According to market researcher SiriusDecisions, a full 95 percent of business-to-business marketers have created social media accounts. Yet, while consumer marketers use social media to interact with their customers, only 10 percent of B2B marketers feel they can articulate the business value of social media outreach.
At the same time, you’d be hard-pressed to find any company with a sizable customer base that doesn’t agree that customer relationship management (CRM) applications are key to landing and keeping their customers.
There are tremendous opportunities to be had by leveraging your CRM data to better know—and serve—your customers. We’ve discussed these in industries like hotels and resorts and even casinos. It’s true for healthcare as well.
But tweets and posts can reveal far more about your prospects and customers than CRM data alone. What do you have to gain by combining the two— embracing a truly social CRM?
Customers are more than transactions
Early CRMs handled (or at least tracked) a customer’s activities from the time they made their first purchase. After that transaction, the customer is “official”: he has a registered entry in the billing system. At this point, you have an obligation to not just invoice the customer, but to provide post-purchase and technical support.
Such CRMs featured a ticketing system or integrated with such an application. Together these systems provided a consolidated view of every transaction and interaction you’ve had with each customer.
Today’s CRMs go far beyond just transactions. Beside ordering, billing and support, they add:
- Marketing communications and targeted campaigns
- Sales funnel management
- Follow-up communications
- Nurturing during longer sales cycles (especially for B2B)
In other words, they gather and use information from the very moment you identify someone as a potential prospect. Analysis of all of this data shows us which products they’ve bought, which they’ve returned, and which they’ve had satisfactory (or unsatisfactory) experiences with.
Despite this hindsight view, customers are still more than just what they buy. They are living, breathing creatures with preferences, likes, dislikes and a whole range of opinions that have nothing to do with your products and services. Or seemingly nothing. These qualities make up a complex persona, most of which your customer will never reveal in a phone call or a customer satisfaction survey.
Leveraging the power and openness of social media
CRM data is about transactions and other basic data about your customers. If the CRM also handles marketing campaigns, it may also tell you what initially attracted those customers.
Social media, on the other hand, is a different story. Social data is about those customers personally, not your products and sales.
On social media, your customers can reveal their true feelings about your products and services, your company’s ethics and social responsibility. Wouldn’t that be good information to have when refreshing your company’s marketing message? If your CRM was dialed into social media channels, you’d get this feedback.
What about your customers’ political inclinations? Their views on environmental issues? The economy?
You might not think these types of opinions matter in your line of business, but you’d be wrong. People tend to buy from those they identify with. No, you can’t identify with every customer in these areas. But what if your CRM’s social media connection revealed a pattern in the views of your existing customers? Marketing to other prospects fitting into that pattern could be profitable.
What would it mean to your customer’s experience and satisfaction if your support personnel could break the ice on some small issue that matters to them? Social CRM can give them a hint on what these issues might be. True, you might not want your support engineers talking politics to your customers. But knowing whether they like basketball over football, or the weather, or some other non-business aspect of their lives can score a life-long customer.
Is your CRM social yet?
Of course, social media can help you monitor customer sentiment about your own products, too. What if you detected a sudden rant on Twitter about your service delivery and stepped in to ensure your staff was already working on the problem? Think how much brand damage might be avoided.
Is your CRM tied into social media yet? Paranet knows how critical it is to have a social connection to your customers. We can help you implement a truly social CRM strategy so you can gain insights from the 24/7 flood of data captured from social media channels. Find out how by scheduling a consultation today.