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Ed. note: This is part of a series of excerpts from The Social Customer, the new guide to social customer acquisition, monetization, and retention by Adam Metz. For the first entry, go here.

This installment continues Chapter 13: Social CRM Strategy. Adam discusses the components of social CRM strategy, and looks at some factors regarding the composition of the team that will administer it.

Managing the social customer changes your employees’ mind-sets, permanently. Remember Vanessa Willson from MBT Footwear, the funky shoe brand that used Social Customer Insights to innovate?

“Professionally, I no longer can look at a marketing plan without having a social strategy in the forefront,” Willson said. “In the everchanging, always-evolving online landscape, a brand’s social strategy is an essential piece for their success.”

And this is coming from a mid-career marketer who had not touched the social customer prior to March 2009. “Implementing a social strategy was an essential ‘piece of the puzzle’ for MBT to truly grow as a brand,” she said. “Our social strategy was an essential step in order for us to increase brand awareness and loyalty—people simply want their voices to be heard.”

“We were lucky, for some time,” Willson went on, “to have customers who were truly brand ambassadors, speaking to everyone and anyone about their experiences with our product. What we were never able to do before was to give them an arena to speak to us and share their stories with other consumers.” Here, she’s talking about using the SMMS to unearth the right customers, and giving the customers the right tools to support your product or service.

COMPONENTS OF THE STRATEGY

So, again here’s a quick 1-2-3 to recap how the Social CRM and the SMMS work together, so you can manage your social customers to create outcomes:

  1. Something happens on the social Web (e.g., customer complains that they were billed incorrectly, customer says that you make the greatest cheese fries in San Francisco).
  2. It’s picked up by a Social Media Monitoring System that is integrated with the Social CRM.
  3. It’s recorded in the Social CRM, and either a macro (automated) work flow is activated, or a micro (human) work flow is activated to solve the problem (by routing it to the right person or department), and the entire incident is recorded for future knowledge around the customer and the problem.

Your Social Customer Management Team

When considering the size of the team that will manage the social customer for your brand, there are many factors to take into account, the most immediate being cost. Dave Andrews of Devious Media and Community102 is well-acquainted with this concept. “Depending on the project, our teams are usually one to five people, depending on the social media activity and budget of the client,” he said. And these teams are on the small side. I typically assign two to seven people to every project, for enterprise companies, plus the internal team on the client side.

Still, if it takes one to five full-timers to manage the community of social customers around your brand, the human capital investment alone will cost $80,000 to 400,000 annually. You’re probably thinking that those numbers are a little high. Well, you just unearthed the next serious problem with who usually gets assigned to manage the social customer. Frequently, it’s foisted onto interns or entry-level employees.

“I think the biggest problem is that [companies] choose lower level employees to do the company’s social media management,” Andrews said.

“These employees often have 20 other responsibilities and cannot focus on learning and managing the company’s social [customers] properly. These employees are often young and do not have the experience or training to interact with your customers. They are just given the task of managing the company’s Facebook page and told ‘Go!’”

In addition to the advent of new positions like Community Manager, previously suggested by David Armano and Jeremiah Owyang, Andrews takes it a step further, but I’m not sure I agree.

“Companies should take social media seriously; I see in the future you will see more senior-level titles for social media like ‘Chief Social Media Officer.’”

Realistically, it’s viable that we’ll see titles like Chief Customer Officer, which would oversee front-office customer operations, inclusive of call center, sales, marketing, finance (customer billing), fulfillment, and post-sale support. This executive would likely report to the CEO. Social media is sure to dominate customer relations and engagement to the point where it is an integral part of the Chief Customer Officer’s position, not a separate component ran by a different officer. It’s just too narrow a C-Suite position: Chief Social Media Officer. We don’t have any Chief Digital Media Officers, do we?