Integrate Communities With Customer Business Processes To Achieve A “360” View

William Band By William Band

A hot topic of debate among customer management thought-leaders right now is the business value of “Social CRM.” My clients want to know how much investment they should make in social computing technologies like: blogs, wikis, forums, customer feedback tools, and customer community platforms. And, they want to know whether and how these new capabilities should be, and can be, integrated with their transactional CRM systems.

In my opinion, there is a lot of hype right now with respect to the business value of the social media and how to leverage this phenomenon to more deeply engage with customers. My own recent survey of 286 companies shows that only 21% currently have established customer communities at present. But, I must admit that the same data also shows that an additional 16% are piloting customer communities, and 26% are interested in implementing them. And, recent research by Forrester’s Natalie Petouhoff on the application of social media to customer service provides evidence of a high ROI.

My colleague, Alex Cullen, just published a report which places this debate in a broader context. The report“The Top 15 Technology Trends That EA Should Watch”, pinpoints that one of the most important technology themes to pay attention to is “social computing in and around the enterprise.” Specifically, he forecasts that customer community platforms will increasingly become integrated with traditional “CRM” applications. This is supported by recent announcements by salesforce.com and SAP CRM with regard to integration with Twitter to enable the monitoring of customer sentiment, and the acquisition of HiveLive, an online community platform, by RightNow. These are examples of early efforts to integrate social computing capabilities with transactional CRM applications in order to extend customer service problem resolution processes into new social media channels.

Businesses are building or connecting with customer communities to gain better insights into customer behaviors and monitor reactions to business actions. Organizations can use customer communities to support market research and product development, accelerate the distribution of marketing messages, provide deeper insights about individuals and accounts for the salesforce, and promote customer self-service to drive down support costs.

Over the next three years I expect a shift from standalone customer communities to communities integrated with enterprise internal systems such as CRM as the quest continues to achieve the holy grail of a “360 degree view” of buyers.

Comments

re: Integrate Communities With Customer Business Processes To A

While you could be right I think you are being overly optimistic on how quickly this will actually move forward. There is no doubt in my mind that the value of Social Support Communities (SSC) is real, Dr. Natalie's research is convincing and Enterprise customer's will ultimately understand the ROI for supoprt usage.My feeling, though, is that this will never move beyond support, if it does it will actually self-implode. Would love to hear your opinions on my post on this topic:http://johnfmoore.wordpress.com/2009/10/16/social-media-may-never-scale-beyond-support-for-most-businesses/John Moorehttp://twitter.com/JohnFMoore

re: Integrate Communities With Customer Business Processes To A

John Moore's post above discusses this same topic. Biggest issue I'm trying to forecast is how companies scale as communities become more specialized. It is more difficult, and potentially not as advantagious to attempt to build your own community if customers are already engaged in other communities. Pulling them away is probably not a good idea. So, even if a company effectively builds its own community, this needs to be balanced with participation in external communities. How does a company scale participation across multiple communities?

re: Integrate Communities With Customer Business Processes To A

Barry, the only way to build the highest service levels, and hence the highest ROI's, is to have your own community. Use external communities to invite over for a deeper conversation.Not only does this methodology work, it scales extremely well. The Helpstream customer that Forrester studied has tripled in size without hiring a single additional Service Agent while increasing their Customer Satisfaction at the same time.Hard to find that level of ROI in very many places, but Social CRM delivers.Cheers,Bob WarfieldHelpstream CEO

re: Integrate Communities With Customer Business Processes To A

I chatted with a customer of Paratures who reported these gains:"As of my last analysis of the effectiveness of Parature in December of 2008, the percentage of ticketing was decreased by 31.96%. Also, the percentage of man hours needed to handle support was decreased by 56%. "Note this was not a customer Parature pointed me to, just someone I interviewed on my own. You can check out the full review on my blog (if interested).Bob, would love to chat with a Helpstream customer, preferably at random. Would you be willing to help facilitate?JohnDefinite value exists for SSCs for decreased operational costs around support, the jury is still out on gains elsewhere.

re: Integrate Communities With Customer Business Processes To A

Good perspective on sCRM that brings the hype down to earth - focus on how to intergrate social computing technology with business process. Like CRM, social computing in it's broadest context, has to be treated both as a process and technology whereby migration to the new focus involves further business tranformation. Like the initial days of CRM strategy and implementation, the [successful]shift toward 'becoming customer centric' was ultimately about people and culture.