The interaction of a company with a customer has gone through a number of phases in the last few decades. While we started with simple customer service, soon that morphed into “the customer is always right” customer service, then “cradle-to-grave” customer service, and then the entrance of customer relationship management (CRM). Beyond that saw customer experience management, customer engagement and now even “social customer engagement,” or simply the “social customer.”
It's a little dizzying to keep track of.
To get a handle on all this, the website business2community recently caught up with CRM expert Paul Greenberg, author of the book CRM at the Speed of Light, to learn more about the concept of the social customer.
The social customer, as defined by Greenberg, is “a technology savvy, peer trusting, highly demanding, relatively affluent customer who leverages the Web for conversations that can impact business.” Obviously, this new kind of customer can be laid at the feet of social media, whose rise has been incredibly disruptive to businesses all over the world.
A social customer can be good – if that person is a true fan of your brand or your service, or what the industry calls a “net promoter” – or bad, if that person has had a negative experience and decides to tell a few thousand friends about it via social media. In either case, it's vital that companies get a grip on the social customer: the good ones can be leveraged to carry a company's business forward, and the negative ones can do a lot of damage.
So how do you even start to get a grip on the concept of the social customer? According to Greenberg in a blog post on ZDNet, it's all about building a social channel strategy that can make the best of social customers and strive to contain negative feedback in social channels. While this social channel strategy was once an element of only the most forward-thinking companies, today it needs to be on everyone's agendas. Says Greenberg, a “so-called social channel strategy is now a normal part of multichannel strategy for the company.”
The goal of a social channel strategy, of course, is to get a handle on social customers who are now forming as a growing group that can be reached and engaged with in a scalable way, says Greenberg. If you or your organization is engaged in any way with customer engagement, it's in your best interests to use best practices to form the most progressive and effective social channel strategy possible.
Edited by Carrie Schmelkin