Social CRM: Platforms, Applications, and Tools

Social CRM: Platforms, Applications, and Tools

Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0897-9.ch010
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This chapter provides an overview of social customer relationship management (CRM) and explores the Web-based platforms that provide social CRM solution in software as a service (SaaS) model as well as the applications and tools that complement traditional CRM systems. Based on a review of current practices, the chapter also outlines the potential benefits social CRM provides to organizations in their sales, service, and marketing efforts. Furthermore, while the Web and its new breed of technologies and applications open new opportunities for businesses, these technologies also pose several new challenges for organizations in implementation, integration, data security, and consumer privacy, among others. In addition, these technologies can be exploited in a negative way to propagate misinformation against businesses and their reputations. In view of this, this chapter also examines ethical and legal challenges businesses could face in embracing social media technologies at the core of their customer management processes and systems.
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Social media technologies have transformed the way companies build and manage customer relationships as well as how customers learn about products and services. According to a recent study by DEI Worldwide, 70% of consumers have used social media to research a product, brand or company (DEI Worldwide, 2008; Accenture, 2009). Businesses in different industries are trying to harness the empowering forces of these technologies and apply them to their sales, service, and marketing efforts. CRM applications rely on strong relationships in order to effectively retain existing customers and attract new ones. Building and maintaining strong customer relationships requires accurate and timely data to leverage collaboration that extends beyond traditional boundaries. Yet, traditional CRM applications did not have the capability to capture and manage such complex interaction, and they were not usually designed to be intuitive for the people who are handling the customer-facing applications. In addition, existing CRM solutions are not very effective in leveraging collaboration with customers as well as relationships within a company. As a result, new CRM platforms and applications enabled by social media technologies have surfaced to allow organizations plan, organize and manage their CRM strategies on a much larger scale than ever before. Social media technologies redefine the Web as a platform and empower individual users with light weight computing tools to manifest their creativity, engage in social interaction and share content in ways they never could before (Parameswaran and Whinston, 2007a; 2007b). Social media technologies empower sales people to be more effective and productive by leveraging the collective knowledge and experience of the broader sales community on the social Web.

Enterprise 2.0 is the term used to refer to the use of Web 2.0 platforms by organizations on their intranets and extranets in order to make visible the practices and outputs of their knowledge workers (McAfee, 2006; 2009). “Social CRM” represents Enterprise 2.0 in a sales, service, and marketing context by enabling individual sales users to easily interact with customer information and uncover business insights that were not readily available before (Oracle, 2008). Social CRM platforms help to ground and embody this vision by delivering software as a service (SaaS) and facilitating a community based on sharing information and making content available in real time via a new wave of social tools such as blogs, mashups, podcasts, RSS, social networking, widgets and wikis. Such platforms take advantage of the Web 2.0 interactive technology and its key features which include readily shared data and access to Web-based applications from anywhere. Therefore, social CRM applications have great potential for businesses to communicate and interact within social networks and improve the quality and quantity of interactions with customers, suppliers and partners and boost reputation and overall brand loyalty.

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