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Harnessing the Power of Social Media to Keep Your Customers Happy

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During the past 10 years, social media has evolved from multiple "person to person" meeting sites to a viable business channel for organizations of all types and sizes. Whether you operate a B2C or a B2B organization, social media is not only a powerful marketing tool, but it is equally critical for delivering effective customer service and managing customer relationships. Businesses and organizations in a variety of industries are successfully using social media to promote their products or services, recruit new talent, and cultivate and manage customer relationships.  The broad capabilities available within the social media spectrum fall directly into the cross hairs of an effective customer relationship management (CRM) solution.

Last April's post in "Beacon Connect" re: "Using Social Media for Customer Service" noted a general lack of understanding in the business community about how to incorporate social media tools within a service environment. Below, we take a deeper dive into what to consider when defining a social media strategy to strengthen relationships with customers.

When defining a social media strategy to strengthen relationships with your customers, consider these points:

Brand Management – a recent statistic from Business 2 Community finds that 80% of Facebook users prefer connecting with brands via the site.  When compared with traditional outbound marketing, social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate.

Customer Service – often your customers are not forthright in their opinions of your business products and services.  Social media breaks down that barrier with a less intimidating, almost inviting means to express viewpoints about your company.  This provides a wealth of information as well as the ability to respond directly to individual customers who may otherwise have gone unheard (or worse, communicated to others without your knowledge).

Integration to CRM – unfortunately not all CRM solutions easily work with social media.  It is important to review your CRM's capabilities in this area.  For example can your CRM solution produce social insights graphs and statistics for Twitter that show how your products, brands or services are perceived?  Can other statistics be incorporated into your CRM system to help in qualifying leads or nurturing business relationships?  A Gartner study explains that because social media is still a rapidly evolving technology, some CRM providers have difficulty keeping up with the social media technology and feature changes.

Trickle Down – whether through acquisition or through development, many CRM companies are investing in social media integration capabilities.  A Business Week article explains that as these large powerhouse software providers provide the combined social media and CRM features businesses of all sizes will have the ability to take advantage and improve their customer management processes.

Individualized Services – I recently experienced issues with my cell phone service, and after attempting to resolve them via "traditional" routes, I posted questions on my provider’s Facebook page.  This major cell service provider responded by creating a service ticket, which drove an email from a technician inquiring about the issues. The resulting online dialogue allowed me to discuss the situation without the delay of being put "on hold" or "transferred to another rep". The end result was a quick response and accurate diagnosis from a knowledgeable technician. Due to the online dialogue, the provider not only resolved the issue to my satisfaction, provided them with tracking capabilities and key metrics, but they were also able to add the issue/resolution to their online knowledgebase. This level of individual attention and customer-centric marketing was almost impossible a few years ago, but with social media my experience was enhanced and extremely positive.

These are only a few simple examples, but the results are clear: whether you are looking to improve your business' online reputation or are seeking ways to better connect and serve your customer base, social media can be a very valuable part of your CRM solutions.  To get the most out of your CRM solution, work with a provider that understands the impact of social media and how it can be leveraged for your specific business needs.

Do you have any personal or professional experiences with using social media to improve relationships with your customers? If so, let us know!

by Green Beacon Solutions

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