Social CRM: Customer Service Is the New Marketing

April 11, 2012 | Gerry Praysman
Social CRM: Customer Service Is the New Marketing

I recently wrote a post commenting on the rise of social influence and how its prevalence could result in potentially poor customer experiences. Without giving a full recap, I champion the philosophy of putting the customer first and worrying about the numbers second.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t pay any attention to influencer metrics, or complaint relevance, or your team’s bandwidth – just don’t let it perpetually get in the way of helping those in need.

You’ll notice, however, that I’m not a member of Brainshark’s kick-ass Customer Success Team – I’m actually in marketing. In fact, most of the public discussions on customer service and experience these days are being had by marketers and C-level execs.

Why?

Well, other than the fact that those in customer supporting roles are (hopefully) busy supporting customers, the last few years have seen customer service become a form of marketing for many companies across the board. Yes, a company’s customer care has always been considered an important part of its overall offering and in some cases its competitive advantage. Yet with the social media boom, customer interaction has never been so visible – whether a company wants it to be or not. The way brands deal with customers has been a public spectacle in recent time and has had equal potential to improve or hurt these brands’ reputations.

What’s interesting is that the space is still wide open for companies to be getting in touch with their users. Take a look at some of these stats from The Social Skinny

  • 70% of business ignore complaints on Twitter

Seriously? You’re on Twitter, you see customer woes, and still don’t get into the mix? That’s pretty bush league, considering that

  • 83% of people who complained on Twitter liked or loved a response by the company

You’d be surprised how comforting it is to know that someone is just there on the other end to hear you. It’s important to be helpful and perhaps witty, but first, you just have to be there. If you want to see a great example of Twitter use, check out Boloco – they respond to pretty much every mention – and they probably get like hundreds a day.

  • 78% of women are happy to share what brand they prefer, compared to 74% of men

You’ve probably heard this already, but your greatest skeptics can turn into one of your greatest brand advocates if you just show them some love. Solving their issues makes you look good immediately to anyone looking on, but can also have the long-term effect of capturing a customer’s loyalty.

These are just examples of real-time customer assistance. This doesn’t even account for the on-demand support resources you can (and should) provide for anyone who needs help or wants to learn more.

The best brands I’ve seen are incredibly proactive about their support, whether it’s through social channels or not. They search and identify problems that customers are having before the customers realize it themselves. This is how they keep their user base engaged with their products and services, and keep them coming back for more. I would say this is a good strategy to consider customer service really is the new marketing.

It doesn’t really matter what size your company is or what you sell, if you put taking care of the customer first, you could be killing the support and marketing birds with one stone.

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