Social CRM: What It Is and Why It Is Important for Business
There is a shift occurring in the way that business is being conducted. The traditional forms of marketing and sales are slowly being phased out for an increasingly social and interactive approach. New business models have formed from this rapidly evolving sales environment and it is important for businesses to stay on top of this alternative paradigm. Social CRM's are the latest development in customer relationship management tools. This platform can be used internally, externally or a combination of both. Therefore, it can service the customer community and drive sales, or it can help to facilitate communication within a company's business units.
A Shift in Focus
A social CRM takes the CRM tool one step further by allowing data exchange in real time. Like a newsfeed on a social media platform, steadfast updates allow for the most accurate analytics. It enables the use of social media to engage with customers in a closely guarded and managed community. This is otherwise known as social media monitoring. With stiff competition in every market, focus has shifted to the customer experience. Analytic and decision support engines are necessary for managing the vast array of social media. The sales pitch has been replaced by customer engagement and the goal is to improve relationships through more meaningful and personable interactions.
Master the Consumer Community
Traditional marketing has always been a one way conversation. Whether it is a TV commercial, ad or radio broadcast, the advertising is talking at the customer, and not with them. There has never been an immediate forum for the consumer to respond until now. This can have a positive or negative affect depending on how the company is digesting the CRM trend. What businesses need to realize is that communities will emerge for virtually any product, regardless of their intervention. Thus, it is in their best interest to get involved and have a voice in that arena as soon as possible. In a positive light, sales teams are now capable of engaging with like-minded individuals in a shared space, with the ultimate agenda being conversion. This is considered "customer intelligence" and is in the same vein of thought as business intelligence in general.
Being Social is Cheap
The more common way the social CRM platform is being used is through data analysis. Strategic, customer based decision making is now driven through real time reporting, monitoring and analytics. By tracking variables like customer behavior, key words and click throughs, businesses can determine factors like the best time to post and what products are popular. They can then use this data to drive revenue. Although tedious at times, this modern aspect of marketing is considerably cost effective in comparison to the traditional model. The program evaluates customer's engagement, perceptions and interaction in the community as a whole. This information is then used to drive product, marketing and sales strategies.
Businesses with internal CRM platforms also benefit from a social perspective. An in-house social CRM facilitates communication and collaboration across business units and allows for a customer centered sales cycle. With internal newsfeeds, threads and the ability to "follow" or "like" fellow colleagues, the transparency between organizational silos has never been greater. Having an open feed between product, support and sales allows for streamlining business processes like never before.
What to Look For
The best social CRM's on the market help to ensure the lowest cost of customer acquisition and retention through various cross analysis processes. They assist companies in making informed decisions throughout the entire sales cycle from lead generation and nurturing to conversion costs. This is based on the relative success of their various social media campaigns. The larger companies are able to marry big data analytics with social statistics to analyze customer interaction in real time reporting. Ultimately, a good social CRM will provide decision support to drive growth through custom, targeted marketing.
The general take away is that the advent of technology is inescapable and is growing exponentially. In other words, don't miss the train. Consumers are the driving force behind what is shaping the market these days. They have a louder voice than ever and businesses are very susceptible to being shunned or black listed, based on customer opinions. The number one problem companies are facing right now is obstinacy and user error. It creates unnecessary overhead when the entire company is resistant to adopting a new business model but eventually they will not have a choice. A social CRM is the future in customer management and what better way to be lead to success, than with the voice of the consumer in your pocket.
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