One common use of social media is for customers to vent their anger or express their delight with companies and brands. As a result, service providers need to be able to closely monitor and engage with customers over those channels in order to reduce churn and enhance customer experience overall.
That's increasingly true in the competitive service provider landscape -- a landscape that is getting more crowded all the time in the virtual software-controller world. So it's imperative that service providers develop a customer relationship management (CRM) program that incorporates customer data gathered from social media, according to the latest research from Heavy Reading.
"The point of a virtual environment is to be as nimble as possible and keep up with customers’ ever-changing needs," says Sarah Wallace, Analyst, Heavy Reading. "A social CRM solution that uses advanced analytics will be able to make sense of the unique, unstructured data that comes across such channels and enable actionable insight in real time."
A new Heavy Reading report, "Social CRM Best Practices for Service Providers," by Wallace, looks at the drivers for CRM, pain points that prevent service providers from using social CRM, and gives examples of social CRM in practice at advanced service providers.
Today's service provider landscape is "a mixed bag" when it comes to service provider social CRM, according to Wallace. "You have operators that are very advanced that will have up to 40 social CRM agents, and then you have operators that are using hybrid agents who are multi-tasking, doing customer service as well as social," she says. "You have operators that are using a smaller software-as-a-service provider and implementing it very quickly and being very successful. And then you have operators that are trying to make sense of all the different legacy CRM solutions they have."
Based on a survey of 70 global service providers, Wallace's report identified 10 key areas that are critical to delivering superior customer experience, with timely response to customer issues being the most critical, followed by right-first-time order fulfillment and ability to effectively deal with big data. (See image below).
Critical Activities to Deliver Superior Customer Experience
Key activities that service providers believe are critical for superior customer experience.
When it comes to pain points that prevent optimal social CRM, departmental challenges play a factor, as well as integrating data from social platforms and other data sources. Whereas in the past the process of collecting data was manual and involved, looking at different sources of customer sentiment, today it's becoming more automated through social CRM solutions that can collect and flag necessary data.
Ultimately the goal is to be proactive with CRM. "If someone is expressing a certain sentiment on one of the social channels, [a service provider should] reach out to them," says Wallace. "It's becoming proactive instead of reactive."
Having a 360-degree view of the customer is more important than ever before -- and with the prevalence of social media, service providers have to be able to look outside their own data resources through social CRM to get the full picture. Wallace's key points for service providers to consider when looking to establish social CRM best practices or find a social CRM vendor include: selecting a solution with advanced analytics; defining a single department to handle social CRM; and growing a social presence.
"Social CRM can ultimately help service providers offer superior customer experience, which prolongs customer lifecycles, reduces churn and increases revenue," says Wallace.
— Elizabeth Miller Coyne, Editor, The New IP