The integration of social media and customer relationship management (CRM) is the next frontier for organizations that want to optimize social interactions in order to get closer to their customers. As technology and the way we communicate evolve, CRM systems and social media are converging at a rapid rate. Social media is now enabling businesses of all sizes to manage customer communications more efficiently than ever. But, with this worldwide explosion of social media usage, businesses are feeling pressure to always be where their customers are.
In the old days, companies were made up of teams with walls between them. Outside those walls were customers, analysts, editors, bloggers, resellers and more. Customer service people were busy building up the wall after the customers broke it down in order to get support. Back then, it was expected that customers would line up to talk to sales people in person, but with the addition of social media, those days are over.
Now, customers are having conversations amongst themselves without having to talk to sales people. In an ITEXPO (News - Alert) Austin 2012 session “Social CRM or Social Business: Two Sides of the same Coin or Different?”, social media and CRM expert John Ferrara, founder and CEO of Nimble (News - Alert), discussed how customers these days are communicating with companies through the convenience of social media. Customers are able to contact the exact department they want, via the channel they want just by using social media. Additionally, customers expect the company to pay close attention to each one of their questions and concerns.
Now, sales people are the last to adopt social media, yet social is the most important thing in business.
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“Your customers are screaming at you about who they are and what they need. All you need to do is listen,” explained Ferrara. “People don’t realize what social media is. It is changing the way we work and companies that understand that today will be with us tomorrow. And, companies that don’t, won’t.”
All businesses want to connect with their customers, so in order to be a social business, they must start by listening, according to Ferrara. Then, they must educate, engage, embrace and empower customers about the promise of a business’s knowledge.
“It is important to use these alternative channels to effectively connect with the customers,” said Ferrara.
Today, the conversations that are occurring aren’t in your e-mail box or on the phone; instead, they are all over social media. So, when you connect on a business level, you also need to connect on a personal level to share who you are. Then, your customers will see you and connect to you, helping to build a successful business relationship.
Edited by Allison Boccamazzo