Ramon Ray was the guest of Jim Blasingame on the Small Business Advocate radio show, just before the Seventh Annual Small Business Summit hosted by Ramon on March 6, 2012. Part of the Small Business Advocate brains trust, Ramon shared some of his insights into customer service, a major theme of the Summit meeting, including a new trend in customer relationship management (CRM) that could truly shake things up.
“All of your customers are talking about you to their friends online”
Customer relationship management has come to the forefront in recent times as part of customer service. It makes use of databases for example so that customer service staff can immediately relate to any customer that makes contact. However, the new dimension that social networks bring is that now a company can find out what customers are saying about it, before those customers call.
“Social CRM lets you mine that information and pull it into the profile you have of each customer”
Social media facilitates comments and discussions between customers. These may range from being ecstatic about a prior experience with the company to expressing dissatisfaction or doubt about a product or service. Either way, it’s important to know beforehand, so that staff can field each call appropriately. Online CRM providers like BatchBook, Salesforce.com and Infusionsoft all have offerings to help customer service organizations do this. Monthly fees range from around $19 upwards.
“Your customers may get to know you before they even call you”
Ramon pointed out that social media also give companies the chance to interact with customers and prospects proactively, not to sell products or services as such, but as a contributor of information of value. As Jim then commented, this is a great way to become part of a community of customers and prospects who shy away from obvious sales propositions, but are keen to learn about other information of benefit to them.
“Customers will see you as an influencer, an expert”
A company can also position itself as a thought leader, positively influencing people’s views of the company. Not only that, but by mining information in the social networks, a business can leapfrog its own CRM by offering services specifically tuned to what it has learnt. An example is of a carpet installer who might learn through social media of people moving into or out of a particular area, and therefore in need of carpet removal or fitting services.
In conclusion, social networks can change the game for CRM and customer service. They let companies get ahead of the information on how their customers feel and handle it proactively, instead of waiting to find out when a customer decides to call.
You can listen to the full interview by following this link to the Small Business Advocate site.