In the era of social customers, experience is the currency on which modern, dynamic businesses must bank.
At Convergence 2014, Kirill Tatarinov, EVP of MSFT Business Solutions, told a crowd of over 12,000 attendees that all businesses today, regardless of their industry, are P2P (people to people) rather than B2B or B2C. People, he said, “are much more interdependent than ever before.” In this world of interdependence, the key to success is a customer-centric organizational culture that creates great customer experiences for ‘social customers’ at every step. Because when you can integrate user experience, business processes, and data across applications, you can provide tremendous value to your business. As Tatarinov went on to explain, “At the end of the day they are not users, they are real people that you can make their daily experience better or worse by the solutions you create.” It’s obvious then that a company’s ability to create great customer experiences matters more than any other strategic imperative to their long term success. And this is where CRM enters the picture. Dynamics CRM helps businesses drive growth by fully integrating the efforts of sales, marketing, and customer service in order to create a consistent and strong relationship with prospects and customers. But how is Dynamics CRM adapting to the rise of these social customers?
The Growth of Social CRM
Social CRM, which is where Dynamics CRM is heading and while still a relatively new concept, takes the notion of being customer-centric a step further. At its core, it’s a strategy or insight-based approach to building a profitable, customer centric business. The principles of social CRM lie at the heart of the divide between CRM users who simply use social technologies to ‘stay in the game’ and those who are prepared to use social technologies to ‘WIN the game’, so to speak. Fundamentally, social CRM is about listening to and understanding your customers’ needs, and improving customer service (as Microsoft has noted, great relationships start with great listening). It means that “the customer is actually the focal point of how an organization operates,” according to Tatarinov. And of course, social media is the key. Instead of marketing or pushing messages to customers, brands are now able to talk to and collaborate with their customers over social media platforms to solve their business problems, empower them to shape their own experiences, and build strong customer relationships (which will hopefully turn those customers into powerful brand advocates). It’s a significant opportunity for organizations with foresight and the biggest reason that Microsoft has invested in innovative tools like NetBreeze and Marketing Pilot.
Social CRM Is Not Without Challenges
Like any strategy, businesses adapting to the rise of social customers will face challenges. Firstly, a willingness to engage in real conversations is tough to achieve for any brand. Reducing ‘corporate speak’ and engaging with customers genuinely as people is something that really needs to be understood and put to work. Delivering the right experiences requires knowledge – and knowing what knowledge is needed. Customers now expect the companies they deal with to leverage both transactional and unstructured information to deliver the experiences that they want and value. Secondly, change management is hard and should never be overlooked. As with any technology deployment, it’s important to take a structured approach and set a strategy first and foremost for dealing with social customers. Otherwise, your likelihood of long-term success will be slim. It’s also important to remember that the business process does not need to stay the same way in a networked world. In fact, it will have to change dramatically. When a team/function embraces social technologies, that team is also redefining their current business processes. Plan accordingly. Ultimately, the most successful businesses bring together all types of customer data, including social insights, where and when it is needed to create better business outcomes. That’s why at imason, we are taking a cloud-first, mobile-first approach to social CRM. We believe that the tablet is the optimal device for supporting in-person conversations and can facilitate a rich blend of commercial intelligence, relevant (social) customer information, and actionable field execution. Contact imason today to learn about how you can harness the power of social technologies as part of your sales, service and marketing strategies.