By Hadrian J Sammut
Thinking of embarking on a Social Customer Relationship Management (CRM) initiative? Don’t! Or rather, don’t rush into another corporate project merely to keep up with the seemingly IT-savvy Joneses but plan your route cautiously if you seek success on this venture.
There are five key aspects that you must always consider before implementing Social CRM.
1. Make sure you know who your customer really is
Most business organisations think they know their customer but this assumed insight is, to a large degree, based on historic perceptions and subjective opinion. For any social CRM plan to succeed, your organisation needs to have a clear understanding of the typical customer; who is he, why did he choose you and what specifically does he like or dislike about your brands or services? To develop this holistic profile of your typical customer your organisation will need to nurture and sustain strong two-way communication and customer engagement in order to help you appreciate ‘the customer experience’ from the clients’ point-of-view.
2. Develop a reasonable strategy
Don’t dive into the deep-end of a Social CRM initiative without a thorough strategy that comprises all the necessary factors which will need to be in place for the initiative to succeed. Think beyond mere technology and consider such factors as objectives, measures, performance indicators, teams, responsibility and processes. Ensure that the whole of your organisation shares a vision; no matter how nebulous it may initially appear to be.
3. Think within before without
Social CRM initiative is a delicate balance between internal dynamics and external customers. Avoid the temptation to think solely of the external factors (clients) but ensure that you have the necessary internal support, underpinned by the right corporate culture, business processes, data, information and knowledge as well as strong product/service branding. Treat technology as the critical tool – the channel – that enables the relationship between the internal factors and the external business environment, including customers.
4. Think Differently Then Act Differently
Social CRM is a ‘game changer’ that can quickly differentiate you from your competitors; therefore think beyond your current corporate structure and ensure that the Social CRM strategy cuts across your sales, marketing, finance, customer service and IT departments. Ensure that everyone understands that he/she is an important stakeholder and each has an important role to fulfil and support innovative opinion; no matter where it emerges from.
5. Strive to Constantly Exceed Customer Expectation
Never assume that you know your customers completely; understand their expectations and build a strategy that aims to exceed them. Whilst customer likes and dislikes are generally and relatively straightforward, expectations are more demanding. Social CRM gives each and every one of your customers a digital ‘voice’ and sometimes distinctive expectations. Ensure that your product/service is flexible enough to meet different expectations and personalise the customer experience whenever and wherever possible.
We are today living in an ever-changing and challenging business environment, one in which your customers today have more choice of both provider and product than ever before. You may try and act as if tomorrow is ‘business as usual’ but that will not stop your customers from looking elsewhere. In fact, your business success tomorrow can only be achieved if you can understand and manage customer behaviour whilst simultaneously building long-term, profitable relationships. The rest, as they say, is relatively easy.