It's been a few years since I left University, I was thrilled (and a little nervous) whenLOGiQ3
gave me the opportunity to complete a continuing education course at the University of Toronto back in January. It was definitely interesting being back on campus again, it brought back some great memories, and some, not so much (mainly those sleepless nights studying for actuarial exams).
I enrolled and successfully completed in May, a very intriguing course - Social CRM, From Marketing and Business Intelligence to Social Media (Dan Mariani, a great instructor). For those of you interested in Marketing, Customer Relations, or Social Media for Business, I highly recommend this course. It provided me with a good overview of current Marketing trends,a view into how customers have changed over time, how businesses are using Social Media to add value to their organizations and this new concept of Social CRM.
So Social CRM... what exactly is it? Social CRM is a concept and business strategy aimed at building relationships with customers through engagement rather than internal management of a customer and using the most suitable technologies available to assist in achieving those goals. My interpretation of successful "customer engagement" is where a customer is actively participating in conversations, interacting with a brand, and seeking for mutual benefits i.e. customer providing feedback to the brand, and the brand responding and improving their products and services to suit the needs of a customer. The brand is creating value for the customer, and the customer is also providing value to the brand - creating a constant feedback loop.
An important component of Social CRM is listening to the customer, allowing the customer to have a voice. It is important for a company to understand the wants and needs of a customer, and not promoting something that is not relevant to the customer. Customers are now capable to make their own decisions and have the control of the relationships with the brands they choose to interact with. The types of technologies available now also allow customers to pick and choose what information they choose to receive. Listening is not only key in understanding customers' needs, but also crucial in identifying who they key influencers are in your industry. Influencers are those who promote a brand, with or without direct interaction with a brand. Influencers may choose to endorse a brand and that can have a huge impact on the success of a brand.
The “social” customer is someone who controls the relationship and their buying power. They are also looking to ‘work’ with a company that is authentic – a company that is willing to build trust and be transparent. The social customer is willing to promote a company through this authenticity – which leads to the concept of advocacy. Companies recognize that a lot of customers make buying decisions through other customers’ reviews or recommendations. Therefore, companies are focusing on building relationships with their customers in hopes that a customer will generate positive conversations around their brand, leading to increased awareness by others. The transaction becomes secondary, once rich and trusting relationships are built. Customers are also looking for a personalized experience. Therefore, customization plays a vital role in creating that favourable customer experience. Giving customers the ability to customize their product and what they need generates satisfaction. This positive experience will likely generate loyalty and advocacy.
Technology tools have emerged to support Social CRM, both from a customer’s perspective and a business’ perspective. Customers are able to have peer-to-peer(with other customers, or with companies) collaboration and easy access to real-time communication. They are able to use online tools such as social networking sites and review sites (tripadvisor, yelp, etc.) to make buying decisions. They are able to communicate with companies, ask for help, through the use of online tools. There is no longer the need to walk into a store to get information. Instantaneous, real-time, online communication is now available at their fingertips.
I feel that the application of social media for business purposes seem to be endless, companies need to be creative in how they can leverage publicly available content to the best of their abilities. This movement to “new” marketing and “social” CRM is probably here to stay. Companies can’t afford to ignore this shift, and need to embrace the new breakthrough concepts and tools that are readily available to help drive their business to the next level. Even traditional industries, like our own – insurance, is looking for new ways to improve their business models and tap into a group of potential customers that are now only willing to work with companies that are authentic, connected, transparent, and engaged.
, we strive to build meaningful relationships with our community - whether it be our employees, partners, clients, vendors, or other organizations that share the same umph as us.
Phewww! That was a wordy one. If you are interested in tossing some thoughts around, feel free to contact me firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading!- Natalie