I’ve noticed a convergence of problems in social media marketing recently.
Companies are told they have to engage with customers via social media and that, if they don’t, they’ll rapidly become redundant. If you do this, though, pretty soon you’ll realise you’ve opened a large, wriggling can of worms – because once you start talking to customers, we expect you to be listening to us, we expect you to remember what we said to you last time, and we expect you to be helpful and friendly, because, after all, now we’re friends, aren’t we?
The problem is, if you engage with customers via social media, our expectations get raised: we expect your company to have all the faculties of a human being, but still be able to deliver our pink and silver laced roller-blades to 15 Arnos Grove, New Street, Littlehampton by 4pm this Thursday (or else we’ll Tweet you down before you can type #fail!)
But surely this is Customer Service, not Marketing?
Well, I used to make that distinction, but I’m starting to realise, it’s a completely false and arbitrary separation. You cannot market effectively via social media without engaging, on a human level, with existing customers. Likewise you cannot hope to provide effective large-scale, personal and real-time customer support without leveraging the power of communities.
I came across this blog post recently while doing research for my upcoming Social CRM 2011 conferences in New York and Paris, and picked out 3 startling statistics which demonstrate – without any doubt – why these two activities are inseparable:
“Attracting a new customer costs 5 times as much as keeping an existing one”.
So, our most cost-effective form of marketing is keeping our existing customers happy and always coming back for more. Good customer service = more custom. That’s good and clear.
“Out of best in class companies: 91% provide customers the ability to track issues over the web, 57% measure support center success across email, chat, web, and voice, and 62% use integrated voice response (IVR)”.
This indicates that one of the keys to being a successful company is enabling your customers to track and monitor, easily, their gripes and problems with your company. Another is managing communications effectively across the various media. Call it unified communications services or Social CRM, the fundamental point is: it’s enabling your front-line staff to be both marketers and customer service operatives. You might also include PR, Product Marketer, Evangelist and Community Manager in their job title.
“Happy customers who get their issue resolved tell about 4 to 6 people about their experience”.
So what happens if you understand the first statistic and and implement the second one in a dazzling fashion? You get this one. And by creating happy customers, all things being equal, you don’t need to have people marketing your products (let alone Sales teams). Your happy customers will do it for you.
Of course, this only works in a highly connected environment like social media, and I would argue that the effectiveness of genuine “recommendations” is being eroded by overused “Like” buttons and +1’s. but the potential is there. If we follow these guidelines, do we need really Marketing Departments any more?
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