Social CRM Software
CRM software applications have succeeded in advancing from the management of customer-facing transactions processing to mining customer data in order to better serve customers. While there is clearly a steady transformation that will continue to improve upon customer data segregation, segmentation, analysis, and business process improvement, the next Customer Relationship Management software trend is clearly more focused on social CRM software (sCRM).
Social CRM and social customers stem from social media and the Web 2.0 phenomenon typified by a variety of customer initiated online communication channels such as social networks, forums, online communities, blogs, wikis and syndication. Social CRM thought leaders are experimenting with new social tools and methods to better communicate with customers in the ways the customers desire, to change the communication protocol from monologue to dialogue, and to engage the customer in a manner that delivers mutually rewarding information to both participants. For forward thinking CRM software professionals, social CRM software and tools go beyond just making the customer feel like a source of revenue and instead make the customer feel as though they are valued and an integral part of the company's business operations, with legitimate input and influence to the marketing team, the Research and Development team or other lines of business that can benefit from direct feedback by the final recipient.
Social CRM, like social media, requires fresh thinking and a recognition that the customer relationship balance with the new social customer has pivoted from a conversation where the company controls the communication dialogue with its product and service directed messages to one where the balance of power has shifted to the customer.
Many companies and business leaders look at social CRM software tools and social networks in general as a business threat as opposed to a new source of knowledge and opportunity to be harnessed and included into the development of good and products for better customer acceptance and enhanced market share. While it is true that the Web can put companies under a microscope of scrutiny, it is also true that customers can review unbiased product evaluations never before available and social CRM software can either help impose customer disdain on uncooperative businesses or their blessing of trusted brands. For this later benefit to occur, corporate transparency is required and should be used as a competitive advantage in a competitive marketplace. It is hard to imagine the product or service that cannot be improved from the passionate feedback of social customers.
Customers are normally not unreasonable. They understand the business economics and therefore social CRM software and tools need not be looked at as necessary evils. Customers will reward brands that strive for a win-win outcome. As more brands understand that social customers have new channels to get what they want, when the want and how they want it, their providers will also understand they have new opportunities to reduce customer guess work, design better fit customer solutions, accelerate their go to market products in reduced cycle times and even acquire more meaningful and profitable customer relationships.