This article originally appeared in the October 2012 issue of CUSTOMER.
Social Dynamx says it offers the industry’s first purpose-built social customer care platform with scale in mind. The solution is aimed at large enterprises and customer contact centers that want to identify, prioritize and manage millions of one-to-one social conversations in real time. I recently spoke to Jan Ryan, cofounder and president of Social Dynamx about the Austin, Texas-based company, and the evolution and direction of social customer care.
She talked about how social strategy relative to customer care has dramatically evolved over the past five years, using the analogy of three waves.
First was the listening wave.
“This is where we saw companies realizing social was not a fad; that it had staying power that would redefine how customers communicated – and customers communicated back – to brands,” said Ryan. “Marketing was no longer a one-way conversation, and the marketing funnel was upended into a loop of continuous conversations that smart companies saw as an opportunity to make relationships more meaningful and had to be built upon. Here we saw brands monitoring for share of voice, brand mentions, macro-level trends and keywords. Social customer care was still in its infancy.”
Next, she said, was the land grab wave.
“The data and insight gleaned from the listening wave provided tremendous customer insights that weren’t possible before, now available 24/7,” she noted. “The voice of the customer was evolving right under our noses, and forward-leaning companies realized they could personalize and redefine how every department across the organization interacted with prospects and customers. The true value from listening and sharing this data started to break down departmental silos and redefined the role and importance of social in delivering a meaningful, consistent customer experience. We began to see C-level buy in from marketing, sales and customer experience managers.”
“But it didn’t stop there,” she said. “Customer care’s scope expanded as teams were tasked with remedying the customer experiences that drove churn, low NPS, and were being amplified on social channels. We now saw customer care and customer service have a seat at the social strategy table. This wave changed everything.”
But today, she said, we’re riding the transformational wave.
“As social media adoption increased, so did the social noise that companies had to deal with on a daily basis,” said Ryan. “We are living in this transformational wave now because brands are realizing that successful social strategies are best executed when they’re part of the core business processes that marketing and customer care have been exacting for years. Brands are realizing that their success (and revenue growth) is rooted in integrating social technologies across all functions. It touches everyone – internally and externally. Marketing and customer care are the new corporate power couple responsible for building enduring customer relationships. They can do that through understanding and delivering a meaningful, consistent customer experience through platforms such as Social Dynamx.”
“Brands that continue to relegate social media as a side channel or as a standalone customer service channel will miss the next big competitive differentiator,” she added.
The next wave, according to Ryan, is likely to by the data wave.
“We’re already seeing glimpses of it today,” she said. “By data, I mean taking the vast volume of social data your customers, prospects and competitors are talking about and extrapolating actionable trends that become inputs into transforming your business processes and future products and services. The companies that share this data across the organization and feed it in real time to product and engineering teams will be able to adapt faster and really wow the customer like never before.”
To address these latest waves, Ryan said that customer care, marketing, operations and IT departments need to work together to deliver the best outcomes for the customer.
“The reason CRM had a rough start 15 years ago was because companies refused to tear down their operational silos, share information,” she said. “The belief was that he or she who holds the most data and most applications wins. In actuality, CRM ended up having the biggest IT budget, and the customer had nothing to show for it.
“Today’s opportunity requires a very different approach,” she continued. “Our customers realized early on that to have success in social customer care, they first needed to strip out the technology discussion. That’s hard to admit as a life-long software person, but until you have C-level buy in and re-architect your company to embrace social and community discussions, you’re setting yourself up for a long, hard fight. It’s people, process and technology – and in that order. People need to understand their role in the customer experience, and cultures need to support the right values that guide employees to make the right decisions and tradeoffs. Process is about baking into the company new ways of sharing information, collaborating on problems and ideas, measuring customer delight, and transparency. Once you’ve addressed these, then you’re ready for technology.”
Edited by Braden Becker