Just when companies were getting a handle on customer relation management or CRM, technology throws a new monkey wrench into the equation. Now, businesses that want to remain on the cutting edge of customer service trends must learn about social CRM and how to use it to enhance their own customer experiences. As the name suggests, social CRM brings social media into the service equation, but how and why does it do that? We’ll provide the basics of social CRM here to give companies a head start on this whole new dimension of customer service.
Social CRM: A Definition
Before you can use social CRM to the benefit of your customer service department, you must get a good idea of what the term means. This can be a somewhat challenging task, since the world of social media is constantly evolving, and companies use different aspects of social CRM to meet their specific needs. However, social CRM can be described as a customer service function that incorporates the previous components of CRM with social media to provide a broader view of the customer for marketing and service purposes.
CRM vs. Social CRM
Customer relation management became a popular approach to service because it provided valuable information to companies to help them make the best choices in products, marketing and service. CRM included information about all of a customer’s contact with the company, such as purchases, email and phone calls, inquiries, complaints and returns. Social CRM continues to incorporate this information, but adds more data to the mix, which it collects from social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
By extracting information from these networks, companies can now get a picture of their customers that encompasses their personal lives, as well as their transaction histories. Now, businesses discover who a customer spends time with, what she does in his free time and what she expects from companies she does business with. This lifestyle data allows a company to become even more proactive in their service philosophy, anticipating customer needs on a whole new level.
The Responsibility of Social CRM
With access to more data, the responsibility of the company also increases when it comes to CRM. Customers that use social media today are savvy creatures that want their information faster than real time and are willing to share their experiences with a company to a much broader audience. These customers do not want to be bombarded with marketing material, but they are open to relevant information about businesses, as long as it applies directly to them.
Social CRM is an important tool for companies to use, both to get to know their customers better and to provide service on a different level. Companies that learn to involve customers in the marketing and product development process through social media channels are more likely to gain loyal customers for life than those that do not. Social media is clearly here to stay, and companies that learn to use Facebook, Twitter and other networks to their advantage will climb to the top of the customer service ladder.
- Meredith Estep