For billions of people, life without Twitter or Facebook is almost impossible to contemplate. Increasingly the same is true for businesses.
According to the “Social Customer Engagement Index 2012” drawn up by analysts from Social Media Today, the number of companies that use social media to communicate with their customers has risen from 9% to 45% in the last twelve months alone. The study comes to another telling conclusion: Only 7% of survey respondents are happy with the way their company appears in social media – and with the results they achieve. This has to do with the fact that social media communication has historically traveled in only one direction – to the customer.
How do companies deal with the thousands of comments that are made about their image or their products? Is there a way of using this information to develop market-driven products, spruce up their public image or monitor their competitors?
“Absolutely,” says Craig Downing, who is responsible for marketing SAP’s social media solutions at SAP America. “We’re on the starting blocks right now with two new on-demand solutions that have already proven to be valuable for an influential group of SAP customers.” SAP Social Media Analytics by NetBase, for example, enables enterprises to “listen” to social media and transform what they “hear” into decision-making material. SAP Social OnDemand, on the other hand, optimizes one-on-one communication when customers request information or services – by enabling real-time responses to posts on Facebook or “tweets” on Twitter.
The right decisions for future products
“These solutions make it easier for our customers to understand their customers’ opinions and expectations – and to derive the right decisions from them for future products,” explains Downing. “After all, there can’t be a single company out there that does not want to hear what users are saying – often in frank terms – about their brand, their products, or the company itself.” In an era of social media-driven customer service and support, companies can benefit from solutions such as SAP Social OnDemand to make sure they get on the right track from the start. Rapid response times to integrating social media insights or responding to customer engagements, are an absolute “must.” “Customers are no longer willing to be “put on hold” until someone is free to speak to them,” says Downing, cutting to the chase.
Next page: Tools to manage reputation and brands
SAP solutions can prove to be helpful tools to manage reputation, brand, and products in places where millions of customers meet to express their displeasure publicly. For example, an U.S.-based household appliance maker uses SAP Social Media Analytics to find out about its potential customers’ wishes and uses this information, among other things, to optimize its product strategy.
Software-based brand management
SAP’s social media solutions are also ideal for helping such a manufacturer use social media to streamline areas such as product support, recalls, or warranty claim processing.
“By running analyses – and engaging with their customers across social networks, businesses can monitor their reputation and elevate the customer engagement experience,” reports Downing. In the ideal scenario, they can also tailor services more precisely to customer wishes.
Such is the case for Rubbermaid, which now has clear insights into the public image of all sub-brands, thanks to a recently implemented social media solution from SAP. “The company recognized the significance of social media in a modern marketing approach and has created a sort of social media ‘command central,'” says Downing. “With the analyses it now has access to, the company is able to keep its finger on the pulse of the times, an advantage for the global business.”
SAP on a learning curve
Admittedly, the topic of social media is still fairly new on the corporate agenda as a whole. “Even here at SAP, we’re learning on a day-to-day basis. There are few tried-and-proven procedures and no obvious paths to social media nirvana,” says Downing. Many SAP customers are turning to SAP and expressing a wish to “get going with social media,” and SAP stands ready to share its insights and experience – from white papers that outline the foundation of a healthy social media plan to professional consulting insights and best practice guidelines.
Downing sees enormous potential for SAP in the social media sphere, not just because it is an emerging market. There are simple commercial benefits as well. “My expectation is that, sooner or later, every company will have to systematically approach the topic of social media across sales, marketing, and customer service workloads,” says Downing. With SAP, they’re already equipped to do just that.