Is your CRM Social Media Friendly?

When it comes to defining Social CRM there are many points of view, but one definition that many would agree with is that it is the integration of social media platforms and techniques that enable companies to engage and listen to their customers.

Traditional CRM applications are typically comprised of three business functions.  Sales, Marketing and Customer Support.  All three functions help manage our customers through a pipeline.   The traditional CRM primary function was to collect customer data and then push marketing messages to customers based on the their buying behaviors.

Social CRM empowers the customer to collaborate with the companies they do business with and gives them the ability to create a customized experience while building a relationship with the customer.

The good news is that the larger CRM companies are spending big-time dollars to integrate these social media platforms into their customer engagement strategies which allows best practices to emerge that can be easily adopted by smaller companies with limited budgets.  Just as traditional CRM had its growing pains with many failures initially, social CRM is being fine-tuned on the backs of the big boys so that small business can piggy back on their key learnings and avoid costly mistakes.

Just as traditional CRM brought many benefits to the way companies manage and interact with their customers, integrating social CRM can add some exciting benefits to your customer touch points.

Benefits such as:

  • You get real-time communication with your clients
  • You can generate high quality leads from a wide range of social platforms
  • You can be proactive with your customer support and get in front of issues
  • You can build a community around your brand, reduce your sales costs and increase your customer retention
  • You can respond directly to your customers needs and offer products or services that relate directly to them
  • You can add customers at less cost than traditional strategies

Using CRM to tap into the Social Marketplace.

The latest social media count has Facebook out front with almost 1.5 billion users and Twitter and LinkedIn are fast approaching the 1 billion milestone.  These staggering numbers give businesses, large or small, the opportunity to increase their customer base dramatically.  In the last couple of years the CRM Goliaths have acquired social media startups to help traditional CRM manage its social media campaigns.

Why should Social CRM be a priority?

Today’s customers, particularly the younger generations, like to know more about the brands they use and the companies they buy stuff from.  After they visit your website they will probably check you out on the various social sites and see what their friends and colleagues have to say.  These social sites have leveraged the customers’ ability to share their opinion with hundreds.  If in the past you had a bad experience with a company or its products you might tell a few folks about it and move on.  Today, you can post your experience and everyone in your network will hear about it.

Another reason social platforms should be a priority is that they will allow you to expand your interactions with your customers in terms of enhanced customer service, lead generation and PR.  The bottom line here is that companies that effectively utilize social CRM will reach a broader range of audience in less time and engage them more effectively than their competitors that use traditional CRM only.

Customer relationships are not built on data, they’re built on trust.

In the past, the primary role of a good CRM solution was to manage customer data points, whereas social CRM is just adding data points that originate from Twitter and Facebook.  These data points however, give us insights into the personality of the customer and allow us to communicate more effectively.

Traditional CRM does a decent job of helping us move customers through our sales funnel, track customer engagement and provide management with the metrics to manage sales activities.  A good social media strategy can enhance your existing CRM by providing a platform by which you can engage more effectively on a personal level and react directly on a one-to-one basis.  Did I mention that you can extend your marketing efforts by attracting new opportunities from a Facebook post or Tweet as well?

It’s all about connection.

Social Media feeds our desire as human beings to connect.  A worthy objective of a good Social CRM strategy is to build a system that allows customers to interact with us the way they want to instead of how the company wants to.

If you are currently exploring the vast array of CRM solutions in the marketplace, it’s important that you do your homework.

There are many CRM solutions available today, each with their own unique set of features and benefits.  It’s virtually impossible to give them all a thorough test drive.  Whichever solution you choose, make sure that it not only can handle your business management needs, but also has a level of integration to social platforms.

The bottom line.

Social Media CRM is enhancing the customer experience.  When you can connect with a customer on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter you can easily find out their interests and feed them helpful information and personalize your offer.  The challenge for many companies is how to engage the customer authentically and add value to the conversation.

Business by its very nature is social.  Word of mouth or customer advocacy has always been the goal of organizations as they engage their customers.  Social Media allows the customer to leverage this process.

Just as you have a process and protocol for managing your CRM, it makes sense for organizations to have a defined set of social guidelines.  Companies would be well served if they would educate and empower their employees and customers, create social media policies and employ tools that will track customer engagement.

Organizations that effectively engage and listen to their customers and add value to the conversation will instill brand loyalty, reduce customer erosion and hopefully get their customers attention and most importantly their endorsement.

© 2015 Copyright Michael Vickers


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