July 29th, 2011 by Lloyd Gofton
Earlier this week Charlotte McEleny wrote a piece for NMA titled: Social CRM needs to be defined.
Charlotte opened her piece by saying: “Social CRM is an exciting phenomenon for brands, but with a lack of definition, it is becoming a meaningless social media buzz phrase.” This sums up the issue well. Many people are now talking about Social CRM, but the reality is they are probably only offering one element within Social CRM’s remit, or beginning to appreciate the range of elements that must come together, and as a result, it is becoming a bit of a buzz phrase.
The issue of a lack of available case studies that Charlotte mentions is also possibly linked to this problem, as I doubt many of what we would now call Social CRM campaigns started out with that title. Instead, it’s likely that there were separate functions of monitoring, engagement and data management. Although we are now seeing these functions pulled together under the Social CRM umbrella, planned and purpose-built Social CRM campaigns are still few and far between and have little in the way of a track record to report back on.
So, I thought I would have a go at defining Social CRM, and also pull in definitions from other more recognized individuals in the sector.
Put simply, we believe Social CRM is about delivering improved customer service by managing customer relationships and data, and its main focus should be fully on â€˜Humanising the conversation’.
Wikipedia defines Social CRM as follows (quoting Paul Greenberg):“A philosophy & a business strategy, supported by a technology platform, business rules, workflow, processes & social characteristics, designed to engage the customer in a collaborative conversation in order to provide mutually beneficial value in a trusted & transparent business environment. It’s the company’s response to the customer’s ownership of the conversation.”
One of the hottest discussion points at the event was that ‘Social CRM must go beyond Social Media Monitoring‘, although this is an important piece of the puzzle. The key is to understand this â€˜social data’ and exploit it fully, both internally and externally. Having social profiles and listening is not enough; you must be able to react, engage and offer useful insights that your community can benefit from. This, in turn, builds trust and helps customers focus on what is important to them. Therefore, considering this range of variables, Social CRM cannot be automated.
By investing in a Social CRM strategy, brands can expect to improve customer service, consolidate customer-related information and processes, evolve service offerings and open up invaluable conversations with customers.
We must approach Social CRM by offering a combination of social media monitoring, community management and engagement with a learning element that allows the brand to refine its customer services offering as a result of relevant feedback.
However, the truth is that there is no single correct approach to Social CRM, as each organisation has different focuses, challenges and customers. This is why we believe the Social CRM process must be developed as a strategy in partnership with the brand.
For further information, Mitch Lieberman, who also spoke at Social CRM 2011, has written an analysis on IBM’s Institute for Business Value “From social media to Social CRM” paper, which is an excellent guide.