CRM - “Customer Relationship Management”

My only issue with that acronym is the last word. “Management” sounds so detached, so bland, so corporate that it reflects a limitation of many CRM platforms. Your customer relationships exist out there in the real world, after all, while a typical CRM (even a cloud-based one) sits behind your employees’ computer and phone screens. You task your CRM with replicating the complexity of your company’s relationships with thousands of customers. But at the end of the day, it’s merely a database of tables that can’t recreate that richness.

But what if your CRM could engage with customers directly? What if, instead of merely “managing” your relationships, it provided a platform where you can grow, deepen and nurture them?

Well, a Salesforce customer community allows you to do just that by offering a means for your clients to interact directly with your content, your employees and each other. Here are the top 4 ways it can deepen your relationships with your customers:

1. Accessing articles, FAQs and files on a Salesforce customer community.

The Salesforce Community Cloud can build trust with your clients, even without employee interaction. When they face questions or issues, a well-maintained community allows them to find the answers they need without waiting for anyone else. You choose which content they see, from detailed knowledge articles and FAQs to client-ready PDFs and videos. The result? Your customers walk away satisfied instead of frustrated and (side bonus) your support agents spend less time on the phone.

2. Logging and interacting with cases on a Salesforce customer community.

However, for customers that can’t find their answers in your content or prefer that human touch, the community has you covered too. You can connect your community to Service Cloud, so customers can quickly submit cases online instead of picking up a phone (your customers under the age of 35 will thank you).

Your clients can also use the community to check the status of their cases and comment on them. Gone are the times of frustration, when your customers would spend days waiting for a callback. A community instead gives them the ability to collaborate more closely with your employees, building satisfaction and trust.

3. Bringing your customers and employees together in a Salesforce customer community.

Even when your customers don’t have questions or complaints, a community helps you connect with them on a deeper level through its communication tools. Leveraging Salesforce Chatter allows you to share announcements and new content with your community members. Chatter groups and topics help them connect with each other, too, by letting your customers find others who share the same interests. Your employees, meanwhile, can moderate Chatter threads and join in the conversation.

You can also gamify and reward participation in the community by awarding points for different types of interactions. So instead of merely providing a place for your customers to come together, you’re encouraging their contributions and recognizing active members of your community. In all, these features allow you to build a vibrant forum where your customers can connect with your company in a much more fruitful way than the typical CRM allows.

4. Giving customers ownership of their data in a Salesforce customer community.

According to the head of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, “the currency of leadership is transparency,” and research suggests it matters just as much to consumers as it does to internal employees. Label Insight found that 94% of consumers would be loyal to a brand that offers complete transparency (beyond product attributes).

A Salesforce community can provide your customers that transparency in two significant ways:

  1. It can allow them to see and edit their data in your Salesforce org. This feature gives them visibility into the information you have about them and provides ownership over data like their contact information and their subscription level (for membership-based companies).
  2. Your business can display particular reports and dashboards to your customers through a community. You can share relevant information with each community member, from safety ratings, to product reviews, to data about their particular company’s engagement or performance. The more transparent you are with information, the more trust and loyalty you build with your customers.

With the right combination of these features, a Salesforce customer community represents a custom-branded melting pot where your clients can engage directly with your brand in a rewarding way. Your relationships are out there with your customers, shouldn’t your CRM?

What other ways have you used technology to build relationships instead of “managing” them? Comment below!

Tags
Strategy, People

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