Key to Social CRM success: Go Local!

Marketing is never a zero sum game. Companies don’t have to lose for customers to win and customers don’t have to lose for companies to win. In fact, marketing is the art and science of finding a win-win approach to business transactions in which both the company and customers win.

Social Media can play a major role in finding this “win-win” equation between companies and customers, by helping companies better understand their customers’ needs (not wants or desires) and customers can better collaborate with companies using social media channels to design and co-create products or services that fulfill their needs. One key challenge facing all large and medium sized companies in this regard is how to engage tens of thousands of customers across the world on social media channels.

Well, solutions to this problem is to “Go Local”. Meaning, companies must engage their customers on social media channels at a “local” level. So if a company segments or classifies customers “geographically” or at a “store” level, they should engage their customers on social media channels at a store level. This means that companies need to have a Social CRM team for engaging customers at every local unit (like geography or store).

Unlike traditional CRM, which was all about centralization of information into a database for decision making at the top, Social CRM is all about engaging customers at a “local” level and empowering front-line managers for decision making where it matters the most – at the local level in a decentralized way. Because companies cannot collaborate with thousands of customers in a centralized way.

Here’s an example of this approach: Retail giant, Walmart recently announced that any one of Walmart’s facebook fans can get information from their “local” store by clicking on the Local Walmart tab on the Walmart’s Facebook page. “Liking” a local store will enable customers see local promotions for that particular store and a map of the store with exact location of advertised specials (for more, see this and this).

This strategy of “Going Local when it comes to Social CRM” is applicable to companies across all industries, be it retailers, restaurants or banks. Companies need to form Social CRM teams at a “local” level to engage customers and build win-win relationship with them.

What do you think? Do you agree that key to Social CRM success is Going Local?

  • http://twitter.com/twieberneit Thomas Wieberneit

    Harish, being “local”  on its own is insufficient. It is far more important to be relevant, especially when it comes to higher value products. If you do not offer relevant products or services, or lack the ability to make your products and services relevant then being local doesn’t help you a great deal. As a counter example have a look at Apple. They managed to make their products and services extremely relevant with some genius moves. Are they local? Not really. There is not a single Apple Retail Store in NZ ;-). Other examples include Dell and Amazon. They are not local, but offer relevant products and services via various means, including ease of use, price, breadth of offering, value added services like recommendations, …

    Cheers
    Thomas

  • http://hkotadia.com/ Harish Kotadia, Ph.D.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Thomas. Much appreciated!

    You are right, being relevant is important. But when it comes to Social CRM, the best way to be relevant is to be local – as only “local” sales and support staff can provide the best service that customers expect in social age. Who wants to talk to a rep, on phone, who doesn’t have the right context?

    Thanks again for your comment:

    Harish Kotadia, Ph.D.

  • http://twitter.com/twieberneit Thomas Wieberneit

    Hi Harish,

    thanks for your answer! Let’s get the discussion continued:

    I would argue that especially Dell amongst the mentioned companies has a social CRM strategy in place. Add Giff Gaff into the mix. 

    Looking at these companies one can observe that “being local” is not the core criterion but probably being knowledgeable, approachable, and appearing to be human. I think that, in order to get/have the right context it essentially needs the right data and then, of course, the right attitude.

    Social CRM is a means to become/stay relevant. Being local is imho one way, not the only one and (again imho) not the key one. Imagine local staff having a “don’t care” attitude or local staff not having the knowledge.

    Who would you prefer to interact with? The local staff who might know and doesn’t care about you or the person in a far away country (probably via a community) with keen interest in getting your problem solved and the knowledge or, at minimum, an “I’ll find out for you” attitude?

    I actually would go a little further after thinking of it for a while: Being relevant also includes making the right products that meet customer expectations (or surpass them) – without the need to solve problems but the possibility to get the product even improved by being able to participate in a co-creation process. This doesn’t need any locality at all – see Giff Gaff again.

    What do you think?

    Best regards
    Thomas

  • http://hkotadia.com/ Harish Kotadia, Ph.D.

    Thanks Thomas for your thought provoking comments. You are absolutely right in that “being knowledgeable, approachable, and appearing to be human” is critical. 

    You are also correct in saying that “in order to get/have the right context it essentially needs the right data and then, of course, the right attitude.”

    But being local is paramount because how would you scale in social CRM other wise? You cannot be relevant, approachable and appear to be human if you try to engage thousands (even tens of thousands or more) customers and prospects from a central or head office. You have to de-centralize and engage your customers at a local level, else Social CRM is impossible. This is what I have highlighted in my post.

    Thanks again for your wonderful comments, greatly appreciated!

    Harish Kotadia, Ph.D.

  • About Dr. Harish Kotadia


    That's me with photo gear,  taking snaps of Texas wild flowers. #texas

  • Dr. Harish Kotadia

  • Dr. Harish Kotadia is an industry recognized thought leader on Big Data and Analytics with more than fifteen years' experience as a hands-on Big Data, Analytics and BI Program/Project Manager implementing Enterprise Solutions for Fortune 500 clients in the US.

    He also has five years' work experience as a Research Executive in Marketing Research and Consulting industry working for leading MR organizations such as Gallup.

    Dr. Harish Kotadia's educational qualification includes Ph.D. in Marketing Management. Subject of his doctoral thesis was Customer Satisfaction and it involved building a statistical model for predicting satisfaction of clients with services of their ad agency.

    His educational qualification also includes M.B.A. and B.B.A. with specialization in Marketing Management and Diploma in Computer Applications.

    Dr. Harish Kotadia currently works as Principal Data Scientist and Client Partner, Big Data and Analytics at a Global Consulting Company. Views and opinion expressed in this blog are his own.



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