Social CRM Masterclass: Part 5

When it comes to implementing a social CRM strategy, it’s important to go into it with your eyes wide open – and with the right attitude. So, to help you decide how best to approach this type of endeavour, here is a checklist of the things you should and shouldn’t be doing.

DO – Visibly value your customers

All customers expect to be valued, and it is poor customer service to treat them in any other way. The difference with interacting with customers on social media is that the conversations are public, and could be viewed by thousands of potential and existing customers. If people see you treating other customers badly, they won’t want to buy from you, but if they see you treating them the way that you would like to be treated, it can help to engender trust. Customer service and PR are indelibly intertwined in the social sphere, so it should be remembered that you are meeting both needs when you interact with customers on social channels – or indeed anywhere, as customers will often share their experiences online (especially if they are negative) even if the communication was private initially.

DON’T – Do it just because it’s in vogue

Just because Social CRM is part of the social media business ecosystem, it doesn’t mean that every company has to have it to keep up. Depending on the type of business and the scale of the customer base, adopting Social CRM might be well worth investing in – or it might not. With any new-tech investment, it’s always worth thoroughly evaluating its potential value for your specific business. If you jump on every trendy bandwagon going without doing your homework first, you will probably end up frustrated, and severely out of pocket.

DO – Understand that the buyer controls the conversation

Unless you fully understand that the buyer has most of the power in the social realm, it’s highly unlikely that you will see any tangible benefit from your Social CRM efforts. Try as you might, you can’t control what they do – they can post pretty much anything they like, anywhere they like. What you can do is control how you respond to this, and if you do it well, you can turn a negative into a positive – and a complainer into a brand advocate.

DON’T – Assume that it will be cheap

Although the cost of entry into social is minimal, it can actually be quite expensive once you start to scale. For example, Comcast’s highly successful Twitter service channel @comcastcares has lots of people using it because it is proven to be successful and useful for their clients. Is it cheap? No, but in many cases it justifies the cost. So don’t assume that just because something is social, it will be cheap.

DO – Take a multi-channel approach

By its very nature, Social CRM is a strategy for managing engagement across multiple channels. If you just concentrate on one platform – for example Twitter – you won’t be taking full advantage of the opportunities provided by social engagement. Find out which channels your customers are using to discuss your brand, and more importantly, the topics that matter to them, even if they are not about you. From there, you need to set out a strategy that takes into account the costs of engagement on each platform, the benefits of outreach on each channel, the value of creating a community outside your own online assets, and the type of content that you will be pushing on each channel.

DON’T – Think software will solve all your problems

While Social CRM technologies can have many tangible benefits, it’s worth remembering that they are just tools. They can’t solve your problems – all they can do is to enable you to be able to solve them better, and more cost-effectively. Without the right framework of systems, programs, processes, and strategy in place, your investment in social CRM software will go to waste.

DO – Balance your objectives against those of your customers

Sometimes, the targets for your company in terms of increased revenues, profitability, Net Promoter Scores, or ROI won’t necessarily chime with what your customers want. On the whole, customers want to feel valued, and that they are getting your full attention. Remember, what you are looking for is an outcome that benefits both parties, as if you go too far in one direction it could prove counter-productive.

DON’T – Take a ‘one size fits all’ approach

Different social channels demand different approaches, and what works on one channel may not necessarily work on another. For example, you can’t interact with your customers on Twitter in the same way you would on Facebook, so the approach needs to be tailored to the channel you are using. Similarly, the process of moderating the comments on your company’s blog is a lot different to communicating on customer forums, where you may need to apply a lighter touch. There are different expectations of behaviour on each channel, and you need to bear these in mind when considering your strategy.

DON’T – Think it’s just for B2C companies

While customer-centric companies have a more obvious need for engagement via social is an infographic concerning the value of social CRM for B2B companies: