You may have seen yesterday's reminder to attend the webcast today over at Customer Think’s Innovation@Work Showcase on Harnessing the Power of Social Media and CRM Systems. Well now it's your chance to participate on the topic here in the community!
Lithium’s Chief Marketing Officer, Sanjay Dholakia, and Vice President of Products, Phil Soffer, and the other panel members from Helpstream and SAP had an opportunity to showcase examples of concrete success - some of whom are members here on the Lithosphere, including Barnes & Noble, Intel, Future Shop and Logitech! So if you have a question or comment about what was presented, feel free to post your question here and Lithium will endeavor to respond!
This discussion board will be made read-only after October 15th, so be sure to stop by before then to join in!
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In general I like guest posts, they provide an opportunity for some other folks to have a voice without committing to a full blog of their own, or to reach a different audience than they normally do. Better still, I love it when guest bloggers enjoy it so much that they come back again for more! So it gives me great pleasure to welcome backDan Ziman, returning with some takeaways from the Gartner CRM Summit:
It's amazing that it takes so long to recover from time out of the office these days. It used to be just recovering from the travel part, but it's become far more difficult because time out of the office just means there's more to catch up on by the time you get back. It's taken me over a week. But, now that I've had (ahem) a few hours to reflect back on my time there and dozens of conversations I had with other attendees. Not to mention, some cooler weather to revitalize my senses.
What struck me at this conference was the wide range of experience and knowledge levels among CRM professionals when it comes to social marketing and Social CRM. Only a small minority of conference attendees appeared to be deeply engaged with social marketing, tweeting, or blogging regularly. However, the majority or people I talked to were seriously pondering "what to do". They know they need to do more social-somehow, some way. It seemed to strike a personal commitment and it seemed increasingly important to meeting their business objectives.
Here are the top 3 recurring questions and comments I received:
1) How will a community initiative map to marketing objectives?
A: In B2C industries, how important is real-time expert product assistance? It's huge. It leads to improvements in customer satisfaction and loyalty, but most importantly, a visitor completing a purchase. How often do you ask (or get asked) about experiences with particular products? If the community is part of an ecommerce stage/purchase, assisting customers in the midst of a new customer filling their shopping cart, it might be the difference of the cart being left behind. In both B2B and B2C enterprises, web visit duration and reducing bounce rates are critical in determining whether attention is being captured. If your community is being linked by others, your SEO ranking will improve, and returning visitors will enjoy the added customer experience and engagement with your online brand.
2) I'd rather not let customers post negative opinions on my site.
A: Guess what? It will exist on the web regardless. You'll be far more successful with more engaged customers by embracing their feedback. Show you care. This is not just listening-you can use these opportunities to take action and make improvements. That's what your customers are *really* looking for. Is it that people *want* to complain, or is it that they simply want to be heard? Yes, and more. Would you prefer they complained somewhere else and then purchased from your competitors next time? Or, worse yet - would you prefer they returned your product, which is now a loss, and you have no idea why? Branded communities on your site will give you much more control and insight in addition to keeping visitors browsing and clicking on your domain's web pages.
3) I think we could just build this ourselves.
A: Yes, you could, but to get a usable application, it will take you thousands of hours of R&D, QA and user-testing. Do you have those technical resources available? How will you address upgrades and APIs to key enterprise applications? And, guess what? That's not even the issue. It's the best practices & industrial strength proof points which will dictate success or failure. Ask anyone who's been successful with communities. Having the right expertise is the key to managing growing and engaging communities. A vibrant community with incentivized participation allows everyone to build their reputations and it fosters true brand advocates.
Hopefully this helps a few of those folks looking for answers. The real question you should be asking yourself, though, is "What business objectives can I address with social marketing and Social CRM?" Starting with clear business goals is your best bet to running a valuable customer community.
Thanks again Dan, you're welcome back anytime! If you're interesting in hearing more from Dan, you can follow him on Twitter at @lostintheflog.
Photo by Omar Omar
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It's an honour (hmm... is that word spelled wrong???) to be in that list.
Nope, that's just our new friend from across the pond delighting us all here with the Queen's English!
We've really appreciated all you've done here Jane, and to all our top kudoed users our deepest thanks!
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Travel for me is always bittersweet venture - I love to get out of the fishbowl from time to time and see what others are doing and talking about, but it's tough to take time away form my customers and the community, (not to mention being away from my family).
That's why I always love to be able to host guest articles from others here at Lithium, who travel to far off events and shows and bring back all the goodies for us here at the home office! So here's our own Dan Ziman, Director of Marketing at Lithium, with what he's brought back for us on the Gartner CRM Summit wrapping up today:
What's hot? Scottsdale - it's 100 degrees today. What else? Social CRM. It appears to be on everyone's mind and mentioned in nearly every presentation and workshop at this year's Gartner CRM Summit.
I was thrilled to see all the Lithium customers mentioned throughout keynotes and track sessions that have paved this vision...Starting with Customer Champion award winners iRobot, Barnes & Noble, Research In Motion (RIM), and Motorola.
In conversations with attendees of previous Summits, I learned that three years ago, Gartner told everyone that the social media and social networking storm was approaching and it was time to start looking into what your customers are doing online. Seemed logical, but there were skeptics. Now, when I ask attendees, where is your company relative to addressing customer experience and the social web? Overwhelmingly, the response is "we're working on it."
What else is happening?
Go where customers go. The conversation is moving from the service agent-to-customer (the 1:1 channel) to what is our customer saying about us online. The challenge for companies is offering an enhanced service or experience which directly leads to an add-on sale. It's not that your company has lost control, it's simply that you have to go somewhere else (other than phone or email) to have the conversation. Furthermore, customer to customer interaction, positive or negative, is the way customers live online. The customer network already has power. Are you leveraging that power or putting up a hand (stop sign!)?
Strategic resources are needed to engage. Ask not only what technology is required, but also what business and IT functions are required to make this happen? Is this an on-premise solution or can SaaS handle my needs? If I go the SaaS route, how will I deal with integration? If I talk with IT, are they going to try to build it with open source and how can I trust our CIO to understand the business needs? Since you're dealing with your most important asset -your customers-spend time to bring the team together, secure executive sponsors, create a cross-functional social media center of excellence, and, most of all, be flexible. This is an evolutionary experience running in many directions, thus, your organization needs to develop a structure that can bend and roll with the flow.
Not just the external channel, assess your internal processes. If we're answering customer questions or helping to resolve customer service issues that aren't coming into the call center, how will I document and know that the question/issue has been resolved? What KPIs should I put in place to know that we're doing a good job? The successful customer communities are developing a knowledge base far faster than the customer service group. Businesses need to find ways to harness this view to improve documentation and accelerate innovation.
Mobile experience. It's interesting to watch everyone walk out of the sessions when the first activity is checking email and sending text messages to friends, colleagues, and family. Mobile browsers have improved significantly along with all the new mobile apps. However, it's not just a matter of access to an additional channel. Mobile integration requires a new business process and new strategies; it's moved far, far beyond just a phone number.
So, the big message is: "what was tomorrow is today". Reality is setting in and investments in the customer service experience will improve customer satisfaction, retention and deliver new revenue opportunities.
Thanks a lot Dan! Now if I could just convince him to bring back souvenirs for my kids, I'd never have to go anywhere at all!
To read more comments about the event, check out Twitter hash tag #gcrm or the Gartner web site - http://www.gartner.com/it/page.jsp?id=838231
Did you attend? Let us know your thoughts!
Photo by Robert S. Donovan
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