Digital and Social CRM Literature Review – Digital & Social CRM – An Implementation Strategy for Amazon
Technology has transformed the world of marketing through the emergence of digital marketing. Businesses across the world are in a race to get closer to where customers are: the social media. According to Statista (2020), there Facebook is the most famous social media platform with approximately 2.5 billion active monthly users. YouTube and WhatsApp come second with 2 billion active monthly users. The implication suggested here is that contemporary customers are congregating on social media. Hence, it is incumbent of marketing managers to employ strategies that can enable them to reach these customers in the most convenient way for both parties (Baird & Parasnis 2013). In a recent study by Fjellström and Osarenkhoe (2019), the authors highlight the fact that customers have increased their expectations of business communication. For example, they expect almost instant feedback regarding their inquiries, lest they turn to lose interest and turn to the next available substitutes on social media. This shows that digital marketing has become an indispensable part of modern-day businesses. Digital & Social CRM – An Implementation Strategy for Amazon
Nonetheless, due to the heightened business competition, only companies that leverage both their digital marketing and keep track of their customer relations management (CRM) strategies are likely to gain a niche in the market. CRM refers to the relationship developed between a business and another business or an organisation and its customers (Leino 2016). According to Leino (2016), CRM is traditionally targeted towards obtaining maximum customer value within the period of engagement. It is the responsibility of the organisation to ensure that they control customer relations to the advantage of both parties in the relationship. Even so, Kantorová and Bachmann (2018) note that the emergence of social media has shifted the goalpost as customers are the ones in charge of CRM, and organisations integrating digital marketing must understand customer needs. The consequences of this new kind of relationship are that the business can either perform better or worse depending on how they handle the customers’ needs (Kantorová & Bachmann 2018). This is where the Social CRM strategy comes in. Digital & Social CRM – An Implementation Strategy for Amazon
Social CRM is based on the fact that digital and social media customers are to a great extent interested in the engagement with their friends and families on social media. The study by Fjellström and Osarenkhoe (2019) reveals that despite a large number of the online population, only a small percentage of them engage comment and engage organisations in exchange communication. Therefore, an important aspect of the Social CRM strategy is understanding customer value by first valuing this segment of the online market that spends its time and data engaging the organisation. As pointed out by Sigala (2018), digital and Social CRM is concerned with obtaining favourable customer feedback that can convince other uninterested customers to develop interests in the organisation’s products and/or services. In one study to examine factors that influence the purchasing behaviour of online customers, Sigala (2018) notes that customers that engage an organisation through social media search for the experiences of other customers before making purchasing decisions. As one would expect, they will be more willing to do business with an organisation with positive customer feedback than a company or brand with negative reviews.
Impact of Digital and Social CRM on Multinationals
Since Digital and Social CRM involves bridging the distance gap between companies and customers, multinational organisations are the main beneficiaries of this marketing disruption. Aldaihani and Ali (2018) contend that the switch from the traditional marketing techniques to the social media brand communication is the new normal for both SMEs and MNCs. As such, Aldaihani and Ali (2018) assert that no organisation can survive the modern business landscape if they do not engage the online market that is only growing. According to Kantorová and Bachmann (2018), the emergence of e-commerce companies such as Amazon and eBay has made customers’ online experience even more memorable, and the more a company’s presence in social media the more likely that they are engaging in dialogue with their customers as they foster strong customer relationship ties (Kantorová & Bachmann 2018). However, it is worth noting that the degree of social media traffic does not amount to business success. Digital & Social CRM – An Implementation Strategy for Amazon
A common practice by companies is to employ multiple online channels for engaging their online customers. As indicated earlier, Facebook is the largest social media site that all companies are using to trigger dialogue with their clients and prospective customers. However, using other SM platforms such as Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and WhatsApp ensures that no online customer is left out (Kantorová & Bachmann 2018). Established companies such as Amazon have collaborated with Google to integrate their social media with search engines for the easy attraction of customer engagement. Most importantly, Alavi (2016). notes that the emergence of Digital and Social CRM has enhanced customer services for MNCs as they can reply to customers from anywhere around the world with the high level of immediacy that is needed, thus strengthening customer loyalty and customer satisfaction that are important for business success.
Recommendation of the Digital and Social CRM Strategy to Amazon
Amazon is a giant player in the e-commerce sector. The company’s B2B and B2C business model enables it to engage with a wide range of customers daily. Being a multinational company with headquarters in the United States, the company’s marketing team appreciates the fact that the majority of social media users are outside the United States, and it is critical to reach them and meet their needs wherever they are in the world. Towards this end, Amazon has developed a strong CRM approach through its digital and SM marketing approach. Even so, a recent study by Alt and Reinhold (2012) suggests that the development of Social CRM has put most organisations under pressure as they seek to leverage competitive advantage through interactive online communication with their clients. For Amazon to retain its position in the industry, therefore, the company must adopt strategies that are geared towards a sustainable relationship with its customers.
One technique that can be adopted by Amazon is understanding customer needs and optimising customer value. Grønholdt (2019) indicate that the value customers draw from social engagement with an organisation can determine the feedback they are likely to give and whether or not they are willing to engage the company in the future. It is worth noting that although online shopping has become common around the world, there are millions of new and prospective online customers that are skeptical about the company’s reliability to deliver products and/or services that fully meet customer needs (Alt & Reinhold 2016). Therefore, I think Amazon can sustain its social media influence by encouraging customer feedback in all its engagements. It costs nothing for the company to request an online customer to come back and give their review of the product or service they bought from its website. According to Bagó and Voros (2011), transparent customer engagement is an effective way of developing customer trust that can attract new customers and retain the existing ones. Digital & Social CRM – An Implementation Strategy for Amazon
The other aspect Amazon should work on to remain competitive is seamless communication across digital and social media platforms. In an extant study by Sigala (2018), the author discovered that companies that are consistent in their SM communication have high chances of triggering engagement from dormant online users. For example, advertising the latest MacBook version should be uniform across other SM media platforms – YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and so on. According to Baird and Parasnis (2013), this engraves the message in the customers’ minds, thus increasing the chances for engagement in a dialogue or outright purchase of the product via the company’s website. In my view, Amazon’s reputation as a reliable e-commerce company can be enhanced with a consistent online brand communication strategy. In other words, the company should view digital and social media as a game-changer in the development of effective CRM strategies, and probably, the only customer engagement platform in the future (Bagó & Voros 2011). Therefore, the company should rationalise its marketing communication to cut across different SM platforms and maintain consistency in the message.
Third, Amazon’s Digital and SM marketing team must develop an effective customer service that satisfactorily responds to customer queries and concerns. Owing to the nature of e-commerce, it not a given that the transaction process will always be free from disappointments. For example, delivery can delay or a mix-up in packaging can lead to wrong deliveries (Bagó & Voros 2011). To maintain a strong customer relationship, Amazon must continue to invest in its online customer service section. This can be in the form of an increase in the number of social media personnel and/or enhanced training of the existing staff to improve service delivery. A closer look at Amazon’s social media engagement with its customers is that the company tries to reply to customer feedback, whether positive or negative. However, I think Amazon can do better in this aspect by not only ensuring timely responses but also giving satisfactory feedback that can convince customers to trade with the company in the future. Baird and Parasnis (2013) posit that such an approach can go a long way in ensuring that the company increases its share in the ever-growing online market.
Lastly, Amazon can strengthen Digital and Social CRM by increasing its investment in the offline advertisement. Despite the burgeoning number of online users around the world, the influence of mainstream and print media in brand communication cannot be overlooked just yet. According to Sigala (2018) both online offline advertising channels play a significant role in business performance. This means advertisements in these channels can trigger prospective customers to search for Amazon’s online product and service offerings, a factor that can enhance its market share especially in emerging markets. Digital & Social CRM – An Implementation Strategy for Amazon