Brief history of the CRM

Customer Relationship Managers or CRM applications are a staple in most companies. It’s the central repository of data related to your customers, prospects and contacts. CRMs shifted the business model for companies that only focused on collecting information about their contacts and turning that data into information that they could build from outside of typical database marketing. In the 1990’s the concept of managing customer loyalty and rewarding them based on their purchases was a game changer for companies grabbing for market share. This was how frequent flier miles were invented and still managed today. [tweetmeme source= “insideview” only_single=false]

Customers are using social media

Social media is changing everything for companies. You can’t ignore platforms like Twitter, Blogs, TripIt or Facebook anymore when it comes to your customers. To do so will cost your company in more ways than just lost revenue. Social media is driving brand awareness and sales in more ways than typical media channels like TV and radio. I was recently at an event where the keynote speaker made the statement that “Facebook is the new cigarette break” and it is one of the most visited sites at the workplace. That and the recent announcement that if Facebook where a country it would be the 3rd largest in the world makes the importance of being engaged in social media even more important.

What’s defining customer 2.0?

Customers are busy and don’t want to spend hours a day talking to sales people. In many cases the customer can find out more about your company in 10 minutes than some of the sales people working at the company. Between review sites, blogs and even asking for recommendations on sites like LinkedIn, customers are making buying decisions before ever crossing the virtual doorstep of the vendor. These customers need and demand to be treated differently than customers from even as short as 2 years ago. They don’t want a lot of marketing fluff of buzz words thrown at them. Customer 2.0 has a need and they just want the vendor to cut to the point and tell them if they can do X, Y or Z to get the job done.

Welcome to Social CRM

Since companies are realizing that maintaining their CRM isn’t enough since customers are now getting so much more of their information online, sales people, marketers and even support specialists need to have applications available to them that l them see the social streams of their customers and accounts. Oracle Open World had full sessions over the course of the event on Social CRM. The key is that you have to enable your sales people to know more about the accounts and customers they are talking to in order to gain their trust and be seen as a leader in your space. If you don’t, your competitor will and I see it happening on a daily basis.

Social CRM is more than a buzz word, it’s shaping business models to adapt to a new type of customer. A quick analysis of the search term “Social CRM” shows that over the course of 2 years the requests for information regarding Social CRM has increased exponentially and doesn’t show any indication of slipping. From the data going back to 2008, it looks like Social CRM is just becoming more of a hot topic.