CRM Gets Social
In the traditional sales cycle, CRM (customer relationship management) forms a data-driven understructure that powers an overall customer life cycle. Based on historical transactions, the insights into what a customer may need next, or when a particular customer may be ready for an upsell, offers are generated based on past transactional data and the larger purchase or use patterns that exist across the entire customer base. On the Social Web, where the customer is now becoming an integral part of the sales process, CRM is being adapted to support this new role of the customer.
Think here specifically about the Social Feedback Cycle and the role of a brand ambassador, or an advocacy program that plays out in social media. In each of these, there is a specific development process—from tire kicker to car owner to a loyal customer to brand advocate—that can be understood in terms of available behavioral data. CRM Gets Social sites, collected through social analytics tools, for example, can provide real clues as to where in the ascension to brand advocate a particular individual is at any given moment.
The New Role of Influence
Consider a typical conversation on the Social Web, say a potential customer who is reading a review and talking with a friend over Twitter about it. That review was written by someone, and it was written for a reason. Who that person is think profile plus connections provides a clue as to the motivation behind the review. Further, that review is the result of an experience that is itself driven by a business process. Looked at in a macro sense, a potential customer reading a review is actually looking at the net result of a business process through the eyes of someone with an identifiable motive or point of view.
If that motive or point of view can be understood, you can sort out the real business impact of the review (if any) and then apply this knowledge to your business and adjust as necessary your own business processes that are creating the experiences that drove that review. In other words, knowing who is talking about you (and not just what they are saying) is fundamental to understanding and then optimizing your processes to produce the conversations you want, and addressing and correcting the processes that drive the conversations you’d rather not see
The Social Graph
Just as you are able to track your communication with an existing customer through the relationship life cycle, you can track customers and other influencers through that same relationship as they create content and converse on the Social Web. This can be very enlightening and is really useful when pulled into the product design process. Social CRM helps you understand and apply the significant points in the conversations happening around you.
It helps you tie this information into your business, where you can use it to build relationships with influential customers and with influential bloggers, critics, and others who follow your firm or track your business or industry. You can apply this same discipline internally, too, and connect customers and external influencers to your employees, to the Customer Service Manager, to brand managers, and to others. Once connected in this way, your customers and employees can bond further, moving toward collaboration. It’s a collaboration that drives customer-centric product and service innovation and collaboration that leads to the highest forms of engagement with your customers.
If you now add to this your data around customer registration or similar information that you may have collected separately—remember, like any other form of CRM, Social CRM tracks specific profiles and contacts, so it can be synched with existing customer data sets—you can begin to track what the people who matter to you, your current and prior customers, are saying about your product or service, or about your brand, firm, or organization in the context of actual purchases and experiences