Customers’ buying behaviors and businesses’ engagement models are shifting. Traditional is out, next-gen is in. Today it is the customer who influences and forces the evolution of business models. Cloud-based Internet peer networks drive the buying decisions for large segments of customers. Enterprises will inevitably need to adopt mobility and social media platforms to keep up with the next generation.
Today’s consumers already have globally visible footprints in terms of their opinions, feedback, and perceptions of various brands. Collective sentiments developing on social networks and in peer communities are influencing consumer choices and buying behavior. Social media platforms will be the next-generation battleground of brand and customer loyalty.
The importance of Customer 2.0
Is your organization ready to do business with “Customer 2.0”? Social CRM gives you a real-time sense of customer preferences and opinions. Social CRM helps you listen to relevant social media conversations so that you can take proactive steps to create untapped business opportunities.
With Social CRM, you can leverage your customer’s trusted peer network to create widespread positive brand perceptions and generate new leads. You can engage customers in conversations through social media networks to provide a more personalized experience. Finally, you can make the consumer your partner in product co-creation for win-win outcomes.
Many conversations on this theme have grabbed the attention of those at the C-level. Across the globe, consumers are hooked on social networking. The way they interact with brands is changing. The way they make buying decisions is changing. Consumers have moved beyond consuming information — now they share experiences, knowledge and activities on new platforms. Hence, it has become critical for organizations to interact in a way that is more relevant and appealing to them.
How Organizations Are dealing With Customer 2.0
Different industry segments have reached different levels of adoption and maturity of their social media for CRM functions. Business-to-Customer (B2C) businesses seem to be on a steeper trajectory when compared to Business to Business (B2B) firms. Most of the early adopters of social CRM are consumer packaged goods, telecom, high tech, manufacturing and services industries. However, all industries leverage social media for their marketing, sales and service functions at varied levels, based on the customer behavior and sales cycle.
Banks and financial services have been relatively moderate in their adoption rate of social CRM, restricting its usage primarily to listening, analyzing and meeting customer needs apart from customer support. Issues such as data privacy, user authentication and sensitivity of bank information, coupled with regulatory stringency, make social CRM an initiative that needs to be implemented with forethought and strategic vision.
A snapshot of key activities of the leading banks and FIs in the social CRM space:
The customer has moved on from being 2.0 sometime between the resounding success and iPhone 3 release. The most significant question that is facing the service provider/seller today is how to deal with the information flow that is ubiquitous. The customer (3.0, for lack of a better superscript) already knows all about the product category or service category that he is interested in along with the goods and ills of every brand catering to the category of interest.
And as in most cases, the stories of failures on the part of brands being most abundant, the customer turns to the sponsored messaging from the brand of choice last.
While most companies are still stuck to implementing for Customer 2.0, the demands of today’s market environment has moved to the capability to track, listen and respond in real time to messages, opinions and information flow. And more importantly, this must be tracked beyond Facebook and Twitter!
Every person reading a popular or lost-in-internet-space" forum or blog or other community forms, brought to their attention by Google, is a potential customer and thereafter a potential opinion maker. It is the capability to reach out to that level of penetration that is most AM iss in Social CRM strategies being formulated for Customer 2.0.
Social CRM 1.0 for Customer 2.0 is the baseline and must be the basis where strategy should commence. Just like every instance of a rocket design does not require us to reinvent rocket fuel, the Social CRM stratgy must not start from designing a Social CRM platform. These are a dozen a dime and each as good as the other. The strategy is in trying to move to the customer’s fingertips and trying to capture share of eyeballs and share of screen-taps and most importantly mind-share. Share of the wallet shall follow if companies are able to respond to the information flow and take feedback from it in a process of continuous improvement through customer engagement, one customer at a time.