Social CRM is a Beautiful Emerging Thing
Dr. Harish Kotadia writes a recent post ‘defining Social CRM’ as “the business strategy of engaging customers through Social Media with the goal of building trust and brand loyalty.”
I would add here that brand loyalty doesn’t necessarily mean a product or service. It could also mean an individual branding themselves as a thought leader, speaker, consultant, author or industry celebrity. I use the descriptor ‘industry’ before celebrity to remind us that many celebs in our own industry are absolute unknowns in another. Certainly, my industry needs reminding of that from time-to-time.
He defines loyalty as “attitude towards a brand that inclines a customer to repurchase it and/or recommend it to others.” On the human side of the brand creation, Social CRM and Social Media are used to establish relationships, engage regularly with a fan base and build not just trust over time, but a following based on some level of admiration and respect. Leaders achieve this by doing the same thing in the offline world.
He breaks down the definition into what’s behind its meaning, down to the individual components of Business Strategy, Engaging Customers, and how Social CRM augments traditional CRM.
He writes: “Social CRM is the business strategy, NOT technology, tools or platform.
I’d add an important piece that I discuss with many entrepreneurs I work with regularly. Regardless of what tools you have or thought leaders you know, you need to have a well-defined strategy, messaging and a value proposition that resonates with the audience you’re going after, or it will fall on deaf ears. Social tools are merely facilitators that enable the conversation to happen more personally and in more places than ever before.
He also talks about how Social CRM will augment traditional CRM. “Engaging Customers through Social Media: Engagement through Social Media – any CRM related activity through existing channels like the telephone, email, snail mail and so on, will continue to be part of ‘traditional’ CRM and will not be replaced by Social CRM (unless the Customer prefers to use Social Media instead of “traditional” channels).”
Here, I’ll remind that it goes back to these social tools acting as facilitators. I remember ten years ago (and Steve Wildstrom even encountered it in the last six months), some clients who still wanted communication via fax. A few years ago, there were more people who preferred phone over email or Facebook than there are today (in my world).
Each industry will implement new social tools depending on their comfort level, how quickly they ‘feel’ they need to receive updates and how often they need to engage. Clearly what works for lawyers may not be the same tool that will work for designers. Or, perhaps the reason why they use a particular tool will be entirely different.
Each ‘influencer’ or customer will prefer a different way of connecting and it’s up to us to figure out what it is and how they want to be engaged. Social Media makes communication and engagement prolific and now we have more immediate ways to let customers know about bugs, software updates or amusing industry anecdotes you want to share from time-to-time.
Now, not only do we get to be more direct and communicate with a personal ‘human’ voice to thousands of people with a quick button click, but we create a new persona for ourselves in our online world. I find myself amused or intrigued by things online that I may choose to tweet about or comment on that may not be a topic I want to have an in-depth discussion about over dinner with someone. The medium is different and so is my attention span.
In the land of the social media purists who want to tear down the walls of traditional marketers, lets remember that some marketers have always made their CUSTOMER KING and valued what they had to say. They established strong relationships, sought to understand what they wanted and worked to deliver it, responding to need after need one at a time.
While a rookie in one of my first marketing jobs now twenty years ago, I was inspired by the Marketing VP at the time, who not only had CUSTOMER IS KING on his office door, but lived it. And, we learn from our mentors, our peers and from throwing ourselves out there into the world of ‘customers’ to listen and learn.
I grew up with a grandfather who ran a small business in a relatively small “all American town.” He also felt that CUSTOMER WAS KING. The old fashioned dial up phone sat on our 1950s retro kitchen table at dinner and when it rang, he took the call and listened: really listened. If there was an emergency, down went the fork and out he went, a foot of snow on his truck or not – to SERVE his customer.
The beauty of Social CRM is that we can engage regularly and in the environments where our customers spend their time. We can actively listen and sometimes choose to learn from what he/she says and say nothing at all and another time, reach out and offer something of value whether it’s a tip, a discount or an introduction to someone who could help them.
Loyalty indeed comes from having a “Customer-Centric” mindset, but it doesn’t stop there. That mindset needs to lead to engagement and action, showing you care again and again and again.
Below is a Pearltree I started on CRM.