By Ezekiel Olande, Digital consultant

Today’s customer is almost always on social media and they are talking, forwarding, sharing, reviewing, complaining, and complementing brands. In fact a recent study on the Kenyan social media landscape by the USIU-Africa SME lab found that 78% of the respondents follow brands on social media. Any organization that is not tapping into this powerful tool is not only losing on lead generation but also the opportunity to listen and respond to conversations around their brands.

Remember, the customer is now more proactive than ever when making a purchasing decision and they seek out information from their peers before making a decision. And this applies not only to B2C but B2B players as well. More and more executives are on social media because they realize the vital role in social has in decision making and brand advocacy.

In traditional marketing, the customer journey was fairly simple and they would move through the funnel in a linear fashion from awareness->interest->desire->purchase->retention. And every stage customers would be funneled out until they get their desired product. With social media, the funnel has been disrupted greatly and has now become a cycle and customers can now move forward and backwards as they seek out information from a variety of channels to influence their decisions.

According to Sprout Social, social media CRM tools make it possible to track, benchmark and engage with customers across social platforms to provide better experiences. While your business might have CRM tools for other areas of your marketing department, you cannot leave out social media. Customers are looking for agile organizations that are able to listen to what they are saying and respond with tangible solutions to their challenges. This is what a well set up social CRM enables your organization to achieve.

More and more people prefer to get onto your socials and register their complaints as opposed to dialing in to your customer service numbers only to be bounced off from one rep to another or be put on hold for hours! This is understandable. After all, this is an on-demand world. Waiting around for someone to answer the phone is a thing of the past.

Study after study from the leaders in consumer insights all agree that customers prefer to contact brands through social media channels as opposed to using the phone and waiting for a human to answer their questions. With time being more and more precious, a key learning for organizations looking to better manage relationships with their clients must respect their time by ensuring your service levels standards are high! This places emphasis on the turnaround time to resolving queries and complaints.

Customers know using social media cuts through all of this and they are able to get quick resolutions to their issues. This level of efficiency works to your advantage and also saves you money and builds your reputation…if you are proactive and resolve the issues fast. The converse is also sadly true. According to Gartner, research found that poor response times or a lack of response can lead to as much as a 15% increase in customer churn.

This is particularly true during this COVID times when we have reduced almost all non-essential physical interactions. The nature of customer interactions with brands has definitely shifted more to social media and organizations that fail to shift their relationship management to reflect this change will experience this churn Gartner is referring to.

Almost all CRM tools nowadays have a social plug-in or module as the developers appreciate the power of social media in defining the customer journey. According to Salesforce, social CRM or social customer relationship management is the integration of social media channels into Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms. When properly utilized, team silos are broken down and collaborative dynamics are improved.

We are not saying that the mere presence of CRM solution will breakdown the silos in your organization, far from it, but if properly utilized, it will foster inter-departmental collaboration thus providing more value to the customer.

In the final assessment, organizations need to ask this questions…where are our customers? Where are they talking? What are they saying? And, are we there to listen and respond?

 

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