Interacting with customers on social sites isn’t as simple as setting up a Facebook page and giving it the old college try. Brands need to have a strategy, and that means understanding and respecting the different ways customers want to be served or marketed to through social channels. Such was the impetus behind Lithium Technologies’ acquisition of startup Social Dynamx.
Lithium, which provides software that allows brands to create online communities, noticed two types of social conversations: engagement on branded company websites, which the vendor’s social community platform is designed to power; and engagement that occurs through more conventional social channels like Twitter or Facebook. Social Dynamx, whose technology allows brands to monitor social media conversations and prioritize them for response, enables this second type of social engagement.
Lithium certainly isn’t the only provider of customer interaction technologies to note the importance of tools that tie in with third-party social media sites. CRM provider Salesforce.com, for instance, built its solutions with the understanding that social media is the crux of both internal and external enterprise communications.
For Lithium, the decision to acquire Social Dynamx—a company just over a year old—was due to shifts caused by social media in the way customers engage with brands and based on customer expectations around service, says Lithium CMO Katy Keim. In the past, she notes, most customer-enterprise social interaction focused on branding and marketing endeavors. “If you looked at [technology] players in that space,” she says, “it was about responding to campaigns on social networks.”
Consequently, few vendors had solutions centered “around how you make sure you’re taking care of the customer and really having an engaged conversation.” Hence, Lithium was attracted to Social Dynamx’s technology, such as its routing and prioritization engines.
These tools are important as brands and customers deepen their level of social engagement.
“If you were to think about how care happens in a phone-based environment, which is your traditional brick-and-mortar call center, agents had their headsets on, but they were more robotic, a bit more of a factory,” Keim explains, noting how in an age of social media, customers demand different types of interactions. “Professionals need to be more chatty and engaging. It’s a radical difference in human connection in this non-scripted world of social channels.”
Unlike conventional customer interaction, focused on getting issues resolved quickly, social customer interaction is “about solving problems with the customer and bringing them along as an advocate in the process,” Keim says.
Besides Social Dynamx’s technology, Lithium was attracted to the fact that the startup had already worked with large brands, including Sprint, DISH Network, and Time Warner Cable.
Lithium, which had a six-month partnership with Social Dynamx prior to the acquisition, will integrate the company into Lithium Social Web, a solution stack introduced this May designed to allow brands to build online communities, be proactive in social customer care, monitor social conversations, and measure the effectiveness of social programs.
While products can be purchased individually, Lithium aims to sell the entire Social Web suite to its 400 brand customers, beginning with customers like HP and Home Depot.