The early days of experimenting with social media programs are over; the focus now is not only about fans and followers but also about customers and advocates. Leading companies are now embracing Social CRM to leverage social media and not only gain customer insight but to also gain market insight, increase sales, improve cross-selling/up-selling, improve pre/post sale customer experience and carry out strategy, operations course correction, build trust, to name a few.
A starting point in the Social CRM journey is to get the social media basics right – the ‘Monitoring andEngagement platform’, but if a company is struggling to make this work, it might make very little progress across the points mentioned above.
Social CRM programs have more to do with the intent of the company; the openness of its employees to agree when there is a problem and leverage internal information, processes to engage with the customer instead of turning a blind eye or blaming different departments. To understand the impact of the monitoring and engagement platform as mentioned above, let’s go through an example.
Nestle – On March 17th 2010, Greenpeace posted a video on youtube showing an office worker finding a bloody finger of an orang-utan in his kit-kat (The background was, Nestle bought palm oil for the Kitkat candy bars and other products from a local vendor in Indonesia that had allegedly cleared rain forests to establish palm plantations, which affects oragutans.) On the same day, Nestle managed to remove the video citing copyright infringement.
On March 18th, Greenpeace hosted the video on Vimeo generating about 80,000 in the first hour, on the same day Nestle’s facebook received negative comments and the community manager engaged in a vicious argument. March 19th, Nestle’s facebook response goes into mainstream media as ‘anti-social’.
March 20th, Greenpeace uses Google ad words to drive traffic to their site and encourages people to share the orang-utan video on their social networks. March 21st, Nestle shares the original orang-utan video on youtube, 180,000 views! March 22nd, Nestle issues a press release about suspension of sourcing with the vendor in question.
Nestle then starts discussions with Greenpeace, joined a roundtable on Sustainable Palm oil and has a team that monitors social sentiments regularly. Nestle now has moved from Global RepTrakTM (a Global Reputation pulse score) of 20 in 2010 to 10 in 2013.
Marketing is going through a transformation and for Social CRM to work, the idea behind integrating social media deep into the company has to be understood by employees; customer service is no longer a front line issue only. Employees and departments need come together to serve the customers, as delays and poor engagement due to internal hurdles will only exasperate the problem externally. It’s not only an organisational culture transformation but is also about revisiting goals and the ways in which relevant roles should be performed in future. Here are 5 steps:
1.) Instill a sense of urgency, importance, and empathy
Social networking being 24/7, customers have a sense of urgency or expectation for an immediate or real-time response. Also emotional and sentimental aspects of customers or influencers (ie Nestle example above) need to be taken into consideration, whilst setting up the ‘Working group’ for Social CRM.
Depending upon the organisations internal collaboration mechanisms, a rapid action team can initially support the social CRM team (till a Centre of Excellence takes shape), through internal co-ordination, when sensitive issues go viral. It is important for the social media team and other employees to also think about what their own expectations would be if they were in the position of a customer, prospect or influencer in touch with them.
2.) Select the right Social media product and partner for flexibility and integration with enterprise processes
This industry has grown at such a pace that today there are many sub-categories; some companies are trying to be end-to-end players by taking an organic, inorganic route or both, leading to important integration decisions and intense competition. Here are 5 major categories,
Social Monitoring (listening) – Lithium, Radian 6 etc
Social Engagement (conversation) – Sprinklr, Spredfast etc
Social media marketing (media management) – Buddymedia, Shoutlet etc
Social analytics (measuring) – Simply measured, Adobe/Omniture etc
Social Influencer (level of influence of participants) – Klout, Kred etc.
Here is a more detailed landscape of social media software which of course is evolving.
3.) Company culture that promotes better customer experience through continuous learning
Companies that tend to control communications need to realise that in social media it’s the customer who is controlling the conversation, so companies need to engage not manage, if handled badly it could go viral.
Solving issues require managerial support, corporate will to acknowledge that the elephant is in the room, and to find a solution together. Sharing both success and failures internally will promote an atmosphere of encouragement and collaboration to repeat successes and learn from failures.
The negatives and the positives from social media programs should be used to improve the performance and effectiveness of members within the company, not to use it to blame or show a department or team in poor light
4.) Governance to make it work
A critical step in enterprise wide corporate initiatives touching customer, influencer communities is to start with a clear communication on expectations, execution and measuring mechanisms. Best Buys, execution mechanism has a matrix model for Social CRM which is similar to the IT industry, where horizontal initiatives (such as various technologies, services) cut across verticals (industry functions).
In this model, Best Buy has formed a Centre of Excellence with members representing different departments or programs. The corporate guidelines are owned by the Community team, whereas each group manages its own initiative but works under a common strategy. Overtime this has improved internal knowledge sharing, networking and morale across the company.
5.) Design KPI’s by looking into the holistic customer experience
The pace and transparency of social media networking will expose broken or inefficient processes due to KPI gaps between departments.
Imagine you are discussing about alternative cable tv providers with a friend on facebook, then you get a cable TV advert and using their site you locate a sales stall in a nearby mall. When you visit the stall, the sales person whose KPI is to secure signed service order forms talks to you and gets you to sign the form with some basic details. Because the sales person is typically measured based on number of signings and not on the installation customer experience, he is not incentivised to correctly record all relevant information from the customer that would help the technical team. Installation problems due to technical teams lack of customer information which was already discussed with the sales person leads to re-scheduling, delays and a bad customer experience.
KPI’s should be built based on the overall customer experience standpoint, the impact of each role on Customer experience and seamless handover across roles instead of a fragmented one.
Ramesh Ramakrishnan, a marketing and organisation culture enthusiast, is the author ofwww.futuristCMO.com. He has held various leadership positions across EMEA marketing, 3rd party advisory and analyst relations in the enterprise technology products and services sector. Follow@Ramesh_Ramki on Twitter.