Category Archives: Social CRM

Big Data and Rise of Predictive Enterprise Solutions

Given the three Vs of Big Data, namely Volume, Variety and Velocity (read this for more), challenge before large and medium sized companies is how to unlock the potential of Big Data and productively leverage its value in running the business. In “traditional” Data Analytics or Business Intellige

Big Data Analytics a Key Enabler for Social CRM – Airlines Case Study

Big Data Analytics is a hot topic of discussion these days. But many feel that it is more of a “hype” and less of substance. In my opinion, Big Data Analytics is the real deal and if used correctly, can deliver great business results at a fraction of cost compared to other alternatives.

Here’s a simple yet very effective example of using analytics for understanding consumer attitudes towards airlines in real time. In this study, Jeffrey Breen has used the R programming language to analyze consumer sentiments about major U.S. airlines expressed on Twitter. For more on the methodology and results, see the following embedded Slideshare presentation (if you cannot see the embedded file, click here to view it on Slideshare website).

As you can see on slide no. 27, the twitter sentiment scores obtained  for many of the airlines are “comparable” to results of The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). What is important to note here is that by analyzing few tweets using freely available R programming language (which is part of the GNU project), it is possible to achieve results similar to that of an elaborate and expensive market research study such as ACSI at a fraction of a cost, that too in real time. Isn’t that a game changer?

Now imagine using Big Data Analytics to analyze Social Media data – not only text data but also pictures, video, GPS , Social Graph/Social Media linkages and using that information for engaging customers on Social Media channels. That in my opinion is the ‘holy grail’ (if I may use that term) of Social CRM.

In one of my earlier post, I have defined Social CRM as the business strategy of engaging customers through Social Media with goal of building trust and brand loyalty. Big data analytics is a key enabler for engaging customers on social media channels for building trust and loyalty (Social CRM). What do you think?

3 New Year’s Resolutions that should be on Every CEOs List for 2012

After Outcry, Verizon Abandons $2 Fee” screams a headline from today’s online edition of the New York Times. And the article makes it very clear that Social Media played no small role in telecom giant’s hasty retreat from levying a new $2 fee on bill payments. This story is a harbinger of things to come in 2012 and CEO and CMO of every large and medium sized company should pay attention to it.

As I explained in my previous post titled 2012: Year of Empowered and Assertive Digital Customer, thanks to Mobile, Tablet computing and Social Networking revolutions, customers are empowered like never before and they are leveraging technology not only for shopping online, but also for highlighting poor customer service experiences. This growing trend of empowered and assertive customers leveraging technology for connecting with other like minded individuals to share their experience about products and services will be the big story of 2012.

In order to make sure that 2012 doesn’t become a year of Social Media disasters or  Social CRM crises, CEOs and CMOs of large and medium sized companies should include following three new year resolutions on their 2012 list:

1. Improve collaboration within the enterprise and invest in collaboration tools

2. Listen to what customers/prospects are saying on Social Media channels and learn from it

3. Empower employees to engage customers/prospects on social media channels and invest in customer collaboration platform

How important are these to the survival and growth of business? In my opinion, these are as important as resolving to lose weight for someone who may suffer a heart attack if he/she doesn’t lose weight, or as important as bringing debt/expenses under control for someone who may face financial ruin or bankruptcy otherwise.

One may argue that these doesn’t apply to leading companies or brands that enjoy dominant position in their market. Well, think again. It doesn’t take long for assertive customers, empowered by social media to drive home their point of view. If you want proof, look no further than Netflix or GoDaddy in this regard. So as I said, better to lose weight than suffer a heart attack and better to control expenses/debt than face financial ruin.

Dear CEOs and CMOs, are you listening? Wouldn’t you include these three New Year’s resolutions to your 2012 list?



2012: Year of Empowered and Assertive Digital Customer

As 2011 comes to an end and as we look forward to celebrating New Year 2012, one thing that strikes most looking back is the massive increase in ownership and usage of Smartphones and Tablet computers.

Just consider following headlines in the last few days:

“On Christmas day alone, a total of 6.8 million iOS and Android devices got activated around the world, a 353% increase from Christmas 2010” (for more, see this link)

“Consumers have spent a record $35 billion online shopping this holiday season” (for more, see this link)

“Apple’s iOS accounted for a whopping 13.4% of Online Sales on Christmas Day” (for more, see this link)

“According to a recent report, Facebook reached more than half of global audience in October 2011 and accounted for 1 in every 7 minutes spent online around the world and 3 in every 4 social networking minutes” (for more, see this link)


These are just a few headlines I came across during last few day of 2011. And they all points to the fact that thanks to Mobile, Tablet computing and Social Networking revolutions, customers are empowered like never before and they are leveraging technology not only for shopping online or scoring great bargains, but also for highlighting poor customer service experiences.

This growing trend of empowered and assertive customers leveraging technology for connecting with other like minded individuals to share their purchase intentions and experiences about products and services will be the big story of 2012.

Questions is how many companies are listening to customers, learning from it and engaging them? Not many. So if 2012 is going to be the year of Empowered and Assertive Digital Customer and if companies are not ready for it, we can also say that 2012 is going to be the year of Social Media disasters and Social CRM crises, and many companies will learn the Social CRM lesson hard way. And that will spur investment not only in Social CRM, but also Enterprise Collaboration Platforms, Mobile engagement platforms and Data Analytics.

What do you think? Do you agree that 2012 is going to be the year of Social Media disasters and Social CRM crises? Please do share your thoughts:

(Picture courtesy: Beautiful sunset in Dallas, Texas as seen from my apartment)

FedEx learns Social CRM lesson, the hard way!

Here’s an excellent example of the importance of responding to a Social Media crisis before it is too late. On December 19th, 2011, a YouTube user (username “goobie55”) uploaded video of a FedEx delivery person throwing a video monitor into his/her yard.

This YouTube video has created a Social Media storm of sorts and as I write this post, it has been viewed 3,576,412 times for this one YouTube post alone. I have seen it on my local TV news too here in Dallas, Texas.

Well, before it was too late (remember United Breaks Guitars YouTube video), FedEx  posted its own response to customer’s video with the following statement by Matthew Thornton III, Senior Vice President, US Operations, FedEx Express:

“Along with many of you, we’ve seen the video showing one of our couriers carelessly and improperly delivering a package the other day. As the leader of our pickup and delivery operations across America, I want you to know that I was upset, embarrassed, and very sorry for our customer’s poor experience. This goes directly against everything we have always taught our people and expect of them. It was just very disappointing.”

(YouTube video response by FedEx embedded below):

This incident of Social Media brand crisis underscores the importance of having a Social Media Crisis Management Plan. It should clearly highlight roles and responsibilities, procedure and protocols to be followed in the event of a brand crisis. Because the first step in solving any crisis is to identify and respond to it, and respond FAST when it comes to Social Media as FedEx seems to have done here. What do you think?

Forget Black Friday, how about “Social Media Saturday”?

Halloween is just a few days away and before we know, it will be Thanksgiving and more importantly for business, Black Friday and Cyber Monday (for those not familiar with the term Black Friday, see this).

But on the economic front, all seems to be ‘gloom and doom’ and ‘economic’ forecast for this holiday season seems to be dark, damp and cloudy with possibilities of storms – some severe. Question is can social media help marketers cheer up their holiday sales this season? or specifically, how can social media help boost sales on Thanksgiving weekend, which traditionally is the start of the Christmas shopping season.

Answer is yes, social media can be used very effectively for promoting sale of merchandise this holiday season. For example, how about announcing deals on company’s or store’s Facebook page rather than newspaper advertisements or promotional flyers? And to get the deal, customers will have to “Like” the deal. Better still, a customer can avail of the deal only if few of of his/her Facebook friends buy the product. More the number of Facebook friends who buy a product, higher the discount a customer get. Just imagine the excitement this will generate on Social Media and resultant free publicity.

And most online stores have option of Gift Shipping but what about having similar options on Facebook page of the company or the store, where a customer can select what items he/she want as Christmas Gift and this will be displayed on Customer’s Facebook profile letting friends and family know so that they can buy the desired gifts rather than something that is not going to be used or even worse, is going to be returned to store for refund/exchange – a big problem for retailers.

As I wrote in one of my previous post titled Social CRM: Thinking Outside the “Call Center” Box, we need fresh outside the box thinking to take advantage of unique characteristics of Social Media and Social Networks. Companies must leverage unique characteristics of Social Networks and re-engineer their business processes to derive full benefits from it.

If used properly Social Media can drive sales to such an extent that volume of sale on Social Media Saturday will be far greater than volume of sale on ‘traditional’ Black Friday with promotion only through flyers and advertisements.

What do you think? Do you agree that Social Media can help marketers cheer up their holiday sales this season? Please do share your thoughts. Would love to hear from you:


Why Industrial Era Marketing Won’t Work in the Age of Social Media

In the industrial age, companies mass produced goods and promoted their products and services through mass media in order to sell them. Customers had little involvement in product creation (other than occasional feedback they provided through marketing research). And if customers had any problem, they contacted a support agent via mail or telephone.

Social media have radically changed this equation between companies and their customers by empowering customers like never before. Customers can discuss about products on social media channels and companies have no control over what customers are saying about their brands.

But instead of engaging customers on social media, most companies still rely on marketing the old fashioned way – a vestige from the industrial age! Marketing processes being followed today by most companies are still very similar to what was done in the industrial age.

Companies need to realize that when it comes to creation and delivery of products and services, expectation of “Social” customers are vastly different from that of customers in industrial age. “Social” customers expect companies to “listen” to them and take appropriate action on their comments regarding products and services they purchase and pay for.

Social media have provided tools for customers to express their opinion and customers are using Twitter and Facebook for the purpose. We see comments about brands/products on Twitter and Facebook all the time. For example, delayed flight or bad experience at a restaurant. But instead of listening to customers’ feedback on Social Media channels and engaging them, companies still expect them to call or write to them if they need any help. In a nut shell, companies are still living in the industrial age when customers have moved on into the social age.

In fact, I wrote about this almost two years’ back in a blog post titled “How Customer Engagement will determine winning brands in Social Era” In this post, I explained that level of customer engagement will determine mind-share and market-share for a brand. ONLY those companies that effectively engage their customers and prospects will emerge as winners and those that are not good in customer engagement will lose market share.

Unlike in industrial age, not involving customers during product/service creation and delivery, and very limited after-sale support via phone is not going to work any more. Companies need to use social media channels and collaborate with their customers at every step of product or service creation and delivery.

To survive and grow in the age of social media, companies will have to re-engineer their product design, manufacturing, delivery and support processes, and not just their marketing processes, in order to involve customers at every stage of product/service creation and delivery.

Companies that succeed in involving customers at every step of product/service creation and delivery will thrive and grow. Rest will become history. Question is how many senior executive realize the challenge that is in front of them and are prepared to make this transition?