Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Interview Series Continued – Dealing with the “New” Social Customer

There can be little doubt that a well-implemented CRM strategy can have huge benefits for small business. It can make all the difference between a strong, customer centric business and one that fails to compete with its rivals.

However, putting a CRM strategy in place is only half the battle. The other half is arguably even more important: measuring the success of CRM. This is where there is the potential for problems to arise. While many forward-looking small businesses understand the importance of CRM, many are unsure as to how they can measure its performance.

One of the key issues is that while CRM is intended to increase profitability, it is also by definition designed to improve relationships with customers through improved service and a higher level of brand loyalty. While profits are easy to measure, many businesses struggle to find ways to measure the other areas that CRM impacts.

The good news for small businesses is that there are a number of methods that can be employed to measure CRM success.
  1. Combine old style and new style platforms. One of the mistakes some businesses can make is to think that as CRM is a “new” platform that exists in the world of Web 2.0 then only new methods, such as social media platforms can be used to measure it. This is a fundamental error and one that will lead to inaccurate results. CRM is designed to increase customer satisfaction through a better system of holding and retrieving data in which customers’ details are available to different departments so that the customer can receive more detailed marketing. The result of this can be measured by monitoring customer feedback. Of course, this feedback can be found online in a wide range of platforms (everything from Twitter and Facebook to comments on the business’s website). However, offline feedback is just as valuable. This could be in the form of written communication or verbal conversations. The key is to record these interactions (i.e. make a note of them afterwards) and enter them onto the business’s system. When combined with online platforms, a true result of CRM measurement can be gained. For the small business, this can be particularly effective as it is a relatively low-time consuming procedure that will provide invaluable information.
  2. Social Media isn’t just for the Big Boys (and Girls). While it is important not to forget more traditional methods of communication, there can be no doubt that social media is an ever more important area for business. However, there is sometimes a feeling among small business that social media is for the large businesses and corporations. This could not be further from the truth. By embedding social media into a small business website (for example, including a Twitter feed or link to a simple Facebook page) a small business has an ideal way to monitor customer feedback and measure how their CRM is performing.
  3. Two-Way Dialogue. One of the key facets of CRM is that it has shifted the old-fashioned businesses model of a monologue (the business advertising) to a dialogue in which the customer has an equal part to play. What this means for the small business is that they are presented with a way to measure CRM that is simple and cost effective. Based on customer’s details held on the CRM system, a small business can send emails, flyers or even call customers to discuss new products or updates to products they already have. This is a much more targeted method of marketing that used to be the case and it holds itself up to measuring much better. By tracking the customers contacted and their response, the small business has a simple yet highly effective method to measure its CRM performance.