Astute Social Relationship Management

Social media provides data to the enterprise on how its customers are interacting. Even though most decision makers understand that gathering and analyzing this data is important, it’s not always easy to know how.

Astute Solutions was founded in 1995 to offer call center and issue management software, which later became a full customer service solution. The acquisition of RealDialog from LiveWire Logic in 2006 added knowledge management to the offering. In 2010, Astute acquired Gamma Engineers for its social media management technology. This has evolved into today’s Astute Social Relationship Management (SRM) solution, with the ambition to offer functionality not just for managing social data, but for using the results in the cross-channel customer relationship activities of a company.

Why Is Astute SRM Different?

I wanted to know how Astute SRM works and what makes it different from other social customer relationship management (CRM) solutions, so I booked a briefing and demo with Alex George, chief technology officer (CTO) of Astute Innovations. In a nutshell, Astute SRM was built on the idea that companies need to be able to integrate social data into their business processes and should be able to combine it with CRM data to respond to and engage with their customers.

As opposed to other social CRM and monitoring solutions, Astute SRM offers functionality for routing social interactions, just as any other type of communication might be routed. The solution captures social media communications that need to be addressed, the same way cases or issues are tracked in a CRM system. Among Astute SRM’s features, issues originating in social media can be automatically routed by e-mail and assigned a priority and automated responses may be sent where appropriate.

For instance, when someone tweets about  luggage being lost, the airline can be alerted to the tweet, determine the customer’s demographics (including the tweeter’s weight of influence on social platforms), understand the sentiment being expressed (e.g., annoyed, upset, or really angry), retrieve the relevant customer information from the CRM system (e.g., whether the customer is a member of a loyalty program, past feedback and purchasing history, etc.), and create a case file that is then transferred to a customer service representative. At each step of the process, social data about or generated by the customer can be used not only to guide interactions, but also to monitor and analyze the efficiency of these interactions.

Monitor, Analyze, Learn, Adapt

The social media monitoring capabilities in Astute SRM analyze social data from all main platforms (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), cover 150 million Web sites, blogs, or forums every day, and can detect location based on global positioning system (GPS) data for mobile users and IP address for people using desktop computers. Natural language processing is then used to identify customer or user sentiment, trends in customer behavior, product standing vis-à-vis the competition , or feedback that companies can use in product development.

Here are some examples of how companies have used Astute SRM for social media monitoring  to better understand their customers, competitors, and market segments:

  • A soft drink manufacturer monitored social media to find out where people couldn’t find their product in stores. The manufacturer convinced retailers in those locations to carry their product.

  • A bank realized that its main competitor in some regions was a financial institution that did not have branches there, but people were very satisfied with their online services. A customer survey did not reveal that information, but social monitoring did.

  • A car manufacturer decided to target social media users who were asking for advice from their friends and connections on which car to buy. The manufacturer invited them for a free test drive at a location close to their home.

Monitoring Social Data Is Great, But…

… you need that data to be managed together with your CRM and other business data. You need to make sure that once detected by social monitoring, an issue is routed to the appropriate department, where information about the customer is easily accessible and possible resolutions for the problem may even be already lined up.

Besides functionality for social customer service, Astute SRM also offers functionality to use social data for marketing (brand analysis, influencer analysis), product development (proactive engagement), and sales (demand sensing, emotional expectations).

With a strong customer experience and contact center product also offering functionality for Web self-service, feedback management, and knowledge management, and its latest SRM offering, Astute will definitely be a strong competitor among other social CRM vendors such as Jive Software, Lithium Technologies, Kana/Overtone, and Salesforce/Radian6.
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