What is Social CRM, and why should it be on your radar?


Social media is a crucial component to a successful business plan. But what about Social CRM? Is this an actual thing, and is it something you need? Jack Wallen answers the questions.

 

Man under pressure by social media likes
Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

When you hear the term social, your mind now immediately goes to social networking platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok and Twitter. And when asked about CRM, your reply is Customer Relationship Management.

Simple.

Obvious.

Predictable.

But this is the modern era, where social media has become an absolute must-use for most businesses. These platforms are paramount to connecting with customers (new and old). Without using the likes of Twitter and Instagram, your company could easily wind up adrift in a sea of competitors, incapable of attracting an audience. With these platforms, you can create dialogues with potential customers and, more importantly, develop relationships. Those relationships build loyalty, and loyalty helps build your brand.

SEE: Ethics policy: Vendor relationships (TechRepublic Premium)

And, of course, once your brand begins to grow, you’ll need the tools to manage those relationships, which is where CRM comes into play.

So, when you realize just how important social networks are to customer relations, now CRM tools eventually become necessary. So, why not bridge the gap between the two?

That’s where Social CRM comes into play.

What is Social CRM?

It’s quite simple. Social CRM is the marriage of social networks and CRM tools. What these platforms do is integrate social media channels into traditional CRM tools. With this marriage, it is exponentially easier for customers to interact with a business.

But why? Don’t you already have the necessary channels for communication?

Yes, you do. But the modern era begs a new question: Are those channels sufficient? In a word, no. Consider these points:

  • Most people prefer not to speak on the phone (that’s a given).
  • Younger generations don’t use email.
  • Customers want an immediate response (and if they can’t get it, they’ll move on).

Over the past couple of years, I’ve migrated away from the traditional means of communicating with companies. Instead of defaulting to a phone number or email, I go immediately to their Twitter account. Why? The answer might be a bit haunting for most businesses, but it is the reality of today’s world.

When I go to Twitter for help from a company (and tag them in a post), that company knows it has to deal with the situation as quickly as possible. Why? The court of public opinion holds a powerful sway over the consumer. If people on Twitter see someone is having a problem with a product or service (especially if they are a user of that product/service) they will have a vested interest in watching how that company deals with the problem. This leads businesses to put considerable effort into solving the issue.

If a business is unaware this is happening, it is woefully behind the times.

Thanks to the likes of Amazon, consumers have grown accustomed to instant satisfaction. They want same-day delivery and refuse to wait on hold for support. Everyone is too busy to listen to bad Muzak for minutes or hours. And given they can hop onto Twitter, tag you in a post and go about their day until you respond, sticking with the old channels could be a death knell for your company.

This is precisely why it has become crucial for the integration of social media with CRM tools. Not only does it assure consumers a business will respond to their inquiry, it ensures businesses are offering to consumers their communication tool of choice. Some customers will prefer to pick up the phone, some default to email, but the vast majority will want their first point of contact to be social media.

Unless you have social media channels baked into your CRM tool, you’re missing out.

To market, to market

CRM tools aren’t just about supporting current customers, they’re also about marketing to new consumers. If your business isn’t already taking advantage of social media, you’re losing the race. And using social media isn’t just about paying for ads on Twitter and Facebook, it’s about creating and nurturing relationships.

Although a traditional CRM tool might help you to manage those old-school marketing channels via the tried-and-true methods, without a social media component, they are outdated. Your marketing team needs easy access to social channels to be effective. By adding the social layer into your CRM, customer engagement becomes a two-way street. So instead of building a passive relationship with customers, you’re building an active one, which will be exponentially easier for your marketing team to leverage.

You need this

It’s no longer a matter of if but when you need social integration into your CMS. And if your current CRM solution isn’t capable of integrating social media, it’s time you start looking for a new platform. The longer you hold off on this decision, the more you’ll fall behind the competition. And given how much competition is now out there, you cannot afford to fall behind even slightly.

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