The coming social/CRM convergence.

Author:Read, Brendan
Position:CRM, BPO & Teleservices
 
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A little over a decade ago e-mail, chat and the Web became viable customer interaction channels and impacted CRM, classified as "eCRM". They offered an exciting and useful new interaction option to phone calls, faxes, "snail mail", paper catalogs and in-person retail and meetings. Yet while these text-based "e" means took over some of the customer conversations, most continued on the other channels - the newer and older methods gradually became integrated, and with this eCRM converged with CRM.

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A similar process is now underway with the social channel/media i.e. Social CRM.

Vinay Iyer, vice president of CRM solution marketing, SAP says that Social CRM offers two advantages to firms. First, it permits following unstructured conversations among customers, or customers and companies. Second, it adds a new touch point to the existing channels.

"Social CRM will not replace the other channels of communications," Iyer points out. "However, the social CRM category is an important and growing element of the overall CRM approach."

Once firms have figured out how to successfully fold the social interactions and knowledge with those from the other channels there will be a convergence that incorporates social into CRM akin: to eCRM and CRM. So will the companion concept of "the social customer" who will be simply "customers". We are at our core "social customers" by obtaining information from others about the products and services we need and passing our knowledge on them in kind. That point has not yet been reached - for most companies.

"Social media is a broadened communication channel to connect to the community in new ways, but still within the framework for die business," explains Ric Pratte, director of Meltwater Buzz at Meltwater Group "For the short-term, talking specifically about Social CRM highlights the need to integrate die new reality of social media into the business."

The Social Drivers

The social channel has enabled customers to discover the social experience in their buying decisions: a practice mat had faded over the past 60 years when mass marketing grew and ruled. It has broken down the compartments between customers and companies and between customers. Customers have much more information - though its accuracy can vary - with which to make their choices.

"Social CRM has brought customers back into the customer equation," says Fergus Griffin, vice president of Service Cloud product marketing at Salesforce.com...

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