How to use social media for customer relationship management

How to use social media for customer relationship management
March 23 08:52 2019 Print This Article

One of the sole purposes of a business is to make money. And to do this, there has to be people who will buy your goods and/or services from you. In other words, you need customers. These customers will have a certain relationship with your business. For example, they may need to order particular products, return others and receive quotes on others. You, as the business owner, need a system to manage this relationship with your customers. In the digital marketing and traditional marketing space, this is called ‘customer relationship management’ or CRM.

What is customer relationship management (CRM)?

Customer relationship management is about managing a company’s interaction with its customers and prospects. It is using the customers’ historical data to improve the relationship with those customers. The focus of CRM is always customer retention but with the ultimate goal of increasing sales.

Social media and CRM

Many people think the only way to manage customers is through CRM systems or software. However, social media is an extremely useful tool for CRM. Online customer interactions have skyrocketed, and customers no longer want to sit in a branch or on a phone line to talk to companies about their products and services. They want to engage quickly and on-demand.

There is an increasing number of customers that will contact companies through Facebook or Twitter to complain about or solve service issues. One of the reasons for this is that companies are concerned about their reputation, so they tend to respond quicker on social media. The other reason is that customers live on social media these days.

Two South African companies who use Twitter very successfully as a means for customers to contact them with respect to complaints are Afrihost and Pick ‘n Pay:

  • Afrihost, which is an Internet Service Provider, uses Twitter to field complaints regarding service outages. They even have specific accounts – which are related to the main account – which deal with specific queries. For example @Afrihost_Status deals with queries regarding the status of the provision of their various services and @AfriSpecialOps deals with ‘difficult to handle’ queries. Just a piece of CRM software would channel specific queries to the relevant department, Afrihost has created a similar structure using Twitter.
  • Pick ‘n Pay also uses Twitter to deal with customer complaints. For example, when faced with a complaint from a customer on their timeline, within minutes they will ask the customer to DM them their loyalty card number and a scanned copy of their till slip so that a refund – in loyalty points – can be made into the customer’s account. These loyalty points can be used in the same way that cash is in their stores.

For these and many other reasons, social media is the perfect tool to get close to customers and to engage with them. It is a connection that transcends physical location and even time. Therefore, it provides massive potential and opportunity for companies.

How to use social media for CRM

  • Manage complaints
    • As mentioned earlier, social media is a platform that lends itself to customer complaints. It’s quick and easy and takes minimal effort from the customer’s side. That is why it’s so important to manage customer complaints effectively and faster by responding first on the public platform and then moving the conversation to a private platform.
  • Reward loyalty
    • Social media is perfect for rewarding loyal customers. Engaging customers isthe bread and butter of any company, and they should receive rewards or incentives for their loyalty.
  • Upsell and cross-sell your products or services
    • Use the opportunities that present themselves on social media and show people the value that your brand brings. Keep up with what your customers want and provide them with the solutions organically.

Whatever tool you use to manage the relationships with your customers – be it CRM software or social media – make sure that you always manage the expectations of your customers. Don’t give them the chance to second guess you and the fact that you are doing everything in your power to make sure that they get the best service from you. You need to make them see that they are a valued part of your business so that they remain loyal to you and your marketing tactics.

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