Archives For Facebook

Research image courtesy of Gartner, Inc.

Source: Gartner (June 2013) Research image courtesy of Gartner, Inc.

Found in a recent Gartner survey, 77% of American consumers go online looking for incentives relating to a purchase, and nearly one in two of them go online searching for effective problem solving. Meanwhile, as many as four times the number of people see a negative tweet as see a positive one. Wouldn’t it be better to see these people quickly and help them solve their problems, creating a positive brand awareness on social media rather than leave a negative perception of the brand?

By gaining visibility to customers’ social profiles, companies can discover who acts as brand advocates and influencers: who on Twitter posts positive messages (or negative ones) about customer service, who shares a particular buying experience by photographing a shirt or tie they recently bought on Instagram, or even who is connected to whom on LinkedIn to develop better in-roads into winning that all-important contract. The choices are endless.

Both B2B and B2C companies are relying on CRM to organise these insights about what customers are doing and buying, and to help establish predictive ability to know what and where to target next.

CRM gives this complete customer view by providing a single context of what the customer is doing — such as total wallet spend, or spending patterns — with a single entry point to not only analyse it, but to react to the information. Business rules and marketing drip campaigns can be driven off this data, but companies also gain the ability to see which individuals are brand ambassadors and who would be key to any successful loyalty programme integration.

Loyalty is a key theme at the moment, with many businesses seeking to not only maximize what they know about their customers, but to then enhance it with predictive behaviours and analysis that reward loyal customers and evangelists for the brand, and drive customers with similar behaviours to become stellar and vocal brand advocates.

At SugarCon 2014, I’ll be presenting on “Effective Social Media in your CRM” – we’ll be continuing this discussion on the use of social CRM to power effective loyalty programmes, as well as its application in targeted marketing campaigns and real-time customer support. Demonstrations of these systems in action will be showcased, along with customer stories of successful social CRM programmes for both B2B and B2C companies. I encourage you to attend this session to jumpstart your own consideration and integration of social CRM into your business!

maglassWhen talking about the CRM market, a lot of numbers are thrown around. Analyst firms like Gartner and IDC do amazing jobs of calculating the annual spend in the market, which will be more than $30bn in a few years. There are lots of huge companies selling CRM software (usually among other technology pieces), and the space gets a lot of news coverage.

But while these numbers and the continual buzz in CRM seems impressive…is it really?

SugarCRM co-founder and CTO Clint Oram and I have had an ongoing dialog for nearly a year now, about how the CRM industry has – in a lot of ways – utterly failed to live up to its potential over the past two decades.

“Failed?” You ask?

Yes, a big #Fail.

What we have been talking about internally is that the CRM industry now serves roughly 20-25m end users (you can take a composite of all research and it usually ends up around this number give or take a few million users). Now, while this seems like a big number, let’s look at some other “relationship management” tools out there and their user counts:

LinkedIn (professional relationship management): 200m+ Users

Facebook (personal relationship management): 1bn+ Users.

When we stack CRM up against similar (yet admittedly consumer oriented) concepts, CRM falls down in comparison in terms of seeding its total addressable market. Clint calls this, “The Case of the Missing Zero.” And I agree, why aren’t we asking the bigger questions about CRM, namely: Why is this a 20m user market and not a 200m market today?

I think the answer lies both in looking at the success of companies like Facebook and LinkedIn, and also in the history of business technology. In short, CRM originated in a time before such life-changing trends as: the internet, social media, cloud, mobile…pick your buzzword. Early CRM was expensive, difficult to deploy, and benefitted management and not the actual front-line users of CRM – those who deal with prospects and customers. And a lot of expensive, traditional CRM deployments are now in place, lack the modernity expected by today’s workforce, which only exacerbates the issue. And, what’s more, nearly every traditional CRM providers’ offerings were built in this pre-web/social/mobile/cloud era and are thus ill equipped to meet the needs of the individual user.

But…there is hope. If we as an industry start focusing more on the actual users of CRM, and build tools that help them do their jobs, not simply capture data, we can bridge this huge adoption gap.These tools should be simple to use, mobile friendly, and not only make sense of the mounds of structured and unstructured data about every customer – but provide fast and valuable insight around this data to every user at every turn.

And by creating pricing that actually works with companies to put the software in more users’ hands – we can start seeing the true promise of CRM. This isn’t about selling more software (well, in some ways it is), but rather empowering more people in the organization who touch the customer. It’s not about having to make hard decisions about who does and who does not get to use the tools designed to improve the lifeblood of your business – your customers – it’s about giving everyone access to the information they need to provide better service, make more informed decisions, and simply promote better customer relationships.

We are making headway in this area, and made some significant announcements this morning to that effect. While it is early in what I feel is a transformative time in CRM, I am excited. By bringing innovation back into this industry in a big way, empowering more individuals in every company we serve, and simply helping make great customer experiences happen, I hope to see this industry find that missing zero (yes, everyone not just SugarCRM) and show what a difference great CRM can really make.

Many of you may have taken part, or at least seen the results of our recent Social Media Survey.

Some of the highlights of the survey were interesting, but not all that surprising.  Among them, these points stand out to me:

  • Only 26 percent of respondents said they currently integrate their customers’ social networking information with their existing CRM data.
  • 72 percent of respondents said they plan to integrate their customers’ social networking information into their existing CRM data within the next year.

When you put these two together – it would seem that ideally EVERYONE would be undergoing social CRM initiatives in the coming months. That is a huge opportunity, but also a bit scary. There is an amazing propensity for people to overpay “gurus” and point vendors with no real solution in place, and thus not see results because they did not properly align business goals with the IT work underneath. (Really, there is not much difference between the potential social CRM miscues we could see and the high-level “CRM failures” of the Siebel era.)

The plus side?  A lot of the tools needed to “get social” can be accessed (albeit in a more ad hoc or manual manner) for free. This certainly lessens a lot of the financial risk associated with a new IT initiative.

I had an online chat with InformationWeek’s Dana Blankenhorn and he gets it. In his write up on the survey, Dana points out that this need not be an expensive undertaking.

Overall, I think we can safely say that Social is here to stay…now, the real question is – how will you leverage social in your organization to better your business in 2011?

Editor’s note: This blog post originally appeared in the UK-based B2B Marketing magazine blog series. And, since I think these are points worth repeating (and I wanted to get a blog post out this week!) I am reprinting my thoughts hereAlso note, while it’s true I am too lazy to change spelling back to American English – I think the British English stylizing gives my thoughts a bit of an air of respectability ;)

The explosion of social media over the past several years has certainly begun to make its mark in the business world. What started out as a primarily consumer-driven concept has become big business on many fronts: companies are marketing to customers via social networks; supporting customers and identifying trouble spots via Twitter; and leveraging these new social channels for market research and to qualify leads.

While social channels present an opportunity, companies must not forget the core foundations that actually manage the core data and processes within the organisation. New concepts like ‘social CRM’ are appealing for many reasons. But, ultimately, are not a replacement for traditional CRM. Rather, it is more important to augment existing CRM strategies and systems with social tools – because abandoning core systems could lead to chaos inside the organisation.

To best navigate your move into social CRM, it is useful to ask yourself five simple questions before spending precious time and other resources towards a social media endeavour:

1. Where are my customers and prospects aggregating online?

This seems fairly simple, but might be more complex than it seems.  For large B2C organisations, it may be enough to blast messaging across sites like Facebook. But for more niche markets and products, or more specialised B2B sales models – it may take some more research and listening to your customers before you begin any outreach via social channels.

2. How will this social initiative enhance the customer experience?

Just being social for the sake of being social is useless, and can backfire. For many B2B sales and support organisations, social media should be a means of adding convenience to the sales or customer support cycle – not an intrusive waste of time. Insure that your social interactions are a benefit, not a detractor to the overall customer experience.

3. Am I using social media to hide deeper flaws in my business?

Many companies are using social media as a “band-aid” to hide poor support processes or other problem areas. Customers who tweet about a bad experience get preferential treatment; but what does that really solve?  Before adding layers of social engagement, try to insure your customer-facing processes are already strong before exposing them to the hyper-critical social channels.

4. Who will be responsible for our social outreach?

This is a huge problem area for those looking to jump into social business. If you are going to generate leads, or attempt to handle customer complaints via social media – insure that a proper escalation path is in place. If a customer reaches out via social media and gets no response – it is almost worse than not having a social policy. Insure the right people are in place to quickly and consistently manage inquiries received via social channels.

5. How will I track and measure success?

It is very easy for a social media initiative to create even more data silos, with loads of data not providing insight. However, if you tightly integrate your social tools and data with well-structured existing systems like a CRM tool, you can more effectively track interactions and outcomes. Again, social CRM is not a new concept in itself – we are just using new technology to do what we have always done as  businesspeople: attract and manage customer relationships.