Posts Tagged ‘CRM


The Rise of Social Service

The Rise of Social Service

By Christopher J. Bucholtz
CRM Buyer
09/16/10 5:00 AM PT

Two trends — social media and the ascendance of service — represent a major opportunity for businesses wise enough to seize on them. By building the right social media connections, companies can offer customers better service at reduced costs in ways that augment loyalty. Remember, though, that social media is a two-way street: It’ll show the world your flaws as clearly as your strengths.

Although many CRM projects were deferred or cancelled in 2009, Forrester’s latest research emphasizes that organizations are investing again to improve their customer-management capabilities. Download Forrester’s report (a $1,749 value) to find where:

ocial media’s explosion over the last few years has had some obvious implications for CRM.

At first, as in every new thing in CRM, the implications for sales were appreciated first (although they have yet to be fully realized). However, this time around, there are other forces at work — namely, economic forces. There aren’t that many new customers to acquire in this economy. Thus, customer retention is a big issue — and what better way is there to retain customers than provide excellent customer service?

These two phenomena — social media and the ascendance of service — represent a major opportunity for businesses wise enough to seize on them. If embraced and executed upon gracefully, the results can be beneficial to all involved: Customers will get better service, companies can facilitate better service at a reduced cost, and the interaction between company and customers can lead to increased loyalty.

Knowing Your Product Better Than You Do

Here’s what I mean by this. An increasing number of customers are not going directly to businesses for answers to their questions — they’re going to their peers via social media. As a result, they’re essentially offloading your service organization of significant traffic without you ever knowing about it.

So your service organization is being relieved of some traffic. The other good news is that often, customers know more about the ins and outs of your products than you do — you made it, but they bang on it all day. They’re the ones that spot the idiosyncracies, have figured out work-arounds, and can recommend accessories or additions to solve specific problems that you may never have anticipated. Thus, these peers are providing different and often better service suggestions than your service team can.

In both situations, it’s important that your service organization pays attention to these conversations. First off, you can track the topics people are seeking assistance with and move to help address them. Secondly, you can look for these off-beat customer solutions and, where appropriate, bring them into your own knowledge base and boost your ability to respond to direct customer service requests.

A Personalized Approach to Loyalty

But it doesn’t stop with passive listening. The third benefit that “social service” can yield comes when your service teams starts participating on these social channels. They can play a key role as both peers and representatives of the organization; selecting the right people to fulfill this important role can help increase your profile on these forums and drive even more customers in the direction of “social service.” It also helps create a closer relationship between the customer and the company — a personalized approach to loyalty.

We all know that customers are even more loyal when a problem is resolved to their satisfaction than they are when there’s no problem in the first place; this is one way of cementing that loyalty, and it’s a way your service organization can do it in the one-to-many context of social media, amplifying the effect.

The channels we’re talking about here are the usual suspects — Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, customer forums, and even your own company-sponsored forum. It pays to learn where your customers are having these service discussions; finding that out is the critical first step that will allow you to begin using these channels to capitalize on the virtuous cycle of social service.

First, Get Your House In Order

Note, however, that social media will amplify exactly what you can deliver. If your service processes are broken, going social will only broadcast your incompetence to the world. Social media will not magically untangle Byzantine processes or make indifferent employees suddenly care about customers. It’s a supercharger on your service engine — and without that basic engine, a social service approach is not going the car go by itself.

If you think that these ideas are over-the-horizon, think-about-it-next-year concepts, check the numbers. A survey conducted in May 2010 by Forum One asked this question: What is your most important social media goal? Almost a quarter (22 percent) said the most important goal was customer service, and 15 percent said the most important goal was fostering peer-to-peer customer service. That’s 37 percent of the respondents taking social service seriously — and it’s a percentage that will only grow as the effectiveness of social service makes itself felt.


Relationship management web software from Sugar6

Sugar6 CRM Lets Users View Facebook Profiles of Contacts, But Lacks Authorization July 29th, 2010
By Josh Constine

Sugar CRM’s new customer relationship management web software Sugar6 includes strengthened social network integrations, allowing users to view Facebook profiles from within the product. Facebook vanity URLs or user IDs can be pinned to contact files or added as dashboard feeds, allowing previews of activity on the site. There is no social authorization system within Sugar6, though, so users must log in on on the same web browser and can only see profiles they usually have access to, such as public profiles and friends.

Sugar is one of a number of social CRM software providers, all of whom are trying to help businesses to figure out sales leads and other relationships from existing social data.

Sugar says it is slowly building the infrastructure for a more social CRM tool. In future releases of Sugar, it hope to include automatic syncing of social network data into contacts, data-centric social media monitoring, and the ability to track actions like wall posts and messages to contacts the way they currently track email.

Sugar6 provides a web-based, customizable, open source CRM platform for approximately $30/month/user. While some CRM services like Siebel and Microsoft Dynamics are more rigid, and Salesforce charges for simple customizations after a certain limit, it is free to use Sugar6’s Sugar Studio to create coding-free customizations. Those with PHP skills can even alter the source code to make more drastic changes to the platform. This makes Sugar6 a good choice for users who frequently need to adapt to changes, or whose requirements don’t match that of traditional CRM software.

Contact pages on Sugar6 can be customized to include Facebook Page and profile URLs, as well as Twitter and LinkedIn links. If the user has logged in to Facebook on the same browser, and have access to that contact’s Facebook content —because they are friends, the profile is public, or they have relaxed privacy settings— a custom tab allows a user to view that profile from within Sugar6. This could help a user monitor updates from a business partner’s Page, or see that a lead has left a status update saying they are preparing to make a purchase.

Sugar6’s goal is to eliminate the need for using multiple windows simultaneously to manage relationships. The lack of a native authorization system make this a bit clumsy, but usable. A future release that integrates authorization, auto-syncing, and the ability to interact with Facebook, not just watch it, will finally bridge the gap between the wealth of contact and behavior information available on the social network and the software meant to take advantage of it.

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