Social CRM Offers a New Channel Strategy
Many analysts are predicting that 2011 will be the year Social CRM integrates with traditional customer relationship management software systems to deliver more holistic solutions. If this is going to happen it will be a big year for changes in processes, strategy and company culture, all supported by software technology. But a basic premise of Social CRM is exactly the same as that of traditional CRM: Extracting value from customer interactions.
Despite the customers' use of external social networks, the capture and analysis of customer data as practiced in the traditional CRM software model remains valid. The challenge is to find a way to extract value from conversations in channels that are outside the company. The key to achieving this is to treat social networking as a new customer contact channel, applying methods and metrics, and extracting measurable value. This requires a change in behavior for staff who interact with customers as well as new technologies to gain insight into the conversations.
Listen, Engage, Analyze, Act
In a social CRM environment, customer strategy has to become aligned with company strategy. The conversations that are taking place will drive the company in terms of its marketing, sales and customer service as well as product planning, development and evolution.
Listen. First, to succeed at social CRM the act of social listening must be elevated to an art as well as a science. Listening to the buzz or sentiment about your company in social networking sites is the first step in creating metrics from which customer data can be extracted.
If your CRM software solution doesn't integrate with social network monitoring tools, many vendors offer social listening platforms that scan, monitor, report activity and enable triage to resolve issues as they arise. From there you would choose the most significant sites (blogs, wikis, forums, etc.) and create keyword filters to begin the social listening process.
Engage. In addition to monitoring activity in high-value communities, you will want to have your sales, marketing and service agents engage actively with voices in the communities. The key here is to help, not sell. Get to know your super advocates and reward them with access privileges, a job title (community leader) and other benefits. Do the same with customers who help other customers. If you haven't started a users' community for your products, do so immediately. It will become a social channel that you own and can more easily mine for data and insights.
Analyze. Establish social listening metrics and apply analytics to develop profiles of participants. Group them and target the groups for soft sell marketing campaigns. Track results and refine your model.
Act. In a social environment responding immediately to conversations is essential. As data is analyzed, act on it, changing processes and tweaking messaging to keep pace with customer desires. Connect research and development staff with the communities to collaborate on product improvements and new designs. Test new products and upgrades in social communities before launching them.
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