You're doing your best to listen to and engage in relevant customer conversations, but when those interactions come to an end, what happens next? More often than not, the contact dies with the conversation. CRM players and providers of social media monitoring solutions are making all sorts of moves to get that valuable social interaction data looped into customer records. Despite all the buzz, however, social media monitoring remains a new concept -- one that few can claim to have mastered. Radian6, a listening platform provider, recently sprouted a new friendship in the CRM space with the goal of making those social insights actionable. The company will now integrate with software-as-a-service (SaaS)CRM giant Salesforce.com -- representing what Chris Ramsey, the vice president of business development at Radian6, calls the first among many planned CRM integrations.
The Salesforce.com integration comes on the heels of Radian6's recent partnership with Web analytics vendor Webtrends. The integration of Webtrends enables users to leverage conversational Web analytics within the Radian6 listening platform.
Ramsey says the Salesforce.com integration has been in the hopper for about a year. "We've been out talking to customers about this in the market and everyone was asking, 'How do we get this integrated into our overall CRM platform?' " he says. "Ultimately, that's where it’s headed in the enterprise."
Ramsey says that the integration will allow users to flow anything that is said on the Web directly into Salesforce and into the intended CRM account. He says he imagines this will provide particular value within the sales and customer service arenas. "It increases the knowledge and customer intelligence account reps have about the client," he relays. Not only can Radian6 users link social interactions into specific contact records, but they can get an idea of what's being talked about on the social Web in terms of hot topics and trends.
"The power of integration is making sure the data is available where the sales teams work," contends Suresh Vittal, Forrester principal analyst. Users can technically either bring Radian6 social media insight into the Salesforce.com interface, or they can work within the listening platform and push data out to the CRM system. It all depends on the business role, Ramsey says.
He says he imagines the use case is going to primarily be within Salesforce.com. He notes, however, that in some marketing and PR situations, social media teams might work directly within the listening platform and then will assign follow-up tasks that flow out and into Salesforce.com.
During a CRM magazine Meetup in New York on June 18, Radian6's director of content marketing Warren Sukernek put forth that competitively, Radian6 is up against more than 200 social media analysis and monitoring companies. There's a huge amount of companies offering bits and pieces of the social CRM puzzle. "The challenge, which is also the opportunity, is nobody has really invented the one-and-only best practice of how to do social CRM from the process perspective," Ramsey says. "It's early days in companies getting processes in flight."
Vittal points out that the integration with CRM solutions is definitely what customers have been vying for; however, it's likely that Radian6's competitors aren't far behind.
"[The integration] differentiates [Radian6] for a short period of time," Vittal says. "All vendors are moving to this end-goal which is how do we offer social insights in our CRM tool?"
Given the immature nature of the social CRM space, Vittal says that even with a seamless integration, there will be challenges. He conveys several potential pitfalls for organizations looking to close the look with CRM and social media:
- Data cleansing, data modeling, and data integration: As with any intelligent tool, the data is only good as the action companies take upon it. And it's nearly impossible to act upon bad data.
- Responsibility: Who is responsible for generating these insights organizationally? Do employees have the right skills to harvest these insights? Who is responsible for educating the stakeholder and the audience of what these insights mean? "Some of this goes well beyond technology," Vittal says.
- Identity management: It's inevitable that customers will interact using multiple personas, making tracking and translating interactions very difficult.
Vittal maintains that social CRM is a multilevel exercise. "It's a progression," he says. "You start on the hot topics and the insight and you eventually get to a place where you create this nuanced multichannel view."
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