The impact of Social Media on our sales and service functions is no longer a temporary one. We all understand the need to be there. And we all know what there means, right? The destinations are web addresses. The interfaces are digital devices. The tools are a pile of applications. And it seems that we are beginning to get a pretty good grasp of all of these. Sophisticated technical advances in monitoring are providing snapshots and summaries of what is being discussed, by whom and why. New tools, methods and processes are being crafted to ‘engage’ the labels that the other party is wearing – prospect, customer, analyst, journalist, competitor…..29 year old single employed female living in Seattle, Washington, who plays competitive hockey.
As part of companies within various industries, sizes and locations, we are all trying to get visibility to all of the conversations that matter to our business; to filter out topics, individuals and groups; so that we can try to meaningfully interact with them. We are doing our best to get involved…..to get there.
Now, here comes the tricky part. Corporate spending on marketing, sales and service is predicated on tangible results. Profitability is gauged through key performance indicators. The return on investment on any program by the aforementioned groups is measured in fixed timeframes and percentages. So what are the measurements associated with social media programs?
Well, if our learnings from past CRM implementations are still fresh in our minds, I believe that we can immediately rule out technology being the crystal ball that will give us all the answers that we are looking for. Don’t get me wrong – technology is, and will continue to be, the key enabler of all interactions….but measurements of success will need to come from elsewhere.
In some cases, measurements of interactions within social media domains may not be necessary, or even useful. This article (http://econ.st/e2dWYu) from The Economist, about hotels trying to connect with their customers over Facebook and smartphone applications is a good example of not jumping on the bandwagon without having a clear understanding of their customers’ use of social media.
Here I’d like to suggest paying attention to the folks who are interacting with your customers – daily, weekly, constantly. These are the folks who spend a considerable amount of time listening to your customers. They are at the forefront of customer interactions management; their conversations are the immediate reactions and views of your customers. Beyond the high level statistics that can be generated from customer surveys, focus groups, market studies, etc., it’s this detailed feedback that is collected daily by your sales and service representatives that can play a key role in defining where your customers are and what they are saying there. Only then can engaging your customers through the appropriate social media channels allow you to collect the necessary metrics for measurement; to develop programs that cater to your engaged audience; to start to measure ROI.