Social CRM is Dead, Long Live Social Media Flavored CRM

Customer relationship management (CRM) is not and cannot really be social, since social means “of, relating to, or occupied with matters affecting human welfare” (definition taken from The Free Dictionary). In my opinion, CRM does not really affect human welfare, since it brings advantages only to its users and to the customers of the companies using it.

In this blog post, I will explain why CRM is not social and why social CRM (SCRM) is nothing more than CRM using social media tools.

Does Social Media Affect Human Welfare?

Yes, it does, and in many ways. Of course, different people have different views on the use of social media but I think it has a great impact on human welfare for the following reasons:

  • It is accessible to everyone having an Internet connection (the Internet is the widest network on the planet with 1,733,993,741 users – according to Internet World Stats).

  • It allows people to freely communicate, interact, and collaborate, eliminates borders (you can connect from anywhere in the world), technical issues (you just need a Web browser, which can be installed on any computer), and censorship (with the exception of a few countries, but this is a totally different story).

  • It gives people access to knowledge that otherwise can be hard to obtain (and I’m not talking about torrents and illegal download Web sites). The fact that people can share experiences they had in their personal or professional lives will surely benefit others.

If used wisely, social media can bring huge benefits to its users and does not require important investments from them. It is true that all social media networks require registrations, therefore users need to provide personal information and free access usually comes with a price (either limited access or aggressive marketing campaigns). Despite these obvious disadvantages of social media, the advantages mentioned above make it a social phenomenon.

What Does SCRM Do?

If a CRM product integrates with social media tools, is it SCRM? What about tools that can be used to monitor blogs, social media Web sites, etc?

In my opinion, SCRM takes advantage of social media to make CRM more efficient. In other words, instead of taking the phone book and calling people to market your services, now you can search people on Facebook and Twitter, to see who might be interested in your products. Or, instead of using door-to-door sales people, you can send newsletters, e-mail blasts, etc. to thousands of people all at the same time.

Social media can also help you
• communicate with your existing or potential customers;
•  market you products to a wider category of people; and
•  address your customers’ need quickly and more efficiently.

Why CRM Cannot be Social?

Traditional CRM (both as a tool and strategy) is used in order to increase a company’s profits and to increase customer retention and satisfaction. This means that CRM addresses the needs of a very limited category of people, not to mention that it does not have the advantages of the social media described above.

Indeed, CRM is only accessible to users that work for a company buying the solution and their business partners (customers, suppliers, etc.). The freedom that users have to communicate, interact, and collaborate is often limited by denied access rights, depending on the importance the user has for the company offering access to its CRM solution. Finally, knowledge is usually available for employees and paying customers only.

Social Media Flavored CRM?

If we go back to the definition of “social”, it is obvious that CRM cannot be called “social” and SCRM is nothing more than social media flavored CRM. My impression is that SCRM is just a buzz word used to set some CRM products apart from their competitors, without being different from regular CRM.

In a future blog post, I will describe how I see a true social CRM, but in the mean time I welcome your comments.
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