We’ve all been there: the dreaded customer service call. It’s like a game of roulette, really. Who will you get on the other end? Someone who will go above and beyond to help you or someone who will keep pushing you off to someone else? Will you have to say your story three times?
Social media is allowing businesses to cut the game of roulette and connect customers with solutions without even having to pick up the phone. By listening to and analyzing conversations about your brand, you can be proactive in efforts to alleviate consumer problems, ultimately boosting your reputation and forming valuable relationships. Regardless of your current commitment to social media, the idea of Social CRM is something to keep on your radar.
Similar to traditional CRM systems, Social CRM is an effective way to gather data at key points in the consumer interaction process. In addition to phone calls, e-mails, letters, complaints and forms, the social media community has emerged as a key listening tool for companies to monitor successes and “#fails.”
Starting from the beginning, it’s important to understand the dramatic shift that has divided the traditional consumer from the social one. According to Maria Ogneva, director of social media at Attensity, the social consumer is:
- Consuming information differently, placing precedence on breaking news that has surfaced in Twitter and Facebook.
- Learning about new products and brands through social channels, trusting feedback from friends and reviewers over what the brand says.
- Savvy, loathes unsolicited spam or blatant promotional tweets, but appreciates having relevant information available.
- Expecting to interact with brands. If you’re not interacting, they will move on to a competitor or call you out for being unresponsive.
- Expecting that your company is up-to-speed on all social networking channels, with a thorough background on past conversation and interaction to avoid repetition and, ultimately, wasted time.
It can be overwhelming to fulfill the “social consumer’s” demands, especially if your company is not on the same page with each other. As Ogneva states, social media is not a silo. Like traditional marketing, the entire company should understand what is going on and, now more than ever, be empowered to react immediately to concerns. Every interaction should be viewed as important and the rogue “brand basher,” now armed with a megaphone, cannot be ignored.
So where do you start?
Begin by developing a systematic approach to monitoring. Whether you purchase systems that monitor for you, or manually check key sites, you need to set time aside frequently throughout the day to see what people are saying or asking. It’s like manning the customer service desk. People will wait a little while for an answer, but if no one shows up, they’ll go somewhere else (and probably be pretty ticked off.)
Next figure out how you are going to respond when something surfaces. Don’t just react to negative comments: answer any questions immediately and engage people who are already talking positively about your business. People trust people, not brands. Make your brand personable and you will gain credibility and enhance your reputation.
Create a system in which questions or concerns are routed to the correct person. This is why it is essential to have your entire company engaged. Technical question? Send it to the manufacturing department. Question on pricing? Send it to sales. Utilize the experts within your organization to avoid potential misstatements.
Also: Relinquish the urge to be a control freak. I know it’s been said a thousand times, but really, you do not control your brand anymore. Your customers do. Don’t pull a Nestle (see Abby’s post.) Understanding this will be liberating and will allow you to connect and work with your customers to develop an even stronger brand... together.
No matter your process, your goal should be to understand your customers intrinsically. Know where they are and what they think about you. Make the goldmine of data now available to you relevant and accessible. Remember, mistakes are inevitable, so make them now while everyone else is too.