Doing business in the social era is a whole new ball game. Enterprises across business sectors have recognized the need to engage their customers in a collaborative conversation that goes beyond transactional needs. They are now turning to social media platforms to deepen the customer engagement through initiatives that measure up to customer demand for social recognition, personal relevance, intimacy and immediacy.
Against this backdrop, enterprises are increasingly embracing social CRM in a bid to create and manage customer communities for collaborative conversations. These conversations, apart from providing significant marketing leads, will also generate considerable volume of structured and unstructured data that upon analysis could yield crucial business insights. This would be particularly relevant in business areas where customization is a key success factor.
Tracking these trends, research firm Gartner has estimated that the social CRM market will scale $1.2 billion this year alone, accounting for near 10% of all CRM spending. This will be greatly aided by new thinking that social conversations and business processes & transactions should not be siloed.
Responding to the new thinking, Salesforce.com is one of the earliest to bring the two platforms together. The solutions major has just introduced a pilot known as 'Salesforce Communities' which will combine social media features like profiles, groups and news feeds with business information. Enterprises can access the Salesforce platform and create private social communities to connect with customers and partners.
Likewise, Google has also recently announced its plan to bring social media to the enterprise. Reports say that the search giant is currently previewing a business-focused Google+.
Several enterprises have already tasted big success by offering or embracing social CRM solutions. Take the case of US-based VinTank, the largest social CRM company in the world for wineries. VinTank acquired social media monitoring company Cruvee.com in early 2011, and within a short span of time it has increased its customer engagements manifold - covering more than 4,300 brands, handling more than 1.5 million conversations per day, and having profiled more than 11 million wine customers.
In the coming times, social CRM will become more specialized. But the writing on the wall is clear - that in the social era enterprises would do well to align their social listening with CRM as business today is all about context.