How customer centricity can push sales and reduce costs through Social CRM is a tool to harness the opportunities of social media and seamlessly integrate them within customer relationship management tools. This development requires companies to fundamentally rethink a term widely used in their mission statements and company promises: customer centricity. In its essence, customer centricity is about putting the customer at the center of all business operations, to deliver personalized services and to focus on customer satisfaction above all in order to gain competitive advantage.
While many companies already pledge to put their customers at the heart of their business, many fail to realist the actual meaning of such a pledge and how the changed nature of business, particularly online, affects the idea of customer centricity. So although it is a longstanding concept, what it means to businesses, however, has changed drastically recently. It is still financial results that indicate success, but the way to achieve this success is a matter of the value created for customers and their networks.
Building a strong social online presence creates networks whose returns will go far beyond immediate sales and that can build customer loyalty and trust. In order to successfully implement a Social CRM strategy, businesses need to acknowledge the altered nature of the customer. Today’s customer is more connected than ever before and this has impacts on business performance monitoring: 44 percent of adults share complaints about products online (https://www.ft.com/content/16f71a68-4c45-11e1-b1b5-00144feabdc0) and they expect companies to react in an appropriate and timely manner. They expect to be able to communicate with companies via online forums, whether it is on their laptops, smartphones or tablets. Consequently, they want to be heard and respected. These online voices cannot be ignored by companies: the number of people who trust online reviews left by other consumers was as high as 82 percent in 2016, rivaling the level of trust afforded to reviews by academic or technical experts, making it perhaps the most powerful source of trust for customers. It is thus crucial for companies to assure the number of bad reviews published about their products online remains low and that they solve any queries posted by customers satisfactorily and instantly in order to create a positive environment that encourages customers to reach out before tarnishing a business.
Content attracts customers, but it does not foster brand loyalty. By prioritizing customer satisfaction, companies must aim to guarantee the best customer experience possible. Making websites easy to navigate, putting out informative content and reacting instantaneously to customer inquiries are a few examples of strategies to increase customer satisfaction and guarantee that customers are encouraged to return. The rise of social networks and ‘social consumers’ have given rise to ‘social companies’ that recognize the importance and potential of social networks in corporate success. They listen to and engage with their customers across a range of media channels by setting up a dedicated department and team rather than simply leaving it to the marketing department. This mix of sympathy and empathy can imitate interpersonal interaction and aims to bring companies closer to its customers and to create an environment of trust and loyalty. The end goal of Social CRM is the same as for all company actions: profitability. By making the customer the actor, businesses can harness their online activity for their purposes. By carefully growing an online community, they can indirectly encourage customers to take on activities that are traditionally carried out by internal employees. This collaboration might the true epitome of customer centricity where companies and customers create value for each other. In this scenario, customers can resolve each other’s queries, give advice on product details and instructions which in turn can be picked up by producers as suggestions to improve their products and services. Consumers can also create viral trends and buzz: by sharing reviews, posts and offers with their networks, they become an effective marketing tool that reaches potential audiences previously inaccessible to companies. Not only does this in the long run reduce cost, it also ties back to the trust level individuals have to other people on the Internet when it comes to recommendations, making it a highly effective marketing strategy.
Social media can no longer be discredited as a fad. Rather than ignoring the immense developments in the online community and the impact it has on consumption and customer activity, businesses can learn how to capitalist on the changes in order to progressively grow their outreach and customer base utilizing an appropriate Social CRM that will open new ways of marketing and brand awareness previously unattainable. Truly putting the customer at the center of business activity can in the long run reduce cost, increase brand visibility and ultimately drive sales.