Why CRM ain’t CRM if it isn’t Social

Almost a year back, I wrote about how four independent trends, namely Social MediaSmart Phones/Portable DevicesCloud Computing/SaaS and Predictive Analytics were converging and brining about a Paradigm Shift in CRM (for more, see my post titled CRM Paradigm Shift).

Between then and now, we have seen a lot happen due to this convergence. Customers empowered by Social Media tools such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have started connecting and sharing like never before right from their mobile devices and are asserting their influence, be it for venting their feeling towards a brand or their anger and frustration at their rulers. This has even led to downfall of many a dictatorial regimes, in power for decades, in just a matter of days – something unthinkable even a few months ago. The biggest lesson business can learn from recent events is that Social Media is the new front end of CRM system and CRM ain’t CRM if it isn’t Social. Here’s why:

Social Media has empowered customers like never before as they can discuss about brands/products on Social Media channels and companies have no control over what customers are saying about their brands/products. This discussion is visible to all including other customers, potential customers and competitors.

The best any marketer can do is to Listen and Learn from what customers are saying and Engage them in meaningful conversations. In other words, treat Social Media channels as the front-end of CRM system, capture all relevant information from Social Media channels in the database and use Predictive Analytics and Knowledge Management tools to derive insights and help in decision making.

What is important to note here is that “Social” is not a middle-ware or another layer in the architecture of CRM systems, but is the front-end of CRM system, where customers decide the format and content of information. It is responsibility of the company to record and store all relevant information from Social Media channels and derive value from it by using Predictive Analytics and Knowledge Management tools for effectively engaging customers.

Companies must also leverage unique characteristics of Social Networks and re-engineer their CRM business processes to derive full benefits from it, rather than trying to fit “Social” engine to their existing CRM carriage or merely treating Social Media as another 1-1 channel like phone and email, albeit public!

This requires fresh outside the box thinking. For example, instead of trying to respond to each and every tweet or Facebook posting by customers, something not practical for a medium or large business, the emphasis should be on creating advocacy and building trust among customers, keeping in mind the “Social Context” of the medium.

No where this is more evident than in support communities, where brand advocates/loyal customers help other customers out by answering their questions or suggesting solution, rather than company Reps trying to answer all the question. As a part of their CRM initiative, marketing managers should design programs to track and reward Customer Advocacy behaviors on Social Networking sites. This will not only help in brand promotion on Social Media channels but will also help in building trust and loyalty among target audience.

As you can see from my explanation, CRM ain’t CRM if it is not Social, thanks to ‘Social’ Customers!

What do you think? Would love to hear from you. Please do share your thoughts on the subject:

  • Jane Treadwell-Hoye

    I’d go so far as to say it’s not CRM but CX! Not just the systems and the process but a total customer experience programme without social media initiatives that isn’t going to work. You need a holistic view of the customer journey from pre-engagement to sale or renewal, including all touch points of engagement and communications, and social media’s role in this should never be ignored.

  • Anonymous

    Nice thoughts Harish. I think it’s important to re-think certain parts of a CRM strategy for social, especially the means of engagement. Things have changed quickly over the last few years, and the places and means of reaching customers have shifted.

    You mention the importance of mobile/smart devices as one of the four trends at the beginning of your article; I recently posted on the subject of location-aware apps and CRM (http://andrewbschultz.com/crm-social-crm-and-location-aware-mobile-apps/ ), and felt it important to make a distinction between a traditional, operationally-focused approach to using this type of technology, and an SCRM approach that meets the customers on their own terms. Not every company is going to have a lot to “listen” to on the social web, but can use social media tools to engage their customers in new ways that the customers appreciate.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Hannah-Janiola/100002286962342 Hannah Janiola

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  • Anonymous

    Great post here Harish. I was just writing up something similar that talks to the dangers of marketers potentially heading into an automated ‘Social CRM’ system. I think the data behind social can be so powerful and if you take the time to listen to your customers first it will lead to better relationship management in the future. Very well done, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • http://hkotadia.com/ Harish Kotadia, Ph.D.

    Thanks for your kind words and sharing your thoughts. Much appreciated!

    Harish Kotadia, Ph.D.

  • http://hkotadia.com/ Harish Kotadia, Ph.D.

    You are right, we need a holistic view but CRM is a specialized function within marketing and social media is a very important part of CX.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts,

    Harish Kotadia, Ph.D.

  • http://hkotadia.com/ Harish Kotadia, Ph.D.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, much appreciated!

    Harish Kotadia, Ph.D.

  • Anonymous

    As always – great post – you will definitely like my latest post too
    STOP!!! Social Media is NOT a Starting Point, Unless you are Using it to Listen and Monitor your Customers @ http://jrgrana.com/blog/?p=773

  • http://hkotadia.com/ Harish Kotadia, Ph.D.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and kind words! Much appreciated!!

    Harish Kotadia, Ph.D.

  • About Dr. Harish Kotadia


    That's me with photo gear,  taking snaps of Texas wild flowers. #texas

  • Dr. Harish Kotadia

  • Dr. Harish Kotadia is an industry recognized thought leader on Big Data and Analytics with more than fifteen years' experience as a hands-on Big Data, Analytics and BI Program/Project Manager implementing Enterprise Solutions for Fortune 500 clients in the US.

    He also has five years' work experience as a Research Executive in Marketing Research and Consulting industry working for leading MR organizations such as Gallup.

    Dr. Harish Kotadia's educational qualification includes Ph.D. in Marketing Management. Subject of his doctoral thesis was Customer Satisfaction and it involved building a statistical model for predicting satisfaction of clients with services of their ad agency.

    His educational qualification also includes M.B.A. and B.B.A. with specialization in Marketing Management and Diploma in Computer Applications.

    Dr. Harish Kotadia currently works as Principal Data Scientist and Client Partner, Big Data and Analytics at a Global Consulting Company. Views and opinion expressed in this blog are his own.



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