If 2009 was the breakthrough year for social media monitoring, then social CRM is most definitely the buzzword of 2010. I suppose it’s only logical that, once companies have started listening to customers, learning all about their tastes and interests and finding out who their friends are, the next question the CEO is going to ask is: “So, how are we going to USE all this data?”
Social CRM is seen as the answer, but that simple term belies a panoply of troublesome issues that companies are going to have to overcome before the “social” and “CRM” can truly be integrated. Imagine, for a moment, that you’re the CEO of a national car dealership… First off, how can you track and store the millions of conversations going on around the world, or (much harder) in a specific town? How do you know that @snoop_dog5 is, in fact, John Dixon of 5 New Way, Cambridge, who bought a top-of-the-range BMW from your company last year? How do you capture that forum conversation about optional extras that BMW drivers most desire? What tools and solutions should you be using and, critically, which department of your organisation should be driving your social CRM strategy?
The first of these question is the easiest one. There are hundreds of social media monitoring solutions on the market and they are all seeking to either integrate with existing CRM solutions (such as Salesforce or Oracle’s Siebel) or develop their own CRM features. Somewhat predictably many are also being acquired by CRM companies). So you really need to be looking for a top-of-the-range monitoring solution that integrates nicely with your existing CRM solution. Alternatively you could migrate to a new CRM solution that does social better. Of course, that’s not going to be easy.
The issue of identifying your customers within the socialmediasphere is rapidly becoming less daunting than it first appears. Alongside social media monitoring, the social data mining industry is booming and there are lots of innovative companies – such as Dan Martell’s Flowtown – which can analyse your database and, for a fee, identify the social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook etc.) of your customers. If you’re looking for new customers, there are equally clever companies, like Chase McMichael’s Infinigraph, that track social media engagements around specific industries or topics and enable you to connect with people who are likely to be interested in what you’re offering. This isn’t CRM as we know it. If anything it’s predictive CRM. As Chase points out, many of the conversations people have about your products never mention your company or related keywords (it’s an inherent failure of keyword-based monitoring), so contextual monitoring has a major role to play in social CRM.
Although many don’t, lots of the leading monitoring solutions enable companies to record and store the conversations they find. The fear of conversation overload is genuine, but usually exaggerated. At our London monitoring Bootcamp earlier this year, Giles Palmer (CEO, Brandwatch) explained how one major client received 100,000 mentions over a 6 month period, but that only 4500 were worth reviewing and less than 2% required a response. That’s manageable within a CRM system.
When it comes to choosing tools and solutions – while you might find your monitoring/CRM solution enables you to listen, monitor, analyse, respond and store your social media engagements, the chances are it won’t work for ALL your objectives. Even the best monitoring tools aren’t as good as TweetDeck or Hootsuite for engaging in real-time conversations and managing multiple Twitter accounts. You’ll probably need to accommodate some third party solutions within your social CRM strategy.
Possibly the hardest question for anyone implementing a social CRM strategy is “who should be driving it?” Social CRM has the potential to impact heavily on sales, marketing, communications, research, development AND strategy, so there are endless possibilities for inter-departmental scuffling and territorial hot potatoes. To help companies overcome these issues, Accenture helpfully published a social CRM report earlier this year that, rather unsurprisingly, suggests you hire in a Management Consultant to help you work through this thorny issue. If it’s anything like the adoption of social media – which, in order to succeed, requires patience and enthusiasm in equal measure – I would suggest allowing the team that’s most committed to making it work to drive your social CRM strategy.
So, implementing social CRM isn’t going to be a bed of roses. Equally, however, it’s likely to be easier than we might fear. The hardest bit (as with social media in general) will be convincing the nay-sayers that there’s value in it. Until we can measure ROI end-to-end, from Tweet to receipt, the question of value will continue to hamper progress. In the end I suspect that this in itself will be the greatest hurdle to the successful adoption of social CRM within companies.
We’re going to be discussing Social CRM in San Francisco on 17th September at Social Email Marketing. We’re also going to be looking at the integration of social media monitoring solutions and Social CRM at Monitoring Social Media (Boston), Monitoring Social Media (San Franscisco) and Monitoring Social Media (New York) later this year. See all our social media marketing events.