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Heating Up: The Sizzling Summer of Social CRM

image By Brandi Boatner, IBM Global Business Services
This summer, organizations need to start thinking like a customer. Customer relationships aren’t built on information, they’re built on trust. And trust can be earned through engagement using an integrated set of social solutions. Welcome to the era of social customer relationship management, or social CRM.


Social CRM is about improving the reputation of a brand and its association with customer values by understanding the ever-changing behavior of today’s empowered consumer. Brand loyalty begins with providing an exceptional customer experience across a variety of digital and social networks.


When customers experience a product for the first time or make their first purchase, their instinct is increasingly to approach community platforms on the Internet to share that experience and ask for help or advice. Customers are becoming accustomed to using Facebook or Twitter to get support or register a complaint.


The implications for business are significant. The shift to Social CRM is more than an adoption of new operational models or technologies; it is a philosophical, cultural shift. Social CRM, is the practice of continually capturing and analyzing customer data from social interactions to develop viable insights that can help reduce risk and improve all aspects of the customer relationship. From basic sentiment analysis to more sophisticated predictive modeling, companies can employ a continuous loop of Listen-Analyze-Engage- Evolve.


According to the IBM 2012 CEO study, the findings revealed that within five years, 57 percent of CEOs are expected to guide their organizations to use social media channels to connect with customers and partners. Customer-obsessed leaders are becoming infatuated with understanding what makes a customer tick and leveraging that information to improve individual customer needs and improve responsiveness.


If companies want to unlock the potential of social media to reinvent their customer relationships, they need to rethink CRM as a way to build strategic and operational frameworks that provides both structure and flexibility.


A Social CRM strategy takes social media programs a step further, moving beyond the domain of a single function, such as marketing, to implement a cross-functional network of integrated communities with customer facing responsibilities, such as customer care and sales.


This integrated approach treats the customer holistically and facilitates sharing customer insights derived from unstructured data captured through multiple social touch points, as well as structured data from traditional channels. These insights enable companies to improve the customer experience and can result in the development of innovative new models for customer engagement. Social CRM can lead to a true social business.


Brandi Boatner is a Communications Strategist for IBM in New York City where she is a member of the Global Business Services strategic communications team. Her roles and responsibilities include social business and digital strategies for IBM consulting division, working on IBM campaigns around business analytics, C-suite thought leadership studies, enterprise digital transformation, and smarter commerce. Boatner is extremely passionate about digital communications and considers herself a true "social butterfly."

Brandi is an IBM Redbooks Thought Leader

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