5 Reasons to Use Social CRM for Support and Services

Toy CRM systems might make you think the software is just cases, escalations and SLA management, but serious CRM is changing the world of service and support by leveraging social networking functionality.

By David Taber
Thu, July 19, 2012

CIO — As I wrote last week, I'll take value engineering and reliability over cool technology any day. Social media, of course, has all the marks of the most ephemeral cool tech.

So this article may come as something of a surprise, as I'm going to be beating the drums about social CRM again, this time for the service and support organization. Why? Social networks give you the quickest access to customers where they already are.

Almost anybody you want to do business with is somewhere on Facebook or LinkedIn or product-review networks, at least in the United States. More importantly, these networks are the cauldron that brews the buzz about your products. Social gives you access to new kinds of information and real-time feedback for critical parts of the service, support, training and professional services business processes.

I'm not pumping products here—I'm pointing to business processes that need to evolve to improve profitability. Here are five ways social CRM can help.

1. You Can't Make Support Access Too Easy.

Making it easier for customers to find the specific support resource they need is half the battle of making support feel easy to use. Customers are easily overwhelmed by large companies' websites, online resources and call center processes. (Ironically, these were the mechanisms intended to make the customer experience better.)

There are just too many pages to navigate, and the customer may not use the same vocabulary you do, so both search and ontological approaches may lead to nothing but frustration. The simple act of having familiar Facebook and LinkedIn pages for each of your products can make customers' lives easier. The same idea applies to product-review and professionally-focused networks specific to your industry.

Tip: How Social Customer Support Brings Social Media Beyond Marketing

There are two underlying principles here—getting to customers where they already are, rather than making them switch media, and shortening the distance to answers by providing multiple streamlined routes. To harness the power of these relationships, support's social network conversations should be linked—better yet, threaded—with the CRM software's Case, Contact, Account and Opportunity records.

2. You Can Make Self-Support Work Better.

Many support organizations for technical products depend upon user self-support, as the community is "on the air" 24/7 and can often provide answers faster than the support team. Even if the user base cannot provide the answers, it can certainly generate the widest range of test cases and real-world workarounds. If the economics of your support depend upon the community—where the "customer experts" become an active part of the knowledge base—then the CRM system needs to make community dynamics work better.

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