Seize the customer 'moment'...or lose the customer

“Seize the day” was great advice for the analog world in which a finite number of things could happen in a 24-hour period. But in a digital climate, a single day poses endless possibilities, for good and ill. Seizing the day is no longer good enough -- you’ve got to seize the moment. 

As discussed in my previous post, the essence of IT boils down to giving your people access  to comprehensive customer information within seconds in order to make “customer moments” count. Because customer moments, or points of contact between your customer and any part of your organization, can occur at any time -- and with any employee -- the infrastructure, strategy and culture required to capitalize on these instances transcend the boundaries of traditional CRM.

Complexity: The mortal enemy of the customer relationship

The complexity that customers deal with increases daily. Think about your mobile phone -- does the thought of calling your wireless carrier to change a password or resolve a billing issue make you want to breathe into a paper bag? If so, you understand the peril that product complexity poses to customer relationships. On the flip side, the complexity behind customer decisions is growing, leaving the company with the task of drilling through a mountain of data to find out why people are doing what they’re doing. Sadly, as products and services grow in sophistication, so does the potential distance between company and customer.

The customer-obsessed CIO, therefore, perpetually seeks ways to bridge this gulf by reducing complexity at all points of interaction.  While a number of tools and techniques must be employed to address this reality, social media monitoring is critical.

Social: what lies beneath CRM

By the time something becomes a “case” in your CRM, you’ve lost the customer moment -- the damage is done. While the face-to-face nature of social media offers a way to route the problem, it’s no easy task.  On social channels -- where the customer, not the company, defines the problem --  you’re tracking more information on topics that are becoming increasingly gray. Furthermore, the amplification potential of social media means that a small marketing or sales problem may quickly morph into a monstrous brand problem.

As CIO, you manage this beast by giving customer-facing employees the ability to track behavior simultaneously through all relevant channels to discern and act immediately on what’s on the customer’s mind.

1. The spike -- an early warning system. To start with, provide the functionality to detect social media “spikes,” or sudden increases in sentiment around a particular subject related to your product or service.  As the spike might represent an endless array of possibilities, from a defect to an innovative use of your product, effective social monitoring tools should also provide a drill-down analysis capability that allows you quickly discern its meaning.

2. Engage at point zero. Next, you have to be able to act on whatever you’ve learned from the spike. While your team can certainly log into Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms and work their mojo, the job of managing spikes will be made much easier if your social media monitoring platform offers engagement tools that enable them to interact through multiple channels concurrently. The window of opportunity is miniscule -- if your people have to manually log into separate accounts and try to re-identify and engage social media influencers, you’ll likely miss it. Once again, seize the moment!

3. Metrics -- if it’s not ridiculously easy, it’s pointless. Additionally, offer access to metrics around not only the sentiment being expressed minute-by-minute through social channels, but also the effectiveness of your employees’ engagement through those channels. Think about this from the executive’s point of view -- the expression of those metrics should be succinct and actionable. If not, your executives probably won’t bother reading their reports -- they just don’t have the time.

4. Let CRM serve social, not vice versa. Finally, create a system whereby social media interactions automatically populate your CRM system. Every minute your customer-facing employees spend inputting results of a customer interaction into a CRM system is a minute needlessly wasted.

Customers aren’t transactions, they’re people with stories. Your willingness to invest in your employees’ ability to understand and respond to those stories in a very short amount of time affects your customers’ decisions to buy. Empower your employees to seize those customer moments and the results will quickly show up in your company’s bottom line. 

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