Guest Blogger Michael W. Thomas: CRM and the 800-Pound Gorilla

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Customer Engagement
Customer Experience
Social CRM has been one of the most talked about topics in the CRM and Social Media industries. Yet many companies are still are struggling with basic CRM challenges. While they work to effectively define their strategy an 800-pound gorilla has slipped into the room. This 800-pound gorilla--the social customer--does not take away the need for an effective CRM 1.0 strategy. But organizations must address customers' social CRM expectations using an sCRM approach that compliments their CRM strategy. Throw social media tools at the gorilla without any strategic direction or process and it will turn on you.

Social CRM has been one of the most talked about topics in the CRM and social media industries. Yet many companies are still are struggling with basic CRM challenges. While they work to effectively define their strategy an 800-pound gorilla has slipped into the room.

This 800-pound gorilla--the social customer--does not take away the need for an effective CRM 1.0 strategy. But organizations must address customers' social CRM expectations using an sCRM approach that compliments their CRM strategy. Throw social media tools at the gorilla without any strategic direction or process and it will turn on you.It's important to understand that companies must be concerned not only with the social customer, but also with the social partner, prospect, and employee, as well as anyone other influencer, even your competitors. This is your social audience. There are three components of CRM that companies should align with their social CRM practices to engage their social audience:

Marketing
Adding a social channel to your marketing efforts may be as easy as setting up a Twitter account, Facebook page, or your own company social networking site. But over the long term the key is to have activity around your company and brand so people can find you and interact with you. Search engine optimization plays a major role here. Additionally, this channel give you the ability to monitor what is being said about your brand (using something as simple as Google Alerts, as well as other listening platforms, such as Radian6) and then engage customers or diffuse concerns quickly and effectively.

Sales
Once your company and products are found, how are you engaging with the prospect? It's imperative today to have a lead scoring strategy in place, and route leads in real time to the proper salesperson. Do you know the right behavior, web clicks, and actions to keep customers interests and entice them to buy? This could be as simple as tracking what they are looking at to predict future behaviors or offering customer ratings and reviews on your site to encourage purchasing.

Service
Social customers are known for using the Web to express their opinions and frustrations. Having a method to address customers' concerns quickly will prevent bad information from spreading. Monitoring Twitter mentions and engaging with customers on updates, solutions, new features, and other pertinent information will keep them in the loop and give them the confidence that you are aware of what is being discussed.

Knowing your social audience and putting into play social CRM strategies will extend your reach and presence--and keep that 800-pound gorilla engaged and satisfied.

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What is social CRM? The best definition is from Paul Greenberg, author of "CRM at the Speed of Light" and popular blogger at ZDNET defined below:

"[sCRM] is a philosophy & a business strategy, supported by a technology platform, business rules, workflow, processes & social characteristics, designed to engage the customer in a collaborative conversation in order to provide mutually beneficial value in a trusted & transparent business environment. It's the company's response to the customer's ownership of the conversation."

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Michael W. Thomas is Director of Social CRM Strategy for New Fire Social Media. He blogs at Much Ado About Social CRM.

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