The age of Social CRM has ushered in a new practice of customer relationship management. But, how well have the companies implemented it? According to Chris Bucholtz, unlike a CRM, companies simply cannot approach a vendor for buying a Social CRM application. Before taking the plunge, it is required of companies to –
However, most companies have not followed the above-mentioned procedure. Consequently, despite companies building foundations for corporate social media strategies, the benefits have not been up to the standard mark. Executions have been erratic and ROI concerns have amplified.
According to Carolyn Heller Baird (Global CRM Research Leader with the IBM Institute for Business Value) and Gautam Parasnis (Partner and Vice President for IBM Global Business Services and the Global CRM Leader), it is essential of companies to change their perception of social media and build a flexible and structured strategic and operational framework. Then only can they unlock the potential of social media to reinvent their customer relationships.
They point out that one of the key challenges faced by any company is the progress from social media programs to social CRM strategy. While Social CRM offers a multitude of benefits, the transition to a Social CRM approach forms the real challenge. Explaining this context further, they state ‘’ Social media programs often have a defined mission, set of guidelines, and some degree of analytics, governance and executive endorsement.’’
Social CRM strategy breaks this compact approach by moving the social media programs beyond the domains of a single organizational department. It involves an integrated approach by implementing ‘’ a cross-functional network of integrated communities with customer facing responsibilities’’. Resultant to which, customer insights captured from a slew of sources – multiple social touch points and traditional channels are shared comprehensively. Inevitably, sharing of insights enable companies to treat their customers holistically. Customer experience is improved and companies develop innovative customer engagement models.
Companies need to be aware of the fact that the road to transition is not tidy. According to the IBM Global Business Services Executive Report, often what companies’ witnesses (during the transition) is a mixture of qualities in the social CRM programs. Consequently, it becomes difficult to create lines of demarcation. Example – cross-functional social media initiatives without KPIs or social media program metrics without an executive sponsorship.
With this in mind, Carolyn Heller Baird and Gautam Parasnis have stated 5 key tactics to ensure a smooth transition from isolated social media projects –to-social media programs–to-full-blown Social CRM approach.
Refer to other companies’ social media measurements, tools, policies and usage guidelines. Combine them with your company’s corporate values to build a governance model for Social CRM. Form a community of customer-facing representatives. Encourage them to collaboratively develop customer engagement strategies and share ideas that enable other departments to leverage these methods with the freedom to innovate.
To support the customer holistically, it is imperative to synchronize social media initiatives originating in both marketing and customer care functions. As they put it – ‘’ whether customers engage with a company to respond to promotions or seek information and support, they expect an authenticity that delivers the brand promise.’’
Organize training for varying levels of social media expertise
Guarding the Social Gates: The Imperative for Social Media Risk Management, (prepared by Alan Webber, with Charlene Li and Jaimy Szymanski) discusses the risk/reward paradox of social media:
According to the survey cited in the report, while companies held social media as a powerful tool for distributing content, engaging audiences and driving sales, simultaneously, they expressed the fear of facing a whole new set of social media vulnerabilities. Two thirds of the companies surveyed mentioned reputational risks associated with social media.
To alleviate social media vulnerabilities, adoption of a sustainment program to continually re-evaluate the social media usage process is required. Carolyn Heller Baird and Gautam Parasnis stress the value of ongoing employee training on social media policies. In their words, ‘’ make sure all employees using social media receive training on guidelines, policies, customer communications practices, and processes for mitigating risk and escalating concerns.’’
Ensure hands-on involvement by senior executives in the adoption of social media policy. To avoid initial hiccups pair novices with mentors (holding key insights on customer and marketplace trends).Provide incentives for employees to enhance customer value through social media. Recognize and acknowledge employees who deliver exceptional social media customer service
Establish internal virtual communities for employees to connect and cross-pollinate their ideas and knowledge. This will help break down the organizational silos. In addition to the sharing of ideas, it will also help the novices fine-tune new initiatives by implementing them first in the internal virtual community. In sum, it will serve as a safe training environment to frame and test innovative social media practices before implementing them publicly.
Capture and analyze customer data from social interactions to reduce reputational risk and improve customer relations. Sentiment analysis and predictive modeling are common processes. Most companies follow the chain of Listen-Analyze-Engage-Evolve.
IBM Global Business Services Executive Report has stated – majority of companies today have aggressively forged ahead with social media initiatives, corroborating the potentiality of social media. However, in this gold-rush mentality to exploit social media benefits, they have not evaluated the value of social media programs to the customer. Understanding what entices customers to interact with a company via social media and what value can be given to the customers through this medium is essential to build value proposition for a Social CRM strategy.
Based upon the aforementioned insight, companies should audit the customer-facing social media initiatives and align them under the overarching Social CRM strategy, which in turn will boost social engagement customers’ value and business revenue.