Research Report: The 18 Use Cases of Social CRM – The New Rules of Relationship Management


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Analyzing The Demand For Use Cases In Social CRM

Since joining Altimeter Group, I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with my colleague Jeremiah Owyang on Social CRM. On a daily basis, the requests for Social CRM strategies escalated from all parts of the organization. In fact, requests reflected all facets of CRM including the usual sales, marketing, service and support to advanced areas such as innovation, collaboration, and customer experience. Who’s been asking? Well it’s our clients, blog readers, and prospects. They represent the line of business guys, the IT teams, the marketing gurus, and the board members who have told their executives that they need to do something social.

So why all this fuss and urgency? Customers continue to adopt social technologies at a blinding speed and organizations are unable to keep up. Social technologies continue to proliferate. Because the conversations about organizations increasingly occur outside of the organization’s control in social channels, organizations need to:

  1. Discover where the conversations are happening in this new social world.
  2. Identify who’s influential and if they are customers or not.
  3. Assess friend or foe status and their willingness to engage
  4. Determine a tiered approach to engagement or re-engagement.
  5. Tie social channels to business value and objectives
  6. Bring the social channel back to existing CRM systems.
  7. Reallocate resources to support Social CRM efforts

This is the basis for the groundswell in Social CRM. But keep in mind, Social CRM does not replace existing CRM efforts – instead it brings more value to existing efforts and should complement the uber CRM strategy.

Behind The Scenes In Social CRM – A Holistic Approach to 18 Use Cases That Show Business How To Finally Put Customers First

Social CRM reflects the new world of disruptive technologies and the related business models, processes, and organizational requirements we live in. Hence the multi-disciplinary approach to this research. We’ve paired Jeremiah’s expertise in social technologies and customer strategies with my background in CRM, enterprise applications, master data management, and order management. Our goal – take a holistic approach across multiple business departments, roles, and processes.

Given the newness of this topic, we also went out to the community to collaborate and define the use case framework. We started with the “godfather of CRM” – Paul Greenberg and worked with 11 other gurus in a concerted fashion and with some level of serendipity. Thanks go out to the individuals below and the for putting up with endless revisions, late night skype chats, and debates about client demand and technology maturity (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Influencer Input


From there, we validated the framework with over a 100 Social CRM pioneers. As a final process, we then tested out the framework with 30 vendors in the space for a sanity check (see Figure 2). The result – 18 Use Cases of Social CRM with input from 100 pioneers and 42 influencers in the market.

Figure 2. Vendor Input


With all this in place, additional thanks go out to Christine Tran our researcher who helped us tremendously on the production of this report and Charlene Li for her edits!

Taking The 20,000 Feet View

While we’ve taken a comprehensive assessment of the use cases, keep in mind, the high level points of the report start with:

  • Customers have moved. Organizations are Falling Behind
  • Social CRM Reconnects Organizations Back to Customers
  • Avoid the Hype – Deploy Social CRM for Business Value
  • Get Value: Adopt the 18 Social CRM Use Cases
  • All Use Cases Start with Listening

Applying The 18 Use Cases

The 18 Social CRM use cases and the seven areas of business value can be summarized as (see Figure 3):

  1. Social Customer Insights Form the Foundation for All Social CRM Use Cases
  2. Social Marketing Seeks to Achieve Customer Advocacy
  3. Social Sales Enables Seamless Lead Opportunities
  4. Social Support and Service Drives Sustainable Customer Satisfaction
  5. Social Innovation Streamlines Complex Ideation
  6. Collaboration Reduces Organizational Friction and Stimulates Ecosystem
  7. Seamless Customer Experience Sustains Advocacy Programs

Figure 3. 18 Use Cases Show Businesses How To Finally Put Customers First
Framework:  The 18 Use Case of Social CRM

At a high level, we’ve prioritized the use cases into 4 categories by market demand and technology maturity (see Figure 4).

  • Evangelizables. This category represents market demand that is less than 16 months and technology maturity between beta ready technologies and those with critical mass.
  • Near Tipping Points. This category represents market demand that is more than 16 months and technology maturity between beta ready technologies and those with critical mass.
  • Early Movers. This category represents market demand that is less than 16 months and technology maturity between vaporware and beta ready technologies.
  • Early Adoptions. This category represents market demand that is more than 16 months and technology maturity between vaporware and beta ready technologies.

Figure 4. Ranking The 18 Social CRM Use Cases

Social CRM Use Case Maturity:  Not all of the 18 use cases are market ready

The Report: The 18 Use Cases of Social CRM – The New Rules of Relationship Management

The Bottom Line – Take Action Today!

  1. Sign up for the webinar series. This is a deep topic, and the report is only the tip of the iceberg. As with other disruptive topics, we’re going to offer a series of free webinars to explore each of the use cases in detail. Sign up for the webinar now, as we can only have 1000 attendees per webinar, as our last webinar had over 1100 registrants.
  2. Read, then spread this report. As with open source, the Altimeter Group believes in open research. We want our ideas to grow, and others to take advantage of it. So if you found the report helpful, please forward the report to internal constituents, partners, vendors, clients, and blog it. Use it in your presentations, business plans, and road maps. The final report is embedded below, and there are download features for your own use.
  3. Have an internal discussion. Evaluate your current situation at your company, then draw up which business needs need to be tackled first, use the use cases as a roadmap by mapping out which phase comes first, and which phase comes second. Keep business value in mind at all times!
  4. Learn more and join the community of pioneers. This is new territory, we don’t have all the answers, so we’ve created at group in which pioneers can learn from each other. It’s free, and the conversation has started already, jump into the group, and learn together.

The Customer Strategists’ POV

You can read Jeremiah’s POV.

Your POV.

So ready to put the framework to use? Any use cases we should add in the future? We encourage you to let us know what else you see out there. We know there’s more than 18 out there and we’re already revising this report to include new use cases! You can post or send on to rwang0 at gmail dot com or r at softwaresinsider dot org and we’ll keep your anonymity or better yet, join the community!

Please let us know if you need help with your Social CRM efforts. Here’s how we can help:

  • Assessing social CRM readiness
  • Developing your social CRM strategy
  • Vendor selection
  • Implementation partner selection
  • Connecting with other pioneers
  • Sharing best practices


This report was entirely funded by the Altimeter Group. Client list disclosures are available on the Altimeter Group Website, providing clients give us permission approve.

* Not responsible for any factual errors or omissions. However, happy to correct any errors upon email receipt.

Copyright © 2010 R Wang and Insider Associates, LLC. All rights reserved.

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20090831 Monday’s Musings: Why Every Social CRM Initiative Needs An MDM Backbone


  1. “It is easier to keep an existing customer rather than trying to find a new one”.

    Companies know their bottom line is directly impacted by repeat business and without it, the business can struggle. Customer Relationship Management Marketing can generate new opportunities, repeat business and most of all, additional revenue.

    Whether large or small, each and every business is dependent upon their customer relationship strategy. All companies should be driven by their customer wants and needs, otherwise they can struggle and eventually fail. Aligning client needs with company products and services is critical in client retention and company growth.

    CRM systems help track every aspect of a customer through sales and into ongoing support. Many companies fail to utilize their own client base for revenue generating opportunities. Through these systems, marketing other products and services to existing clients can create “Starburst Opportunities” that can add to the bottom line with minimal expense.

    Gravity Garden

  2. I’d like to second your point that even though social network CRM is growing fast and evolving quickly that it does not replace all other CRM. I have seen too many clients put all their eggs into this shiny new basket and lose focus on their previous efforts. While it might seem that everyone is on this new bandwagon we shouldn’t forget those customers who are not.

  3. CRM is, in my view a method of bringing clients and suppliers together. To achieve this they must collaborate and agree on how the relationship may look. If one business is keen to use modern methods such as social networking and other does not, then it is a silly exercise. The keyword here, is Relationship.

    Epos Systems

  4. This is so true. In order for the small business to reach their market, social networking is mandatory. With so many options and variations to the CRM businesses must plan their strategies and consider all forms of service, sales and marketing techniques.

    Epos Software

  5. I hate to sound like a Cassandra here but I can’t help but think all these social CRM efforts will come to a bloody end. It is my belief that the social technology trend, while not a fad, is still in it’s nascent stages and will sooner or later blossom into what McLuhan called a cold media. Social technology, unlike television or radio will eventually (IMHO) become so ubiquitous as to be nearly invisible, at which point marketing will become a nuisance rather than a benefit. EG – would you want to listen to an ad every time you made a phone call to a friend?

    HR Consultancy

  6. For companies intimately familiar with social CRM the fast changing landscape of social media is still a challenge. Woe be to companies who are not already looking into adaptation strategies for their current CRM efforts. Fortunately, as you point out here any company with a strongly grounded plan should be able to adapt fairly easily if properly informed.


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