customer-engagement

Managing Customer Engagement with Social CRM: Leading Options

Resource List

A “gold-rush mentality” to social media in recent years has had many organizations forging headlong into social regardless of the challenges. However, as we settle into the world of social networks, companies need to take step back and evaluate the value to the customer and the business, and then allocate appropriate resources to manage customer engagement.

Typically, a business will use customer relationship management (CRM) software to aggregate data on the history of interactions with individual customers. By having all data in one place, they can quickly ascertain if a given customer is new or a legacy, a hot prospect or a top client, and tailor their sales and marketing campaigns accordingly.

As more brands interact with customers through social media, many CRMs have added a social component to manage engagement and collect social engagement data. With the ability to track direct conversations as well as indirect brand mentions throughout the web and social sphere, social CRM (SCRM) helps businesses “listen” to their customers.

{For additional perspective on SCRM, check out this podcast by Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner.}

The growing importance of social engagement has created strong demand for SCRM solutions that can meet the needs of businesses great and small. Here is a summary of the leading SCRM options on the market today for both enterprise level companies and small businesses.

Enterprise Experts

Based on the features offered, amount of data on each customer collected, and total price, certain SCRM solutions are geared towards enterprise-level organizations. While these options are generally designed for larger businesses, or at least businesses with a lot of contacts/customers, many can be equally suitable for smaller businesses depending on their needs.

Salesforce.com

Salesforce.com has been a global leader in providing CRM applications for business for some time now. The company calls its cloud-based social CRM the Social Enterprise, which incorporates five products into an integrated solution: the Sales Cloud (traditional CRM); Service Cloud (social engagement, social customer service, customer service excellence); Data.com (informational database of B2B & B2C businesses); Chatter (intra-organizational social collaboration tool); and Force.com (platform to develop 3rd party apps for Salesforce). With over 100,000 companies as customers, a wide breadth of services and easy integration with other CRM/SCRM-related solutions has made Salesforce one of the most popular solutions on the market.

Microsoft Dynamics

Microsoft Dynamics offers a variety of business solutions from CRM to enterprise resource planning (ERP). The software is designed to be easy to use and tailored to your market and business size. A trusted name in business technology, Microsoft Dynamics has recently focused on SCRM to expand its suite of cloud-based, enterprise-level services. This video on Microsoft Social Listening serves to demonstrate how SCRM is differentiated from traditional CRM.

Hootsuite 

With a long history of social media management bone fides beginning with Twitter, Hootsuite is great for brands looking for a socially focused CRM that is adept at listening, segmenting, and responding to specific social content and conversations. Hootsuite also integrates into a number of other SCRM solutions including Microsoft Dynamics, Nimble, and Hubspot, to name a few. 

Sprout Social

When a large enterprise delves into the world of social media and attempts to monitor those various channels, it can seem like a doggy paddling in the ocean. Sprout Social categorizes conversations on different social sites and organizes them by the department that ought to respond (customer service vs PR, etc.) and how they responded. With a comprehensive list of features beyond social listening, Sprout Social is an ideal solution for a socially-engaged enterprise. 

Hubspot 

Only recently rolling out its own CRM, Hubspot is more of an integrated marketing automation platform that includes tools for social media management and monitoring, email marketing, blogging, and search engine optimization, and provides robust back-end analytics to measure it all. A perfect hybrid of marketing automation and SCRM, the Hubspot platform is flexible enough to meet the needs of large enterprises and small businesses alike. 

Small Business Savvy 

Although there are many great options mentioned above (and even more on the market), some of these simply aren’t tailored to the small business model. Thankfully, there are solutions that focus on entrepreneurs, individuals, and small-scale companies. 

Following is a list of SCRMs that are known to cater to SMBs (at this point it should be noted, cross-overs from enterprise level to SMB and SMB to enterprise are fairly common in the world of SCRM software. To further complicate things, many of these platforms integrate with each other through mutual agreements or via 3rd party services that offer API integrations. For the sake of simplicity and clarity, we’ve tried to categorize these solutions by “best use”). 

Nimble

Like its name implies, Nimble can change gears quickly and has the variety of useful features. From collecting online and offline interactions to sending messages and finding the social profiles of contacts, Nimble is a practical and affordable SCRM solution for small business.

Constant Contact

While known as an email marketing company, Constant Contact has many more tricks in its bag. Companies can search, monitor, and connect with people across the web, managing their business development, sales, and marketing efforts from a single platform to ensure consistent messaging across all channels. 

Zoho

Zoho is a wonderful resource for automating processes, connecting with customers, and managing sales activities. A comprehensive suite of tools includes calendar management, reporting document sharing, and creating forms and invoices. Customers can also develop their own customized apps. It may be directed to small businesses, but with over 6 million users, Zoho has had a big impact. 

Batchbook 

With social CRM offerings that include social media monitoring, communications tracking, e-mail forwarding, to-do lists, web forms, and sales tracking, Batchbook provides an integrated management solution to help small businesses succeed in the social sphere. Batchbook is ideal for truly small businesses, i.e. sole proprietors and companies with only a handful of employees.

At the heart of social CRM is a commitment from the brand to listen to and engage with its customers in order to enhance the customer experience and ultimately provide greater value. Though many options exist, the solutions listed above are among the leaders in helping brands achieve this worthy goal.

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