E-Handbook:

Tips and tricks for interacting with customers on social media

BACKGROUND IMAGE: Vertigo3d/GettyImages

Social media service and support is primary vehicle for CRM

To you, interacting with customers on social media is difficult to support because it seems almost impossible to sort the importance of each mention of your company, distinguish actual customers from trolls, route the responses through your back-end service and support application, and, finally, address the legitimate customer concerns that should be solved.

To your customers, it's an always-on front door to the customer support team's social media service agents -- and it's a just as viable contact point as chat, phone and email.

For now, social CRM primarily refers to service and support for interacting with customers on social media, with a little sales prospecting as well as marketing and branding opportunities on the side. Many companies we interviewed have started out with a social media manager in the marketing department -- who probably still works there -- but have tasked the call center team with customer social media service interactions. That's because marketing staffs quickly become overwhelmed addressing every mention on Twitter, Facebook and other sites -- not to mention their direct-message chat channels.

The sales and marketing components of CRM will come around, as AI-powered analytics tools get sharper at spotting more opportunities for developing sales leads and reaching out with branding messages to very segmented audiences on social platforms.

In this handbook, you'll see how companies use social media service on different platforms and the vagaries of interacting with users of each platform. Companies can't always know who they're dealing with on Twitter because many user handles are either nicknames or outright fakes designed to impersonate someone else. Yet once a company nails down its approach and sorts the social media wheat from the chaff, companies tell us there's plenty of business to be found, with a powerful tool to retain customers.

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