Despite all the hype and lots of recent success stories, Social CRM is not a product. And it's not a market. Rather it's a vision about blending transactional processes and insights with social interactions and data. And - this is the key - shifting CRM from the "management" part to the "customer" part and delivering solutions and content and campaigns that get people talking, and ultimately doing and buying things that they will love. Oh, and helping businesses do more with less of course!
So what do organizations and vendors need to ramp up their Social CRM efforts and generate tangible results?
First, think globally. With global social media and mobile adoption through the roof, the next wave of CRM is clearly about listening, crowdsourcing, and connecting with customers on their preferred channel, no matter where they are. And with a myriad of cloud/SaaS and even freemium options, plus hundreds of capable service providers ready to help (something DCG has been mapping for a major upcoming industry study), the barriers to getting started continue to get lowered.
Second, act locally. Social CRM is an evolution of many parts and pieces and today still is very much a composite market and ecosystem driven by best-of-breed tools. Although one can argue the platform providers like Adobe, Oracle, Salesforce and SAP have awoken and have been much more aggressive participants at "the edge" via partnership and acquisitions. But most companies are still going to start with special purpose tools focused on specific roles or needs.
So what does the Social CRM ecosystem look like? I've envisioned it as an interconnected universe of solution providers, each with their own relationships and specialty vendors clustered around four categories:
- Social listening, monitoring, and analytics tools
- Community and collaboration platforms,
- Fan marketing and profile management tools, and
- Social sales and marketing automation.
Listening and monitoring is where the journey starts for most, and there are many options from free social search from Topsy and HubSpot's grader tools to higher-end analytics tools like NetBase, Radian6 (now Saleforce) or Visible Technology.
Communities and collaboration were one of the first success stories for Social CRM.
Fan marketing and profile management is where a lot of the M&A action has been recently and includes campaign-centric tools.
Social sales and marketing automation is perhaps the Holy Grail for front-office fans, where monitoring meets social contact databases and campaign management.
Third, you need a strategy. Interestingly, the goals of CRM and Social CRM are quite similar: Foster relationships, better understand needs, and create great experiences that lead to interest, intent and a (repeat) purchase.
More specifically, with the potential of harnessing social channels and data plus the benefits of self-service delivery, organizations should be looking to do three things:
- Provide sales and service via social channels-in the format and timeframe to exceed customers' expectations. It's not enough to have staff monitoring Twitter or interacting in a forum on Facebook, you need to speak the language, understand social behavior and make offers or resolve issues in a way that fits the "persona" of each channel.
- Enrich your understanding and aim to create a complete picture of customers, their segments, influencers, and even competitors by combining insights from social channels and campaigns with Web analytics and transactional (traditional CRM) data. This is where influence comes into the equation (see my broader discussion of the role of content and the formula for social marketing here) as a multiplier for word-of-mouth and factor in targeting.
- Transform your products, messages, and mix of delivery channels based on the effectiveness of #1 and insights from #2. When done well, Social CRM provides an amazing feedback loop that not only put the "C" back in CRM when it comes to channel of choice, but also provides the mythical "360 degree" view of customers that helps both parties to get to know each other and find out which buttons to push - or not.
So Social CRM is just the latest step in the evolution of CRM. But a critical step nonetheless that offers great upside for customers, vendors, and organizations that keep an eye on what it could be someday (a global view), while focusing on developing and deploying the 'local' parts that can have a real impact today.