Social CRM: The Next Level of CRM
January 3, 2011
Traditional CRM is going through changes that can almost be classified as a renaissance. The process of gathering, processing and using customer and prospect information is being augmented by the power of social CRM.
What is social CRM and how can office products dealers use it? Explanations abound – but here’s one that helps to clarify it:
Social CRM is the use of social networking to connect and collaborate with customers and prospects in order to help them overcome business challenges. Through social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, You Tube and blog posts, office products dealers can do the following:
• Create compelling attractive content that connects them to customers and prospects and helps them be found on line!
• Start and share in conversations with customers and prospects that identify business challenges, and offer content that induces taking action.
Conversations need not only be between dealers and customers. Social media sites offer the opportunity to share in conversations between customers and their customers, gathering valuable information to help dealers make positive changes. All of this new interaction helps bring relationships to an entirely new level, and can result in a competitive advantage.
Here are some relevant insights from Boston-based social media and public relations consultant, Rachel Poor:
“Basically, I see Social Media as a powerful tool for companies to gain important insight into the needs and wants of their customers. When activated correctly, Social Media becomes a ‘push’ and ‘pull’ channel, meaning you can 'push' information about your company, services, products etc and you can 'pull' information from your customers and competitors. We've all said at some point ‘oh to be a fly on the wall’ social media allows us to do just that and there is valuable insight to be gained”. More from Rachel can be found at www.rachelpoor.com
Rachel explained that it’s important to for companies to make the distinction between personal and business social media. Facebook is a prime example, as one normally associates this media with the chronicles of personal daily activities.
Business Facebook sites are one example of social media in business that is exploding. In essence they are interactive websites offering a platform to talk about products and services while inviting interaction from customers and prospects. A good example of a business Facebook site that mirrors a website can be seen at www.facebook.com/dell
Activity by dealers on social media sites not only form connections to customers and prospects and drive them to their sites, it also helps positioning with search engines to help drive even more traffic to their websites. Among social media sites, You Tube is emerging as one of the biggest search engines. Links from social media sites to You Tube videos, or even more viral videos on a dealer’s website, help to draw attention. According to Christina Skillman, President of Boston area based Skillman Video Group:
“Using video is becoming more and more common to help express ideas about your company-who you are-what you do-and how you are different from others”. Skillman goes on to say, “all social media sites are video friendly and it helps to draw attention and increase the number of followers”.
In fact, at Skillman Video Group they have a new approach called Social Video Marketing. This is another way for companies to help drive traffic to their sites through social media and strategic linking, and turn casual web visitors into viable prospects. Dealers can find out more about this integration of video and social media at: http://www.skillmanvideogroup.com/wordpress/services/social-video-marketing.
It’s important, however, to point out that traditional CRM isn’t going away! Its strength in the following areas will remain and will always be necessary to drive sales and marketing programs:
• Managing activities to assure that sales and marketing tasks are being carried out.
• Building a database of information about customers and prospects for internal use to help drive sales and marketing programs.
• Making it easier to access customer and prospect information.
• Managing and tracking leads.
• Automating sales and marketing processes and campaigns.
• Increasing then accuracy of sales forecasts.
The synergy between traditional CRM and social CRM offers dealers an exciting new level of interaction with customers and prospects; a level that will certainly result in deeper customer penetration and increased new customer development. CRM software programs are now including the capability to link to social media sites and blogs from customer and prospect contact records. The combination of information gathered from traditional methods, and the information gathered from social media sites help turn action to dollars.