Guest Post by: Stephanie Shaw

The term “Social CRM” is used a lot in the digital age. Traditionally, “customer relationship management” dealt with acquiring, enhancing, and retaining customers through interaction in person, on the phone or via email. Social media adds a new layer of interaction to the mix. We explore the champions who are changing the way businesses do customer service.

Today’s social savvy consumers often turn to Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites to vent their frustrations about products and services. Users often tag complaints with hashtags such as #customerservicefail or #worstserviceever combined with their reasoning for saying so.

A simple Twitter search of a specific brand or tag reveals numerous complaints. And yet, much of the communication is unidirectional – the number of instances brands respond to customer complaints is disproportionately low despite the large number of people using social media sites as venting stations.

A few brands are well known for their use of social media to deliver customer service (Zappos is a famous example), but it’s surprising how few of the world’s most prominent business leaders have yet to embrace social media.

Weber Shandwick recently reported that only 36% of the world’s largest companies CEOs participate in online engagement. How can CEOs expect to drive innovation in customer service when they are not keeping pace of their customers?

”In this increasingly digital age, CEOs should embrace the value of connectivity with customers, talent and other important stakeholders online. With 1.96 billion Internet users around the world, CEOs should be where people are watching, reading, chatting and listening.” – Leslie Gaines-Ross, Weber Shandwick’s chief reputation strategist

Social media is now a common place for customers to vent their frustrations about products and services. For most business, a shift towards Social CRM is necessary. Why?

Traditional business models are no longer meet the demands of current consumers.

  1. Changes in populations, generations, wealth and technical know-how means customers now have have greater demands and are more discriminating before they take the plunge and purchase.
  2. Advances in media are driving consumers further away from traditional media models into the social media space.

New Era Leaders

This new mode of customer service requires a new kind of leader, a social leader, to keep up with their tech-savvy customers who are leveraging the web to research products, companies and services. Who are these leaders? These are people with the ability to mine the web, use analytics, and engage with customers online. In a recent study, IBM predicted that by 2012, three categories of leaders will emerge:

  • Customer Insight Leaders – People who transform the wealth of data on the web into something with measurable value
  • Digital Channel Leaders – People who are able to create value through customer interaction and digital-focused offerings
  • New Era Leaders – People who incorporate “the best practices of each”

“In the data-intensive, customer-friendly, digital age, leaders will be defined by how they develop and leverage insight to respond to ever-changing consumer demands. They will do this while embracing new digital communications for sales, service and marketing. Whether they focus on differentiating themselves through Customer Insight, Digital Channels or both, they will recognize the benefits by taking quick, decisive action to pursue their path forward.” The path forward, IBM Institute for Business Value

Social CRM to the Max: Edge Shave Gel

One company taking Social CRM to the extreme is Edge Shave Gel.

“Via its @EdgeShaveZone Twitter handle and #soirritating hashtag, Edge is slowly developing a following of gripers…as part of a long-term campaign with big aspirations to own the position of irritation prevention.” – Jack Neff,

They are taking complaints of all kinds and providing solutions. One example includes a Patriots fan who complained he could not get tickets to the New York Jets game. In response, the Energizer Holdings brand and Edelman provided him with the tickets he wanted. 

But how effective is this strategy? Does it really build positive buzz around the brand?

To find out, we took a look at @EdgeShaveZone with Skyttle Realtime.  

One of top tags (#blackops) reveals the popularity of Edge’s recent giveaway of the Call of Duty: Black Ops game. In effect, Edge Shave Gel chose a popular product amongst Twitter users (which has nothing to with Edge’s own brand) to draw attention to their profile and drive positive sentiment. An exchange with @SandyCarp, who tweeted his satisfaction with Edge Shave Gel for all his followers to see, demonstrates the effect:
While not all #soirritating complaints have easy solutions, Edge believes this will help build brand equity with consumers. Although there are no tangible results yet on the effect of this type of Social CRM strategy, it is clear that Edge is trying to use the social web in an innovative way to build loyalty around its brand and increase positive sentiment.

Like Edge, CRM leaders should take advantage of social media and analytics to reach their customers.  In this ever-changing digital world, it is essential for leaders to explore new options and try new media to get ahead of the curve. Whether it’s a model like Edge Shave Gel or something completely different, it doesn’t hurt to try new things and become a pioneer in Social CRM.

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