While there was been a lot of talk in the last few years about Social Media and the B2C market, there’s been a too broad a brush that has been used to paint the ‘B2C’ sector. Not every company that sells to consumers sells soda, chips or soaps. There are many companies that sell longer lasting products to end consumers and these are grouped together under the ‘Consumer Durables’ label. Typically, these are products that consumers use for at least 3 years and include home appliances, higher value electronics, automobiles etc.
This is where things get interesting from a social media perspective. It could be argued that if you sell soda or soaps every year to millions of consumers, it is almost impossible to capture the details of every one of them. In fact, it may not be necessary. Most of the analytics that you need are on an aggregate basis and this is where the focus of the first generation social media tools has been (e.g. sentiment analysis, share of brand etc.)
However, when you are in the business of dealing with customers who are paying more than a couple of dollars for your products and expect to use them for at least 3 years, there are specific reasons why it is important to get to know who your customers are:
(1) Your customers expect you to provide after-sales service for your products
(2) They expect this service to be consistent across all channels (social and traditional)
(3) They expect to be recognized in a consistent manner across all channels (social and traditional)
I recently spoke to the global brand director of a very well know household appliance manufacturer based in the US. He told me proudly that they had a ‘social media’ team that was engaging with their customers on Facebook and Twitter.
I asked him: ‘Does your team know whether someone they are interacting with on Facebook or Twitter is an existing customer?’. His immediate response: ‘That’s exactly one of my greatest worries. They are busy promoting our products on these channels to folks who may or may not be existing customers. We need to be able to treat an existing customer differently from a prospective new one but have no way of knowing who is who right now’.
This is where the rubber hits the road – if you are a company in the Consumer Durables space, you need to have the ability to tie together information (about people and interactions with them) across social and traditional channels. This means integrating your Social Media Management system with your Customer Relationship Management system (which is where all the interactions with your customers across channels such as email, phone etc are stored and where they have been stored for many years in some cases).
How do you go about realizing this integration without completely disrupting the people, processes and technology that your company has spent years and millions of dollars on? We at NextPrinciples believe we have the answer for you. Contact us to find out more.
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