Hero to zero or zero to hero: The impact of social CRM on your brand
Integrated is the first word that comes to mind when thinking of the most fundamental change in marketing over the past 10 years. We are no longer living in a world driven by a mass of unknown customers. As the Economist says, we are living the era of mass customisation. The driving force behind this is that we know more about customers than at any time before. But that’s not all.
Compared with previous decades, this information is available immediately and on a massive scale. In the past, marketers used to gather external customer perception data from market research and internal customer relationship data from CRM systems. These are no longer the only sources. With growing adoption of social media customers are leaving a massive online digital footprint that can be linked directly with CRM data.
Social media like Facebook and Linkedin are changing centuries-old ways of how business approach clients and how clients approach businesses. Customer interaction is no longer a walled garden controlled by internal procedures and systems. Sentiment towards brands and services may be at risk – without warning – on Twitter, Facebook or simply through a shared picture on Instagram or Pinterest. Companies are no longer demand creators. Customers today have the power to endorse or damage brand and product equity.
Listening is therefore more important than ever, as Gary Vaynerchuck explains in his book, ‘The Thank You Economy’. The credibility and likeability of brands stands and falls on how they listen to customers. Customers expect to be valued and treated as individuals. It is no longer the world of the Cheshire Cat salesman!
We are talking about a real knowledge of the customer. Don’t get me wrong, those principles are as old as marketing itself - there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Marcus T. Cicero knew 2,000 years ago that remembering names is essential for building relationships. Customers are not anonymous records inside a large database. They want to be treated as valued individuals.
The modern concept of CRM - Social CRM - understands that people have lives outside the database. This life creates opportunities for brands if the people are treated well, and challenges if they are not. In a world with extensive use of social media and mobile devices enabling immediate sharing of information – both good and bad – we have no excuse but to think of customers as individuals. Everyone has the power to do things we cannot forecast or find with a focus group. We just can listen, learn and adapt to the ever changing world around us.
Technology is just an enabler. What matters is how we approach this enablement. It is not just a technical task. What makes a real difference is how we put all these things together. Integrated marketing is not an empty phrase. It is a real concept that varies for every company and industry, just as customer behaviour and needs vary. The challenge is to deliver solutions that are fully integrated and it is this that makes a real difference between zero and hero to businesses and their customers.
Jiri is a Senior Consultant in the Customer group specialising in Salesforce.com and Social Media Integration and analytics
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