We are now at a time where Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools are a regular and expected component of successful business operations. Companies like RightNow, Salesforce and NetSuite have helped rapidly advance this industry over the last 10 years.
and 2010 is the year when these tools are going to see some of the coolest improvements to date.
Because this is the year when activity in social media and branded customer communities will be truly integrated with the advanced contact management capabilities of CRM tools.
We already began to see movement in this direction in 2009 – though in a relatively basic manner that was just scratching the surface.
Soon we are going to see some extremely useful information coming from this integration.
For example, by automatically tracking who is making positive referrals about your business – you will be able to easily find great candidates for customer loyalty programs and customer marketing efforts (like case studies, regional user group participation etc).
Similarly, if you can automatically flag customers who are complaining via social media – you can improve the immediacy in which you identify and manage at-risk relationships.
All this while improving your ability to accurately forecast non-renewals.
Now the integration I am most excited about (largely because of my experience managing Agile Commons) is that between branded customer communities and CRM tools. Customer communities contain a wealth of candid and valuable information – information that is often underutilized in business intelligence.
There is huge value in easily knowing who is submitting support cases so you can prioritize appropriately for your most important customers.
And by providing quick access to the desired feature improvements associated with a given contact, Account Managers will have the ability to easily speak to the unique priorities of each customer. How helpful will it be to see all the contacts who voted for a newly delivered feature request – and easily reach out to them with some welcomed news?
I’m just touching on a few of the benefits, but hopefully this gives you a glimpse into how social integration is beginning to strongly improve the effectiveness of CRM tools.
Keep your eye out for some significant moves on this front from all of the main CRM tool vendors.