4 Social Must-Haves to Engage Customers

CAIstudy_slideshare2Perhaps now during the holiday season more than ever, every type of business is scrambling to increase engagement with customers to goose sales before year end. While there’s no magic formula to increase engagement, there are proving to be some clear patterns that businesses are adopting to accomplish customer-centric goals.

According to a new IBM enterprise social adoption study, understanding and engaging customers is among the top five objectives for companies deploying social business capabilities. And they’re trying to accomplish this through the gradual deployment of targeted capabilities.

  • Social CRM – Customer Relationship Management applications that use social analytics and insights to understand and serve customers individually at various touch points.
  • Customer analytics – Using data about customer behavior and market segmentation, gathered from social venues, to understand customer sentiment and serve them better.
  • Social analytics (Socialytics) – Gathering and analyzing social data (eg. from blogs and social media sites) to inform product innovation, manage brand reputation, and understand competitors.
  • Customer support – Engagement applications that interact with the customer (eg. one-to-one live chat or customer support via Twitter).

An interesting note: If you’re wondering why social media marketing tools (Twitter, Facebook etc.) aren’t included in the most common must-haves, it’s because many companies are already using them to communicate and collaborate with customers, and analytics capabilities add a level of sophistication to help understand customers and deepen engagement.

The challenges of successful social engagement

The top 3 objectives for organizations deploying customer-centric capabilities are increasing sales, increasing customer loyalty and advocacy, and improving product and service quality. Surprisingly, while most organizations realize the value of things like customer analytics, as many as 70% who have deployed these types of capabilities are still not using them. Meaning, they’re still making a lot of customer-related decisions in the dark.

The top 3 concerns for organizations deploying these capabilities is that they won’t be used enough by employees, that they may not be tied into an overall strategic roadmap, and that there is uncertain ROI.

As many as 58% of organizations don’t currently have formal quantitative metrics to gauge their success in the area of customer engagement. While factors like customer satisfaction and retention, marketing conversion rates and sales win/loss rates are being considered, many companies are still relying on an informal sense of performance and success.

But what’s also clear is that most organizations realize the strategic value in implementing customer engagement capabilities. The study found that as many as many as 45% are deploying capabilities as part of a strategic mandate.

While customer engagement is part of the equation, organizations are undoubtedly moving towards becoming inherently social enterprises. And if there’s a magic formula to be found, it’s that converting customer engagement into sales or advocacy is part of a continuous deployment and adoption plan of many social capabilities that range from collaboration to embedding social in the supply chain to support the ecosystem.

 

Previously published on SocialMediaToday, December 12, 2014

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