Social CRM or social customer relationship management is the integration of social media channels into Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms. Increasingly, CRM platforms support social media alongside traditional channels so customers can interact with businesses via their preferred channels. This means better customer service and greater marketing insight gathered from customer social media data.

Social CRM makes it possible for a business to communicate with customers using the channel of their choice—whether by phone, text, chat, email or social media (e.g. Facebook or Twitter).

Off the back of these interactions, a social CRM system helps businesses gather richer, actionable insight about customer sentiment on their company, their brand, and specific products or services.

The best CRM systems are able to take this dynamic customer profile and put it to good use by disseminating that information across different teams, including customer service, marketing and sales.

Social CRM is used by businesses looking to optimise service levels and the multi-channel customer experience. It can help businesses get the basics of customer service right, responding seamlessly in the way that suits the customer best.

Today’s consumer expects the same great service from a business regardless of channel.

Consumers expect to be able to move easily between channels of communication and for the business to respond promptly and personally in any of them. If the business can remember them so they don’t have to explain themselves again, even better.

This is especially important as customers increasingly see social media as the easiest way to raise a service query—telecoms giant BT says that 40% of their feedback from customers originates on Twitter, for example.

With social CRM, when a customer chooses to contact a business via a social channel, that interaction can be tracked and managed in as much detail as a traditional CRM system can track a telephone or email enquiry.

Businesses are able to act more quickly, respond better, and even anticipate customers' upcoming needs. By enabling businesses to track social interactions with customers using the same sophisticated tools as they use for other touchpoints, companies can deliver faster, more complete resolutions to customer service cases from across the whole business, resulting in happier customers.

Social interactions take place on a one-to-one-to-many basis, meaning the way in which the interaction is resolved can impact directly on brand sentiment.

A customer service agent dealing directly with a customer on Facebook is engaging in a personal interaction with a public audience. It’s easy and logical for customers to want to share socially about their service experience afterward, too.

Learn more about Salesforce Service Cloud’s social tools.

Social CRM helps businesses make customer engagement a two-way street. Instead of a passive audience, customers become active participants in the story of a brand, and in turn they get to see a brand value them as a customer.

A marketing team may be producing great content – blogs, Facebook posts, YouTube videos, Instagram accounts and snappy tweets – but that part of the conversation is one-way. By using monitoring and tracking tools to see who’s engaging in conversation with the business, social CRM can help businesses to identify and reward brand advocates and influencers, encouraging them to spread the word still further.

“We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in.””

CRAIG DAVIS | J WALTER THOMPSON

For the marketing, sales and customer service departments, social CRM can help generate more leads that turn into happier, satisfied customers who go on to become brand ambassadors for an organisation. It can change the understanding of brand reach and perception, while providing access to a raft of new information about customer behaviour and opinions.

Key benefits of social CRM are that it enables a business to:

  • Deliver customer support in the online platforms customers use
  • Interact and engage with customers in real time
  • Resolve issues speedily by monitoring social media for complaints
  • Find and reward brand advocates and customers who help others
  • Get greater exposure in the places where audiences spend their time
  • Increase engagement and deepen relationships with customers
Social CRM has the potential to deliver returns across and between several core business functions:

By tracking and managing customer contacts across channels and business functions, customer service teams can deliver dramatically better service and markedly improve resolution times.

Some 79% of Salesforce customers reported improved customer service, and 63% increased customer retention – demonstrating that social CRM delivers real commercial benefits.

Track each prospect’s progress and location within the sales funnel using a social CRM. Sales teams can create a personalised experience for specialised users, rather than using the traditional CRM blanket approach.

Beyond individualisation, sales teams can expect to see an improvement in retained and referred business as customers become recommenders and advocates; and that leads to increased revenue. In a survey of Salesforce customers, 55% reported increased customer loyalty and 54% increased sales revenues.

Increased reach and visibility, lower costs. Marketers can use social CRM to increase reach while improving customer tracking and measurement.

In one Social Media Examiner survey, 89% of respondents said social media increased their brand’s exposure, while nearly half reported that spending just 6 hours a week on social media activity reduced overall marketing costs.

Companies over-value followership and under-value participation. Yes, you can go out and buy 1000 followers. But if they all ignore you from that point on, they're worthless.”

Ian Lurie | president of Portent

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