I’ve spent some time lately working with an IDC colleague, Mary Wardley (she covers CRM and runs the apps team in my Group) on working out a definition for social CRM. We are doing a joint presentation in the upcoming IDC Directions conferences (actually I’m doing the West Coast presentation and she’s doing the East Coast) on social CRM and are in the middle of a small survey to collect some data to see what companies are thinking about social tools and the use of them to get closer to their customers. We both had observed the emergence last year of a few vendor offerings that moved beyond traditional transaction based CRM coupled with what seems to be growing awareness and interest among companies to utilize new ways of interacting with their customers.
First the working definition: “Social CRM is the tools and processes that encourage better, more effective customer interaction and leverage the collective intelligence of the broader customer community with the intended result of increasing intimacy between an organization and its prospects and customers. The goal is to make the relationship with the customer more intimate and tied to the company by building a public ecosystem to better understand what they want and how they interact with the various company touchpoints like sales, customer service etc. This is done in a way that empowers the customer, makes the interaction more of a Web 2.0 experience and allows the customer to interact when, how and where they choose. The tools themselves are user driven, collaborative and social in design, promote interaction and focus on user driven innovation. They may include linkages to public social networking environments as well as private company owned systems.”
Okay, it is a lot of words but I suppose we’re struggling to capture all that could be social CRM and keep it succinct. If we break it apart a bit though, I think the “meaning” will become clearer. First, and this is important, social CRM captures both the tools AND the processes around the tools to:
- leverage crowdsourcing customer ideas
- apply the wisdom of crowds to those ideas
- create a public customer ecosystem
- take the customer experience and communication to the time, place and method the customer prefers
- increase customer intimacy and empowerment
Keywords in this definition: user driven, social, collaborative, crowdsource, ecosystem, community
From a company standpoint the social CRM definition could be applied in any customer touchpoint (or desired touchpoint). In product development / marketing wouldn’t it be helpful to have customer’s direct input to the process? Sales could have a long term and ongoing conversation with customers / prospects to build trust and understanding. Marketing, what are people saying about your brand on Twitter or Facebook? Customer service wouldn’t it be useful to engage with customers who have problems in a way and at the time that suits the customer rather than the company?
Alright, enough about the definition, its still evolving anyway. These are only a few of the opportunities available to companies who embrace a social CRM approach. I’ve already mentioned a few of the offerings available from Oracle and salesforce.com , I’ll probably do a follow up to what’s available in the near future.