From Operational CRM to Social CRM

The concept of Social CRM is slowly becoming popular and finding a lot of believers in the corporate sector. Significantly because it helps companies look at their customers as real people and not just a set of leads and numbers that need tracking and processes. In this post we will try an explore, how is Social CRM different from traditional CRM, its evolution and areas where it can be useful for companies.

Social CRM is all about extending the relationship aspect of CRM and moves the CRM from a static activity log to more dynamic interactive platform. The traditional customer relationship management product’s key value proposition has been improving sales operations in terms of data access & tracking. In fact, CRM systems started as contact data store ( previously in spreadsheets) and progressed to track leads, opportunities, activities, appointment alerts and calculating pipeline. CRM’s focus was always on automating processes for Sales teams to increase accuracy of sales pipelines and forecasts, timely routing of leads and real time alerts to ensure consistent follow-ups.

The addition of the Social dimension to CRM processes and systems, allowed connectivity with potential customers in terms of their requirements or their experiences. The process entailed bringing in external (web) data to enhance the existing internal (organization generated) data.

Today CRM platforms are evolving at breakneck speed and the concept of Social CRM and the basic processes of gathering information from the web and using it as a value add for existing customer information is already passe.  The ability to track and get real-time opportunity alerts by tracking those who are researching web to find solutions or similar experiences to their business challenges, is the latest facet of Social CRM that is gaining ground.

However, despite its speedy evolution and increasing popularity, it is important to understand that social CRM is not a substitute for CRM, but a complementary addition to the existing CRM solutions.

Here are the key areas where Social CRM can be useful -

Customer Analytics

Tracking target audience- who, what, where, why, how much and how often forms part of customer analytics. It is amazing how much of this information can be gathered from social media. This social layer on top of personal interaction layer with an existing or potential customer, is powerful in terms of providing the sales teams with the ability to increase the momentum of a deal. Such tracking leads to possible actionable activities like moving closer to the actual requirement of the user.


Social Lead Generation

Here the key objective is to do proactive reach-outs to customers/prospect researching in your domain and provide information and education. Given below are different ways to do social lead generation:

  1. Find interests and opportunities- Anywhere from half to 75 percent of people rely on customer reviews before making a purchase, depending on the category and demography.
  2. To be seen in the right context – To be at the right place and with the right level of endorsement / credibility
  3. Approach – Leader in some situations and a contributor in others
  4. Awareness – Reading your prospects’ and customers’ blogs, blogs that are popular in the vertical industries he targets, and blogs that your prospects and customers read
  5. Building Relationship – Improving relationships between sales representatives and customers by making their interactions more personal as well as pertinent. For eg; The Sales representative weaves the blog content into his outreach message, letting prospects know he is following them, their industry, or their area of interest. Compare this approach with traditional, generic sales pitches to volumes of faceless database contact names

Gathering Influencers & Advocates

  • Influencers – Companies can track and build relationships with key influencers in the industry like popular industry bloggers, and social sites on the Web frequented by their audience.  A complete understanding of the importance of contributing to discussions, in a transparent manner, will help them build the kind of reputation needed to become a valued member of the online communities important to their business.
  • Advocates – Many marketers want to create brand ambassador programs to enable their most loyal customers to advocate on the company’s behalf, an extremely effective marketing strategy. To make this possible and a success, they need to create a culture and movement that is not built on incentives but on providing extraordinary value and service to their customers. Doing so helps companies ultimately become a preferred brand that consumers want to discuss with others.

To summarize, traditional CRM approach is more operationally-focused, while social CRM is people/community-focused. Businesses have typically turned to CRM to improve communication between sales and marketing operations, as well as to improve data-access to positively impact decision making. Just like adopting and fully utilizing the power of CRM was not quick but it took time, training and follow-ups to spread awareness, expect Social CRM to be similar in terms of implementation challenges and ROI.



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