Who Owns the Social Customer?

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That’s a trick question, of course. No one owns the social customer. (Or, to be more lofty about it, everyone does.) The entire point behind the marriage of CRM and social media is that it empowers the individual and amplifies conversation.

But that doesn’t mean you’re absolved of the responsibility to maintain the relationship. In fact, the value of social media carries along with it a certain amount of risk: Embracing its full potential means embracing transparency, and engagement among transparent individuals—whether they’re employees, vendors, suppliers, customers, or prospects—involves far more complexity than the engagement you may have grown accustomed to. In other words, you may find yourself working harder than ever to master the nuances of relationships.

You’re about halfway through our special issue on social media, and this is where things start to heat up. When you turn the page, you’ll see something you’ve never seen before: a visual representation of Social Media Maturity, developed with the input of some of the industry’s top thought leaders. It’s a lead-in to a series of features examining the effect that social media has already had on strategy, sales, marketing, and service—and it’s the beginning of our social engagement with you. We don’t expect the graph—or these features, or even this issue—to represent the definitive word about social media and CRM. Quite the contrary:

This is just the starting point, and we fully expect to see this chart, and the very nature of social CRM, shift as the industry finds its way. The reality is that social technologies and channels are affecting every aspect of business, in ways we may not even yet realize. But the floodgates are open now, and there’s no turning back. Social CRM is destined to change everything you thought you knew about your customer relationships. It’s OK if that sounds a little bit daunting. Just remember: We’re all in this together.

Maturity in Social Media: You'll Be Social (Soon)

Strategy and Social Media: Everything’s Social (Now)

Sales and Social Media: No One’s Social (Yet)

Marketing and Social Media: Everyone's Social (Already)

Service and Social Media: You're Not Social (Enough)

[For the rest of the June 2009 issue of CRM magazine — The Social Media Issue — please click here.]

Every month, CRM magazine covers the customer relationship management industry and beyond. To subscribe, please visit http://www.destinationcrm.com/subscribe/.

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