3 Social Business Tools to Manage Your Customer Relationships

by Adam Helweh |

You would be hard pressed to find an entrepreneur, business owner, or executive who would not agree that learning how to effectively manage customer relationships is a must if you want to be successful in business. This has been true long before the word “social” was on the tip of everyone’s tongue and is increasingly important due to the hyper-connected world we live in today. As a business owner myself I thrive on being able to build and maintain relationships with not only customers, but also people I may want to work with, refer or hire. Simply having a collection of connections in your address book doesn’t cut it. You need tools to help.

Here are three that can transform your list of contacts and social media connections into useful information allowing you to get to build better relationships with your customers.

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Rapportive
If you spend any of your time at work behind a computer then chances are that a good chunk of that time is spent dipping into your email application of choice. If your among the millions who chose Gmail there’s an add-on you’ll find useful. Rapportive is a Gmail-only tool that replaces the unappealing ads on the right hand side of your screen with tons of useful information about the people you email. Just open up any message from someone and you will see information about their job title, latest tweets, and direct links to their social profiles.

Rapportive even provides a place at the bottom of the panel if you want to add your own notes about the person to view later. I have been using it a while and it comes in quite handy when you are communicating with someone new and want to get up to speed on their background and interests. I also find it helpful in quickly identifying my contact’s social profiles so I can avoid having to hunt them down on Twitter or Linked In. Download  Rapportive and tell me what you think.

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FlowTown
Has your company been building a database of contacts for month or even years? Maybe your marketing department is ready to test the waters with social media, but doesn’t know where to start? Flowtown might be able to assist. Import any list of email addresses via csv, Gmail, or even one of the many popular email marketing services Flowtown supports and you’re ready to rock and roll.

This service will spend a little time scrubbing the web for you as it collects as much publicly available information it can find. Flowtown then displays a ton of great information like a rundown of all their public social profiles along with insights letting you know where your contacts are most active online. This is a great starting point when deciding where to reach out and connect with your customers. Flowtown also offers up the ability to create segmented lists of your contacts based on their social information and to send targeted email campaigns to each list. I recommend checking out their product tour page to see all that they have to offer.

Gist
If you’re interested in an uber console of social information about your contacts then you might want to check out Gist.com. You can feed your contacts into Gist from almost anywhere and it will create a comprehensive dashboard of all your connections and any public social information it can muster. It displays recent tweets, blog updates, Google searches, and even your latest correspondances if your willing to connect your email service to the app.

One of the many nifty features is the “companies” tab which lets you drill down into a specific company, see all the relevant information and related contacts all in one place. Beyond their web interface Gist has apps to access your information via iPhone, Android, Outlook, Salesforce, and more. Gist can seem somewhat overwhelming with all of the information it provides, but considering the service is currently free to use I recommend you take it for a test drive and see what you think.

I’ve tested these three tools to help manage customer relationships and be better informed about my prospects. I’m sure there are others. Jump in the comments and let us know what you think of these and what others might be out there for us all to try.

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About the Author

Adam Helweh

Adam is CEO of Secret Sushi Creative Inc, a strategic design, digital and social media marketing agency. He specializes in the convergence of design and technology to provide businesses with more intelligent and interactive ways to connect with customers and grow. His clients have included Edelman, Broadcom, Stanford Federal Credit Union, the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, Bunchball and others. He's also the co-host of the "SoLoMo Show", a weekly digital marketing podcast, and he has shared the stage with professionals from companies including Facebook, Virgin Airlines, Paypal, Dell and 24 Hour Fitness.