Friday, April 19, 2013

Forecast for Social CRM in 2013-14

Social media transactions are over a couple of billion every 24 hours and over 500,000 new Android phones are registered every day. Tracking and monitoring user generated content from social media can obviously generate a vault of actionable information - networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and more are constantly buzzing with user activity. Social CRM is the most reliable tool to ensure two-way communication between customers and businesses in real-time without triggering churn, if implemented correctly, it works quickly towards improving customer experience.

Why is Social CRM important?

It is common knowledge, social networking is trendier with every passing day. Be it social networking websites or the compulsive usage of smart phones and tablets, the ‘social’ inclination is compelling organisations to sharpen their focus on these social applications in order to provide a new dimension to important business functions.

Whether it is customers, employees or business partners, there is a gnawing need for all to communicate and collaborate through channels that merge social media into business applications. This phenomenon is rooted in the fact that in today’s day and age, almost everyone is actively involved with social networks and almost everyone owns at least a basic smart phone or tablet. Realizing this, businesses want to make the most of the trend to ameliorate all business processes, especially CRM. It can therefore be concluded, a social media business strategy is not discretionary, but, essential. In most industries, organisations will have no choice but to acquire the necessary intelligence and competencies to help stay equipped with social software tools. Closely and constantly monitoring relevant communities, participating therein and do the best to derive concrete analysis of these activities will become a necessity.

Studies indicate that in the next one year, the kind of social CRM software packages that are likely to emerge, will bring about the fusion of peer-to-peer community proficiency with already established CRM solutions in such a manner that customer involvement in business processes is heightened.

Impact of Social CRM on important organisational functions

Key features of Social CRM, 2013
Marketing
A social CRM strategy can give all aspects of marketing a face lift. In today’s scenario, social media has the power to influence even ‘traditional’ purchasers. In the marketing arena, social media is used to hear out and engage customers, and turn them into brand advocates.

When correctly applied, social marketing strategies increases conversion rates, shorten product development cycles and promote innovation. Additionally, it also facilitates a valuable source for organisations to gain important information and build meaningful relationships with customers.

Sales
Sales teams are also showing an increasing interest in social CRM software. As an extension of this, business organisations are making social networking websites widely accessible to their sales personnel – who in turn are successfully using these sites to contact, track and monitor leads.

E-Commerce sites are a reflection of how social CRM strategies are applied in sales. By the next year, a considerably large percent of sales personnel will make use of social media technology. However, quantifiable results are yet to see an increase in magnitude.

Customer service
Social for CRM initiatives are largely being applied in the area of customer service and support, as a measure to strengthen collaborative processes. When applied in this functional area, social for CRM elevates the quality of customer engagement and gives after-sales experiences a whole new dimension. Senior organisational executives are going all out to ensure that the sales and marketing teams develop unfailing processes that enable sharing of the best customer engagement examples and practices. Experts opine that customer service and support will be the area which has the maximum potential as far as innovations in social CRM are concerned.

Opting for the right vendor

The market for vendors who provide social CRM services is well defined. These vendors offer a range of products that leverage formal as well as informal customer communities, with the objective of fostering customer engagement not only with each other but also with the organisation, business and brand. The resultant positive impact greatly improves sales, marketing, customer services and relationships, as discussed above.

Social CRM software vendors can be segregated on the basis of the attributes by which they target and assist clusters of customers, internal users, partners, employees and all other stakeholders, and how they help with key organisational processes - the final objective being benefiting customers and organisations mutually.

Businesses today express the need for better cross functional integration and clutter-free applications. Organisations also want software that can seamlessly integrate social data with customer information contained within sales, marketing and customer service systems. A direct consequence of these needs means that most organisations will not really prefer ‘niche’ specialists, but would rather opt for those vendors who are able to successfully amalgamate social capabilities with existing CRM software.

With the passage of time, social for CRM vendors will require the ability to demonstrate how and where social data was fruitfully used in and contributed to core business functions. This means that in order to be successful and establish a strong identity, vendors have to be able to quantify results through ROI evidence; and deliver consistent, but at the same time, exclusive social for CRM solutions.

Studies by Gartner indicate that over the last two years, the number of vendors in the social CRM market has gone up by almost 32%. This computation is based on research about advanced offerings made by vendors, along with the vendor references in client queries.

Companies must do extensive research about which vendors will be able to provide the best assistance in the creation of online environments which not only enable relevant customer exploration, but also offer opportunities to successfully turn prospects into clients.

From the company point of view, all stakeholders must put their heads together with the IT teams, and shortlist vendors which will bring in maximum productivity, empower the organisation to realize their full social CRM potential, and constantly hand hold the organisation to successfully achieve their social for CRM objectives.

Conclusion

It is more than evident how a social for CRM strategy is imperative for any business organisation that wants to keep pace with changing times and merge social findings with business achievements. Choosing the correct vendor is the primary decision in that direction. Next, the organisation must ensure that all LOBs collaborate with the IT department to collectively define common objectives for a social CRM project. It is also vital that the exact usage of the social for CRM strategy is clearly defined in line with all the relevant business functions.

Though, it is true that the social CRM trend began in the field of marketing, it now influences every other discipline as well. Social for CRM strategies are rapidly impacting all the important functions that are crucial to flourishing sales organisations.

It would be safe to say that in the coming years, as social tools and networks progressively multiply, the market for social CRM software and applications will also witness a massive upsurge.


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