How To Improve Your Social Customer Relationship Management

By Michele Weisman

Customer service is crucial to any business. Thanks to social media, people have changed the way they connect and communicate with each other. Now, consumers have a quick outlet to share their compliments, complaints, criticisms, and other feedback with millions of people. This has changed the way businesses communicate with new and existing customers. Utilizing the power of social Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is not only beneficial for the fan base, but essential for a business to stay ahead of its competitors. Social CRM is a strategy that is often supported by various tools and technologies. It is based around engagement and interactions with the social customer. 

Gone are the days of calling a 1-800 customer service call center. Companies are going above and beyond this by leveraging Twitter or Facebook to provide exceptional customer service. Wheat Thins surprises and delights unsuspecting Tweeters with personal responses to their tweets about the delicious, crunchy snack. Watch this video to see what happened to Chris Macho. And if you think these television commercials are stunted and “uber fake” watch how the Crunch Is Calling crew proves fan Derek Tzeo wrong by delivering the snack to him.

More recently, Peter Shankman, marketing consultant, founder of  Help A Reporter Out and passionate Mortons’ customer, half-heartedly tweeted, "Hey @Mortons - can you meet me at newark airport with a porterhouse when I land in two hours? K, thanks. :)"  After packed day of meetings and flights between New Jersey and his business interests in Florida, Shankman's stomach was rumbling. Despite the fact that Shankman's intent was a joke, Morton's listened to Shankman and saw this tweet as a golden customer relationship opportunity. A employee donning a tuxedo was waiting by Shankman's reserved car at the airport. Morton's has certainly shown that it is possible to have excellent listening skills, savvy social marketing, and the ability to rapidly act on a situation.

So why does this matter to the brand marketer? Despite several brands that are using Twitter for successful customer service measures, there are several companies that don’t use Twitter to their full advantage. Here we are going to explore tips for effectively using Twitter for CRM.

1. Listen To Customer Conversations

The social customer expects brands to listen and engage, especially when the customer needs you. It is important to respond fast, and in real-time, otherwise the customer will either tell her friends and followers about the bad experience or give the business to a competitor. Although this seems quite like customer service 101, you’d be surprised how many companies do not listen. Although it is important to hear what customers are saying about your brand, it is just as important, if not more important to listen to the issues, problems and concerns your customers are having. Monitor the conversation taking place with your brand by following direct messages, posts on your Facebook wall, @replies, hashtags.

2. Timing Is Everything

Even if it’s just an acknowledgement of a customer's compliment or complaint, it is always important to respond publicly in a timely manner. The four most meaningful words in social media are "thank you" and "I'm sorry". Imagine if you called a brand's customer service call center and you were on hold for 90 minutes. Select a monitoring tool that tracks conversations, sentiment, and specific key words.

3. Treat All Customers Equally

Respond to the social customer like a person. Be empathetic, understanding, or humorous when appropriate. Address the customer's concerns and solve the issues quickly. Include your name or initials and/or job title at the end of each post or tweet to show the customer who is addressing their concerns. Build relationships and empower your brand ambassadors. Use Klout to determine which followers are more influential than others. Bottom line:  The social customer owns the relationship, and you need to earn her trust.

What are some of your best social CRM practices? Which companies provide excellent social CRM?

For more tips on how to improve your social media presence, download our free Beginner's Guide to Community Management here