Telecoms, tourism and public sector offer great potential for social media CRM outsourcers
By Mark Atterby – Senior Staff Writer
According to a new report Profiting from Social Media in CRM Outsourcing, from Ovum, the telecoms, travel and tourism and public sector industries offer huge potential for CRM outsourcers looking to exploit the demand for social media services.
As the name suggests social media CRM (or Social CRM) refers to the ability of integrating the conversations customers are having about brands and products on the various social media channels with traditional CRM channels and processes.
Peter Ryan, Ovum analyst and author of the report, said: “There is certainly demand for social media CRM services that outsourcers can take advantage of, particularly in the travel and tourism and telecoms sectors. However other sectors also offer great potential for CRM outsourcers to grow their revenues.
“According to our survey, the third biggest user of social media CRM is the public sector, with 45 per cent. Coupled with the expected increase in outsourcing in the public sector in regions such as the UK due to huge spending cuts, this could be a strong growth area for outsourcers.”
Organisations in these sectors are struggling to address the challenge of how to effectively manage dialogue with the market in terms of sharing information, fast-tracking problems, and responding to questions, both internally and externally, with customers, prospects, employees, other stakeholders, and the public.
According to Martin Conboy, President of the Australian BPO Association, “Social media is no longer on the periphery; it’s very main stream. One of the challenges for most organisations is that the people who make the decisions about deploying social media strategies were born before 1960, and they simply do not understand it. However, the people who are clamouring for action are usually in the marketing department and social media is a part of their DNA as they were born after 1990 and they totally get it.”
He went on to say, “Anyone with teenage children understands that these people have never lived in a world without the Internet.”
According to the report, the main social media functions providing a growth opportunity for CRM outsourcers are in the monitoring of social media forums, blogs, tweets, etc. and customer service and business development. Ryan continued, “Many enterprises that are looking for social media CRM applications do not have a clear idea of what they actually need and are more concerned with being thought of as a market leader. This provides an excellent opportunity for CRM outsourcers to help their clients define what is needed for their business”.
Social CRM platforms and tools continue to evolve and improve. However, more attention needs to be given to process, ideology and roles in social media engagement and how it integrates with traditional channels.
Datacom Connect is an outsource provider of Social CRM Services. Managing Director, Kirsty Hunter said, “The demand for CRM functions and systems has never been more prevalent with the onset of social media. We’ve helped many of our customers implement social media monitoring and engagement frameworks. Our approach with our customers is to understand what key takeouts they want from this activity and we build upon that so they ultimately gain beneficial and quantifiable business outcomes from their Social CRM platforms.”
Ms. Hunter points out that monitoring and engagement is the starting point of how social media activity can provide real value to multiple departments – “knowing what’s out there is great but without an engagement model, we see so many opportunities lost. By developing a sound monitoring and engagement framework, integrating departments to that framework with clear scenario workflows, businesses can use social media as another channel to manage their all-encompassing Universal Queue.”
Martin Conboy agrees, “Nowadays people want to interact with an organisation on their terms, whatever the channel, telephone, web chat, SMS or social media. So organisations need to be in a position to handle all types of customers via the full spectrum of available channels. The openness of Australians for customer service dialogue presents organisations that get the social media channel right, with a unique opportunity to foster goodwill and if done well it will increase revenue.”
What roles need to be established to engage in Social Media CRM? How and when would online conversations get routed to customer service/support, and when would they get routed to PR, marketing or sales department? Just as important is establishing responsibilities and guidelines for engagement. When does a complaint get routed to the CEO, or a product idea go to your R&D group? In terms of process, outsourcers could help clients in developing a listening strategy as well as the roles and responsibilities that need to be established.
Hunter said, “That outsourcing social media CRM is not something that can simply be offloaded to a third party, then set and forget. Organisations must realise that resources should be deployed for various tactical roles, i.e. social network monitoring, populating social media sites, engaging the blogs and tweets, directing traffic and channel management. In some instances, resources can take on multiple tactical roles. Depending on resources available, businesses will do this in-house or if they have a bandwidth restriction, they come to outsourcing organisations like Datacom Connect.”
Conboy said, “Many are turning to software and there are over 80 tools available in the marketplace; however, technology measurement and monitoring (social media monitoring tools) solutions are just tools. Real insight comes from human analysts that understand how businesses work and know how to use these technology tools. For example technology tools really struggle with sentiment analysis.”
Ryan believes the greatest challenge that CRM outsourcers need to overcome to make a success of offering social media services is the development of a profitable business model, “There is currently much confusion among vendors about how to charge for these services, with many choosing a per time-unit or per transaction model. However, as the market matures, pricing models will need to evolve to ensure the highest possible margins are achieved.”
Kirsty says, “For Datacom Connect, one piece of sustainable social media activity for a customer can very quickly evolve into multiple strings, as a result of multiple benefits gained from delivering the monitoring and engagement strategies. It’s important to take a flexible and customised approach, leveraging business models that first and foremost, deliver real benefits to our customers.”