“Astute SRM complements our CRM (customer relationship management) software that we use to log all of our traditional contacts that come in via mail, phone, or letter,” Jones explains. “This software has the capability to automatically integrate the social media contacts into our CRM system, which is key to enabling line of sight to emerging trends and enhancing risk mitigation.
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“The integration capability also allows us to differentiate, through our extensive back end data analysis, how the behaviors and feedback in social channels differ from our traditional channels,” Jones adds. “We can then use these insights to better predict the behaviors, and validate that our products are being used as intended. When it comes to food safety, the ability to quickly spot an emerging trend and ensure your products are being used as intended are critical.”
Monitoring is happening 24/7, Jones emphasizes. “The system is set up to flag certain brands and key words to serve as triggers, and if there is any “hit” on a brand and/or key word it will send an alert to the employees who monitor for us so they can respond real time,” she says. “Alerts can be set up to come in as a text message, email, instant message, or directly into the CRM tool.”
ConAgra Foods is using social media to mitigate risk through applying the same approaches in social channels as the company does in its traditional channels. Thus, emerging trends are quickly identified and responded to by applying CAPA (corrective action preventative action) processes and continuous improvement methodologies. Moreover, utilization of data and analytics drive actionable insights, as social media contacts are integrated in ConAgra Foods’ consumer contact data.
“We value relentless improvement, and are consistently working to deliver a better experience to our consumers through social engagement and new technologies,” Jones says. She is quick to point out that, to that end, ConAgra Foods consistently applies principles it calls the Four Rs in all consumer interactions. The company developed these principles, Respect, Remorse, Resolution, Restitution, as a result of inspiration from Charlie Arnot, CEO of the Center for Food Integrity.
“Good use of social media contributes to the top line and bottom line of our company by ensuring we adequately resolve all consumer issues, retain consumers we may have otherwise lost and deliver an exceptional experience that will be shared in a positive way to drive incremental sales and loyalty,” Jones points out. “We’re getting positive feedback and we’re creating loyalty with our brands, which means we’re boosting sales and our bottom line, with every social interaction we have.”
Taking a very proactive, transparent approach to social media allows ConAgra Foods to not only mitigate risk, but also build trust with consumers, Jones says. “The impact is zero high-visibility social escalations and less of a chance of viral videos with erroneous information,” she emphasizes.
What does the future hold for using social media to communicate about or deal with food safety issues?
“For food recalls, the food industry should embrace social media to demonstrate transparency and provide consumers with information they need to stay safe,” Jones advises. “As an example, we proactively post recall announcements on relevant social media sites. Consumers have responded favorably to this, indicating a positive impact on trust and transparency.”
Embracing all the hot, trendy Internet-driven social media forms of communicating, including blogs, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, Benjamin Chapman, PhD, an extension specialist in food safety at North Carolina State University, launched the citizen food safety project in September 2013. The project goals are to find out what food safety means to people, raise the public consciousness of food safety, and build the public’s support for better food safety practices.