Social Care Channels: The New CRM System

By Dean Opriasa  

“Social CRM” is no longer just a social media buzzword. It’s become a concept that more and more (smart) brands are working to understand and integrate to best serve their customers.  Simply defined, Social CRM is a strategy that aligns your organization or brand’s value to the ever-changing characteristics of customers.

Customers are becoming more social. (No, not in a let’s go grab a drink to talk about the new ‘thing’ I bought…) Social customers are consuming information through multiple channels. They learn breaking news on social networks. Social customers, whose behaviour are changing with the growth of social media and technology. It’s essentially solving customer facing problems in the context of how people's behaviors and expectations and technological advancements and communications are changing.

Social media and the real-time connections have revolutionized how people communicate.  Conversations are shared in a very public place. Customers are learning about products and brands through their networks, the people they trust for honest feedback.

Because of this we’re now seeing companies expand in using social media for customer service.  With these social care channels, brands are forced to see the mesh of CRM best practices with Social CRM.

Social CRM provides a way for businesses to listen to customers, respond, and engage across departments like customer service, PR, and even sales and marketing. It’s being used to improve the communication process with customers from beginning to end. It allows companies to see conversations across different channels in real-time. Social listening and engagement is vital in a social strategy where every employee hears and understands the voice of the customer.

Dell is a great example of this. It’s often one of the first brands to be brought up as the first to include social into is customer relationship management. Dell makes it their goal to contact customers in every platform and uses customer suggestions from customers, that Dell has invested a team, which includes many employees across departments, along with their support team engaging on Facebook and Twitter. They have what’s called the Social Media Listening Command Center which tracks conversations regarding the brand. They focus on listening and making sure that they use what they hear.

Along with Dell, Best Buy Twelpforce is a great example of how social customer service is done. The idea is allowing employees to answer questions through their own handle that is moved to the @twelpforce handle, which attributes the tweet back to the employee. Moreover, instructions for employees tweeting to customers are posted right on their website. Talk about transparency! In this way, it’s not necessarily replacing traditional customer service. If anything, it’s enhancing it in a public way.

Some things to keep in mind when integrating social customer support are:

Choose the appropriate channel

Taking Facebook and Twitter as an example, decide whether or not suggestions and complaints are best suited on a page or if it can be cared for in 140 characters. Consider how you handle sensitive and private data that you may require from a customer.

Invest to people and time

Ask yourself if you’re fully equipped to handle the issues, technical or otherwise that can come up. Empowering your social support team to handle inquiries and questions is important. Social media is 24/7.

Set a measurement

Providing real-time customer support is the ideal and you need to set a measurement of how long a customer is addressed.

Having the appropriate measurement of your efforts allows you to see improvements and see whether or not it’s working for you.

Which brands do you think are doing Social CRM well?  Share your thoughts in the comments. For more tips on how to improve your social media presence, download our free Beginner's Guide to Community Management here