Telco CRM : using Social Media as a strategic weapon !!

Unless you live in a cave or on Mars, you should know that social is the way to go. Social media – blogging, online social networking, and micro-blogging – have become so pervasive that it is almost unthinkable for a business entity – at least those who want to remain relevant !! In telecom, social media have transformed not only business models but the very concept of customer service. Emerging markets have embraced social media with gusto. Both India and Brazil represent some of the most aggressive growth, where more than 90 percent of online survey respondents report having an account on a social networking site. The reasons for this social media explosion in the emerging markets can be attributed to the concentration of Generation Y and younger, the cultural emphasis on maintaining regular contact with friends and family, and the influx of mobile technologies.

The IBM Institute for Business Value surveyed more than 1,000 consumers worldwide to understand who is using social media, what sites they frequent and what drives them to engage with companies. What the results showed may come as a surprise to those companies that assume consumers are seeking them out to feel connected to their brand. In fact, consumers are far more interested in obtaining tangible value, suggesting businesses may be confusing their own desire for customer intimacy with consumers’ motivations for engaging. For companies that have been taking a “build it and they will come” approach to social media, these consumer findings are a wake-up call that much more needs to be done if they want to attract more than the most devoted brand advocates.

Telefónica Europe wanted to develop a European-wide social media strategy to align social media use across each of the company’s business units and to help staff use it to enhance the whole customer experience. Telefónica Europe started by evaluating the company’s current use of social media across all O2 branded businesses. Not only did this help to determine the strategic aims of each business unit, but, more importantly, it helped to highlight where the business was currently realizing value from social media, and the quick wins and opportunities for improving customer experience in the long run. Once the audit was complete, the next step was to develop a consistent strategy for the use of social media across multiple European markets in support of Telefónica’s commercial brand, O2, and its Brussels-based Public Affairs department. This included developing three-year aims and objectives for Telefónica Europe’s social business strategy; the whole process also took into account each local market’s needs and conditions. was selected as the platform which allows a fast delivery of the solution in the cloud and also provides an integrated module for social media communication called “Chatter” lifting Web 2.0 Technology into the Cloud. Due to the scalability and multi-tenancy of the Cloud solution, further CRM applications can be easily integrated.Telefonica are developing, testing and embedding social media programmes across Europe in different departments and teams including Customer Experience, Brand, Communications and Customer Contact Centres. Education and training for 29,000 employees was implemented to embed the social media strategy and standardised processes across the business to ensure best practice and maximum return from social media.

As a leading Telco with over 23 million customers, O2 ( subsidiary of Telefonica ) decided to embrace social channels, as it is increasingly seeing a change in customers’ buying and service expectations—with a growing preference to use the online channel. O2 started a business transformation journey to a multi-product, multi-channel company whilst continuing profitable growth. Evidence of this transformation can be seen in some of the services such as the new online shopping experience for small office/home office businesses. A Chatter app clears the line for employee communication O2’s in-store support staff—called “gurus”— to collaborate on issues and help customers immediately, often while they are still standing at the counter.

In the Telco industry, loyal customers are the key to success. Nobody knows that better than Sprint, rated #1 for customer satisfaction and the third-largest telecommunications provider in the United States. When Sprint wanted to use new social media platforms to share information across groups and manage relationships with business customers more efficiently they consolidated customer information, automated processes, and built apps to make it easy to share data with retail stores. Information on business customers from multiple CRM systems was consolidated into customer profiles in the social media platform : a one-stop-shop for our sales teams for business processes and customer intelligence. More than 6,000 employees now use a Cloud platform to track accounts, contacts, and opportunities for improved visibility and real-time analytics.Sales Reps can quickly identify the best opportunities driving new leads and reducing the time to close enterprise deals by 25%. And, a fully-integrated configure-price-quote system helps Sprint’s sales teams quickly build complex pricing models using up-to-date account information.

Customer visibility is enhanced by a Chatter application, which helps reps share and information and collaborate on deals so they can address customer needs quickly and provide consistently great service. Using a custom Internet portal, retail staff can easily share business leads with sales, and no leads get dropped. In the future, retail personnel will be able to collaborate with customer service professionals to solve customer issues on the spot. Custom apps built on the social media platform automate processes including managing waitlists for hot new phones, scheduling corporate briefings, or tracking churn data, so reps can proactively reach out to customers in danger of defecting or counteract competitive promotions. Another app manages the discount approvals process and recaptures almost $70 million in unauthorized discounts each month.

The benefits are social media based CRM are deep provided it is implemented strategically. First, there is the social interaction itself, which can provide direct value to the business through revenue from social commerce and cost savings when used for customer care or research, for example. Plus, social networking enables rapid, viral distribution of offers and content that may reach beyond what could be done in traditional channels – all with endorsement from connections people trust. But that is just the beginning. Companies also can use social platforms to mine data for brand monitoring and valuable customer insights, which can spark innovations for improved services, products and customer experiences. In a constant cycle of listen-analyze-engage evolve, Telcos can optimize their social media programs to continually enhance their business.

But :Telcos beware. Hell hath no fury like a customer scorned on social media !!

Sadiq Malik ( Telco Strategist )


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