Why PR must be a key part of social CRM

Did you order a product from Flipkart last month? If so, there is a chance that Flipkart CEO and co-founder turned up to deliver your order, an important bit of customer PR in the all important Dussehra and Diwali season.

Last month, my attempt to purchase an expensive headphone from a high end and global, tech leader ended in failure because the store didn’t have a display piece to try. The store employees had obviously not been empowered to offer a solution and I haven’t visited the store since, even for stuff that can be bought without checking.

I haven’t posted my experience online because it wasn’t worth the hassle, but if I had and there was a positive PR response I would probably end up visiting the store again. The newly activist Indian customer means that social CRM is something PR has not only no choice but to be involved in, but also a key area of marketing where PR can excel at.

Arun Mittal
, communications and marketing manager, CashKaro agrees that, “Both B2C and O2O industries are customer centric and are quite vulnerable to criticism too. Marketing and PR should work in tandem while addressing this situation. The marketing team should connect with the customer and address his issues while PR should plan and arrange customer and influencer meets at the POS or with the spokesperson to bring transparency to the table. The feedback from these meets should be archived and fed to the marketing team to enhance the product for customer delight. “

The Customers 2020 report predicts that by 2020 more than product and price, it will be customer experience that will be the key brand differentiator. And PR is well positioned to deliver such experiences.

According to Blake Morgan, owner Flight digital and former social media Digital Support Program Owner with Intel, “By working closely with customer service, PR will create happy customers those happy customers will joyously share the experience with others. Public relations, marketing and communications are now involved in assisting customer service, the group that’s on the frontlines of the customer interaction. It’s about being there at the point of necessity—this is the best way to build a relationship with the customer.”

Aashish Washikar, chief reputation maven, Windchimes Communications, says that in the customer centric industries such as auto and hospitality it is important for a PR professional to understand the problems and have the ability to resolve the same.

Along with this empowerment of PR professionals to resolve the customer issue, Waashikar also recommends, “Developing a trusted and reliable set of social media advocates for the brand which can be deployed in the case of a crisis.”

PR in the social CRM cycle

In order to strengthen PR and social PR, Morgan assesses that, “PR needs to provide more services to the groups within the company that are engaging with customers. For example, what is the best language to handle a corporate crisis? Many messages that come in through social media have to do with promotions sent out by marketing and PR.”

Adds Morgan, “PR can be more accessible and available to the frontline teams who manage social media to assist in directing customers to the right information about these promotions. The days of PR sending out messages with no need to engage afterward are over.”

PR Budgets for CRM

Experts feel that PR should be able to convince clients to allocate budgets for social CRM, PR can go directly the channels which customers use to identify and address their issues.

Says Morgan, “Customers want to talk to you in their preferred channel and they don't want to switch channels or repeat information. Companies that do not make it easy for customers to get help in the customer’s preferred channel will eventually lose that business. There are too many great companies who make it easy to do business with them. These are the companies that understand the importance of customer experience and social media is a big part of that.”

Washikar says that soon adopting a social CRM budget will spread non e-commerce companies, “Ecommerce are the first adopters of a budget for Social CRM. But investing time and money in social CRM is more of a necessity than a luxury. It is only a matter of time that the companies in India will realize the importance Social CRM.”

Adds Washikar, “In India, there is a dire need to create a robust mechanism to train - develop and deploy social CRM talent. It is required that we develop and launch short term courses and enable delivery through various online and offline methodology.”

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