The History of CRM
CRM had humble beginnings with activities like database marketing for tracking sales transactions to customers. CRM then evolved into serving needs of Marketing and Customer Service teams as it provided a range of data for marketers and customer service managers in the form of trends, patterns for product/service usage, consumer behavior etc.
The recent focus on Sales, Social media, Analytics and Big data has brought back a lot of focus on how CRM systems are being used more actively. Social CRM sits at the convergence of such technologies.
What is Social CRM?
As Social media started getting used more extensively, it was often difficult to assimilate data related to different tools and platforms and use it efficiently. Social CRM evolved to help manage social media interactions around products, customers and people as it provided a process oriented and efficient way to engage people. Social CRM combines collaborative/analytical tools, social networking/media and customer engagement/feedback software.
Why do we need it?
Since a lot of product / service AND customer experiences are managed online, the entire continuum of marketing activity resulting into sale and further into customer engagement across the life cycle of the product is effectively bridged by Social CRM.
Social CRM manages the data within the company ecosystem and the external environment seamlessly and empowers people within and customers outside. Most important it is extremely cost effective to engage with customer volumes in a scaled up business.
Social CRM players
As per Gartner, players like Jive, Lithium and Salesforce are viewed as leaders, Bazaarvoice and Oracle as Challengers, Attensity and Telligent as visionaries and niche players like Kana, Artisan, Questback, Demand media, Visible technologies, Get Satisfaction and Visible Technologies complete the picture.
Social CRM today is all about getting to know people, markets and companies; collaborating with them; engaging and monitoring social media; gathering social and usage analytics which give pointers to behaviors, enabling sales teams; feedback management; content management etc.
To really leverage Social CRM, thinking contrarian is about using Social CRM in the office for employee engagement, creating policies that allow the company to be more transparent, creating the bandwidth to seriously engage with customers beyond the sale, creating channels for capturing voice of customer and using feedback from multiple channels into better products, services and experience.
In simple terms, brands today are more about trust and value and a lot of that comes from how customers are engaged and memorable experiences created.
Social media transactions are estimated at a couple of billion every 24 hours. Social media is often controversial and provocative – however, it has brought in a sense of responsibility and accountability to customers in general and people in particular.
Some of the interesting aspects to watch are how brands use these for advocacy, rewarding customers, giving marketing activities a facelift, promoting innovation, helping sales people connect with customers in new ways, better customer engagement and bringing down negative brand sentiments – in essence improve any activity that calls for people engagement – some of the companies who have benefitted are Hyundai India, Starbucks, MTS India, Vodafone India, Flipkart, Airtel, ICICI Bank, Argos, eBay etc.