Social Relationship Management definition

Social relationship management (SRM) – or social customer relationship management (CRM) – is the process of handling a business’ interaction with customers through social media platforms. While CRM involves managing customer engagement with the company in general, SRM relates specifically to social media interactions.

What is SRM (social relationship management?)

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Traditional CRM

In the past, businesses have gathered consumer data and used CRM to increase sales by targeting specific demographics and retaining existing customers. Before social media became widespread, companies relied on information collected through customer surveys and other forms of market research. Consumers didn’t have the same opportunities to interact with businesses that they do now. Therefore, SRM gives companies further insight into the minds of their customers.

Today, the relationship between the business and the customer is far more transparent. The latter can jump on their preferred social media site and voice an opinion regarding a company, and expect to receive a helpful response from it soon after.

As Jacob Morgan, who co-wrote Twittfaced: Your Toolkit for Understanding and Maximizing Social Media, explains: “Social brings a new element into CRM because now instead of just dealing with data and information we are dealing with conversations and relationships.”

Why is SRM important today?

Although social media can be an incredibly useful tool for businesses to adapt and grow according to the demands of their customer pool, it can also be detrimental. Of course, while companies can clearly see and react to consumer complaints, so can other customers. Therefore, it is vital that businesses publicly respond to comments and are clearly seen to make an effort to resolve problems as soon as they arise.

Research has shown that consumers are 88 percent less likely to buy from or use the services offered by businesses that do not respond to complaints on social media (Conversocial). Evidently, people are reluctant to hand over their cash to an entity that is not active on social media. This could be down to the fact that they do not think they’ll be treated fairly if there is an issue with their product or service after it’s been purchased.

By cultivating a healthy following on social media platforms and developing positive relationships with customers, brands can gain crucial insights and change for the better. One key benefit of SRM compared to CRM is the informality of social media exchanges. Letters, email conversations or face-to-face discussions have always been fairly formal, whereas social media encourages users to talk frankly and honestly about their views. This helps businesses – and their software – read between the lines and get a fuller picture of the customer’s complaint, including how concerned, upset or angry they are.

What can SRM software do?

SRM involves monitoring a number of different areas. It includes measuring social media page traffic and user engagement, as well as its number of followers. Special software is typically used to do this in order to streamline the process and obtain a consistent representation of the customer experience.

The software can also keep track of where and how often the brand name is mentioned online and the type of conversations that are happening when it arises. Advanced software can even analyse the text and make a note of the writer’s emotion while writing it, depending on signifiers that indicate contentment, anger or frustration, for example.

It does this by combining data from a number of different websites, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube and Amazon Reviews. It also brings attention to comments or interactions that appear to be urgent so that SRM professionals can efficiently uphold customer satisfaction. This technology is called natural language processing (NLP), which helps to filter out less relevant content.

Many consumers expect their queries or complaints to be dealt with in a matter of hours, if not minutes, so being notified when negative comments are posted is extremely useful for businesses. Then, they can decide how to respond, and use SRM software to ensure the reply reaches the customer quickly.

Businesses should also use the software to keep on top of any industry-related topics that are trending and find out what is important to consumers as time goes on. This includes scouring competitors’ social media sites to maintain an awareness of changes to the sector.

Why is SRM useful?

As we’ve mentioned, traditional CRM techniques take a significant amount of time and effort. SRM makes the whole process easier for businesses, as it reduces the requirement for carrying out market research and holding focus groups. Also, multiple communication platforms can be managed in one place, making the customer interaction processes much simpler.

SRM is also a much quicker way of monitoring customer interaction with the brand. This means that businesses can immediately be made aware of problems and resolve them before they escalate. They can get real-time insights and alter their strategies in accordance with them. Also, if a company has a strong social media presence, they can post relevant information and make sure customers can find out about important information or changes to the business immediately.

Over time, good SRM will foster trust in a business’ customers and should increase its sales income. If consumers can see that others are treated well by the company, they will expect to receive a satisfactory response if they have a query or complaint in the future. Therefore, they will probably be more open to handing over their hard-earned cash, safe in the knowledge that this is a reputable company that respects its customers.

As you can see, SRM is a hugely important part of running a business in the twenty-first century. Changing consumer habits and innovative software can help businesses develop a much closer connection to their customers, reacting immediately to negative experiences and gaining a better understanding of the customer experience and the external perception of the brand as a whole. Investing in SRM software should help companies to create a positive presence across a range of social media sites and, ultimately, boost its reputation and profitability.

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