Customer Relationship management Solutions tend to track transactional related information from your customers. It tells you what they purchased, what their interests are, what buying patterns they may have and a variety of other metrics that help you anticipate what and when the customer is interested in when it comes to your company and products.
Social media allows you to integrate what the customers are saying as well as look at the transactional data to get a better picture of the customer (and prospect) overall. It means gathering all of the social data from all the social sites and then integrating them into your CRM solution. Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and other social sites provide relevant information that should and must reside within your CRM software solution to get this Omniscient view of your buyer.
By bringing together transactional data from your ERP and CRM systems with insights, opinions, comments and issues gathered from their participation on social sites you will gain a better and more complete understanding of your customer which can be used to better target your marketing, sales and customer service offerings.
The transactional perspective is good but metrics can fool you. Trends in the past don’t necessarily indicate a trend for the future. Listening to the noise around your products or services can be good and/or bad. If it’s good then you want to continue in that direction. If it is bad then it is easier to listen to the noise and make some quick short term adjustments to get your offering to peak interest or renew interest from those that had issues or problems with your offering.
In fact you can use the same social sites to communicate with your customers to let them know what changes are coming before they jump to a competitor or a different product offering. The bottom line here is it takes a lot longer to notice sales and marketing metrics (trends) then it does to hear the raising of social media voices (good or bad).
A good idea I recently came across is that many companies are using social media to push their prospects and customers to their own social media site. Here they control the dialog and most importantly own all of the data. By building out these communities they gain better traction and interaction with past, present and future customers. The warm and fuzzy feeling of “hey we listen” permeates loudly when a company makes the effort to setup its own “space” where people can collaborate, exchange ideas and most of all what every customer wants – to be heard! What do you think?