What's Wrong With Social CRM, and How to Make it Right

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Too many companies and CMOs remain socially challenged a good five years into the social CRM era.

“Most companies and CMOs still fall short in understanding how to leverage social CRM to enhance customer engagement to grow sales, market more effectively, and improve customer servicing,” Barton Goldenberg asserts.

Goldenberg, president of consultancy ISM Inc. and author of The Definitive Guide to Social CRM, adds that there are options for the many marketers who remain socially challenged. First, is to understand what's holding them back; next is to create a roadmap to success.

This widespread social media distortion has several root causes, according to Goldenberg, including:

Private/public community confusion: CMOs should keep in mind that “successful social media communities are as much about private communities as they are about public communities,” Goldenberg says. “Whereas many companies and CMOs think that social media communities equate to public communities such as Facebook, Twitter, etc., nothing could be further from the truth.” Public social communities work fine for branding and  for new product and service announcements, “but they are a poor way to create intimate exchanges,” he adds. That's where private social media communities—also called branded communities—shine (and, by the way, public communities are great venues to drive awareness and membership to private communities).

Resource shortages: Goldenberg notes that many companies and CMOs want to “dip their toes” into the social CRM space. “Unfortunately, this is not possible,” says Goldenberg, whose book details this four-step social CRM methodology: 1) ongoing listening to social media communities;  2) effective filtering of social insight; 3) integration of this social insight into the customer profiles housed within the CRM application; and 4) enhanced customer engagement.
Simply put, companies cannot get to step four without investing in the people, processes, and technology required in the first three steps.

Process deficiencies: The process work demands extra attention. “Being in a position to leverage social insight gathered from harvesting social media communities requires an organization to have key social CRM processes in place,” Goldenberg explains. “These processes include identifying which public and private social media sites to monitor and how often, integrating ‘social insight' into a company's CRM application, and engaging customers via their preferred channel.”

Goldenberg's solution to these and other social CRM pitfalls? The comprehensive social CRM road map and action plan he details in his book—boiled down here to these 10 steps:

  1. Ensure that social media supports the company's business strategy and goals
  2. Define social CRM success from the outset using clear metrics
  3. Link social CRM to existing CRM customer programs and outreach
  4. Integrate social media communities with other marketing programs
  5. Draw on existing organizational resources and initiatives
  6. Leverage partners
  7. Carefully monitor the community
  8. Respond quickly to community input
  9. Discuss topics or issues customers are passionate about
  10. Use an integrated social media strategy

Most of all, jump in. CMOs cannot duck the social CRM wave, Goldenberg says. “Companies and CMOs not harvesting social insights will lose business to competitors that are actively listening and acting on social insight gathered from their customers and prospects,” he notes. “These companies and CMOs will have less than a complete understanding of the customer, which invites the customer to fulfill their needs elsewhere, more specifically from a competitor that has taken the time to successfully implement social CRM and that consequently has a more robust understanding of their customers' needs.”

Those customer needs aren't just products or services; they include interactions, as well. Says Goldenberg,  “Companies and CMOs that do not offer their products and services via their customers' channels of preference also risk driving those customers into the arms of their competitors.”

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