Till few years back, customers didn’t have a choice to voice out their satisfaction or dissatisfaction over products they bought. They only had an option of reaching the traditional customer support ways of call or email.

But one problem with this mode of resolving issues is that they are one-on-one conversations. It’s very less likely that the issues are resolved in the favour of customers. But thanks to social media, there has been a change to this trend.

Customers now take control over such things and as rightly defined by Paul Greenberg, the recognized thought leader in social CRM,

“Social CRM is the company’s response to the customer’s control of the conversation.”

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Traditional CRM software helped companies build better customer experiences, increasing revenue for companies rather than benefiting customers as per its name. It hasn’t done much for the customer.

Whereas people started realizing the potential use of social media in conversing with large enterprises, which are otherwise very hard to reach. Because of this, it has become imperative for organizations to sync social conversations and feedback into the flow of the business process which includes marketing, selling, shipping, special offers, servicing.

Why social media?

Before answering that, one critical question for most business owners is where can they find their customers. According to some research, people are now more on social media than any other platform. You can look at these statistics:

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Business owners also need to know how consumers use social media for customer service and how that affects their business. Now look at the numbers below:

  • 59% of Americans with social media accounts think that customer service through social media has made it easier to get questions answered and issues resolved.
  • 33% of customers prefer to contact brands through social media channels as opposed to using the phone and waiting for a human to answer their questions – Nielsen
  • Nearly 70% of consumers have previously used social media for customer service-related issues on at least one or more occasions. – Gartner, Inc.
  • Answering a social media complaint increases customer advocacy by as much as 25%. – Conversocial
  • Over 20% of customers use social media to make purchase decisions.
  • About 35% of customers who interact with companies via social CRM voice a complaint.
  • About 70% of those who receive a positive customer experience refer the company to friends and family.
  • Many leading B2C companies are responding to at least 60% of tweets directed at their brand handles or service accounts and overall Customer Service interactions over Twitter have increased 250% in the last two years. – Twitter

These numbers pretty much convey what I wanted to point out. The question is no more ‘why social media’ but how can you utilize the high potential it offers. That’s where the necessity for linking social media and CRM comes.

Social media + CRM = Happy customers

The challenge with focusing on social media alone is that you will be informed on the immediate reactions of customers in the form of tweets or posts. But what can be inferred based on those tweets? Can you come to a conclusion if those customers dislike your brand and wouldn’t make a purchase from you?

If yes, how can you as business owner, mold yourself to be more likable? To answer that, you need to have more information about your customers, like history, demography, segmented persona, preferences, which form the crux of CRM data. Also, there is no track of conversations in social media. There is a lot of valuable information existing in CRM that needs to be linked to social channels.

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Now let’s see what is CRM without social media. You never know your customers better until you hear what they say about you. Social media creates a platform to collaborate with your customers. It helps in transforming customers into marketers or advocates of your company. Social media is more approachable for customers over your landline or email. Plus, it’s out in the open, making interactions more transparent.

As a company, if you view social media and CRM as two separate entities, you might not be able to make ‘better informed’ decisions. You have the data, but you fail to transform that data to information. Social CRM strategy combines these two powerful sources of customer data, CRM and social media, giving you refined information to make better decisions.

Social CRM in action

Integrating social media with traditional CRM has enabled organizations to focus more on conversations and customer preferences than strictly restricting to automated processes like clickthrough or email opens.

Social media is all about building up communities, and it gives you a chance to be a part of them. Expand your concept of SEO, from traditional search engines like Google, to social search engines. Drive consumers who are searching for answers on business challenges to relevant content and information.

You would be amazed to know how consumers are using social media to search for answers:

Real business examples

Lauren Carlson, a CRM Market Analyst from Software Advice, illustrated the use of social CRM by companies in improving their business:

Chordiant, an enterprise software company, wanted to find a better way to coordinate the needs and desires of the individuals involved in the product requirements process.

Solution: They created Chordiant Mesh, and online community powered by Jive’s Clearspace, where employees, developers, customers and partners can collaborate about product development. The feedback was very positive, resulting 15 successful collaborative product releases.

H&R Block, the tax preparation experts, wanted to find a way to see what their customers were talking about in order to anticipate problems before they arose.

Solution: The company decided to use Radian6’s social monitoring technology to achieve this goal. The trend analysis tool allowed the company to drill down into community conversations and see which topics were creating the most buzz. This gave them better insight, enabling H&R Block to be more proactive in their customer service.

Social CRM influencing businesses

Most of the companies use objective numbers like Facebook ‘likes’ and Twitter ‘followers’ to measure a campaign’s success. But how reliable are those metrics? The natural tendency of humans is to follow people or things (here we specifically mean accounts) that have large followings simply because they want to be part of the crowd.

Also, if you check the usage of social media accounts, only a small portion of social media users are hyper-connected, influencing other millions of users, whereas a majority of them do not record any activity for months. These users just consume the information in social media and are easy targets to influence.

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You need to segregate your most influential customer segments from the huge population, and track their actions and record them in your CRM. If your business account has 1 million users and none of them engage with your brand, it’s meaningless to rely on these numbers and set your campaigns based on them.

Instead, if you only have 100 followers who are very active and consistently interact with your company, mention your brand name, share your content, respond to your calls to action, you can count on these customers.

Influencers of social media have strong impact on the decision making process of other users. As stated above, about 70% of those who have a positive customer experience refer the company to friends and family. A recent influential study by comScore and Facebook proves this point. They found that compared with the general population, people who liked Starbucks’s Facebook page or who had a Facebook friend who liked the page spent 8% more and transacted 11% more frequently over the course of a month.

A recent Gallup poll published in the State of the American Consumer report indicates that despite the tremendous number of Americans using social media platforms, only 5% say those platforms have a great deal of influence on their purchasing decisions.

Worse still, 62% say social media has no influence at all! The only way to motivate your social media audience and convert them into customers is to change the conversation and engage fully with your existing audience – you have to inspire them to advocate on your behalf.


We are transforming from a company-centric mode to customer-centric mode, where customers define the process. It is difficult to force your customers to only use the communication channels you provide them but follow channels chosen by them.

Unless you monitor social media channels for your brand related keywords and integrate them to your CRM, you might not discover what people are talking about you and what actions you need to take.

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Caphyon, its staff, or its partners.

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