Social CRM as a part of customer engagement

By Carolyn Baird

The new frontier in customer relationship management

Social CRM – the integration of social media with customer relationship management (CRM) strategies – is the next frontier for organizations that want to optimize the power of social interactions to get closer to customers. With the worldwide explosion of social media usage, businesses are feeling extreme pressure to be where their customers are. Today, that street corner is increasingly virtual, located inside a social media or social networking site. But in an environment defined by customer control and two-way dialog, are customers anxious to engage with businesses?

To find out, the IBM Institute for Business Value surveyed more than 1,000 consumers worldwide and interviewed 350 executives. What we discovered may come as a surprise to those companies that assume consumers are seeking them out on social sites to feel connected to their brand. In fact, customers are far more interested in getting tangible value, suggesting businesses may be confusing their own desire for customer intimacy with consumers' motivations for engaging.

Social media holds unprecedented potential for companies to get closer to customers and, by doing so, facilitate increased revenue, cost reduction and efficiencies. Businesses are rapidly embracing social media not only to build virtual communities, but also to create innovative social commerce programs, improve customer care and streamline customer research.

With so much to gain, companies need to invest the effort to understand how to break through the noise and offer current and potential customers a reason to reach out to them via social media.

Businesses need to realize that most consumers do not engage with companies via social media to feel connected. It turns out, customers are far more pragmatic. To successfully exploit the potential of social media, companies need to design experiences that deliver tangible value in return for customers' time, attention, endorsement and data.

From social media to Social CRM - A two-part series

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