Zeus of Marketing


Past Dreams are Enabled by the Present to Ensure the Future – Social Media Engagement

February 8th, 2011

On the road to a better future

The Past

Twenty years ago there was plenty of marketing buzz around psycho-graphics and customer relationship management (CRM).  Customer Intimacy, 1to1 marketing, empty nesters vs. urban affluent, etc. were heated points of discussion. As time progressed, few companies were able to successfully execute any of these trends and interest diminished. While there were many reasons for this cooling in interest, I can think of three main ones:

  1. Vehicles: In the case of psycho-graphics, the only way to target at that point was mainly through snail mail campaigns using “sophisticated” zip code based data. Hardly an efficient awareness or continuity tactic. In the case of CRM, face to face or phone where the main vehicles, easier if you have 100 customers but difficult, if not impossible, if you have 1,000,000+. The advent of e-mail created a more efficient vehicle, but not mature enough at the time (not many spam guard products at the time)
  2. Cost: Besides the cost associated to the available vehicles there was also storage, software/application and labor. For perspective, over the last 30 years, the average cost per gigabyte (GB) has gone from way over $100,000 to just a few cents. Add to that, the space required for these storage units – size has decrease just as fast, if not faster.
  3. Scale:  Mostly due to the above stated reasons, these “trends” could only be afforded by the “big and mighty.”  Which due to complacency or silos created by shear size, were either happy with their market position already or their siloed structure made it impossible to implement – particularly CRM. A classic “catch 22” if I ever saw one.

In spite of these reasons, CRM has remained a viable topic due to its promise of achieving customer loyalty, thus a sustainable competitive advantage. Psycho-graphics, on the other hand, has pretty much dropped from the trending horizon until now, although it is mostly referred as behavioral targeting.

The Present

Social Media and more cost efficient technology, allows us to deliver an unprecedented customer experience by clearly identifying with them through their attitudes, behavior and life cycle stages in real time (no more need for awkward, and often generalizing zip code algorithms).

If you have read my previous blogs on Social Media strategy, you already understand how to identify your customers, understand their likes/dislikes and the places they “congregate” in order to reach them. With this information at your fingertips you can now consider the benefits and steps to what I call the ultimate benefit of Social Media:

Developing a sustainable customer engagement process or Social Customer Relationships Management (SCRM) allows us to expand the benefits of CRM and include behavioral information thus boosting by an n factor.

The Future

SCRM defined: the real-time art of listening to this constantly growing community, recording their interests, passions and preferences, and engaging with them on their terms. In this new paradigm, the consumer makes the rules, defines the channels and leads a collaborative discussion regarding the goods and services they desire.

WHAT? Giving up some control? Have a conversation? Show my customer that I am listening? YES, YES and YES. If you want a loyal customer relationship why should it be any different than any other human relationships?  The truth is that your customer is researching, reviewing and reporting on their experience with your company right now whether you are engaging or not – do you prefer to have some influence on this or be clueless about these conversations?

The good news is that Social Media delivers the perfect enabling platform to do this. It also levels the playing field, as scale is not as important as your ability to innovate as costs have continued to decrease. In the not-so distant future SCRM will change from nice to have to a must have to remain competitive and protect your customer/consumer base. Think of the benefits you will sow.

The Benefits

Top three benefits as I see them:

  1. Customer Value: Increased customer loyalty leads to longer customer life, lower cost of service, higher likelihood of referrals and the ability to up-sell and cross-sell across product lines and divisions as you become a trusted peer rather than a monolithic structure
  2. Direct and real time feedback: Opportunity to test and receive real time feedback on products as well as valuable input and ideas on new products
  3. Competitive Advantage: Increased customer loyalty also provides the best protection against competitive new offerings and/or claims.

As if this wasn’t enough, this level of engagement will allow you to truly measure quantifiably your results as you can follow your newly found friends through their purchase life-cycle.

The Execution

The good news is that many of the listening and monitoring companies I have previously referenced are currently offering or developing an engagement platform to their list of services and applications. So assuming you are not going at it alone – your research and selection for a listening, monitoring and analysis partner can be expanded to include engagement.

The not so good news is that even though the payout is large, it will require training amongst your organization on who and when to engage with your customers. Outsourcing your engagement is also possible. The critical point is that you ensure your selected outsourcing partner can represent you seamlessly and follows strict privacy protection rules.

At this point I invite you to download and read the this enlightening white paper http://tiny.cc/mw6ff, which covers additional benefits and implementation stages for using SCRM to build a competitive advantage. FYI, I helped develop this white paper for my client Morley (www.morleynet.com), a great partner for managing contact centers as they do so for several Fortune 500 companies.

Stay tuned for my next blog on the next and final step “Measure”. In the meantime, don’t forget to comment below. You can also contact me via email: zeus@jrgrana.com, Twitter: @zeusofmarketing. You can also find additional contact information via LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jrgrana

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Entry Filed under: Case Studies,SCRM,Social Media

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  • Administrator

    Thanks Steve – we definitely agree that customer satisfaction is job #1 – it provides loyalty and a sustainable business – constantly acquiring new customers and losing existing ones is very expensive and in many cases unprofitable. As it relates to maintaining satisfaction, Social Media now provides a way to monitor the well being of the relationship in a more cost efficient way. The “trick” is to identify the preferred point of contact for your customer which, in many categories/industries tends to be on-line.

  • steve

    Great post with lots to think about. What I hear is that companies and organizations have grown and the traditional role of the CRM has morphed into the SCRM to keep up with people and the places they go. I am also hearing that the social sites allow one to stay in touch with and track their customers/members/fans &c. With that said, I will suggest a different approach………

    As a consumer, what I have noticed over the last 10-15 years is that companies don’t want to talk to me in a meaningful way. By that I mean, if I have a question or concern there seems to be nobody to talk to. This has been done, I feel, mainly as a cost saving measure. So, in essence, Corporate America has largely let go or outsourced its CRM activities. Most of this started happening pre-social media. While businesses might have felt that “no news was good news” social networking changed all that. All of a sudden, all the dissatisfied customers had a place to go; the problem was, it was the wrong place. Now, corporations are spending huge money to track peoples comments about them in these various social sites. All they have to do is employ SCRM’s, hook up with expensive software and sift through the zillions of conversations taking place at any given moment. While we know we can extract oil from shale, wa also know it’s not the most efficient means to that end; I suggest a more efficient means of securing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

    Very simply, you want to drive anyone with issues, concerns or questions to YOUR site. You want to control the message in as much as it’s truthful and accurate. That is simple to do if you have a site that is friendly and truly encourages participation and, more importantly, replies to inquiries in a personal way (no robo responses). What I believe will happen is that the majority of chatter about your company on the social sites will be a) positive and b) will convey the great experience that customer had to the social community and they will also feel welcome at your site.

    Do you still have to monitor the social sites to guard against spam, slander and lies; sure. Those efforts will pale compared with the data mining that takes place to try and manage your customers by sifting through the zillion texts.

    The bottom line is that there is no real substitute for CRM. People want to talk to a real person. Whether you attach that capability to your corporate site or set up shop in a social network, you still have to really respond in a meaningful way.

    Years ago a friend of mine was engaged by Kodak to help with their customer image. He called me to ask what I thought. It took me only one second. Having had a lot of personal experience with Kodak I knew one thing, they really didn’t care about my problems. My photographer friends all agreed. My response to my consultant friend was to take a look at any Polaroid package. On it was an 800 number (in those days almost the equivalent of a website). If you called the # a person would answer and actually help you……what a concept. It was obvious from my experience with Polaroid that customer satisfaction and loyalty were number 1. It was too little, too late for Kodak but I really believe you can only grow as big as your ability to satisfy your customers…….after that, it’s a crap shoot.

  • http://jrgrana.com zeus

    Thanks Rick – I know slowly but surely. One of my objectives for this block is to help fellow marketers redirect the energy from the hoopla to what counts.
    PS- liked your blog on rebranding @ http://brandperiscope.com/blog/

  • http://brandperiscope.com/blog/ Rick Thompson

    Nice post Jesus. Yes, there are many enablers today and many advantages to the new social media paradigm…but the challenge is that old habits are hard to break.

    Many companies still see social media as a trendy thing for younger people. But change is starting to come. We are at the beginning of a tidal wave of change and social media is at the fore.

  • Administrator

    In the interest of keeping my audience updated in real time – I just received this link:

    http://tiny.cc/ziqw0

    3 social media tools to help monitor your brand online
    Resources such as Flowtown, Guzzle and WatchThatPage make it easier than ever for small-business owners to monitor what customers are saying and to engage them in conversation. Flowtown finds what social networks a particular e-mail address is connected to, which can help business owners find out where their customers are congregating online.


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