The Social CRM – Increasing Customer Satisfaction with Social Media

Yammer

For those who were wondering why Microsoft bought Yammer, the answer lies deep within the Microsoft portfolio of products. In Microsoft Dynamics, their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, they are responding to a growing need in businesses large and small – that of tracking relationships and interactions in a digital world. Yammer, the business social network, is the perfect fit for Microsoft – so where does social fit in to your organisation, and even your CRM?

Where social fits in

While the British people are known as a nation of early adopters, British business is not. Many organisations are still reliant on Internet Explorer 6 as their browser, and cannot break out of it. Many organisations block social media sites as a rule, and are reliant on archaic systems of approval for unblocking them. It is only when a technology comes to a certain maturity that British business generally accepts it as part of working processes.

We have finally reached that stage with social media. While marketing departments have been operating in the social sphere almost since its inception, we are finally seeing sales, operations and customer service departments adopting social media and integrating it into their practices. In fact, any one who is even vaguely customer facing has to accept that social has a major part to play.

Social fits in to anywhere it can provide business intelligence. Social fits in to anywhere it can add value to current processes but its very nature, its to-the-minute, fast-moving, cluttered aspect, is perhaps what has held organisations back from investing in social. After all, it is easier to “pick up the phone” than to sift through reams of information on social networks.

Sifting through

For marketing

Understanding what is being said about your brand – and being able to understand sentiment is crucial. Currently, it is hard to say exactly where Yammer will eventually fit in within the Microsoft Dynamics community, but there are already Twitter Analytics tools that allow you to view commonly used hashtags, most engaged users, as well as measures of sentiment.

The social CRM, therefore, is a layer on top of customer relationship management, allowing businesses to mix in traditional means of contact (and by traditional, I mean e-mail and postal) with social means of contact (linkedin, twitter, even Pinterest). But above all, it gives businesses the opportunity to develop a greater understanding of their customer and prospect universe.

For sales

And here’s where sales come in. Traditional CRMs have always held prospect and customer information above and beyond the traditional contact information. For example, whether a contact likes cricket, rugby or horse racing – whether a contact is favourable or not towards the organisation. This information has traditionally been ascertained at a sales meeting or on a phone call, and its input has traditionally been reliant upon a sales person making the effort to fill the fields in after having made that call.

That information can now directly be ascertained, in real time, and fed through to one single dashboard. On top of that, sales people can gather crucial information into one place so that they stay on top of a situation. The constant feed of information, when filtered, gives sales that extra advantage, that extra piece of business intelligence.

For customer service

Dissatisfaction spreads quickly. In one of my former jobs, we worked directly with a large media group, and one of their employees was dissatisfied with a piece of software we had provided for reporting. He found it complicated. He went on Twitter and complained, vociferously, about it.

Not having had a CRM with integrated social capabilities, we did not pick up on this until a day later, by which time everyone in his network had read that our software was over-complicated. Social allows people to air their thoughts “in the heat of the moment”, but those thoughts remain out in the open.

There’s nothing you can do about that – but you can react quickly and positively. A day later, customer service representatives made contact with the person in question, and gave him personalised training in that reporting solution. He then went back on Twitter to say thank you – a negative was turned into a positive.

There’s a lot to listen to – but if a CRM can provide instant negative (or positive) sentiment on which customer service reps can act, then it has moved from contact database to business growth tool.

The Social CRM only fits into the Social Business. If you’re not there, you’re not ready. If you’re still using Internet Explorer 6 with blocked access to Facebook and Twitter, then you’re not ready for the Social CRM. This requires buy-in from C-level right through to junior level, and is for many a culture shift. However, the advantages of the social CRM are absolutely clear: a real-time layer of information that all areas of the business can act upon, improving business intelligence and driving growth.

Now that’s a good reason for Microsoft to buy Yammer.

 

About the author: Warren Butler is Marketing Director for Preact, a leading Microsoft Dynamics partner, and recently named to the Microsoft Dynamics President’s Club for outstanding business performance.

Image source: Yammer.com

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