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Advertising is no longer the only way to create effective customer impressions. Today, customers themselves are helping companies improve customer experience management (CEM).
“So many companies say, ‘We're going to build a Twitter campaign,’ with no goal in mind of what kind of return they want,” says analyst Zach Hofer-Shall of Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Mass. “There is often little regard to who a customer is and who that customer is not.”
Hofer-Shall has seen this scenario hundreds of times before: A company launches a social media campaign without setting specific standards or goals. The truth is, companies can easily set and meet goals by doing things such as using software to track online CEM metrics or establishing customer ambassadors.
Instead of just getting a brand out to the general public, Hofer-Shall says a company should send its messages directly to a loyal customer database on social media platforms. The Coca Cola Co., he says, is one company that is doing that well.
My Coke Rewards and CEM
Coke’s My Coke Rewards program, housed on Facebook, is using social media as a living, breathing focus group. The members-only site allows customers who already buy Coke products collect codes from products in return for rewards. Now, instead of carrying around bottle caps, individuals enter promotion codes through text messages and desktop widgets. By listening and monitoring customer conversations and codes, Coke has managed to deliver real-time results, creating value for its members as well as internal and external partners.
“Measurement is key,” says Kaitlyn Dennihy, a strategist at Engauge, the social media agency of record for My Coke Rewards. “Translating overall business goals into measurable actions within social has allowed us to track the impact of our communities as well as manage and exceed expectations for the social space. Every content piece in social must include a call to action for the user that can be measured.”
The social media goals of My Coke Rewards are quantified by the code entry and points spent on specific items.
“We can best optimize the program by assessing consumer actions, behaviors and sentiment,” Dennihy says. “Members are having detailed conversations surrounding the program with or without our participation. In order to influence this dialogue, we join the conversation to participate, inform and influence.”
It’s important to provide a consistent program and a systematic value through targeted content and information strategy, according to Dennihy. My Coke Rewards provides quality content and builds one-on-one relationships with the social media community as well as every department within the company, she said.
“With insight into areas such as customer service, product merchandising and exclusivity, we can deliver real-time results that impact the program and create value for our members as well as internal and external partners,” Dennihy says.
ING Direct and CEM
ING Direct, an online-centric bank that is part of Netherlands-based ING, also believes that meeting customer needs is the basis for creating a thriving social media campaign.
ING Direct boosted its bottom line by listening to online consumer conversations with the help of a program called Radian6, a social media monitoring platform that allows companies to not only know what’s being said about their brands, industries and competitors online, but to also help them measure, analyze and report on their social CRM efforts. It's just one of many tools now used for measuring Web activity -- others include Alexa for providing statistics on visitors, Google Analytics for summarizing search trends, and Summize for providing Tweet searching capabilities.
Maybe the most all-encompassing of the bunch, Radian6—which Salesforce.com acquired this year—tells companies such as ING Direct who is saying what and whether customers are communicating through a news site or blog, for example. The software can also judge, based on Web traffic and readership, how influential the individual who made the post is.
“Often we find there is internal or external detective work to service clients, so it’s great to see these tools built into Radian6,” says Gloria Chik, social media lead at ING Direct. “If we get a client complaint, it’s been fantastic to get a full profile of that person.”
Chik said companies should tread carefully with Radian6 while handling confidential client financial information, making sure to look at each client complaint or compliment individually—even if that means passing it on to the sales team.
But whether companies use qualitative or quantitative methods to track return on investment on customer response management, one thing is certain.
“There has to be a goal around supporting customers," Hofer-Shall says. “That goal may be tangible—like solving a problem for a customer. Or it can be intangible—like looking at the likelihood of a customer returning to a site."