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Woman Online Shopping.jpgIn today’s world of instant access to information, consumers’ expectations have changed dramatically. If they have a problem with a company or brand they expect a response — not in a couple of days or a week — but in hours. If they don’t, the consumer can broadcast their complaint to a large audience in a very short period of time.

Social media has certainly been a blessing and a curse for marketers; they have the ability to look at and track what people are saying on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, plus other social networks and discussion forums. But it’s no secret that this can be difficult to absorb — and then they have to figure out how to aggregate that information to identify trends, make conclusions and adjust their strategies for engaging with customers.

Imagine being able to take real-time customer analysis and sentiments about what customers are saying about your brands and easily identify and target influencers and drive sales. New social contact intelligence capabilities allow for this and are now available, typically as part of an overall CRM solution.

Take, for example one of the four large mobile carriers, which has found benefits using social contact and customer engagement apps. Previously, whenever it launched a marketing campaign for its 2,000-plus retail stores around the country, it would take six to eight weeks to figure out which campaigns were doing well. Now it can see what promotions are working and instantaneously kill the ones that aren’t. For a marketing person – that’s huge – talk about competitive advantage!

Contrast that with the time it used to take to run a query – when you could go out to lunch – and come back and it would still be running! When I used work in the financial services industry and we’d promote business lines of credit and credit cards to millions of small businesses. We had to study the results of telemarketing campaigns and there was just no way to crunch those results in a meaningful, timely fashion. We took statistical samples from a subset of the data and developed hypotheses and applied what we learned across the entire customer base.  Imagine doing that with the data we have today?

Social contact intelligence technology lets you add a deeper level of refinement and look at each individual customer’s information and bring her/him a targeted offer based on those attributes. It also allows you to look at interrelationships in business. How?

Take LinkedIn.  Absorbing people profiles from LinkedIn, social contact intelligence looks at who you know at a company you’re targeting, so you can better leverage the contacts in your network to get a foot in the door. The notion of social selling and leveraging your network in the most effective way possible is significantly changing the way that successful sales people sell today. 

That’s something a sales person desperately needs to know. Someone taking that approach will be at a competitive advantage over someone they’re competing against, giving them a better chance of winning over that account.

There are also benefits to using social contact intelligence in customer service. Let’s face it – this has become the channel where customers have the biggest megaphone. I think as a customer service representative it’s incredibly important to understand when issues come up that there are ways you can proactively understand and address them. It’s like having an early warning system. As I said before, but it bears repeating – if you don’t resolve the issue right away and the customer is active on social media platforms, they’re going to tell everyone about all the issues they’ve ever had with your company. However, if you solve the issue quickly, or better yet before they even notice the problem themselves, they’re likely become your most passionate advocates. You will foster loyalty and even those customers who may have been upset at first can turn around and sell your products and services for you.

Social Contact Intelligence is a new app powered by SAP HANA. It is part of the SAP Customer Engagement Intelligence solution, which is targeted toward sales, marketing and customer service professionals. For more information about the SAP Customer Engagement Intelligence solution and HANA, see our full announcement here or visit us on SAP.com

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