A Social CRM & Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software Blog

Social CRM

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Welcome to my CRM software and sCRM blog.
This online forum and dialogue shares the experiences, lessons, learning and insight about the real world uses of Social CRM (sCRM) and traditional Customer Relationship Management software (CRM) systems.






CRM is a Pre-Requisite to Social CRM

Verify a Strong CRM Foundation Before Launching Social CRM

For those who have figured out how to use social CRM (sCRM), they will continue to realize its benefits as patterns develop, methodologies mature and lessons are learned. But even with stabilization, there will always be pioneers who use it better and differently from the pack and thus find unique and competitive value.

For most businesses, however, the benefits of social CRM are only going to come after the Customer Relationship Management basics have been put in place. Far too many companies still do not have a fundamentally sound CRM 1.0 foundation in place, and many more who do are struggling with the pitfalls that have plagued this discipline for nearly two decades. Social CRM is the advanced course; CRM 1.0 is the pre-requisite.

Since social media is an increasingly pervasive technology, many of the business leaders who need to grasp the principals of CRM may actually be more familiar with the use of social CRM than they are with the basics of Customer Relationship Management. We're going to see many businesses try to run before they walk, often with predictably unpleasant results. If you're a leader in your company and you're trying to get a handle on the totality of CRM, be careful of the conclusions you draw from these missteps. Anecdotally, they can suggest that business, especially small and medium-sized business, can't handle CRM in its new, more social incarnation. That's not true. Rather, you just need to first walk before you run.

You have to understand how to collect and organize customer data – for sales, marketing, service, and for creating customer loyalty and enhancing customer relationships – and as a business leader, you have to understand that in the context of your company's business processes. That's job one, but it's only part of the job. The next challenging step is to make sure your people understand the value of participating in this customer strategy, and that your IT staff understand their value in the process. You're talking about a business-transforming concept, but that concept can't be sold as one big idea – it's got to be broken down into specific pieces for the constituents who will make it work and who will reap the rewards when it does.

Note the first two steps don't include buying software technology. The baby steps of CRM should not be based around software; CRM's not an IT buy. It would certainly be much easier to buy software, get everyone trained up and have the technology solve the company's problems. However, it doesn't work that way. CRM is a business strategy and discipline, not a software program. The software is an enabler which helps you manage and automate that discipline. Once you have the right people in your business aligned around the idea of CRM as a strategy, then you can start evaluating CRM software systems, select a CRM solution and implement it.

Once that foundation is in place, then you can start extending your reach to include social media into your sales, marketing and service operations. Several people in each of those areas will likely already have some good ideas about what social networks and channels to use. Tap into those ideas – this is a social effort after all, and recognize that sales, marketing and service are all closer to customers than most other parts of the company. But all of this has to be built on a strong CRM foundation in order to gain organization-wide impact. Ad hoc solutions that result in non-repeatable successes are nice, but they don't have the same sort of resonance as ideas built into that underlying CRM structure that the entire company can then employ.

This is not a knock on social CRM – it will be one of the disciplines that defines truly effective customer-centric organizations over the next decade. But you can't have social CRM without CRM – and if you don't have CRM yet, this is the time to start building that foundation.

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 Social CRM (SCRM) & Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software