Social CRM: the new way to connect with customers
Customers are adopting social networks at a breathtaking pace, and businesses are scrambling to keep up. Some companies are succeeding better than others; the key is implementing an effective strategy for what is fast becoming known as “Social CRM.” In essence, Social CRM involves tapping into social networking as a new channel within your existing CRM processes and investments. The goal is to deepen relationships with customers, improving and strengthening them through more meaningful interactions.
Paul Greenberg, the veritable godfather of CRM, characterizes Social CRM as “…the company’s response to the customer’s ownership of the conversation.”
Just as social CRM is a natural extension of CRM itself, Twitter CRM and Facebook CRM are natural extensions of Salesforce CRM. That’s because all three live in the same place: the cloud. So if you’re using salesforce.com’s Sales Cloud or Service Cloud, you’re already positioned in the best of all possible worlds. You don’t have to spend time and money trying to glue third-party Twitter CRM and Facebook CRM apps to an old-fashioned client/server CRM system―or worse, start over from scratch. Instead, you can quickly and easily extend your cloud-based Salesforce CRM application to connect with customers in Social CRM contexts.
Twitter CRM from salesforce.com
Twitter is today’s fastest-growing Social CRM channel―it’s where millions of people now turn to express opinions, pose questions, and seek help. Twitter CRM is about joining and tapping into these real-time customer conversations, and Salesforce for Twitter is the ideal Social CRM platform. It lets you keep tabs on your company’s Twitter presence, promote your products, dialogue with prospects and customers, monitor market sentiment, and assess the visibility of your Social CRM initiatives—all without leaving Salesforce CRM.
Salesforce for Twitter gives you a direct way to use the popular social network to enhance interactions with prospects and customers. Suddenly you’re part of customer-driven conversations about your brand, products, and services that previously weren’t within your reach.
How to fast-track your Facebook CRM
With upwards of 500 million users, Facebook is the Internet phenomenon of the current era. Needless to say, Facebook CRM should figure prominently in every company’s Social CRM strategy.
The true power of Facebook CRM is that Facebook isn’t just a social networking destination. It’s also a platform through which developers can extend Social CRM by integrating with Facebook’s “open graph” through applications, external websites, and all kinds of devices from notebooks to tablets and smartphones.
To make Facebook an integral part of your overall Social CRM program, get your hands on Force.com for Facebook—a free set of tools and services that lets developers combine Facebook with Force.com to create new kinds of socially driven business applications.
With Force.com for Facebook, developers can easily build Social CRM apps that let Facebook users plug into your company’s customer service processes. You can also create apps that let your staff use Facebook for activities like recruitment, project management, and group collaboration.
Social CRM and changing customer dynamics
Historically, organizations have exercised great control over their relationships with customers, but social networks have altered the balance of power. The rise of Social CRM signals that companies understand this transformation and are trying to play by the new rules. But they’re having trouble adapting for several reasons:
Customers are connecting directly with one another. Most customers harbor an informed skepticism about advertising, marketing, and customer service, but they’ve never had meaningful alternatives until now. Today, customers have myriad ways to connect and engage with each other about products and brands—Yahoo! Answers, Twitter, Facebook, Get Satisfaction, Yelp, and the blogosphere, to name just a few—and they’re using these communities in spades.
Through Social CRM in general and Twitter CRM and Facebook CRM in particular, companies are scrambling to establish a presence within these networks and offer worthwhile experiences to their customers.
Real time isn’t fast enough. To stay ahead of the curve, enterprises need to foresee customer responses to various events, anticipate fallout from adverse incidents or bad publicity, and quickly provide context and damage control. For example, when children’s Motrin was recalled in 2010, Johnson & Johnson addressed irate mothers within 24 hours—which turned out to be too slow. The immediacy of Social CRM can check the loss of goodwill in such potentially calamitous situations.
You can’t just scale there. Head count alone won’t do the trick, because no company can hire as many staff members as it has active customers. Effective Social CRM requires purpose-built tools for implementing and managing Twitter CRM and Facebook CRM initiatives with realistic resources.
Customers expect seamless support. Social CRM shouldn’t be siloed off from your other sales and service channels; customers want a consistent experience across all your touch points. They’re looking for accurate, up-to-date information and assistance regardless of where it resides within your organization. That’s why it’s critical that your tools—those for Facebook CRM and Twitter CRM, for example—tie back into your existing CRM and knowledge base systems.
Social CRM recommendations
In a 2010 report on Social CRM use cases, Silicon Valley research firm Altimeter Group made these recommendations:
Get started now. Determine your biggest company pain points, prioritize uses cases according to business value, and begin with one that’s entry-level. Master it and then move on to more advanced scenarios.
Invest in social media training and policy. To excel at Twitter CRM and Facebook CRM, your staff needs to know how to effectively use these communities. Train your people in best practices, craft a social media policy, and start implementing Social CRM by establishing an online presence.
Fold Social CRM into your larger CRM vision. Social CRM augments your existing CRM strategy but doesn’t replace it. Align Social CRM use cases with your overall CRM program, revising the road map as necessary to support new models.
Demonstrate value. Gauge the effectiveness of use cases according to business goals achieved. For example, judge a Twitter CRM use case by a decrease in service response time rather than by general social statistics such as followers or retweets.
Embrace trial, error, and rapid iteration. Mistakes and missteps are to be expected when implementing a new initiative like Social CRM. Prepare your team to try, fail fast, and learn even faster.
Connect with other pioneers. Join and learn from early-adopter communities. Connect with the online group for Social CRM pioneers at: http://groups.google.com/group/social-crm-pioneers
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