by Jye Smith
November 9th, 2012

Social CRM is the use of customer data and insights in a social media environment to create and improve delivery of a service or product or customer experience. But those companies doing it well know it goes well beyond social media: it takes into consideration existing CRM data, search engine data and of course surveyed insights from customers. This makes social CRM a combination of social analytics, traditional customer relationship management and practical application.

The most important feature to note is that social CRM flows both ways. It starts with social media monitoring tools, search engine analytics and web analytics in order to understand how and why to approach customers in a certain fashion; but it continues on in how to make reactive decisions to changing customer behaviours and trends in real time. That’s where the power is drawn from: research and understanding isn’t in phases, it is on-going and fed through not only sales data but also a social context around the user. From a strategy point of view, social CRM a great planning tool to help discover pieces of information and develop new strategies, whether they are sales, creative or digitally orientated.  The possibilities are only limited by your analytics.

So where does social CRM sit in the company organisation? The short answer is that it belongs to research and customer service. The long answer is that all departments play a role (especially if your company does not have dedicated roles for research and customer service). It only takes a couple of internal advocates to make sure three things are sorted out: processes, people and products. Processes are important otherwise things aren’t valued, efficient or optimised. People are important because understanding data is a discipline, which is probably why planners and strategists are strong here, and accounts teams are not (if you’re talking agency side).  And products should be optimised for social — especially when looking at feedback loops and post-sales functionality.

Social CRM  makes social media and digital analytics a relevant function of the business for all — not just the marketing folk or the kids of the CEO.

While it is hard to pinpoint good examples if social CRM, because most of the time it is an internal process, the organisations we have worked with have all taken a few key elements away in terms of best practice:

•  Have clear goals in mind and make sure they relate to the business function implementing them (different functions will have different metrics). Then weight them according to the business

•  Upskill your people: nobody wants data without insights, and nobody wants insights without implications. The data is key to decision-making. It has to be interpreted accurately, so having the right analysts on board is key

•  Work with an equal share of both social media and CRM data and set-up processes to review and interpret regularly

•  Talk about the results: if you don’t, the company won’t understand their value.

Agencies are becoming much more sophisticated. Certainly from a Weber Shandwick point of view, we’ve been recruiting more people from a social analytics point of view. The leaders of our businesses are generally grounded in strategic business strategy, and that hasn’t changed. It’s about introducing new tools, developing new processes and an understanding for multiple business functions. It has already gone well beyond PR.

 Jye Smith is vice-president of Digital, Asia Pacific, at Weber Shandwick