image source Microsoft Dynamics Community
When social media started to take shape in the 21st Century, it represented a way for people to connect, interact and share with others more frequently and more remotely. Twitter, Facebook, and the like allowed users to share the details of their personal and professional lives for the world to see, for better or worse.
Now, social media has spawned into as a legitimate form of human communication as speaking with someone in the physical form. Society has changed accordingly, and so has the business of sales.
As sales people began to troubleshoot customer issues and engage with consumers on social media sites more and more, so did the need for software applications to integrate the external data from those social media sites with existing customer relationship managment (CRM) systems. Thus, social CRM apps were born.
Social CRM apps are now common among sales people. They help companies track customer activity and engage with them quicker and more effectively. The presence also helps sales people maintain their company brand while building trust among clients.
If a business has a social media presence, customers expect to be able to engage with it immediately. For the sales people on the other end of the social media conversation, they should expect to gain vital CRM analytics through it, too.
“Social CRM is a philosophy and a business strategy, supported by a technology platform, business rules, workflow, processes and social characteristics, designed to engage the customer in a collaborative conversation in order to provide mutually beneficial value in a trusted and transparent business environment. It’s the company’s response to the customer’s ownership of the conversation.”
– Paul Greenberg, author, CRM at the Speed of Light: Social CRM Strategies, Tools, and Techniques for Engaging Your Customers
The bottom line effect
If money is any indicator, then social CRM app is here to stay. Information technology research group Gartner predicts that the social CRM market for year-end 2012 is expected to reach beyond $1 billion in revenue, nearly double than the year prior.
Although social CRM apps are abundant, the app is only useful if it ties into a company’s bottom line, says Gartner research director Adam Sarner in Forbes.
“However, while market growth is assured during the next two years, the ultimate success of social CRM will depend on how well companies and social CRM technology providers can accelerate through the inevitable social expectation bust and make social projects more than just ‘engagement’ objectives and actually tie social activities to clear and measurable business objectives.”
Social CRM apps have been shown to help business objectives. A new Nucleus Research report showed that the productivity of sales people increased 26 percent when they had CRM apps with social features and mobile access. They were able to easier communicate with customers and track their satisfaction rate, which enabled them to more efficiently calculate their CRM systems within their own companies.
The mobile component also helped streamline CRM analytics and cut down on often time-wasting tasks, such as organizing emails into existing CRM systems, according to the report.
Social CRM could also improve a company’s marketing RIO (return on marking investment), because sales people better understand what their customers want by being engaged with social media. The more social CRM analytics sales people bring in, the better.
“Sales teams are more equipped with an integrated view of online conversations of their customers and as a result can obtain more relevant information that is crucial to sales operations. Marketing teams can connect much earlier in the buying process while meeting customers at their point of need and gain insight into the behaviour, sentiment, and effectiveness of how they conduct their marketing strategy.”
Other big players in the social CRM game are acting accordingly to the need for mobile and social CRM apps. Salesforce.com acquired Model Metrics, a mobile and social consulting company, near the end of 2011, and Microsoft recently released software that made CRM apps available on the iPad, iPhone, Droid, and Blackberry.
The need for social CRM apps and awareness has grown abundantly clear. If conversation between a sales rep and his or her client has moved to the world of social media, the sales rep must be equipped with the proper technology to best interact with and understand the customer.
“Using mobile and social channels will evolve from a ‘nice-to-have’ to a critical component of interacting with and gaining insights about customers and prospects.”
– Vinay Iver, vice president of SAP CRM Global Marketing (source: Enterprise Apps Today)