Strategy

Social Media Integration: The New CRM Standard

A call center customer service agenct using an omnichannel CRM platform
Modernizing customer relationship strategies for some companies means refining their CRM platforms to encourage customer loyalty. Today, the customer experience journey can no longer fully succeed without bringing social media channels into the mix.

According to contact center software firm Playvox, to provide a true omnichannel experience, brands today recognize the need to assist customers in the platforms where they feel most comfortable. This commitment includes consistent accessibility via email, chat, phone, and social media.

Playvox is a cloud-based platform to help quality assurance teams monitor agents’ performance and streamline customer service processes. It includes support for social media.

The company increasingly sees its customers adopting social media as a standardized business practice, noted its Chief Product Officer, Alex Bullen. A significant aspect of Playvox’s mission centers around guiding brands through the intricate process of transforming CRM platforms into versatile omnichannel workhorses.

“We are seeing this more as an effort from brands to better serve their customers by supporting how and when consumers want to interact with brands, including on social media,” Bullen told CRM Buyer.

Embellishment Strategy

More than one approach exists to make social media integration work. However, Bullen declined to discuss what could be a key element in integrating social media on CRM platforms. He remained mute on whether successful integration depends solely on brand messaging on social media or whether responses and other customer exchanges are equally critical.

He did say, though, that integration can be separate from a brand’s existing marketing outlets. Social media can serve as an embellishment approach for brands that want to prime their advertising efforts.

“Offering support via social media is simply smart business [to] being available to consumers in their channel of choice,” he offered.

Transformative Effect of Social Media on CRM

According to McKinsey & Company, in October 2021, social media users numbered 4.6 billion worldwide. Adoption averaged 13 new users signing up to their first social media account every second. Consequently, social media is fast becoming a primary communication channel and social interaction for many brands.

The same report noted that how customers engage with companies on social media is also changing, according to Bullen. Previously, many customers turned to social media as an escalation channel when more traditional service channels failed to address their concerns.

“Today’s customers are increasingly using it for general requests, queries, and feedback — even compliments,” he said.

The pandemic played a pivotal role in spurring social media integration with CRM. According to the social media management platform Hootsuite, social media messaging grew 110% during the pandemic as the preferred method of customer service communication.

This shift was driven further by the recognition of social media’s vast potential and opportunities for engaging with customers and enhancing customer service.

Social Integration Essential for CRM Benefits

Brands today must integrate their support strategy into social media, observed Bullen. The need to do this should be obvious to organizations. That is where consumers are, and they expect responses on social media.

Alex Bullen is the chief product officer fat Playvox

Alex Bullen, Playvox
Chief Product Officer

The most significant advantage is a seamless customer experience. In the past, when organizations treated social media as a separate channel — or when marketing, not customer support, managed it — any consumer interaction on social media remained separate and disconnected from other service experiences.

“If you fully integrate social media into your CRM, then you can easily capture all interactions on and off social media so that support organizations have a complete view of the customer journey, other inquiries, and how any issues were resolved,” he explained.

Agents can then leverage this additional information to provide a more complete and cohesive customer experience. That, no doubt, brings budgetary relief over traditional voice-only support systems.

Playvox does not track data on the budgetary impacts of social media integration. But expectations are that it would follow the trend of messaging to have a significantly lower cost than voice.

Practicing What It Preaches

Zendesk and Salesforce were early adopters of integrating customer contact on social platforms like Twitter and Facebook into their CRM operations. While Playvox was not directly involved in these early transitions, the CRM platform provider has also incorporated social media into its various solutions.

As an added benefit to its customers, Playvox provides integration to enable Salesforce or Zendesk customers to incorporate social media support into their customer service strategy.

Bullen cautioned that organizations should always base integration on CRM best practices. He tells customers that as they move to offer omnichannel support, they must keep a few essentials in mind. One of the more important driving principles should be adding one channel at a time rather than trying to do everything at once.

“For example, add chat. Make sure that is going well in terms of interactions, average response time, agent responses, how many chats an agent can be in at the same time,” he urged.

Know System Strengths and Weaknesses

A vital CRM strategy involves attentiveness to the diverse skill sets necessitated by various communication channels.

Traditional mediums like phone or email demand a specific skill set. However, social media channels bear unique considerations; a customer support agent’s response to a query is potentially visible to hundreds or even thousands of people, which significantly alters the dynamics and requirements of the interaction.

“You must train agents to keep in mind that they should never write anything that could damage the brand if it went viral and beyond a single interaction,” noted Bullen.

It is also critical for brands to make sure they thoroughly integrate social media. Related to that is ensuring they fully train their staff and manage their workforce to support social media inquiries.

“We often see brands forced to do unnatural things to their workforce management [WFM] system created for a voice-centric world that no longer exists. It is important to have a WFM solution that can accommodate channels such as social media and also designed for the more complex and multi-step interactions that are more common today,” he advised.

Planning in Plain Sight

One final factor that Bullen sees as absolutely necessary in integrating social media as a channel is customer expectations. They expect brands to service this channel outside of normal business hours. That means being available when people are active on social media.

“This is something that needs to be planned for. A poor experience via a social media challenge can get magnified quickly,” he concluded.

Jack M. Germain

Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open-source technologies. He is an esteemed reviewer of Linux distros and other open-source software. In addition, Jack extensively covers business technology and privacy issues, as well as developments in e-commerce and consumer electronics. Email Jack.

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