The rise of Social Computing means that customer relationship management (CRM) professionals must find innovative new ways to cope with the emerging phenomenon of "social customers." Forrester Research talked to early-adopter companies and leading CRM vendors as part of its research into CRM 2.0 strategies to understand the business tactics and the technologies involved.
Principal analyst William Band says customers are demanding that enterprises engage with them in new, more "social" ways. The technologies needed to support CRM 2.0 strategies are maturing, and early adopters are already gaining competitive advantage by forging new and tighter relationships with their buyer communities.
Key CRM 2.0 objectives include: Listening, the on-going monitoring of customers conversations with each other; Talking, participating in and stimulating two-way conversations customers have with each other; Energizing, making it possible for enthusiastic customers to help sell or make introductions to each other; Supporting, enabling your customers to support each other; and Embracing, helping customers work with each other to come up with ideas to improve products and services.
So how do you take the CRM 2.0 plunge? Band offers these recommendations:
Initiate CRM 2.0 experiments immediately. Define a near-term opportunity to apply CRM 2.0 ideas to a customer-facing challenge at your company. Build some practical experience that will break you out of out of old mindsets. Refine your strategies later as new learnings emerge. Ten years ago, Electronic Arts recognized it could not cope with the anticipated tenfold increase in customer support inquiries as the result of launching large-scale online multiplayer games. There were no commercial solutions to help at the time, so it began experimenting and developing its own solutions. Trying new ideas and discarding the old, EA actively worked to gain matter-of-fact experience by actively participating in the "virtual worlds" of its social game players.
Benchmark customer and prospect social readiness. Survey your customers to assess their Social Computing behavior and attitudes. Use Forrester's Social Technographics® as a framework for assessing whether prospects and customers are willing to comment on blogs, contribute content to online forums or wikis, or view online video segments.
Define your social customer objectives. The most important decision is not what technology to use; most important is determining who you're trying to reach, what you're trying to accomplish, and how you plan to change your relationships with your customers. At Forrester, we advocate using a systematic, four-step method for next-generation customer management strategy formation. The acronym for the four steps is POST: people, objectives, strategy, and technology.
Assess your CRM 2.0 capabilities. Undertake a self-assessment to understand how your organization stacks up compared to CRM 2.0 best practices and identify where you should focus your attention for quick wins.
Understand the social computing solutions landscape. You must learn to navigate an emerging CRM solutions landscape that includes both traditional solutions and new Social Computing capabilities.
Map out your social CRM capabilities-building plan. A CRM 2.0 plan should be tightly linked to business goals, focused on customer benefits, clearly identify the processes and constituencies that will be affected, and specify the associated information and capabilities required.
Define your metrics for success. Exceptional discipline is what sets CRM winners apart from failures. CRM 2.0 comprises both a strategy and a set of tools, but you also need to pay attention to how well you are tracking toward your goals over the long term. Establishing the right metrics is part of the discipline that leads to success.
Social technology adoption has increased tremendously during the past 12 months. Three in four U.S. online adults now use social tools to connect with each other compared with 56% in 2007. Leading CRM vendors are adding collaborative capabilities to augment the transactional business processes of marketing, sales, service, and product/service development. These technology and social changes are transforming the way all businesses operate, create products, and relate to customers.
Early adopters are already experimenting, gaining experience, and achieving early successes adopting the concepts and solutions that comprise CRM 2.0. This is not fantasy, it is a reality.
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