3 Steps to Implementing a Social CRM Strategy

Are you using social media to improve your customer service?

Is your current Customer Relationship Management process inefficient?

A fine-tuned social customer service strategy increases customer engagement.

In this article I’ll share four easy steps for developing a social CRM strategy.

Why a Social Media CRM Strategy?

Just about everybody uses social media in their daily lives. Why not use those online gathering places as an outlet for customer service?

Social media is a great place to offer CRM.

More recent surveys show that for over 40% of the polltakers, a quick resolution was the most important goal in a customer service exchange. For another 26%, having their problems resolved in a single interaction was paramount.

I talked with Ashley Verril, content strategist for Software Advice, and asked her for insights on how companies can align their social media and customer service strategies. Here is the four-step process Ashley shared with me.

#1: Choose Your Primary CRM Platform

While you may have active profiles on each of the major social channels, it’s important to designate one platform as your main customer support hub. The one you choose depends on your niche and where your customers are most active. Each option has its own benefits and drawbacks.

Bring CRM to the social channel that works best for your customers.

Facebook is still the largest social network in the world, so naturally it gives you access to the largest audience. Facebook also offers a great deal of flexibility for pages—you can easily use third-party apps to create customized question and answer pages

LinkedIn is the main hub for professional contacts and B2B marketing. Unfortunately, the only effective way to connect with people on LinkedIn is through active networking. None of the forums are particularly conducive to open discussion—something you definitely need for effective customer service.

Google+ is the fastest-growing social network and has all of the resources of Google at its disposal. Right now, the platform appeals mostly to a technical audience and is more effective for B2B than B2C. While this may be the go-to platform a few years down the road, it’s still in the process of building a user base.

Many companies choose Twitter as their main social customer service platform because it’s quick, user-friendly and the character limit forces support requests to get right to the point. And, more often than not, Twitter is where customers go to voice complaints, and studies show they expect a response.

Twitter is one of the most popular platforms for CRM.

Having reviewed each of your options, which one should you choose? It’s always best to go where your customers are. Which of your social profiles has the most followers and the most engagement? That’s the platform to spend your time on.

Regardless of which platform you choose, make sure all of your customers and followers know how to contact you for support. Include links and information on your social profiles, your website and other marketing materials.

#2: Prioritize CRM Response

As your audience learns to rely on social media for customer service, you may not have the time or resources you need to address every single concern. To keep your process running smoothly and efficiently, establish a method for organizing service requests and identifying which ones are most pressing.

Which customer questions and issues will you address first?

You have to decide how to prioritize customer service issues. Will you jump to the customer with the most followers? What if a potential lead has an urgent question? Or will you focus on the most vocal unhappy customers? Who comes first?

Look for comments and questions that indicate an interest in your product or service, especially when your answer could impact a buying decision. Contact those leads and offer to help them resolve an issue or answer a question.

If you want a larger audience to see how you’re handling customer issues, addressing people with the most followers will give you the most exposure.

Know which customers you’ll address first to streamline your CRM process.

Know in advance how you will respond to dissatisfied customers. Appeasing or publicly compensating those with negative comments may condition your customers to come to you with complaints and an expectation of a reward. Rather than publicly compensating a customer, do it privately, outside of social media.

Offer to help resolve customer issues offline.

#3: Choose Monitoring Software

Once you’ve established where you’ll address customer concerns and questions and how you’ll prioritize those responses, you need to monitor who is reaching out to you for answers—you don’t want to miss a CRM opportunity.

Smaller companies may be able to make do with social media listening services such as HootSuite or TweetDeck, but larger companies should invest in software designed specifically for social customer service.

Customer service software sets your business up for maximum CRM scalability.

If you’re a larger company, I suggest looking at Zendesk and Desk.com.

Zendesk has a clean, user-friendly interface and is great for tracking and managing backlog data. Desk.com compiles all of your customer service conversations so your support team can easily prioritize and manage service requests.

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