Social CRM has been gaining lots of attention with whole bunch of new vendors touting their wares as Social CRM products. The concept itself, though is at nascent stage with various interpretations of what Social CRM really means. Definitions also abound from complex, philosophical, to simplistic. Some would tell you that Social CRM is just an extension of traditional CRM with an additional social channel , whereas others would passionately argue that Social CRM is a new paradigm. This is but natural in a evolving and emerging space. Regardless of different views, one thing is certain that emergence of Social CRM is business’s acceptance of reality of social customer. A customer who lives in social web, an open , ever expanding network of people. Social web by its viral nature can amplify message or conversation. It is this ability of amplification at very low cost which any brand or marketing manager will find tempting. And the fact that social web is open and accessible , the conversations within it can easily be collected, filtered and converted into insight. And insight about customers is any business’s holy grail. Hence It is not a surprise that many businesses looking to implement social CRM are starting with use of listening and sentiment analysis tools.
But real value of Social CRM will not come from listening. The real benefit to a business will come from customer engagement. That is the key difference between traditional CRM and SCRM. Social CRM will not be about attaching an additional channel to operational CRM. It is not that like email or phone, now we get a social channel and have strapped it on CRM system. The reason is that social web, if I may call it, is a different beast. You have to be in it to understand its rules and how it works. The key element of social web is the concept of community and that is where social customer is found. For any business looking to adopt Social CRM, understanding this fact will be crucial. You need to start with the customer, build communities, participate and engage. Community will be the primary vehicle to get insight from your customers, deliver experience and create mutual value. So if you are looking to start with your Social CRM adoption, start with forming communities ; both on your own digital properties and on social web. And this will be the hardest but most important part.