Social CRM: Move Beyond the Buzz to Build Exceptional Customer Relationships

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Because social media has become so mainstream, many organizations have been eager to experiment with new ways to incorporate it within existing marketing activities. With the goal of merging social media with current sales and marketing tools, such as traditional CRM systems, the buzz around social CRM has continued to grow. In fact, industry analyst firm Gartner Group recently stated that social CRM is a $22 billion growth market, proving that it has the potential to live up to the hype.

Despite the buzz, many organizations still question how social CRM can benefit their business and drive customer engagement, beyond their use of existing CRM software. Because the social customer consumes information in such a different way, organizations must shift from a traditional technology view to a customer view to truly benefit from the promise of social CRM. And it is for this reason that tracking and measuring customer behavior is absolutely critical.

Here at Neolane we have worked to integrate social media into all of our marketing strategies. To achieve the best results and ROI, tracking, centralizing and leveraging customer data across all inbound and outbound channels, including social media is critical to providing truly authentic, sustainable, and personalized one-to-one marketing conversations.

Because we’re so passionate about this topic, we were very excited to be a part of the Social Media Breakfast held in Boston on November 12. Organized and led by Bob Collins (@robertcollins), the event focused on ‘Social CRM and Measuring Social CRM’, and brought together social media experts, business leaders, marketers, and entrepreneurs for an exceptional morning of networking, sharing of ideas, and discovery.

In addition to Bob, the presenters included Neolane’s very own Mathieu Hannouz (@repackaged), Tom Cummings (@tomcummings) from Dachis Group, Lauren Vargas (@vargasl) from Radian6, and Navdeep Alam (@YoshiNav) from Mzinga. Each of the presenters shared relevant case studies on how their organizations are engaging in social CRM. For those who were unable to attend or follow the event on Twitter, I wanted to share some of the presenters’ insights here.

Neolane’s Mathieu Hannouz kicked off the event with a discussion about how organizations need to re-think CRM when it comes to social media. One of his key points was that social CRM is a customer engagement mind-set, process and technology all based on the simple idea that you are able to interact with your customers based on their needs…not your rules. As part of a checklist for driving a successful social CRM strategy, Mathieu explained why it was critical to define your customer satisfaction metrics, share all of your social information within your organization and always listen before engaging with your customers.

Lauren Vargas from Radian6 talked about the importance of having the right strategy in place. She stated that it doesn’t matter what technology you have, it’s about the process and the strategy you put in place first. “Social CRM is not about technology, it’s about understanding the customer decision-making cycle.” One of her words of advice was to “listen to your customer and hear what they have to say – then worry about CRM later”. And finally, treat every member of your staff as a potential customer touch point. Very good advice indeed!

Dachis Group’s Tom Cummings talked about the critical role sales plays in social CRM and shared a very interesting anecdote with attendees. He recommended that every sales person own an iPad with CRM built in to allow them to research customers on the go. This will enable sales to learn as much as they can about their customer’s online activities, so when they walk into a meeting with that customer, they are armed with information to help them be more targeted and effective. He shared a few additional tidbits of insight, including the point that social CRM is about enabling an army of sales people with the best intelligence. The end result should be an increasingly efficient sales cycle and more effective analyst and advisor meetings.

Finally, Navdeep Alam from Mzinga focused his presentation on social intelligence. Navdeep stated that social media ROI remains a mystery to most, but it’s getting easier. He talked about social gaming as the future of generating customer transactions, saying that making a game out of everything is the best way to drive interactions with customers and build relationships. A useful equation he so aptly used to support this point: Social gaming dynamic + social behaviors = social intelligence – which enables repeatable ROI. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

So there you have it. Some of the finer words of wisdom coming out of last week’s Social Media breakfast. It’s clear to me and many others that social CRM is here to stay. It’s so exciting to see so many organizations embracing the trend and using social media as a critical tool to better engage with their customers to help develop more effective and lasting relationships.

Do you have any social CRM best practices of your own?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Kristin Hambelton
Kristin Hambelton is responsible for all marketing efforts for Neolane including corporate communications, branding, product marketing, demand generation, partner marketing, and operations.

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