It’s no news that customers have started using social media as a way to communicate feedback to brand products and services. Social media platforms have transformed into both community and CRM channels.
In a SlideShare presentation (found here), Paul Greenberg talks about the social customer: “A social transformation – a revolution in communications that impacts all institutions, businesses included” (slide 3).
The social customer controls the conversation on review websites (such as Yelp), social networks and communities (Reddit, Facebook pages and groups, Twitter, Review websites), social media properties (Social Media Today, Business2Community, SociableBlog, Business.com etc), blogs, YouTube and podcasts.
At this stage, I would also add team management platforms such as Trello, Glip and Slack, and interactive chat rooms (an e.g. are freelance platform chat rooms, still under development).
But are the social transformation and social customer the only factors that contributed to the social CRM evolution? Certainly not.
CRM Isn’t Just CRM Anymore
This sounds like a cliché, but in truth CRM doesn’t just ease the customer management process, it is also a vivid model of customer engagement. To an even great extent, we could say a model of customer community building.
Hence the need for community managers that have not only technical skills, but also conversational ones and a sense of “keeping people closer” to the brand.
Four Social CRM Principles to Consider
When we’re talking about social CRM, we must include at least four principles. The first of is the mutuality of value. What does this mean? It means value given and value received. When the social consumer offers feedback, for .e.g, his actions should be taken into consideration.
When the brand suggests a beneficial change to the social consumer, he should take it into consideration. The foundation of a healthy relationship between brand and consumer is built upon collaboration, transparency, advocacy, mutual value and eventually, co-creation.
The second principle is the action driven by self-interest. What this means: the best way to attract customers and build a relationship with them is to let them discover you. Any user that performs a research based on self-interest is likely to stay interested in a product or brand. Of course, this does not mean your brand should stop making any effort of being visible.
You should grow your brand’s visibility online to a level that allows potential customers to easily access information, products or services. However, the purchase behavior should be driven by self-interest.
We are social creatures, says the 3rd principle. This means both brands and customers like to live where the others live. We are driven by trends, by popularity, by numbers. Customers are likely to engage with your brand if there is a community surrounding it, or if there is room for conversation.
Tip for startups: if your social media channels feel empty, ask the help of your employees and early brand adopters to leverage your social interactions. The moment potential customers see activity on your page, or any other social account, they are more likely to jump in, suggests UXC Eclipse, an official Microsoft Dynamics CRM partner.
The forth principle is based on excitement. If a customer, especially a new one is excited, they will most probably share their excitement with their peers, friends and connections.
Moreover, in the case of tools or apps, if a brand is excited about how productivity or sales have increased using CRM tools, for e.g., they will most likely share on their social media channels, offer testimonials and even build case studies to showcase their productivity or transformations inside the company. This is the beauty of social media, after all.
From CRM to Social CRM
The evolution of CRM began in 2005, along with social media. The moment businesses became active in social media was the actual moment for social CRM to emerge. What are the key changes that took place in CRM?
- A shift from specific departments to everyone occurred. Not only at a company level, but also at a brand level. Users and customers giving tips and solutions to other users and customers: the power of community was born.
- Company centric progress moved to a more customer-centric process, where the center of attention is the customer, the consumer, the brand adopter. An adaption of the quote “it’s not me, it’s You”, done right.
- Defined channels switched to customer-driven dynamic channels. Honestly, you can’t afford being static in a dynamic environment, and what can be more dynamic than the Online?
- Business hours shifted to customer-set hours. We have seen a lot of brands opening call centers and technical support departments all over the world, in order to be in a similar time zone to their customers. And when not possible, they would change the working hours to fit their target audiences.
- Transactions were refined into interactions. Brands aren’t interested just in Sales, but also in happy customers, community building and closure.
- Last but not least, we saw a change in how communication works, from message flow going outside to messages getting inside. This can be translated into social listening: brands are actually interested in listening to their customers, and this is a chain of events that is getting much traction recently.
CRM Tip of the Day: Make your Emails look nice. Really nice!
If your company is already undergoing transformations and performing these steps, then you are on the right track of understanding and implementing a social CRM model. If your company isn’t already doing it, what are you waiting for?
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