Social CRM: The Evolution of Social Business
There are countless issues for the business owner to consider in the management of their company, and it is no easy task to be in charge of any enterprise - regardless of its size. But one essential consideration must be the implementation of a high quality and scalable CRM system. CRM has become increasingly popular among small to medium sized business owners, as more people begin to understand the benefits of monitoring and maintaining solid relationships with customers, clients, partners, and prospects.
A good CRM application can ensure that the whole team maintains a comprehensive understanding of the customer or client base, ensuring that they can offer the most up-to-date and appropriate service. For customer support teams, using data from a CRM system can ensure that they understand and empathise with the individual support ticket, as well as making sure that they respond within an adequate timeframe. For sales teams, an effective CRM ensures that they can keep tabs on prospects and sales developments, so that they can make the right moves at the right time.
But there is a new development that is starting to gain some serious traction in the world of business and IT... Social CRM.
What is Social CRM?
Social CRM is essentially the technique of using social media tools to improve engagement with clients and customers. In the first instance, Social CRM is a strategy, and an approach to management. It is then supported by tools and technologies that make the strategy possible. Traditional CRM systems such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM are developing to incorporate the social side of business, and it is a gradually evolving aspect of enterprise organisation that is growing ever more popular.
Social CRM is partially about social metrics, and monitoring a particular organisation’s performance on social media channels. Analysing the levels of engagement and monitoring product and service mentions and discussions on social media is definitely part of a good Social CRM strategy, but it goes much further.
According to Social Media Examiner, Social CRM means that “the customer is actually the focal point of how an organisation operates. Instead of marketing or pushing messages to customers, brands now talk to and collaborate with customers to solve business problems, empower customers to shape their own experiences and build customer relationships, which will hopefully turn into customer advocates.”
The Barriers to Social CRM Implementation
For small businesses, the main barrier to implementing a Social CRM approach is the challenge of implementing a social strategy in the first place. Most business owners understand the benefits of engaging their customers in a social media campaign, but as yet there is still a significant amount that don’t use social media to its full potential.
There are many reasons for this, with many business owners citing lack of time and resources. However, there are ways to combat these issues. Pre-planning social media updates through a scheduling tool can save an enormous amount of time, and allows you to prepare a solid strategy. Any social engagement on top of that base plan is a bonus, and will further boost your
brand’s social interaction.
Like any strategy, there are challenges facing businesses adapting to use Social CRM. Firstly, the willingness to engage in real conversations is tough for any brand. Reducing the levels of corporate talk and speaking to customers genuinely as people is something that really needs to be understood and put to work. Businesses also need to understand the benefits of being patient. Consistent monitoring of channels and nurturing conversation over time can reap great rewards. Social media and Social CRM is not going to have a dramatic impact overnight.
The progression of social media always offers new marketing opportunities for businesses of all sizes. Developments such as the Google Plus “Circles” allows your business to target specific sorts of clients and customers with specific content designed for their demographic. It is this kind of marketing strategy that can be determined through implementing Social CRM.
Summary - 10 Benefits of Social CRM
l Speaking to socially active customers / clients, who can help spread your message.
l Identifying business opportunities by monitoring online conversations.
l Reduce the costs of customer / client support.
l Prevention of complaints: monitoring conversations about your services or your products and intervening to assist if there is discontent.
l Ability to use polls and surveys that can influence your marketing or support strategy.
l Monitor habits and attitudes of your most influential clients / customers.
l Organisational buy-in to internal social media (such as Yammer) and Social CRM gives your business a vibrant edge.
l Online communities and forums can offer clients / customers the platform they need to support each other.
l Identify quick-wins across the board, in sales and in support.
l Improve customer / client retention by addressing their every concern and providing the best service possible.
If implementing a Social CRM system, you must ensure that you have a strong social presence to really make the most of your application. Social business is developing quickly, and far from being a short-term fad, it is here to stay.
Make sure your CRM system is capable of maximising the effectiveness of your online social strategy!
Marc Defosse is Managing Director of RibbonFish, a London-based IT consultancy that develop SharePoint solutions, CRM, and business systems using various Microsoft technologies. Marc enjoys blogging about the RibbonFish areas of expertise such as CRM, SharePoint and web development, as well as the latest business IT & tech trends.