Your decision to add Social CRM to your business has the potential to pay you, your people, your customers, and your company enormous dividends! We want to help ensure your success, and investing in this book is a great way to start. In the enclosed chapters, we are going to walk you step by step through the entire business process of choosing and implementing your new Social CRM. Let's get started!
By the end of this chapter, you should have a solid understanding of the basics of Social CRM and how it might be deployed in your small business. This will be critical, as in the subsequent chapters, you will be laying the groundwork with your team to begin the discussion of Social CRM. This will then be followed by defining your needs and finally choosing and implementing your system.
In this chapter, we will explore the following topics:
The Social Media Ecosystem
Social building blocks
Why a Social CRM?
Social customer service
Managing your business with Social CRM
Your success with Social CRM can be quantified in a number of ways, including new revenues, increased lead generation, as well as by customer service and retention. While many of your company departments will utilize Social CRM as a tool to meet their individual goals, all departments working together will ensure that your overall targets of increasing revenues and exceeding customer expectations are realized.
The Social Media Ecosystem is one of the ways in which we can envision how the seemingly disparate parts of the social channels and your small business can and will work together. By some definitions, it might be considered to be a living and breathing organism with each part feeding the other and vice versa. As a result of this, your small business brand messaging has the ability to be widely distributed throughout the ecosystem (social networks).
In the preceding figure, the satellites that surround your business are shown. They represent the various social networks, and as you can see, each of the social networks is pointing toward your business. Traffic generated from each network can be directed to your landing pages, blog articles, and literally any place that you would like your customers and prospective customers to visit. It gets even better!
Your business marketing assets (articles, white papers, and so on) can also be leveraged as the source of this shared information, which gives you the ability to distribute important messages out to each of the social channels; this will then, in turn, direct traffic back to your business. Each of these channels can also be used to share information with another network and then to either point back to the originating network or directly to your business.
For example, you could share your LinkedIn profile on Twitter and then have readers click the link to follow back to your LinkedIn profile, which will, in turn, link to your company page on LinkedIn. You might, for example, share a link that offers a free e-book and have that link direct to a landing page on your website, where contact information is captured and a record is automatically created in your SCRM for follow-up by sales or customer service. Linking is the key element that is used to direct people to the information that we wish them to be exposed to.
We call your marketing assets social building blocks. While Social CRM is the tool that we will use to aggregate and manage our customer-focused activities, it is the social building blocks that will enable the activities themselves. These activities will also go a very long way toward establishing your expertise and making that visible to others. By providing a perceived value to your networks, you attract others to you and your company.
A good example of this would be posts (blog articles) and pages on your website. Assuming that your company has stories to share with your customers and prospective customers, you should and you will also want to put these in writing by way of a blog. In this way, this information is available at all times. Blog articles work for you continuously and unattended. Other articles, even those not written by you, that pertain to your business or to the products and services that you offer will also go a very long way in establishing your company's expertise.
Other examples of social building blocks would include the following:
Newsletters and other campaigns
Images including slideshows and photos
Mentions of your business or of its personnel that are found on other sites
LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+ company pages
LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+ groups that you manage or frequent
Your LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ profiles and those of your company personnel
Your company's video channel on YouTube
The social networks themselves represent both the power and challenge that is associated with social business. Each is actually a separate communication channel much like the phone or e-mail. People are talking to each other on these networks, and they also want to talk with you and your company. What happens if you are not there? Nothing.
While a traditional CRM is the best way to organize your contact information (companies and people) in a central location, SCRM will provide you with an additional organizational layer that addresses the social media activities within your small business. As a social business, you will be conversing with your customers and prospective customers on various social channels, and there are four main ways to do this. They are as follows:
Visit each network regularly. Go to the home page of each social network on a regular basis and look for messages and opportunities to engage.
Use a good social dashboard such as Hootsuite to monitor these networks from a single location.
Make use of analytical tools such as Google Analytics in order to monitor and track visitor activities (and social sources) on your website(s).
Deploy SCRM in your small business that may have the conversational capabilities of a social dashboard combined with the contact record-keeping abilities that are found in a CRM.
Why would you want to have the ability to track and monitor conversations? The simple answer would be for the same reasons that you maintain file folders for your accounts and you are loath to deleting messages from your e-mail inbox. Efficient and effective small businesses need to have some sort of a paper trail, a record of their activities, to refer back to.
As a long-time CRM user, I love that my e-mail conversations and my notes are a part of an electronic contact record. My memory just isn't that good. As somebody who is active on social media, it would be almost impossible to keep my conversations and communications, not to mention my engagement opportunities, separated and organized without an SCRM.
Regardless of where your social activities take place (smartphone, laptop, tablet, desktop), those relevant activities should be captured by your SCRM. This also holds true regardless of which platforms (the social networks or third-party applications) are being used. If it is social, it all ties back to the networks themselves which, in turn, feed these conversations to your SCRM and other third-party applications.
From the standpoint of effective use of your time and the ability to keep ALL of this information in one location, SCRM is the obvious choice. More so, engagements lead to relationships and relationships result in revenues. This is the long-standing formula that is found in real life, and the same equation is applied to social business.
SCRM is also largely about discovery. Every day, people are talking on the social networks about their needs and their pain points. While you may not be able to listen in to a conversation about your company that is being conducted face-to-face by your next-door neighbors, social monitoring will allow you to discover these conversations regardless of where they are taking place. You will then be able to create and assign tasks to follow up on these and then begin to build a relationship with that person which may result in a sale.
As social media itself is based on the law of attraction rather than interruption, you will also have the ability to draw others to you as opposed to you going out and finding them or having to walk into their places of business or personal lives, unannounced and unexpected.
In the article, "IBM Reveals Their Predictions About The Future Of Social Customer Relationship Management (CRM)," the author interviews Sandesh Bhat who is the VP of Web and Unified Collaboration Software for IBM Collaboration Solutions:
"We believe Social CRM – the integration of social media and analytics with customer relationship management strategies – is the next frontier for organizations that want to exploit the power of social media to get closer to customers, old and new. Social networking sites (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn), micro blogging capabilities (Twitter, Jaiku), media sharing capabilities (YouTube, SlideShare), social bookmarking sites (Digg, Delicious), and review sites (Yelp, Trip Advisor) will play a crucial and important role in successfully transforming sales."
Now is a good time to begin thinking about what your goals for SCRM might be. While we will define these in more detail in our upcoming chapters, having a good understanding of your overall goals and the benefits that you would hope to achieve by reaching these will be critical elements in your discussions with your other team members.
As we explore some of the key benefits of Social CRM, we must stress that SCRM is a complex, relatively new, and rapidly evolving market. This does not mean that it should be difficult to use or to deploy. What it does mean is that not all features will be offered by all vendors, and even then, the overall functionality of a particular feature that is offered might also differ largely by vendor. As such, it is very difficult to provide specific examples.
This section is designed to provide you with a good overall view of what SCRM might do for you; it will help ensure that when you finally make your choice of a vendor, you don't discover after the fact that "Oh, I thought that I was getting ... this?"
These are general benefits. It is not the goal or the purpose of this book to tell you how to conduct a social marketing campaign or any other activity but rather to let you know that SCRM might very well be able to assist you in these efforts. We will look at these in more detail in one of the upcoming chapters when we discuss the best practices for day-to-day usage of SCRM.
Global benefits can be realized and leveraged by any team member regardless of function or department. If you feel that any item that appears in a single area would also apply to other departments of your small business (and you likely will), feel free to incorporate that!
We will always place customer retention at the top of any list. The axiom that it is 10 times more expensive to find a new customer than it is to keep an existing one is not a myth. Your existing customers are the lifeblood of your business. They pay the bills, refer you to others, and become brand advocates and ambassadors. They also likely have the ability and the willingness to spend more money with your company. Why do customers leave? Here are some recent statistics:
They die (1%)
They move (3%)
They are taken by one of your competitors (13%)
They are unhappy with the your product, service, or price (14%)
They felt ignored, mistreated, or unappreciated (69%)
We can't help you with death or relocation, but when SCRM is used properly, it will greatly assist you with minimizing points 3, 4, and 5, which comprise 96 percent of all lost customers!
Our view is that everybody in a company sells. Marketing creates brand awareness and generates leads. Customer service takes an unhappy customer and converts them into a happy customer who buys more. The person who answers the phone sets the tone with that customer and they sell. Salespeople sell. These rules are applicable in a traditional environment and are no different in one that is social. However, a social environment will accelerate these efforts.
We create new revenues from both new and existing customers. We do so by targeting our connections to find the right people, using search to discover new opportunities, by tracking triggers that indicate potential opportunities, attracting new opportunities and connections to us, and by nurturing all of these into relationships that pay consistent and repeating dividends.
Everything starts and ends with a contact (person or account) record. Contact records are the absolute nucleus of any good CRM or SCRM, and we would argue strongly against any application that claims to be either that does not have individual contact records. Mind you, many of these applications may be great at what they are designed to do (marketing automation, social dashboard, customer service, and so on). You may choose to use these in addition to your SCRM, or they may integrate directly with it, thereby providing you with a more complete solution if required.
What contact records allow you to do is to focus on that specific contact, your history with them, deals that you have in progress, tasks that need to be completed, and what they are discussing on their social networks. This capability alone will result in increased revenues!
Does this mean that you will create a contact record for every engagement that you will encounter on the social channels? No, you will create contact records for those accounts that have the potential of either doing business with you, referring you to a new business, or those that would provide another benefit that makes it worth keeping in touch with them.
Not everybody, including me, is a great file organizer. I could always manage to get the right pieces and scraps of paper into the correct folder(s). but that was about the extent of it. SCRM allows you to easily and electronically store and organize all of your notes, a record of your activities, exchanged communications, just about anything into an individual contact record. Furthermore, much (if not all of this) should be available to you virtually anywhere via a mobile app (if available) or your browser (if your SCRM is cloud-based).
With organization comes productivity and, more importantly, productivity that leads directly to revenue. Review your history of communications with that client before your next call instead of fumbling around trying to remember what and when you talked about last. Listen to what your customer is talking about now on the social networks and then incorporate those topics into your conversation.
Each contact record is a unified communications inbox or history. This means that right from within a contact record, I can see what, when, and where we have spoken in the past and quickly reply to communications as they arrive and are brought to my attention. Where is the key. Was it by e-mail, by phone, or by one or more of the social channels? Regardless, this information will be at your fingertips.
Schedule calendar events (one-time or recurring) and, if appropriate, invite other team members to attend. You will be also be able to create and assign tasks to other team members. This may include the ability to generate tasks directly from incoming e-mails and opportunities or customer needs that are gleaned from the social networks. Then, organize these tasks by type (meeting, phone call, send e-mails) to ensure the best use of your available time. Finally, create a system that will ensure that these tasks are completed correctly and in a timely manner.
Your new SCRM will likely allow you to set permission levels (who can do what within the system), but we would strongly encourage you to have things such as contacts, calendar, and tasks accessible to most, if not all team members. In this way, any team member should be able to update records with the most recent pertinent information. This might include the status of a task or project; questions for the team leader about a specific task or project; or even things such as useful pieces of information.
For example, seeing that the account manager has a lunch meeting with an important client, customer service might leave a note letting him know that the customer had a recent issue that is still being resolved and/or your assistant might note that says, "Enjoy lunch with Bob, and remember that he is a vegetarian!" You are a team. Leverage that!
Documents might include copies of letters, estimates, and quotes. This may also include things such as marketing pieces and collateral. These items may be stored in a central depository for access by all or, in the case of estimates and quotes, attached to the contact record itself. Your SCRM may also have the ability to generate quotes and proposals from directly within the application itself, or there are a number of third-party applications that may facilitate this.
Social Sales builds upon what we would call the relationship-selling model. With social sales, we will incorporate the benefits of social networking into the selling process. It is important to note that social sales is meant to augment, not replace the more traditional selling model(s). That being said, social sales and Social CRM will allow us to effectively leverage the best of both!
Social relationships are formed in the exact manner in which they are nurtured in real life. Often, the basis to initiate a relationship is founded on the establishment of common interests. At the very least, knowing the interests of our customers and prospective customers, and sharing ours with them is one heck of a good start!
When I first started in B2B sales, I was expected to make 30 cold calls daily. Every time I called on a prospective customer, my eyes were darting and my ears were wide open. I was looking for those things that would provide me with clues to that buyer's interests and purchasing patterns. Today, we can do this, and more, from the comfort of our desks just by visiting LinkedIn and Facebook or by conducting a Google search.
Social CRM allows us to go even a few steps further. Many SCRMs will include a contact's social streams (what they are talking about on the social channels right now, and who they are talking to) directly within the contact records themselves. You can monitor these conversations, choose to engage if appropriate, and maybe uncover a new opportunity or connection in the process. Knowledge is power.
If you want to build, let alone even create, relationships, you have to make the touches. Everybody knows that, but how often do they get lost in the shuffle of daily activities? A lot. Touches can be made in person, by phone, by e-mail, and by regular mail. With social networking, we add to our list of options. We can now like, comment, engage, endorse, and connect these people to others thereby expanding their connections and potential opportunities.
SCRM will make it extremely easy to make sure that you do not miss these opportunities. You should be able to schedule specific call-back reminders along with what you are calling back about. You may also have the ability to schedule recurring reminders to stay in touch. One popular way to do this is by classifying your accounts as being either "A" (touch weekly), "B" (touch monthly), "C" (touch quarterly), and "D" (delete). You can determine your own schedules, but SCRM will remind you to make your touches on this schedule. Your SCRM may even remind you of the last time you contacted an account.
Combining scheduled touches with random touch opportunities (based on monitoring and engaging on social channels) is a winning combination that will produce increased revenues and customers who know that you appreciate them!
Who wants referrals? You do. Referrals are sales gold. When you exceed customer expectations, and this is based on a number of levels and factors, you will earn referrals from these customers. You will have also earned the right to ask them for referrals.
The crux of social networking is that we want to connect with the people who are connected to the people that we are connected to. Call this the relationship map. If you go to someone's LinkedIn profile, you will see a map on the right sidebar that shows you how you are related to that person. You are not connected to them, but your friend Nancy is. Perhaps Nancy might introduce you. Facebook has a similar function as does Google+ and Twitter.
Some SCRMs are beginning to map these relationships for you. They are also making it very easy to send connection requests from within a contact record itself. For example, you are in Nancy's contact record, and you see that she is talking on Twitter to @bigspender. Hover your mouse over that person's handle to see their Twitter profile. If they look like the kind of person that you would like to follow, do so right there and then without leaving your SCRM.
As this is a person that you would like to follow up with later, you can click the button to add them as a contact and then schedule a touch reminder. You might even create a task for your assistant and ask them to research this person for you and then to attach their findings to the contact record.
Both connections and identified needs/pain points represent opportunities; therefore, when we discover on the social channels that somebody we are connected to is speaking with somebody that we are not connected to, this potential new connection might become an opportunity. What about when they are discussing a potential need for our product or service? Now, we have a golden opportunity, and you can begin the engagement process and then follow that up with a connection request, a new contact record, and maybe even a lead and/or opportunity record within your SCRM. You are on your way!
Your SCRM may also allow you to search many social channel updates by keywords (words used to identify your brand, a competitor, a need, maybe even a sentiment). Searches can often be saved for reuse later on. Once a potential opportunity has been uncovered, the same rule to discover new connections applies.
Many SCRMs will have records for both leads and opportunities (deals). Leads are generally considered to be unqualified and would be assigned to a salesperson to determine whether or not there is a valid opportunity to be had. A qualified lead is then converted to an opportunity. Leads are often generated by marketing, and you, as a manager or owner, will want to have the ability to assign these leads and, more importantly, be assured that they are being followed up and followed through on.
Your pipeline (forecast, funnel) should give you an accurate portrayal of deals (opportunities) in progress, a predicted dollar value, what stage they are in in the sales process, a weighted deal value that is determined by the percentage chance of closing (based on the sales stage) being applied against the dollar value, and a projected close date. Ultimately, deals are either won, lost, or deleted. SCRM is very effective at managing your pipeline and will keep these deals front and center to ensure that they do not fall through the cracks.
Regardless of whether it is a win or a loss, we also want to know why. If we can identify patterns for success, we want to duplicate those. If we have patterns to our losses, we need to rectify those. If we consistently win deals on the basis of being low bid, we may be leaving cash on the table or, conversely, are our prices too high for the market or compared to our competition?
An interesting discussion, and particularly as it relates to small business, is that the lines between sales and marketing are blurring. Part of this is due to the fact that as a small business, your sales and marketing staff may be joined together. The social channels have also had a dramatic effect on marketing. All personnel are, to some extent at least, involved in actively creating brand awareness and often via their own personal networks. Everybody markets, and this is good for your business!
One of the primary responsibilities of marketing is to create brand awareness, that is, how customers perceive our company's name and what things they associate with that. Is it quality? Fun? Another part of this is brand monitoring, that is, what people are saying about us on the Internet.
If the comments are positive, marketing might reward that individual and thank them for being a brand advocate. This might also be a lead for sales to follow up on. If the sentiment is negative, this conversation might be forwarded to customer service for their review and resolution.
Your Social CRM might enable you to perform many of these functions from within the SCRM itself. It can be used to create the updates that promote the brand (remember social building blocks) and also monitor your brand via network keyword search operatives.
While there are Social CRMs available that will allow you to create and manage marketing campaigns, these are generally limited to things such as e-mail blasts, unless the SCRM is very robust and more designed for an enterprise-level company compared to a small business. E-mail campaigns should naturally attach themselves to contact records in your SCRM. SCRM can certainly help you track your ROI ((Return on Investment) on specific campaigns.
This being said, this function is also a very popular one for SCRM third-party integrations with marketing automation companies such as HubSpot and Marketo. Generally, this does include some level of syncing between the two applications. For example, a HubSpot integration with an SCRM might create a tab and customized fields within an SCRM contact record, and this section will display the data associated with that application, such as lead scoring, the number of times this person has visited our website and where they went, and the marketing collateral offers that they have responded to and downloaded.
Another primary function of marketing is to generate leads that can be distributed to the appropriate team for follow-up. This will often include the development of effective landing pages on your website along with some sort of call-to-action (CTA), which invites visitors to provide their e-mail address and other contact information in return for generally receiving some sort of free offer. Such offers might include an e-book, white papers, or entry into a drawing contest. It is generally quite easy to create an integration between that contact form and your SCRM. This is commonly known as web-to-lead.
Contact forms on my website will accept your information, send me an e-mail notification of your visit and/or request, allow you to download an offer if there is one, create a record for you in my SCRM, tag (group) you as a website lead, and will finally add you to my mailing list with a double opt-in verification. This is all completed automatically.
However, there are other important aspects to generating leads. Marketing will want to know if leads are, in fact, being followed up on and will also want feedback from sales regarding the quality of the leads that are being distributed; SCRM can help with both.
Pages and groups that are found on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+ are typically considered to be the domain of marketing, so creating and managing these presences is the natural fit. These areas also have the advantage of being frequented by people who have already opted into your company message.
In this case, the function of marketing is to create an engaging environment that will lead to direct connections on that platform, which will have the potential to convert to paying customers if they are not already. At this point, contact records will be created in your SCRM for a more individually focused marketing/sales approach.
Customer service technology combined with your customer's expectations of how, when, and where to receive support, have both changed dramatically! Customers are asking for and are expecting immediate responses to service requests that have been initiated on social networks.
The preceding example of my experience of receiving customer support via Twitter highlights another very critical element that has been brought forth via social media and the Internet. Prior to this, the only people who were aware of an unhappy customer experience were limited to the customer, the company if they even brought this to their attention, and to friends who they shared this poor experience with.
If good news has always traveled fast and bad news even quicker, now both are moving at light speed through the social networks, because any comment that any customer can make (good or bad) has the potential to be amplified by others who see it and will happily forward that message to their networks.
You simply must be prepared to monitor and respond appropriately to all of your business brand mentions that will be discovered on the social networks, and Social CRM will greatly assist you with this task. Not doing so or doing so poorly could very well prove to be disastrous for you and your small business.
As discussed earlier, smart companies monitor the social channels for brand mentions. Twitter has the ability to include some sentiment (happy, sad, mad) filtering, and there are many third-party apps that will utilize much more sophisticated algorithms, which we will look at more closely later. Dedicated customer support applications that will integrate with many SCRMs are numerous!
Some companies have gone as far as setting up specific Twitter accounts for customer support, and they have also set up areas on their company pages (Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+) specifically for the purpose of support. Even if you do not have a dedicated space on your pages, you will still wish to closely monitor these areas. As such, pages and groups may be managed by both marketing and support
The suggested steps to providing effective support in combination with your SCRM are as follows:
Monitor your social channels via keyword searches for brand mentions, and when relevant mentions are discovered, engage and offer your assistance or thank them for their support.
Decide what type of support is required. Is this a question or an issue for support or is it a question better suited for sales or marketing?
If for support, create a case record on your SCRM. If your SCRM does not offer cases, create a contact record, tag it for support, and assign it to a specialist.
If for sales or marketing, forward the conversation via e-mail to the appropriate party and/or create a task for follow-up.
Ultimately, the goal of any support department is to retain customers and to solidify relationships. Customer service issues are quite often opportunities in disguise. Studies have consistently demonstrated that when a customer has an issue and that issue is resolved in a timely and correct fashion, you will have a much stronger customer relationship than you would have had if that issue had never even occurred in the first place.
While the bottom line is the ultimate indicator of success or failure, by keeping your fingers on the pulse of your business, you will be able to track progress and head off challenges before they become overwhelming and damaging. More importantly, you will have a firm understanding of what it is that makes you successful so that you can duplicate it!
As a small business owner or manager, you likely have a number of concerns. You want to have the ability to identify your top performers as well as why and where others may be struggling. If you have multiple profit centers, you will want to see the forecasted and actual numbers from each. Are your customers being serviced properly, what issues are being raised, and are there patterns to these issues that need to be addressed?
Perhaps, most importantly, your ability as a small business to be able to quickly evaluate these areas, pinpoint trouble spots, and then to make any needed adjustments might be the difference between ultimately being profitable or having to report a loss. While larger businesses may be able to weather such storms, smaller businesses do not generally have this luxury!
Your SCRM should provide you with the ability to look at individual contact records, activities, funnels, or just about any other metric by teams and by individual team members. However, let's begin by stating the obvious. When it comes to data, if garbage goes in, garbage comes out. If nothing goes in, nothing comes out. Therefore, for reports (or for anything related to SCRM) to have any value at all, it is paramount that data be entered accurately and consistently!
Most SCRMs will come with an assortment of preconfigured reports. Common report variations would include the following:
Sales (by company, team, and by individual)
Sales activity reports
Sales forecast/pipeline/funnel opportunities by stage or by type
Opportunities by lead source and leads by lead source
Marketing (by campaign and overall)
Conversion rates, opening rates, and click rates
Customer Service (by company, team, and individual)
Cases by type
Time to resolve cases
You will quite likely want to see specific information, formatted in a certain manner, which is unique to your business model. Many SCRMs will allow you to create custom fields that can be used to store this data and then to create custom reports that will allow you to aggregate it.
In this chapter, we discussed some of the key benefits of Social CRM. SCRM has both global applications (utilized by all departments) as well as department-specific applications. When used consistently and properly, SCRM will help you exceed customer expectations and increase your revenues. Here are the key points to take away from this chapter:
By effectively deploying your social building blocks, you will begin to leverage the Social Media Ecosystem, and you will establish your company and your people as leaders in your industry. As people still do buy from people, and this will place you in a unique position to capitalize on these opportunities, and SCRM will allow you to manage these toward their greatest chances for success.
Furthermore, social networking is as much about being found as it is about finding. You will attract others to your business, and the people who you will attract will very likely have already qualified you as someone who they would like to do business with! While social networking and SCRM will augment, not replace, your traditional sales, marketing, and customer service efforts, it will make you better at what you already do!
All of these activities will lead to collaboration and that is both internal (within your company) and external (with your customers and prospective customers). With collaboration comes alignment, and when this occurs, your messaging will be consistent across all channels and by all parties!
In our next chapter, we will begin the process of selecting your new SCRM, and this starts with laying the groundwork with your teams before making the move to Social CRM. This chapter should provide you with a good foundation for your discussions. In fact, you might have other key people read the same chapter so that they too will have a good fundamental understanding of what it is that you hope to achieve!