Social CRM: The Customer Service Of Today


It’s Saturday night and you’re out with your friends to see the latest superhero movie that just hit theaters. That shouldn’t be too hard to image, considering they come out every couple weeks or so – or perhaps it just feels like they do. You buy your ticket, get your drink and goodies from the snack bar, and finally head in to enjoy your movie. If you’re lucky, you’ve only been scalped for 30 bucks, and although you really wanted to see this movie, you’re a little peeved because what used to cost you the same price as a meal at a fast-food joint, is now the same as a three-course meal if not more! You decide to express your emotions in the most common way in today’s world; so you share them on social media. You update your Facebook status, Tweet at the movie theater, and post a photo of your receipts on Instagram before switching your phone to silent and start watching the movie.

A couple hours later, the movie is over and you check your phone. Two missed calls from your Mom (no matter how old you are, she still panics when you don’t answer), a couple texts from friends, and a handful of notifications from Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram with people liking, favorite-ing, and heart-ing your posts. After calling Mom back, you read the comments on your posts and realize that the theater has responded to you and wants to learn more about your customer experience. You decide to reply and strike up a dialog that leads to you receiving free movie tickets and vouchers to use at the snack bar. You feel special, as though this is the first time this has ever happened in the history of the social media. Well, you may be special, but this is not an abnormality anymore. You’ve just been personally introduced to social CRM – the customer service of the present and future.

I can see you scratching your head now. What is ‘Social CRM’? Simply put, social CRM is the practice of using social media to engage with and manage a company’s relationship with their customers. You may not realize it, but when your favorite brewer posts a photo of their latest seasonal beer and asks you what your favorite is, you’re being engaged in their social CRM. By liking, sharing or commenting on this post, you have now volunteered to become a part of their conversation and open yourself to the possibility of being contacted. Social engagement is a key indicator in measuring the success of a company’s social media campaigns. Promotions and giveaways are other great examples of the engagement side of social CRM.

The other side of the social CRM pillow deals primarily with customer service. If we go back to the opening scene of this post, we are able to see how many companies are now utilizing social media to manage their customer service interactions and reputation management efforts. Before the advent of social media, the general consensus was that three positive reviews could overcome one negative review. Whether for better or worse, this is not the case any longer. Although debated by many, let’s say that for every negative review your company has, you need ten positive reviews to maintain your standing with your customers. In the age of social media, examples of poor services and experiences can spread faster that wildfire. The companies most concerned with customer service and their reputation have been eager to adopt a more pro-active approach to social CRM. An excellent example of this is in the case of McDonalds.

Whether you love or hate the Golden Arches, McDonalds has instituted one of the strongest social CRMs to focus on customer satisfaction and service; they even have a Twitter handle dedicated specifically to this! McDonalds isn’t alone in this respect, but they are extremely punctual with their responses and although it may sound a little automated and robotic, they generally solve their issues in a timely manner and are able to satisfy the majority of their customers. The same can be said for budget airlines like Norwegian.

In August 2014 I had an issue with a booking being changed while travelling back to Finland from the USA. I decided to contact the airline and voice my dissatisfaction on their Facebook page because, having personally used social CRMs and communities in my own work, I wanted to see how well an international, budget airline would deal with this issue. Within minutes, someone had replied, apologized for the situation, and provided me with another avenue through which to contact them. Although they didn’t change the booking back to what it originally was, they did show that they cared and were attentive to my concerns. You can’t win every time, but it sure felt good knowing that I was being cared for in the same way that I had cared for my own communities.

Hopefully this will give you a taste of what social CRM is all about. As this topic is only growing in popularity, keep your eyes open for the next article in this series as I explore the intricacies of what makes social CRM such an intriguing and exciting topic.