Although analysts peg the value of the CRM industry at between US $12 billion and US$ 18 billion annually, CRM has yet to deliver its full potential of transforming the customer experience. But Social CRM, or the incorporation of external social networks and online communities with more traditional CRM channels such as email and text, may hold the key to unlocking CRM’s transformative potential.

Implementing Social CRM

As detailed in a new e-book from Eloqua, “The Grande Guide to Social CRM,” there are particular steps to implementing a Social CRM program -- and specific facets of the customer experience that a marketing manager must understand to successfully launch such an endeavor. Following is a brief review of the six steps to Social CRM implementation:

  1. Involve Your Customers -- Identify customer wants and how they would describe an ideal brand relationship, then include the customer’s voice in future CRM communications.
  2. Develop a Customer-focused Strategy – Social CRM strategy should be focused on the customer but also realistically include what the organization can deliver (that will result in a desired outcome).
  3. Put Programs in Place -- Formal programs should be focused on customer wants but also geared toward helping create the ultimate desired outcome.
  4. Assess Your Processes -- Social CRM processes should be guided by customer impact and assessed based on how they enhance (or fail to enhance) the customer experience.
  5. Find the Tools -- Marketers need to examine Social CRM tools and make selections based on strategic fit and cost.
  6. Foster Cultural Change -- Social CRM puts the customer in charge of the customer relationship, requiring cultural change at most organizations.

In terms of understanding the customer experience, Eloqua divides it into five basic facets:

  • Segmenting customers by individual (social) data as well as broader demographic/behavioral data
  • Using customers’ preferred communication channel(s)
  • Communicating about preferred topics for each individual channel
  • Understanding the cost of communication on each channel
  • Prioritizing channel investments based on factors such as volume of communication and level of customer preference 

Determining Social CRM Readiness

Eloqua recommends that organizations considering Social CRM ask themselves five questions:

  1. Are your customers, partners and competitors participating in social media?
  2. Are your core CRM/marketing systems of record and related processes defined and optimized?
  3. Does your company have a culture of sharing and communication?
  4. Have you identified use cases that align with your core vision, strategy and objectives?
  5. Is there already in-house competency and desire for engaging on social channels?

Unless the answer to most -- or all -- of these questions is an unqualified “yes” then perhaps you are better off making changes to bring the answers to “yes” before rolling anything out.

Tools of the Trade, Dos and Don’ts

Eloqua concludes the e-book with a listing of tools of the trade and dos and don’ts for aspiring Social CRM practitioners. Technology assets include traditional CRM tools such as sales force automation, marketing automation and customer service. In addition, new Social CRM applications such as social media monitoring, Big Data management, predictive analytics, community platforms and collaboration tools also serve critical purposes.

The dos are pretty basic-- know your customers, “get” the premise of customer-driven collaboration, go multichannel and always consider the desired outcome. The don’ts include assuming that Social CRM is a must simply because it is “social,” assuming it is cheap, using software as a problem-solver rather than as an enabler, and treating each channel the same way.

The ‘Three Ps’ of Avoiding Social CRM Failure

Eloqua is not the only source of thought leadership on Social CRM. In August, CMSWire published a column from Chris Bucholtz, editor of CRM Outsiders and the former editor in chief of Forecasting Clouds and InsideCRM, about the “Three Ps” of avoiding Social CRM failure:

  • Developing a set of policies to manage the ways you interact with customers in social media and how the information that you collect is then handled.
  • Selecting people with the necessary humor, impulse control and understanding of customers and Social CRM goals.
  • Paying attention to context-changing events, marketers can avoid disaster in the Social CRM realm. 

What Is Social CRM? Another Viewpoint

Back in 2010, the folks at Social Media Examiner produced a blog post offering points to remember when thinking about Social CRM that is still relevant today. Social Media Examiner advises marketers to remember that Social CRM is a strategy first and set of tools second. It is still based on traditional CRM concepts such as serving as a “a back-end process and system for managing customer relationships and data in an efficient and process-centric way,” and means different things to different organizations.