In light of the recent fiasco about /coughs/ a certain restaurant that was famous for their raclette cheese and whatnot, we decided to write this post on how social media can be used as a tool for customer relationship management (CRM).
CRM, as its name suggests, refers to improving relationships with customers through incorporating various methods like social media. Customers expect to learn about a company and its products or services on their social media accounts. They want to be able to get an immediate response from companies when they make an enquiry. That said, social media is a double-edged sword that can work for and against brands. A single negative customer experience can offset multiple positive customer experiences and cause a huge backlash.
As such, we hope to introduce the idea of Social CRM where businesses integrate social media into CRM and interact with customers to create valuable shared content.
So, let’s look at how this works:
Social media is a platform for sharing. Therefore, it is only natural for brands to engage in content marketing. Besides sharing knowledge about your area of expertise, you can also share your thoughts about industry trends and provide relevant tips and other information that your followers should be in the know of.
On top of sharing about the nature of your work, you can also dish out information about your company. This sharing is not only limited to business operations, but also about the company culture, including how you celebrate certain events, how employees hang out in the office and the list goes on!
All these sharing help your followers know more about your brand, which is critical in letting them view your company in good light, and be more inclined towards engaging your services or purchasing your products.
Sharing information alone can be boring, especially if it includes a lot of technical jargon. So, you will need to know how to spice up your social media content. For example, you can use creative ways to showcase your company’s events and happenings. One way is to use the live stream functions that social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube offer. Real time updates keep followers in the loop of ongoing activities. Another way is to involve your followers. Weekly interactive posts that involve trivia questions, games or even lucky draws can make followers more interested to follow your social media accounts and stay tuned to what you are posting.
To put it simply, interaction is key. Your followers have to be drawn towards your brand. This will help build up their experience of working with your brand. Once they take an interest in you, they may start to spread word of mouth or share personal thoughts related to your event, product, service or company. Such user-generated content then creates unique experiences for your followers and add towards establishing your brand presence.
Other than that, social media can also be used to strengthen customer relationships. More often than not, your followers on social media are customers who have came into contact with your brand and enjoyed their experience. These customers are essentially brand advocates who will help spread positive word of mouth and bring potential customers to you.
However, there may be lapses at times. Your followers could have doubts or perhaps experience difficulties using your products, and social media is usually the place where they turn to for assistance. Under such circumstances, they are looking for prompt responses and immediate solutions. In fact, 72% of users expect a reply within an hour when they send a complaint to the company via Twitter. Even on Facebook, users who leave comments asking questions or lodging complaints expect a fast reply.
In the event that you don’t respond fast enough, things may get out of hand. Customers can turn to their own social media and talk about their lousy experience with your company. This would reflect badly on you and affect the impression of your brand on others. Therefore, the best thing to do is to manage your social media accounts regularly, understand customer concerns and get back to them with appropriate answers, in the shortest time possible.
Besides customer support, another important factor is issues management. Just like what happened to that said western restaurant, unsatisfied customers took to Facebook to talk about their nasty experience. And things took a bad turn when the restaurant decided to reply in a not-so-polite manner. This escalated quickly as social media users caught on and it eventually blew up into a huge crisis for the company.
Therefore, as an extension from the previous point, social media can be used to manage issues. You can conduct media monitoring to understand what others are talking about your brand. When you detect any issues that customers have, you can take immediate action to solve them. This will help you contain the issue and make sure that it does not snowball into a bigger issue, thus saving your brand reputation.
In addition, when an issue is handled well, you can possibly impress your customers and end up changing their initial opinions, so they will be more willing to accept your brand. You can even use this opportunity to prove to other customers that you take pride in providing every customer with an excellent experience so they will be more convinced to engage your services. Yes, customers may not always be right. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore their comments entirely. Put things into perspective and talk things out. Explain your stand and apologise if need be.
Lastly, remember to give your customers a consistent experience! What they experience in your stores, talking your employees and online should complement each other. Most importantly, be kind to one another. Courtesy is the basis of any relationship which subsequently, builds assurance and stronger bonds. With that, start improving the way you manage your social media accounts and give your followers a wonderful experience while they interact with you!