Not Your Father’s CRM -This One’s Social!


We have been hearing a lot about the idea of Social CRM or sCRM as the next big wave in the customer relationship lifecycle. As more and more of us move our interactions not only with each other, but with brands to the online arena, many brands are scrambling to put in place the people and processes required to engage with today’s social customer.

I recently read that the social customer is the one who owns the relationship, and that it is the job of the brand to earn the customer’s trust. While this may not seem like a far departure from traditional customer relationship management (CRM), the process of managing, massaging and nurturing these relationships has shifted dramatically.

So what is Social CRM and how does it differ from Traditional CRM? defines CRM as follows: “CRM (customer relationship management) is an information industry term for methodologies, software, and usually Internet capabilities that help an enterprise manage customer relationships in an organized way.”


Where I think traditional CRM fails is that it is too focused on the technology. Email is usually at its core and the focus is mainly on a one-way push of information, with the overarching goal being to grow the customer’s profile information. Engagement is limited or virtually non-existent, and today’s savvy customer has all but grown numb to canned-SPAM and advertising, which traditional CRM can at times mirror.

On the other side, Brent Leary, co-founder of CRM Essentials, defines Social CRM as “…all about people and community.  It’s about how your company intends to participate in the ongoing conversations taking place in the industry.  How you embrace non-traditional influential people like popular industry bloggers, and social sites on the Web frequented by your audience.”


While the overall goals of traditional and social CRM are similar-find, attract, and win new clients while retaining current relationships-where I feel the two differ the most is with this idea of “participation.” Social CRM should look to empower the customer, amplify the conversation, create everyday engagement between the brand and the customer, and provide remarkable experiences that will move the customer beyond the purchase, to becoming an advocate for the brand.

We believe that social CRM is a strategic discipline that requires engaging not only the customer, but influencers in a collaborative way to drive both advocacy and lifetime customer revenue.  It is more than a type of technology, or a set of communication channels – it is a fundamental recognition that (in a connected world), growth and profitability are dependent on nurturing a long-term relationship with one’s best (and best-connected) customers.

So what are the key components of Social CRM?


  • Listening: Understanding what customers, prospects and influencers are talking about in relation to your product, service or brand is ABSOLUTELY VITAL. Using listening tools and dashboards to uncover “talkable,” important topics will not only help find, attract, win and retain customers, but will also help detect and issue or crisis before it becomes one.
  • Customer Influence Mapping: Influencer mapping ensures that you are engaging the right people to meet your business objectives and helps to develop a roster of partners and potential brand ambassadors.
  • Engagement Planning: in order to create real and sustained word of mouth, brands must create “remarkable” experiences and content coupled with everyday engagement. This will not only help to create a steady and valuable drumbeat of customer stimulation, but drives them into some level of purchase or purchase consideration and to openly share word of mouth (advocacy) that drives their social graph into both your traditional and social CRM systems.
  • Measurement: One of the keys to succeeding in social CRM is experimentation and iteration. Brands will succeed by trying lots of things. But they need a reliable measurement model to know if they are winning or losing on any given day.

At the end of the day, social CRM is all about creating engagement. It is about obtaining insights from your customers and influencers that will make their experience with your brand better. It is about creating a more direct way of talking and engaging with your customers with the goal of developing long-term relationships and building ambassadors for your brand.


So what have you done to create everyday engagement and remarkable experiences for your social customer? As a social customer, what are some good experiences that you have had with brands?