The Business Side of Social CRM

Customer Relationship Management
Customer Experience
We all know that social is <I>the</I> shiny object in business today. Why are organizations so focused on social?

We all know that social is the shiny object in business today. Why are organizations so focused on social? According to Gartner the top reasons are to strengthen relationship with customers, enhance brand awareness/preference, share information and ideas with customers, supplies, and partners, establish an interactive relationship with customers, and increase revenue.

These are all valuable goals, but they must tie to specific, measurable outcomes. According to Gartner Research Director Adam Sarner, "businesses must connect the dots of social CRM to get to measurable business value."
Sarner defines social CRM as "a business strategy that mutually benefits online communities and the business by fostering engagement while generating opportunities for sales, marketing, and customer service." Sarner emphasized the importance of balanced mutual benefits. If it's too much about the company, customers won't be interested; if there's too much focus on the customer, there's not enough business value. You have to define what's in it for the company, what's in it for customers, and is that equal. "Any successful social CRM I've seen is mutually beneficial to the company and its customers, and the benefits are balanced," he said during he presentation this morning at Gartner Customer 360 Summit.

Social often starts with listening and also usually starts in marketing. As social initiatives develop within organizations, often marketing then adds interactions and promotions and perhaps communities. Next, there's often expansion into customers service, including peer-to-peer support. As social matures within an organization it may add social commerce, cocreation, and other cross-functional activities.

Sarner cited Golden State Warriors as a great example of an organization that launched a highly successful social campaign (full story here). The campaign, which involved customers in the launch of the new team logo, created customer engagement, as well as drove revenue. The team won a 2011 Gartner & 1to1 Media CRM Excellence Award for its efforts.

In terms of excelling in the area of using social for community and customer service, Sarner cited Giff Gaff as a company doing it well (full story here). The telecom has no contact center. All of its customer service and support happens online and most of it is peer-to-peer support. This keeps costs down, which the company passes on to its customers.

Sarner recommended that companies audit their social CRM projects for mutual benefits, as well as ensure that their objectives and actions tie to CRM and broader corporate goals. Additionally, he suggested continuing to refine your strategy over time: how to staff the initiative as it grows, who will be involved within the organization, which goals should take priority. "If you can't clearly define benefits for both your company and its customers, or if it's unbalanced," Sarner cautioned, "the project will fail."