The use of social media by business-to-business suppliers and vendors for their customer relationship management (CRM) is not widespread, but those who have developed a social media CRM aspect are seeing better customer experiences and benefits according to a new study by Kemp Goldberg Partners and IDG Research Services.
The researchers surveyed 150 companies from more than a dozen business-to-business industries to see how their customers view social media when dealing with suppliers and vendors.
Some 58 percent said they were completely unaware if their primary supply chain provider used social media or thought that their suppliers and vendors were not using social media to interact with customers.
Social media for these cases is not restricted to Facebook and Twitter, but also extends to inter-system software that allows for commenting, collaboration, and sharing centered around business transactions like purchase orders, delivery confirmations, and other operations where a customer or vendor seeks verification.
According to the survey, social media use would give suppliers and vendors an opportunity to help customers make better buying decisions and better manage their businesses.
One-third of respondents said they would have a more favorable view of their supply chain partners if those partners engaged them via social media. More than 40 percent said they currently use social media to look at industry news and trends (be sure follow American Shipper on Twitter
), and to keep informed about vendor-related information like pricing, products, and expert opinions.
"The flow of information up and down any supply chain between customers and vendors is critical to sales, fulfillment, service and relationship building," said David Goldberg, principal at Kemp Goldberg Partners. "Although social CRM adoption has been low and slow, we found that those suppliers and vendors who currently use social media have experienced real value, such as more customer satisfaction, loyalty and references, as well as better customer service and higher purchase levels or frequency."
While social media in the supply chain can include interactions within a system, such as comments, ratings, and image sharing for collaboration, the most widely used sites are Facebook (57 percent), LinkedIn (30 percent) and Twitter (15 percent).
The areas vendors are left to fend off the darkness are privacy and confidentiality. These concerns not only impact how customers are treated on social media but also what responses and uses a company can take based on social media.
One area that American Shipper
suggests looking into before addressing social media on a global scale is recent EU privacy laws enacted around the use of online and social data. Most companies will have little trouble in this sphere, but making company decisions based on social media provided by customers is going to become tougher to navigate. Nations around the world are changing definitions on what data is actionable when it is socially and publically shared.
Full results of the study can be found here
. — Geoff Whiting