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Social customer relationship management (CRM) is the use of social media in interactions with customers ranging from handling complaints to running promotions. Social media can be a powerful tool for companies to communicate with their customers. It can also be a very useful consumer product, which forces companies to become involved as social media users exchange information, comments, and criticism on the products they use. Companies that fail to identify and respond to ongoing social media events in a timely fashion can experience a reputation decline.
One aspect of social customer relationship management involves tracking references to companies on social networking sites, blogs, and other forms of social media online. Companies can use a variety of services to get alerts when they are mentioned, and a customer relationship staffer can review those mentions and determine what kinds of actions the company should take. The staff could reach out proactively to people with lost, stolen, or damaged products to render assistance, for example, or could establish personal contact with a customer who has had an unsatisfactory service experience in an attempt to resolve the situation.
A social media presence can also be part of social customer relationship management. Companies that maintain and update a presence online may attract customers, and can create a more friendly, accessible image. Customers may be able to interact with each other and company representatives on a networking site, for example, and the company could use its presence to run product promotions, make announcements, and solicit feedback from customers to make them feel more valued. A web presence can also boost search engine results, by ensuring that searches for a company and its products land on official company resources, rather than comments from disgruntled customers.
Companies can also design applications to actively reach out to customers. These applications can be downloaded onto smart phones and other devices to allow customers to keep tabs on products, send feedback, play games, and engage in other activities. This component of social customer relationship management can help companies establish a firmer presence with their customers. An airline, for example, could use a ticket booking application to encourage customers to turn to it first when they need tickets, as the application could store their data and make one-click bookings possible.
Consultants are available to help companies develop social media strategies and implement procedures for handling and working on social media. At large companies, a separate staff may handle social customer relationship management, while in smaller companies, this may be the responsibility of the marketing or customer service staff. One advantage of social media is that even very small companies could establish a presence; the owner of a business, for example, could set up a social media presence to communicate with prospective customers and grow a client base.