CRM and how it intersects with social media – the next step

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No one seems to be talking about it, but surely it is the next step. The intersection between social media and CRM tools. How do we leverage the conversation we are now having with the customer and the use of our customer relationship management engine?

CRM + [SOMETHING THAT INTERACTS WITH/MANAGES SOCIAL INTERACTION] = CRM 2.0. Paul Green’s Blog does have a great article on how CRM and how it has evolved from CRM 1.0 basically a tactical software platform to manage customer data or transactions to the era of CRM2.0 a customer engagement strategy. Vendors like SAP CRM 7 and Oracle Social CRM have been proclaiming CRM 2.0 for a while now, but according to Paul they still have a while to mature.


Jeremiah Owyang an analyst from Forrester Research is a web strategist and in his latest blog talks about  in his article When Social Media Marries CRM Systems

“brands will be able to track, manage, and monitor who enters the community, determine if they are a prospect, customer, partner, or even inactive. Secondly, brands will be able to develop intelligence on how effective communities are for bringing customers closer such as integrating existing social networks like LinkedIn to the corporate intranet. In a theoretical sense, brands could determine which customers have the best reputation, and how to keep and reward them. But perhaps, most importantly, customer experience will improve as companies now have a better understanding of them throughout their life cycle –and beyond.”

I think there are some definite leverage points that today small business and others can take advantage of.

1. As  Jeremiah suggests using the interaction that our customers have now with us through social media and building a better understanding of them and their life cycle as a customer will allow us to further customising our offerings to our customers needs. How you inter-grate all the channels of communication to do this, I don’t know but I am sure there is some agitator tool out there. The future CRM without new Internet technologies such as Web 2.0 does not work anymore. There are lots of new opportunities to collect information on customers in this new social interactive environment. Recruitment firms are already leveraging this by using Linkedin.

2. As customers start to collaborate the use of CRM tools can be more influential further up the lifecycle as we test the ideas for new products and services and build them together. Using CRM platforms as a feedback mechanism would be an ideal scenario particularly if we have the customer details like email, twitter id, or facebook name. As Jeremiah explains SalesForce is a CRM example where collaboration is starting to happen as Salesforce offers community insight tools. It offers IdeaExchange, which powers Dell Ideastorm and My StarbucksIdeas. As Paul Green explains “it extends the company’s value chain to the customer and incorporates the customer into the pores of that value chain in addition to allowing them to tap the unstructured information that is out there for the picking on the web.” There is a great opportunity to actually engaging the customer in the interactions and not many companies are using their CRM to do this yet.

3. Information on competitors, feedback on companies, customer reviews are all fare game now with the customer controlling the conversation. This information can provide a great deal of insight and an opportunity if collected and trends identified to intersect the conversation with key pieces of valuable information either to protect a brand that might be the victim of some unfair blogging or to capitalise on the groundswell of a viral campaign. As the CRM tools become more sophiscated at digesting this information companies will be able to leverage this to proactively meet the needs of their customers and protect their brand reputation.

4. Customer escalation. Hilary from Lithium makes a great comment on a blog about how CRM and community forums can assist call centre agents. Customers can search once and get combined results from forum posts and the company’s knowledge base. And customers are more likely to get their questions answered if questions posted on forums are escalated to customer support when not answered in a set time frame. For customer support agents, they get a (closer to) 360-degree view of the customer if forum activity is integrated into their CRM desktop. Hilary explains Lithium is doing this today. Helpstream is another example.

5. Adam Needle makes some interesting comments on his blog that current CRM vendors that largely cater for ” demand generation (Eloqua, Market2Lead, Marketo, Silverpop, etc.), marketing automation/EMM (Aprimo, Neolane, Unica, etc.) and advanced CRM (today prob Oracle, Salesforce, etc.) — collectively, what I refer to as integrated marketing management — are building on (and integrating with) existing CRM and are positioning both to be able to broker and to measure/nurture and find ROI in customer dialogue.” Adam states that these vendors aren’t in the best position to understand the customer dialogue because they operate in a data rich database environment but they are coming around. He believes that they are coming around and will begin to integrate social media and other such ‘unstructured’ data/communication capabilities into their platforms. So as marketers and small business the landscape will change with regards to the tools we have and how they intersect to have conversations with our customers and manage that data as part of a marketing intelligence.


So as a small business you might be just starting to collect names in a database and that is a great start but perhaps start to monitor the conversations your customers are having with you on your blog or about you on social forums or product reviews to see if you can join the conversation or identify trends where you can improve your service and your competitive advantage. A good way of starting to do this is follow google alerts and maybe some competitors just for fun or have a look at Marketingvox for some good tips.

Relevant Books:

The art of strategic Listening by Robert Berkman

The Age of Engage: Reinventing Marketing for Today’s Connected, Collaborative, and Hyperinteractive Culture by Denise Shiffman

Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies by Charlene Li (Author), Josh Bernoff (Author)

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