Social media data will eventually form a critical part of the information that companies gather about their customers for their customer relationship management (CRM) programmes. That’s according to Ian Lottering, master data management (MDM) practice leader at Consology.
He says that companies should be looking at asking their customers to connect with their self-service and electronic commerce systems using credentials such as their Google, Twitter or Facebook logins.
They should ask these customers for permission to listen in on their social network feeds through application programme interfaces that hook into these online services, adds Lottering.
This information could be linked with other data to personalise services and promotions to the needs of every customer. Lottering says that social media data can easily be made part of a master data record about each customer if the business has the right master data management systems and processes in place.
“The likes of Facebook know things about customers that most companies would love to find out. From who their friends and families are, through to their personal interests and thoughts about the companies they interact with, social media services are a potential gold mine of customer information,” says Lottering.
Lottering says that this sort of data can allow companies to tailor their communications to clients in a range of ways when it is combined with the personal, account and demographic information they already have about their client bases.
For example, a telecom operator might want to know if a customer who spends a reasonable amount on calls each month and is due for a handset upgrade “likes” the Apple iPhone on Facebook.
This could be a flag to offer the customer a special promotion on an iPhone contract package. Or if promoters know from social media data that a good customer is a rock music fan, they can offer them a ticket for a concert as a loyalty reward.
“Though many companies already monitor social networks for customer complaints, they usually don’t know much about the customer who is complaining,” says Lottering. “But if they can link the social media profile to a customer in their database, they will have a wealth of data that they can use to craft their response and enhance the customer relationship.”
For example, if a high-spending customer who has been loyal to a company for several years complains through a social media channel, the business may want to act swiftly on the complaint and respond through the same social media channel that the customer is using.
Lottering says that the privacy concerns can be dealt with by having a clear opt-in model and being transparent about how customer data is used.
“Most customers would be receptive to companies they trust using their data to provide them with better and more relevant services,” he concludes.