Wednesday, July 27th, 2016 | 5 min read
Marketers are always looking to improve how they see and understand their customers. In recent years, technology has answered the call with a slew of new social products, systems, and solutions. The downside of these cutting-edge tools, however, is that it’s tough to know which technologies will strengthen your efforts and which will just be a waste of time and money. New resources promise similar results, but after going through demos, sales calls, and price negotiations, you still feel a bit uneasy about what’s really worth the investment.
So, what exactly should you look for when evaluating social media software that can help you get a clear sense of your customer’s voice? In short: simplicity, necessity, and integration.
New technologies almost always require new processes and training for an organization, both of which take time. In order to stay moving, it’s important to keep things simple. The easier and more intuitive a social technology is, the less time it will take for employees to adapt and ultimately provide a better experience for customers.
Much like customer service itself, technology should provide employee experiences that are engaging, easy to use, and relevant over the long term.
If a customer’s experience is the sum total of all touch points they have with a brand, then the touchpoint landscape is the sum total of all technologies that a brand employs. Today there’s little excuse for brands not to be building comprehensive experience architectures that connect legacy to innovation, offline to online, and machine automation to human behavior.
New social media technologies should allow for this sort of balance. While it’s true that we live in a new world of niches, the key to achieving customer experience excellence is threading them together with simplicity.
Today’s marketplace offers an endless amount of social tools. There is no shortage of shiny new toys with seemingly infinite features. It can be daunting and distracting, but don’t get sidetracked by all the bells and whistles. Instead, focus on the five to seven capabilities that your organization really needs.
With those in mind, marketers must ensure they are equipped to reach an increasingly mobile-based audience. If marketers develop a solution without a mobile-centric perspective for both employees and customers, they are already behind the pack and unlikely to fulfill their brand promise.
Another important consideration is scale. Modern marketers would be wise seek out technology that continuously automates processes and enhances experiences. This requires constant evaluation of what customers are saying, and finding routine behaviors and process gaps that can be solved with algorithms that follow business and brand experience rules. This is a difficult-but-important goal that enables brands to improve experiences without falling behind the curve.
Your company likely has a set of legacy tools it uses for various functions such as CRM, email marketing, and marketing automation. Each of these systems contain valuable information and tools that are key to every stage of the customer journey. In isolation, however, this structured data doesn’t provide the full context about your customers. It’s like seeing only one piece of the entire puzzle.
New social networks and digital platforms are untapped resources that house relevant, undiluted, unstructured data about your customers and provide insights into what they think and how they behave. While plentiful, this unstructured data isn’t beneficial to the business unless it’s coordinated with your legacy systems and made available to your customer-facing teams.
The social technology system that you choose for your business needs to be built to gather, analyze, and manage unstructured data—the stuff happening on social and across the web. But it also needs to be able to integrate with the legacy systems that process structured data.
Integration is crucial because it bridges the gap between what you already know about your customers and what you don’t. You’ll be able to combine known data (purchase history, for example) with unknowns such as what they like, their sentiment toward your brand, and conversations they’re having with others about your company. Combining these elements will provide a full picture of who each customer really is.
Once you’ve integrated legacy data with information gleaned from social media and the web, you’ll be able to pinpoint actionable insights and share them with specific teams that manage various aspects of the customer journey. The goal is to create a fully optimized customer experience based on who your customers truly are, not just who you think they are.
With so many tools, systems, and solutions on the market, shopping for social media tech can be a dizzying experience for marketers. But by focusing on simplicity, necessity, and integration, you can cut through the noise and select the technology that will help your business thrive.