With the advent of the 'Web', the world has shrunken into a small community in itself and that has made an enormous difference to Businesses, both service oriented and product development firms. We’re living in the era of the ‘Customer’/Consumer or rather the ‘Social Customer’. With such extensive use of Social media– Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MouthShut, Hotpot, Yelp, Blogs, etc. the voice of the customer is amplified. Here, the customers give opinions and share their experiences with their purchased products or catered services. Potential customers get to have a glimpse of prior user experiences of the Vendor’s offerings (products and services) and get to rethink or retract their decisions. Customer reviews can either make or break sales. Customer feedback can easily push a Business to its zenith of glory or nadir of ignominy.
CRM has many definitions but the one that covers all aspects of CRM is given by our good old Wikipedia, which defines Customer relationship management (CRM) as a widely-implemented strategy for managing a company’s interactions with customers, clients and sales prospects. The overall goals are to find, attract, and win new clients, nurture and retain those the company already has, entice former clients back into the fold, and reduce the costs of marketing and client service.
In Social CRM, as in traditional CRM, the focus is completely on the Customer and there are tremendous efforts undertaken by the Vendor to please the customer and build a relationship with him.
The first step of CRM is to Acquire the customer. This can be done either through proper Contact, i.e. - Ads, referrals or word-of-mouth.
The second step is Servicing/Enhancement. Here the customer is literally treated like a God by the Vendors. This is also the most critical step in the CRM Process. The ultimate objective is offer convenience to the customer. If the Vendor fails to please or falls short of delivering the promised service, he is sure to have a furious customer.(And, seriously there is nothing worse for vendor than having an irate customer posting his feedback or ‘bad experience all over social media). It attracts negative publicity and can even damage the reputation of the Vendor. Nothing travels faster than negative stories on Social Media. This is also the reason why some brands have restricted themselves from entering the Social Media realm.
Lastly, the final step of CRM process is ‘Retaining’. Here the customer is rewarded for his loyalty & faithfulness in the Vendor and his brand. This could be in the form of special offers, discounts, or various promotional deals.
The biggest challenge here is to see how Social Media can make CRM happen and at the same time help the brand to build/further strengthen the relationships with its customers. The key is to Engage with the customers. Engagement simply refers to healthy Interaction and good reception. This will contribute in creating an optimistic brand perception, enhance brand recall and eventually promote loyalty towards the brand, thereby resulting in sales.
Social Media Experts feel the need for B2B models to tread with an ultra-cautious approach on social media. The experts advise an intense market research and to weigh the pros and cons, for this is truly the Consumerization of the Enterprise.
So, if the Vendors see good returns, in terms of sales, brand awareness, etc they should definitely go for it and leverage the power of Social Media to benefit their Business. Your time is Now!