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The Importance of Social CRM

Social media is a pervasive presence in corporate and personal life. Even for those who aren’t
users of social media, rarely will a day pass without encountering the presence of social media
in some aspect of their lives. Social media is clearly deeply integrated into the fabric of society,
serving as a communications channel and a way to connect with people and brands.

Marketers have long been proponents of social media as a means of engaging customers
and prospects, as well as promoting their brands. The uses of social media continue to evolve,
growing in sophistication and value. Not long ago, social media and Customer Relationship
Management (CRM) were viewed as separate initiatives with different purposes. Now, there is
clear intersection between the two, giving rise to the concept of Social CRM.

The logic is obvious: an initiative that is all about managing customer relationships should have
some degree of visibility into or integration with the vast social-media networks and followings
companies have built.

This How-to Guide will explain what Social CRM (SCRM) is and how your business can benefit,
detail various applications of SCRM and outline an action plan for getting your business started
in the world of SCRM.

What Is Social CRM?

CRM blogger Paul Greenberg provides this definition of Social CRM:

“Social CRM is a philosophy and a business strategy, supported by a technology

platform, business rules, workflow, processes and social characteristics, designed
to engage the customer in a collaborative conversation in order to provide
mutually beneficial value in a trusted and transparent business environment. It's
the company's response to the customer's ownership of the conversation.”

Paul Greenberg


This definition is rich with meaning and implications. The operative word is “engagement,” and
it differentiates SCRM from Social Media Monitoring, with which it is often associated. There
is certainly a connection between the two, but Social Media Monitoring can occur passively—
monitoring is essentially a listening activity.

SCRM, however, is a management activity, implying a level of proactive involvement in the process.
Both processes can yield valuable insights into customer behavior, pains and sentiments, as well
as new trends, and feedback.

As a business strategy, SCRM exploits existing social-media networks, such as Facebook,

LinkedIn or Twitter, to invite and encourage dialogue about a brand, its products and services,
and in general how it performs when it comes to serving customers.

The goal for the brand is to attract and engage an audience—followers—in conversation. These
conversations differ substantially from colleagues chatting around the water cooler because the
reach of these conversations is magnified and visible to a large audience.

In social media forums, hundreds, or even thousands of followers are free to express opinions,
create dialogue, ask questions, and receive honest feedback from the brand and other followers.
These conversations are powerful influencers for shaping the perception of the brand.

Even when the discourse is initially negative, such as when a customer complains or expresses
displeasure, the brand has the opportunity to not only recover with that customer, but also to
impress the entire community of followers with its desire to respond, its response and the timeli-
ness of the response.

What SCRM is as a strategy, in the simplest terms, is thoughtful, intentional participation in a

dialogue that the customer is essentially in control of.

The Benefits

Customer Interaction

Facilitates efficient, convenient interaction with customers in a way they prefer to communicate.
Grows customer appreciation when customers feel the brands they’re connected to are
responding and listening to them.
Encourages engagement through social-media channels through rewards and special offers
to your brand’s followers.


Brand Reach

Enables dialogue with and influence customers that were formerly inaccessible or difficult to reach.
Creates sharing mechanisms make it easy for brand loyalists to promote your brand.
Exposes your brand to new markets.

Marketing Communications & Research

Understand sentiment toward your brand.

Listen for new product and/or service ideas.
Gather primary research data through polls, surveys and discussions.
Inform customers of significant or interesting brand developments: new products, locations,
features, tips, offers, partnerships, announcements, etc.

Customer Service

Promote self-help resources.

Identify and resolve complaints in a way that strengthens customer bonds. Encourage discus-
sions among followers that provide advice, tips or other practical help with shared concerns,
issues or even product usage.

New use cases for Social CRM are discovered almost every day, inspired by the relationship and
communications potential of being connected to a large group of followers. What follows is a brief
discussion on some of the more common use cases for SCRM.

Peer-To-Peer Customer Support

The social networks you build and curate are often the first place customers go to ask product
or service questions.
Because these support issues are being posed in a social forum, followers of the brand can
and often will provide responses to support questions.
Brands that encourage and even reward customer involvement in support delivery through
social channels enjoy higher levels of satisfaction and lower support costs.


Market Research

Social media provides an excellent listening post to detect trends, areas of opportunity or dissatis-
faction and even competitive threats. Followers of a brand will use their connection to its social-
media channels to communicate their expectations of the brand and how it needs to perform.
Social-media followers of a brand represent a sample population or virtual focus group with
whom you can conduct primary research quickly and inexpensively.

Product Launch

The vast reach and immediacy of social-media communications make it the first choice for
many companies when it comes to new-product announcements.
Pre-announce new product features, terms or conditions to get immediate feedback that is
useful for making program changes and enhancements prior to general product availability.
Identify excellent beta-test or case-study candidates by monitoring social media posts.

Brand Reputation Management

Monitor social-media posts to understand sentiment about your brand. At regular intervals,
take a social-media snapshot of brand sentiment and track the trend. Identify causes for both
upward and downward sentiment trends so you can manage them.
Engage directly with brand loyalists and detractors to understand the reasons for their senti-
ments. Through social-media engagement, turn brand detractors into loyalists, and brand
loyalists into brand ambassadors.

Bottom Line
Your business can benefit from culture of customer-centric social media and CRM. By lever-
aging the power of online discussion forums, your business can extend its reach and build brand
equity by listening to what your customers are saying through social media.

Managing the online conversation is a catalyst to grow the stature of a brand. An effective SCRM
process provides opportunities to gain new market insights, improve service quality and deepen
loyalty to the brand.


Action Plan
STEP 1 - Build Your Online Community

Build Your Becoming Visible &

1 Online
Community Staying Active On Social

Understand Your Identify the social-media channels

2 Customers Value your customers frequent. Develop
a presence on these channels.

Monitor your social-media chan-

nels frequently, both to respond
Think Like a to followers who engage with
3 Customer you, and to post practical infor-

Publish a social-media policy and

train employees how to engage
customers through your social-
Motivate Your
4 Customers media channels.


Playbook & Toolkit


Engage Your
5 Audience

Follow this simple step-by-step playbook to develop and launch an

online community that meets your marketing objectives.

Online Community Playbook



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