Most businesses are familiar with CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems and will be using them in one form or another to give them insights on their customers, their purchasing and contact preferences and helping them maintain the relationship. As social media and social networking activity steams ahead with no sign of slowing, Social CRM has been getting an increasing amount of airtime.
Jermiah Owyang has compiled a good list of Social CRM (sCrm) vendors and I would expect to see this list grow over the next 12 months. As social media monitoring has matured and the ability to pull insights from the myriad of online conversations and UGC is now established, the next step is to overlay that data onto existing CRM systems. People are disclosing more and more information in their public social profiles and business can use this to provide more personal customer service and build deeper relationships with them.
CRM & Social Media Monitoring Convergence
It should be a natural step for the incumbent CRM vendors to look at integrating a robust listening tool to their current offerings. We are already seeing it in action, Radian6 integrates with Salesforce for example and I wonder how much longer before an Oracle or SAP buy up one of the monitoring vendors. We have seen community platforms like Lithium acquire Scoutlabs to form a social CRM offering, Jive scooped up Filtrbox and Attensity bought Biz360. Jacob Morgan has a good take on it here and has a great diagram showing the SCRM process, check it out.
I think we will see social media monitoring augment existing CRM platforms and in that respect, all CRM systems will or can become social CRM. So, if I was in the CRM business I would definitely be looking to integrate and/or acquire a monitoring vendor to add a layer of ‘social’ to my software. I would then look to build, borrow or steal an engagement platform on top of that to produce an all encompassing social media management system. Again, we are already seeing this develop with the likes of Spredfast, Attensity, Involver and Radian6’s engagement console (which I haven’t yet seen in action).
Culture over Technology
But…is the software really the point? For a business to get the benefit out of a sCRM or even a current CRM system, they need to care about the customer and not just about mining their data for push marketing initiatives. If a business understands that the customer has become increasingly empowered and now demands to be in control over how they interact with an organization and vice versa then they are already using socialCRM! If they don’t understand this and don’t move to ‘operationalise’ their business accordingly to act upon the insights gained through social media…then no amount of cool technology will change that. It’s a cultural thing that most businesses aren’t yet ready for.
As a business, make sure you understand the ‘why’ behind all of this. There is some sweet software on the way and if you are set up internally to exploit it to the full then there are huge advantages to be gained. But it needs to start from within a business’ culture…they need to begin by being in the ‘give a shit about my customers’ business!