Check the stats: 845 million people have signed up for Facebook worldwide, 152 million of them in the U.S.--nearly half the U.S. population. No wonder consumer-oriented businesses are obsessed with how to get more out of social media, including Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.
For business technology organizations, the challenge is figuring out the intersection between social and everything under the customer relationship management sun. CRM broadly covers the software systems companies use to serve customers, generate sales leads, manage marketing campaigns, and analyze and segment customer data. Making the connection between the people in CRM databases and their social media personas will require companies to build a new level of trust with their customers, based on the promise of better service and value. This social connection is the key to unlocking a deeper understanding of customers and making more cost-effective use of sales, service, marketing, and IT resources.
Marketing, sales, and customer service execs often start experimenting in the social sphere without IT's help. But companies eventually need to link these efforts to on-premises CRM and marketing campaign management systems and customer data warehouses. IT groups also bring experience in data security and compliance with privacy polices and regulations. And IT can bring a much-needed process rigor: Just 17% of companies polled in our 2012 Social Networking in the Enterprise Survey have a formal process for responding to customer complaints on Facebook, despite two-thirds having a Facebook presence.
Startups Get It
Plenty of well-established companies are just beginning to embrace social: Only 19% of companies have had an external presence on Facebook for more than two years, our survey finds. So there's much to learn from Internet startups such as Adaptu that are born with the assumption of social-savvy service, sales, and marketing.
Adaptu, an online personal financial management and planning service started in 2010, aggregates data from customer financial accounts--banking, investments, mortgage, credit cards, car loans--and delivers budget and financial planning assessments and advice. An Adaptu mobile app includes a "Can I Afford This?" feature that lets people type in a would-be transaction and see how big of a hole it would blow in their budgets.
The service is built largely on Salesforce.com and the Force.com development platform. The customer sees Adaptu branding, but it's Salesforce's online software that handles logins, identity management, and customer service case tracking. For customer service, Adaptu uses Get Satisfaction to provide online self-help services; a customer can also submit a request for help on the site, which starts a case within Salesforce CRM.
But companies can't count on customers diligently exhausting self-service support options before they raise a stink on social networks. So Adaptu uses Radian6 social media monitoring capabilities to capture brand-relevant posts, tweets, and Facebook comments. Radian6 (which Salesforce acquired last year) lists every comment about Adaptu and provides an interface through which company reps can respond to comments directly on Facebook, Twitter, or wherever the message originated.
Adaptu tries to respond in public but resolve in private, tweeting that the customer should email a support question. "If somebody tweets something like 'I can't get my bank to link up,' we want to stop that conversation from happening publicly because it will potentially involve private financial information," says Jenna Forstrom, Adaptu's community manager. If the customer does send an email, it creates a Salesforce case.
But Adaptu tries to keep that CRM case connected to the social persona where it began. Agents ask customers to include their Twitter handle or Facebook name, so the support team knows that the original request came in through social media, and so two case teams aren't chasing the same problem. And once the matter's resolved, Adaptu posts a comment back to the original tweet or Facebook post.
Connecting Facebook and Twitter identities with known customers in your CRM database is important on several levels. From a service perspective, you'll see not just the latest support problem raised in a social comment, but the entire history of support exchanges with that customer. From a sales and marketing perspective, you can correlate social profile information with purchase histories and know more about key customer segments' likes and interests. And with the use of sentiment analysis technologies, you can get trending insight into what the most important customers are saying about your brand, products, and competitors.
The linchpin is that it has to be up to consumers to add their social identities to their profiles. However, as many marketers can attest, offers of discounts and coupons, early product news, sweepstakes entries, or better service often persuade people to grant permission.
Our report explores the problems companies face using social networks for employee collaboration. It's free with registration.
This report includes data and analysis on:
- The poor success rate for in-house social networks
- Social monitoring, staffing, vendors, and strategies