goal of social media activity is to build advocates, which means credibility and a clearly differentiated offering if you are to leverage the benefits social media can bring. For more information Contact Us