Social media has become a significant factor in our personal and business lives. The proliferation of social media channels has created an atmosphere where people who have never met in real life can form friendships and bonds of trust where they share details about their personal lives…and their lives as consumers. They can share their opinions on products, services and companies, receive feedback from their networks and use this information to make intelligent, informed decisions. Smart companies that choose to listen to what’s being said about them by monitoring social media channels can respond with new and improved products and services and improve customer satisfaction and relationships.
Mortgage companies and many mortgage industry vendors have been trying to get in on the action for some time now, some more successfully than others. With people regularly taking to social forums to share their thoughts and experiences with products and companies, social interaction has become a significant influencer in decision making. This has paved the way for a new slant to Customer Relationship Management – Social CRM.
Social CRM (SCRM) is nothing new. In fact, it’s being leveraged in many verticals all around us. Think about the consumer who takes to Twitter when they have a poor experience with an airline, for example, and then, within minutes, receives free points, in-air Wi-Fi or some other gift to make up for it. Or, think about how a restaurant reacts to a positive Tweet from someone who dined at their establishment and then they receive a reply Tweet from the owner thanking them for their patronage.
Social CRM is an outreach methodology that draws customers into an online conversation with your business. This is accomplished by monitoring social interactions on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media outlets that occur between prospective and existing customers and your business – and responding to them in a constructive and purposeful way. Not only can you track what people are saying to you about your business, but you can track what they are saying to one another about your business. This online data creates a more complete picture of how you are thought of as an organization and who your customers are. But most importantly, SCRM is necessary for one BIG reason: social media is overtaking the sales process.
Traditional CRM is a one-way conversation originating from your company and targeting the customer or prospective customer. It includes marketing tactics, sales tactics and support/service once a purchase has occurred or a loan is closed. SCRM is a bit different – it enables a 2-way conversation where people can react to your products/services. Then collaboration can occur to build advocacy and better brand experiences. It uses social media to foster trust and transparency in the context of a business relationship.
How Social CRM Works
For SCRM to be deployed successfully, your company must understand how social customers operate. First, know that they gather and digest information through social outlets. They also learn about new products and services in the same way. They are tech savvy and expect the businesses they deal with to be tech savvy too – in other words, they should be hanging out on the same social outlets, and listening to what is being said about them. At the same time, social customers’ expectations are high. They expect you to not only listen, but to engage and respond to them in real time. The social customer drives the relationship and you have to earn their trust before you can earn their business.
Six easy ways to deploy SCRM for your mortgage brand:
- Use a social monitoring dashboard like HootSuite so that you can add and monitor each of the social networks you belong to for mentions about your company. Check it many times daily so that you can react to mentions as appropriate. This could be a very easy starting point without having to purchase and deploy SCRM software immediately.
- Deploy SCRM software that has both social monitoring capabilities as well as traditional CRM contact organization capabilities. Some examples could be HubSpot, Marketo, SugarCRM, and there are many others.
- Embrace a no-matter-what-it-takes customer service attitude –because exceeding expectations is always at the heart of SCRM. Because of social media’s transparent nature, you’ll be exposed if you are not genuine in your commitment to delivering exceptional customer service. So, accept the fact that you have to be on your A game. Always.
- Develop a comprehensive strategy supported by strong and specific processes. To listen and engage with customers you must have the right procedures in place. The volume of social conversations out there can be overwhelming. So, you need a well-documented plan to identify and outline how social engagement should be conducted and activate the right internal resources to engage with customers socially.
- Create social communities. To foster positive sentiments and develop trust, you should create social communities via online chat capabilities and discussion forums to give customers easy avenues for socializing with you. These communities will generate content from users that will ultimately help you improve your products, services, and customer experience. This could be a particularly good idea for mortgage industry technology vendors to consider.
- Listen, gather intelligence, and act. Listening to your customers and vendors via SCRM is one thing, but capturing, analyzing and reacting to what you hear is essential. So have a plan that goes beyond merely listening because what you hear translates into business intelligence that can be used to devise more effective marketing strategies.
The benefits of Social CRM
Like the examples I offered earlier about the airline and restaurant, SCRM enables you to increase your competitiveness by being present where your prospects, customers and vendors are socializing. And by socializing, I mean complimenting, complaining, conducting research, and seeking opinions. Your lack of presence there is an opening for your competition. So don’t give it to them.
At the same time, SCRM lets you deliver your brand value proposition consistently and persuasively. By engaging with customers and vendors in real time and enthusiastically responding to their comments and concerns, you can demonstrate your commitment to them – thereby helping to shape their perception of your brand.
Social CRM will also arm you with meaningful market intelligence and insights. With the data you gather and analyze, you’ll be better positioned to improve customer satisfaction, product and service quality, and market share. Who can turn their back on that? So, embrace SCRM and use it purposefully to help your mortgage brand achieve success.