• August 4, 2015
  • By David Myron, Editorial Director, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmartCustomerService.com

Social CRM Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

For all of the benefits that social CRM can provide organizations, it can also deliver some sizable setbacks. For this reason, organizations shouldn't be so quick to rush into a social CRM strategy without giving it the necessary considerations. Barton Goldenberg, president and founder of the CRM consultancy ISM Inc. and author of the book The Definitive Guide to Social CRM, will be presenting a two-part session on social CRM during the CRM Evolution conference at the New York Marriott Marquis (August 17­–19, 2015). In an email interview with CRM magazine Editorial Director David Myron, Goldenberg revealed some of the most common reasons why people aren't succeeding with their social CRM efforts, why these mistakes are being made, and how to overcome them.

Myron: What are some of the biggest mistakes organizations are making regarding social CRM? 

Goldenberg: First, there's an incomplete understanding of what social CRM is and its potential impact on an organization: Despite social CRM being around for the past five years, organizations still fall short in understanding how to leverage social CRM to enhance customer engagement to grow sales, to market more effectively, and to improve customer servicing.

Next, organizations need to understand that successful social media communities are as much about private communities as they are about public communities. Whereas many organizations think social media communities equate to public communities such as Facebook, Twitter, etc., nothing could be further from the truth. Public communities work fine for branding, for new product/service announcements, and for inviting members to the organization’s private social media community, but they are a poor way to create intimate exchanges among its members, which is where private social media communities shine. 

Another issue is the failure to commit necessary resources to social CRM. Many organizations want to 'dip their toes' into the social CRM space. Unfortunately this is not possible. In the four-step methodology that I describe in my new book, The Definitive Guide to Social CRM (Pearson, 2015), I explain that you cannot reach Step #4 (improved customer engagement) until you have successfully accomplished Steps #1–3.  Social CRM requires (Step #1) ongoing listening to social media communities, (Step #2) effective filtering of social insight, and (Step #3) integration of this social insight into the customer profiles housed within the CRM application; that in turn allows for (Step #4) enhanced customer engagement.

Additionally, many companies fail to put into place appropriate business processes to maximize the value of social CRM. Being in a position to leverage social insight gathered from harvesting social media communities requires the organization to have key social CRM processes in place. These processes range from which public and private social media sites to monitor and how often, to how the social insight will be integrated into the CRM application, and to how best to engage customers via their preferred channel.

Finally, many organizations fail to have a comprehensive social CRM road map and action plan. My best clients who have successfully implemented social CRM will be the first to confirm that without a social CRM road map and action plan in place, social CRM will never become a sustainable reality. 

Myron: Why are these mistakes being made? 

Goldenberg: Many companies still live with their head in the sand vis-à-vis the digital revolution. They have an incomplete knowledge of the potential of social CRM. Many fear that negative social media comments about the company and/or its products and services will go viral and damage the brand. Social CRM is here to stay, and now is the time to ensure that your company has skin in this all-important game. Also, they feel that because the past worked well and did not involve active participation in the digital revolution, why rock the boat now? Additionally, incomplete knowledge of public versus private social media communities still exists. By virtue of them being open to all, public social media communities will never deliver the intimacy that private peer-to-peer social media communities are capable of delivering. And it is during intimate peer-to-peer exchanges that social insights are gathered.

Myron:  If organizations do nothing about these mistakes, how can they potentially hurt companies? 

Goldenberg: Companies not harvesting social insights will lose business to competitors that are actively listening and acting on social insight gathered from their customers and prospects. Companies will have less than a complete understanding of the customer, which invites the customer to fulfill their needs elsewhere, more specifically from a company that has taken the time to successfully implement social CRM and that consequently has a more robust understanding of their customers' needs. Companies will not offer their products and services via their customers' channels of preference, which will also drive the customer into the arms of their competitors.

Myron: What actions should companies take to launch a successful social CRM strategy? 

Goldenberg: Companies successfully implementing social CRM programs follow these 10 steps, which I will review during my two-part social CRM executive primer at the CRM Evolution conference:

Step #1: Social media must support the company's business strategy/goals.

Step #2: Define social CRM success from the outset using clear metrics.

Step #3: Link social CRM to existing CRM customer programs and outreach.

Step #4: Integrate the social media community with other marketing programs.

Step #5: Draw on existing organizational resources and initiatives.

Step #6: Leverage partners.

Step #7: Carefully monitor the community.

Step #8: Respond quickly to community input.

Step #9: Pick something you are passionate about.

Step #10: Utilize an integrated social media strategy.

Myron: What else do you plan to cover during your CRM Evolution session? 

Goldenberg: I will define what social CRM is and share with participants how global, best-in-class companies like ExxonMobil, Kraft Foods, and others created successful social CRM initiatives. I will also cover how and why companies have fallen short in creating their social CRM strategy and/or implementing it with excellence.

For more information on social CRM, register for the CRM Evolution conference, where you can attend Barton Goldenberg's sessions ("Executive Primer, Part 1: The Power of Social CRM" and "Executive Primer, Part 2: Implementing Social CRM Successfully") on Tuesday, August 18, 2015 (from 10:45 a.m.–12:30 p.m.). Plus, your full conference pass will enable you to attend more than 30 additional presentations from CRM consultants, analysts, and practitioners.

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