So an insurance company is out ahead of the pack with social networking. What's the next act? I recently explored the next stage of social networking with Karlyn Carnahan, principal with Novarica while preparing Insurance Networking News' latest report on social customer relationship management (CRM).
Social CRM – which takes typical CRM, an internally generated and maintained collection of knowledge about customers and their interactions with a company, and digitizes information streaming in from the virtual communities – is still in the early stages of the industry, Carnahan points out. However, the carriers that are farthest along in social CRM are likely already immersing themselves in Social CRM, she adds. One flows naturally from the other, she says. “Social CRM is a fancy nickname for a strategy that says 'when we're doing social media, we need to integrate our learnings and our social media conversations with other customer relationship management strategies.”
But getting from here to there requires building up some comfort and familiarity with the whole paradigm, Carnahan says. For starters, companies need to determine who is responsible for managing the Social CRM process. “Imagine that a customer has put a compliment about you on Facebook. The question Social CRM poses is 'how do we now respond? What do we do with this?' What if they have a question on Twitter? 'How are we going to respond? Who's responsible for this?'”
The best policy is to “start by listening, and then begin the interaction,” she explains. Usually, this is ad hoc and informal. After a while, carriers recognize that Social CRM needs to be baked more into the processes that interact with customers. “As they become more familiar with social media, and start to see the kind of activities, the kind of comments that are happening, this is when the eyes light up,” she says.
Such processes need to be geared toward responding quickly to capturing and utilizing the information, Carnahan says. This requires both dedicated Social CRM personnel and tools. “It might be that it's a question that goes to someone, a compliant that goes somewhere else, and a compliment goes somewhere else. Maybe its a question that leads to a new product idea, where does this go.”
For example, there's the ability to document marketing communications. “If you’re using Facebook or Twitter natively, then you are essentially relying on them to keep the documentation of everything that was communicated and everything that was said, and for many insurance companies that's not really a viable option.” What's required is an enterprise tool that can capture these conversations for management and maintenance by the carrier, not the social network service, she points out.
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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