Many best practices for social media are already in place in traditional CRM areas

Two years ago, social media was all about “Wow, Facebook and Twitter – get on those!” Last year, what you would hear was, “Wow, I need to look at all this stuff, and there are tools I can use to analyze all of that material out there.” A ton of vendors popped up and provided services in that space.

This year, the use of social media by companies and consumers is more widespread, and people now want to act on that data and react to that data. People need to ask questions like, “I have 10,000 call center agents, 20 Tweet agents as an experiment, and I need this channel. It’s a real channel. What do I do?” And that’s where the best practices come into play.

Your chat and e-mail customer service agents are the people who know how to be politically correct and say what they want to say on a public channel. Those employees have all the tools and the processes for responding on these new channels. That is one of the areas we’re talking about leveraging — the additional areas like the call center — and applying them to new channels. That’s one of the best practices that we are discussing with our clients.

There is also the question of what to do with structured and unstructured data. Your typical CRM data is structured. Your blog data is unstructured. We want to be able to bring those two worlds together. You want to know if people are complaining about defects on Twitter. However, you already have a case and a best practice for that from older customer service channels.

Be aware that Twitter is not secure. If you do have a problem and someone wants to respond, a company can Tweet “call me back” at this number where you can share your account number. You can’t let something linger. There are all these wonderful tools out there, and this is the time when you have to do something about it quickly.

Employees should also look at reviews. A lot of people think of social CRM and they think reviews, like on and — they’re the same kind of dialogue and probably more influential. If you’re going to buy a product, you might go to Amazon because of the blogs you read.

This article originally ran as part of the February 1, 2010 Technique, “Social media can assist your CRM efforts.” To read the entire feature, click here.

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