Why companies need to get social with CRM

Vishrut Chalsani | Updated on January 22, 2018 Published on November 05, 2015

Network! Put your money where their mouth is. SHUTTERSTOCK/MACROVECTOR

Customer relationship management on digital media is vital. That’s where the consumers are

The emergence of social media has transformed how we interact with friends, strangers, celebrities and businesses. CRM has long been a key to success across industries. But social media has ensured that offline CRM (for example, through call centres and retail outlets) is not enough. The growing online audience suggests a need for social CRM, which is CRM focused on social media activity. This has two primary goals: to inform the customer (about products, services, deals, and such) as well as to build trust and manage customer relationships.

The online customer

People now spend a lot of time on the internet, especially on social media sites. This makes social media a valuable platform for retailers to showcase their wares. But, on the worldwide web, the customer has plenty of content to choose from. The average customer will not just follow a brand’s page; she looks for value by way of special deals and discounts, product previews, and so on.

Moreover, social media has brought a shift in how customers and retailers interact. Organisations did all the talking in the past. Customers wield the power now and dictate where business-to-consumer interaction should take place.

Consider the case of a retail company that is active on social media. Despite regularly updating its Facebook and Twitter pages, the company was unable to get a good sense of customer sentiment about its products and services. It turned out that its customers are active on other websites, where they are providing feedback, positive and negative. These customers are eager to interact with the retailer on these sites, but cannot because the retailer has no presence here. Many companies are either not aware of or not able to engage with their customers on multiple third party consumer forums, ratings and review sites.

Most of the time it’s not a problem of intent but rather the inability to track and monitor such sources. In other words, retailers need to track their customers effectively and go wherever these customers are most active. Thus, strong customer orientation is the key to success.

Building a CRM strategy

To compete in the online world, a retailer must capture the attention of its target audience by creating value. But in order to do so, customers must be seen as more than just database entries. A 360-degree view of each customer would allow the retailer to know its audience better and, thereby, to present social media communication tailored to this segment.

Innovative social commerce programmes, such as giveaways, special deals, contests, and event invitations engage customers and keep them coming back for more.

To ensure participation, however, retailers must direct their CRM strategy at a targeted audience. For example, a brand may have thousands of followers but no participation on the page.

This could indicate a failure of the brand’s CRM strategy. High participation by online users usually leads to a better web presence, as well as to higher sales, greater revenue, and more customer data for future branding exercises.

Retailers must also avoid treating all social media platforms as one. Rather, they must identify the core purpose of each social media site and provide targeted content accordingly. For instance, while Facebook is more oriented towards connecting people and brands, Twitter is geared towards whatever is trending and new ideas.

Speed of communication is another factor in the social and mobile era. Being able to respond to customers immediately can limit the damage caused by a complaint going viral, while also allowing the brand to benefit instantly from positive reviews.

Loyalty programmes

Customer loyalty programmes are big business for brands and can ensure brand loyalty. Yet, a large proportion of customers do not redeem the rewards they generate.

To keep customers interested in the loyalty programme, the retailer needs to once again use the customer’s data and keep his/her interests in mind when making special offerings.

As with promotions on social media, members of loyalty programs are looking for value – from an invite to a fashion show or a book launch to gifts, discounts, and rewards. To stand out in a competitive environment, retailers have to develop a special bond with their customers. This bond can be enriched by the brand’s social media monitoring in helping it understand the targeted customer.

Social CRM can bring in remarkable benefits for a retail brand.

Apart from a rise in sales and loyalty, the retailer can increase its marketing reach and provide better customer service at a lower cost. It is a win-win situation for both retailer and customer.

Vishrut Chalsani is Vice-President, Enterprise Sales and Co-Founder,

Published on November 05, 2015
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