Posts Tagged Customer service

The future is bright, the future is social

A recent article by The Stone Consultancy titled ‘CRM, loyalty and smart locations’ discussed location- based software and how it can be used to build and manage customer loyalty. In this article, we will look at Social CRM and how it is increasingly changing traditional CRM methods and strategy.

The first question to ask is: what is social CRM?

Social CRM is essentially the process of integrating your various contacts and social media information into your current collection of knowledge regarding potential prospects and existing customers. For example, the majority of businesses will have some kind of CRM system, which records client and prospect information and which can then be analysed, segmented and acted upon. Essentially social CRM is taking traditional CRM to the next level.

Social media can provide a business with the very latest information regarding another business or individuals. As so many of us now use social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, it is possible to obtain important information in real time from just about anyone.  Any relevant personal or business information about them can then be used to build and maintain their loyalty.

If, for example, one of your prospects tweeted that their company has just changed their service in a particular way, or released a new product, then it would be sensible to have a conversation around this. If you use this information effectively and pertinently, then it will only reflect well on you, as it demonstrates that you are up to date with the very latest information.

You can expect to see either traditional CRM systems adding social networking features, or newer CRM systems being developed which incorporate social media This will then form part of a contact management system, which embraces social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. As social networks are now firmly accepted into society as a crucial form of communication and show no sign of fading in popularity, it is only sensible to incorporate and integrate all of your contact information to include social media.

At this moment in time, two of the most popular Social CRM solution providers are Nimble and Gist. Currently these software tools are free, however it is unlikely that this will remain the case for any significant length of time. They offer a great insight into how social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, e-mail and traditional CRM can be incorporated. It is worth taking a look at them to see what they can do for your business.

In conclusion, social media needs to become a key part of your customer and client relationship management system in order to gain a competitive advantage. Over time, more and more people will join social networking sites and they will be used more and more alongside more traditional forms of communication such as e-mail to reach customers effectively and cost-efficiently.  Finally, if you have thousands and thousands of followers on Twitter, the key to making your social CRM  work is to use systems, which can manage large volumes of data. Fortunately, there are systems out there that let you manage this level of data relatively easily.  The key is having an easy interface so that you don’t have to have multiple screens open at any one time  in order to keep track of your customer and prospect relationships.

Deborah Stone at The Stone Consultancy remarks; ‘using social media data effectively can have a major impact on the way to can effectively target your customers, by giving you greater insight into who they are and what they want from your business. It will take your CRM strategy to the next level.’


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Customer Service – The Ultimate Loyalty Driver

On a week when the world is coming to terms with the death of Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, founder of Pixar and all-round visionary entrepreneur, it is pertinent to remind the world of what he achieved. He not only revolutionised the way the world used computers, he invented touch screens, the mouse and he revolutionised the smart phone. The smart phone and indeed the tablet were not necessarily new when Apple took them on, but Jobs made them iconic, beautiful, user-friendly and ultimate objects of desire.

Steve Jobs understood what the customer wanted; a thing of beauty, with amazing functionality, which was simple to set up and to use. What he also understood, however, was the importance of customer service. Before the Apple stores arrived on our high streets, particularly in Britain, service was sub-standard. Apple arrived and suddenly, that changed. You could walk into an Apple store and the staff greeted you with a smile. More amazingly than that, they understood the products they were selling. This had never really happened in a technological store of any kind in the UK before. Normally, staff in these outlets were and sadly, in the main, still are, woefully undereducated about the products they sell and disinterested in the products to boot.

Apple was different. The stores were bright, you could play on all the amazing toys in there, people took the time to help you with small queries. In addition, you could be over the age of 30 and they would still talk to you as if you had a brain and some technological sense. If you didn’t, they would not patronise; they would educate and help.

So Jobs built a brand foremost on beautiful, must-have looks and functionality, but he also understood the follow through. People love Apple products not only because they are cool, but also because the service behind the product is second-to-none. Have you ever heard anyone criticise the service from Apple? The stores may be busy, you may have to wait, but high quality service is what you get. And you get the same high standard of service online too.

So why is it that so many UK retailers fail to tackle customer service and fail to recognise it as a critical tool to ensuring brand loyalty? Yes, it’s expensive to recruit and train the right staff. But surely it’s more expensive to have under-paid, disinterested staff, who fail to engage the consumer and detract from, rather than enhance, the shopping experience? Why spend money on expensive shop fits or beautiful product, if the staff in the store are chatting in a corner, or can’t help with your queries?

John Lewis gets it right and as a result, is trusted. Their customer loyalty is built more on service than almost any other attribute in the store. Deborah Stone, Director of The Stone Consultancy, one of the UK’s leading retail consultancies, believes this is the most over-looked aspect of customer loyalty in the UK. ‘The staff are your outward face to the customer. If they don’t love the brand, if they don’t know the product details, why should the customer love the brand and why will they keep coming back? Customers want to feel informed and appreciated.’

So, let’s remember Steve Jobs as a great visionary and as importantly, as a man who understood what people wanted in terms of service. We could all learn a lot.

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