Social CRM: a new generation of relationships?
Lithium Technologies, a provider of on-demand customer community solutions, has launched its new 'Social CRM' software suit, providing a platform that helps marketers create a customer-based network of advocates throughout the social web.
The Social CRM system helps marketers to proactively build stronger customer relationships by integrating social customer conversations into existing CRM business processes and systems.
Rather than simply using social media channels to reach individual customers, the system creates a network of customer advocates that can be integrated into the brand owner's core business processes. This allows marketers access to what Lithium estimates to be "potentially millions of dollars in untapped value" through word-of-mouth marketing, better customer service, and more rapid innovation.
The appearance and sudden popularity of social media is already changing the way that companies and their customers interact. For every interaction that occurs directly between a company and a customer (or a prospect) through traditional CRM systems, Lithium estimates there are now hundreds or even thousands more that are happening directly between customers and prospects in other places on the social web.
According to Lyle Fong, CEO for Lithium Technologies, "Too many companies today are missing these conversations, and the potential impact on their businesses and brands. Our research shows that more than half of executives place the value of a customer advocate at over US$50,000 per year."
Lithium defines 'social CRM' as "the strategy and applications that harness the power of online branded customer communities, broader social networks, and traditional CRM systems, to turn customers into advocates for brands and ultimately become their most important competitive advantage".
As a result, the company has identified the five key components of a successful social CRM solution, all of which are addressed by its own software suite:
- A suite of customer community applications
- A reputation management and profiling engine
- Workflow-based integrations with traditional CRM systems
- Workflow-based integrations with social media applications
- Actionable analytics for the measurement of business value
The Lithium platform is currently in use by US-based book seller, Barnes & Noble. According to Kevin Ryan, B&N's vice president of social media, "The readers engaged in our online Book Clubs at Lithium also have a significant presence in the larger social web, and helping them share the B&N experience elsewhere is bringing more people into our community, and strengthening our social commerce efforts across the board."