Seven Steps To Social CRM Success


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A hot topic of debate among customer management and business process thought leaders right now is ascertaining the business value of “social CRM.” Social technologies are proliferating rapidly and three-quarters of US online adults now use social technologies in some form. Cutting through all the hype, my clients are challenged to make hard decisions about the level of investment they should make in Social Computing technologies like blogs, wikis, forums, customer feedback tools, social networking sites, and customer community platforms. And, they want to know how these new capabilities should be, and can be, integrated with their transactional CRM systems.

We have just published a summary of our most research and define the seven steps to success for strategizing, selecting, and deploying social CRM solutions:

1. Initiate social CRM experiments immediately.
Define a near-term opportunity to apply social CRM ideas to a customer-facing challenge at your company. Build some practical experience that will break out of your of old mindsets. Refine your strategies later as new insights emerge. For example, 10 years ago, Electronic Arts recognized that could not cope with the anticipated tenfold increase in customer support inquiries as the result of launching large-scale online multiplayer games. No commercial solutions were available to help at the time, so Electronic Arts began experimenting and developing its own solutions. Trying new ideas and discarding the old, EA actively worked to gain hands-on experience by actively participating in the virtual worlds of its social game players.

2. Benchmark customer and prospect social readiness.
Survey your customers to assess their Social Computing behavior and attitudes. Use Forrester’s Social Technographics® as a framework for assessing whether prospects and customers are willing to comment on blogs, contribute content to online forums or wikis, or view online video segments. Use the resulting segment profiles to design interaction plans that align with their current social behaviors and preferences. For example, Linksys has discovered a whole world of “super users” who are willing to provide support to their peers for free. Lego has capitalized on an already successful independent user group to recruit brand ambassadors to stimulate increased social interactions that were already emerging in the buyer community.

3. Define your social customer objectives.
The most important decision is not what technology to use; most important is determining who you’re trying to reach, what you’re trying to accomplish, and how you plan to change your relationships with your customers. At Forrester, we advocate using a systematic, four-step method for next-generation customer management strategy formation. The acronym for the four steps is POST: people, objectives, strategy, and technology. For example, IHG, the hotel chain giant, wanted to forge deeper relationships with customers through social engagement, so it focused its attention on the social CRM objective of doing more “talking” with customers and fostering ongoing dialogue with its community of travelers.

4. Assess your social CRM capabilities.
Undertake a self-assessment to understand how your organization stacks up compared with CRM best practices and identify where you should focus your attention for quick wins. For example, LucidEra knew that as a young Internet company it needed to improve its sales capabilities quickly to meet ambitious growth targets. It focused attention on finding a social buyer data solution to empower its inside sales people with deep insights about prospects in advance of making sales calls.

5. Understand the social CRM solutions landscape.
You must learn to navigate an emerging CRM solutions landscape that includes both traditional solutions and new Social Computing capabilities. For example, Citrix looked for one year to find the right community technology platform and community facilitation vendor to help it realize its vision for interacting and listening to customers using methods beyond its small customer advisory councils and traditional market research techniques.

6. Map out your social CRM capabilities-building plan.
A social CRM plan should be tightly linked to business goals, focused on customer benefits, clearly identify the processes and constituencies that will be affected, and specify the associated information and capabilities required. For example, Dell implemented IdeaStorm to gather new ideas from customers. But it has also systematically defined processes to synthesize the ideas, allocate them to individuals and departments within Dell for further refinement and evaluation, and finally, implement the best concepts.

7. Define your CRM metrics for success.
Exceptional discipline is what sets CRM winners apart from failures. Social CRM comprises both a strategy and a set of tools, but you also need to pay attention to how well you are tracking toward your goals over the long term. Establishing the right metrics is part of the discipline that leads to success.

You need traditional CRM metrics like: email marketing offer click-through rates; sales opportunity close ratios; and first-time call resolution ratios) And, you need to think about new social “sentiment” measures like social conversation buzz, reach, and value. P&G calculated that its site and community is four times more effective than advertising in reaching its target consumers, which provided justification for rolling out the initiative to nearly 30 countries.

William Band
Bill Band is a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research. He is a leading expert on CRM topics, having helped organizations define customer-driven strategies to achieve distinction in the marketplace for his entire career. Click here to download free related research from Forrester (free site registration required).


  1. Nice post about what to do when starting with SCRM.

    I have some questions about this, in my opinion SCRM is more than just using social media to communicate with your (potential) customers. SCRM is a strategy and is about interacting with customers and changing the way you behave based on the feedback you receive.

    To implement SCRM in a organization much more has to ben done than the 7 steps you pointed. The organization has to change and has to become customer-centric.

    It is the same with the Voice Of the Customers programs: asking customers what they want/feel will not help you if your company is not ready to adjust to the outcome of it.

    CRM and SCRM should be in the DNA of a company. Everyone working there should be aware of the dialogue with the customers. To achieve this much more has to be done than these 7 steps (wich are great if you want to start using social media as a channel, just like e-mail, phone, etc)

  2. Ludo,
    Good points. I agree. Can you suggest “seven steps” for inculcating “customer-centric” DNA into an organization? That has been a holy grail in the CRM community for many years.

    Have things changed in this regard with the emergence of SCRM?


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