Defining Social CRM Strategy

Written by Heidi AnspaughJanuary 26, 2011

What is it?

For those not yet familiar with Social CRM (social customer relationship management), it refers to the process by which companies selling products or services build a relationship with their consumers. It consists of strategies for consumer engagement and social customer support that rely heavily on internal, back-end tools and technologies that support a two-way conversation while providing hard data on things like ROI, number of social media engagements, and increased brand loyalty and awareness.

Social CRM vs. CRM

Before the craze of all things social took hold, CRM was mainly about what sales and marketing strategies companies used to manage and target different customers and sales prospects. This was very much a one-way conversation, with the end goal being to collect data on customers and their spending habits that could then be used to better market to them. Social CRM takes that one step further, allowing companies to connect directly with their customers via social media tools like support forums, company blogs, Twitter, and Facebook accounts. The key difference is…customers can talk back. A two-way conversation is created, allowing companies and customers to gather and incorporate feedback, share product innovation ideas, and get and receive support. This collaboration results in much greater customer satisfaction and ultimately a better product.

The Two-Way Conversation

Social CRM is less about directing customers via PR and marketing through a pipeline that leads to them purchasing your product or service, and more about customers telling companies how to improve that product or service.  The consumer becomes both the target and advocate for your company’s business value proposition. This process is mutually beneficial: listening to customers ensures a better product, a better product ensures customer loyalty, and loyalty breeds advocacy. It’s a win-win – everybody’s happy!

Defining Strategies

Great. Now what’s the best way to implement this? The first step is to define your company goals so that you can then formulate a strategy for how to get there. Do you want to increase sales by 30% in 2011? Do you want customer satisfaction to go up by 60%? Are you looking to increase your Net Promoter score by a few points?

Depending on the goal, your Social CRM strategy might be to build a strong social support knowledge base made up of both customer and staff-generated answers so that your customers can always find the answers they seek, on their own. This saves everyone time. Or, it could be to create a community of brand loyalists and advocates who become your strongest promoters and virally spread the word about your business to their friends, colleagues, and connections. This, of course, results in increased traffic to your website and, at the end of the day, more sales.

Perhaps what you most want is strong, actionable feedback to drive your product innovation and development. What better source than the people who pays money to use it? Directing conversations around specific product launches and new features helps you gather valuable market data for ongoing improvements. Think of it as your virtual focus group, only with people who actually use and care about your product.

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