Let’s start with ‘CRM’ itself. Here’s the long-form definition of CRM, or Customer Relationship Management. For purposes here, the essence of CRM is essentially: (1) the process of capturing all points of interaction with a customer into a central repository; (2) enabling anyone interacting with a customer to have complete visibility into everything that has transpired between the customer and company; and, (3) improve future interactions and customer relationships.
In short: I’m going to keep track of what I do with you, better than you can yourself, so our next interaction is better than the last. That’s it.
CRM traditionally has been constrained to a tool only used by large enterprises. When salesforce.com made it’s debut in the late ‘90s, this all began to change. Now, for as little as $5-25/month, per user, even sole proprietorships can have access to these same powerful tools.
Now, we have Social CRM. With Social CRM, we now need to come to understand that the customer owns the relationship. That means as the vendor we need to become attentive to our customers, opposite the way it has traditionally been. Filiberto Selvas is so enthusiastic about the topic, he bought the domain (www.socialcrm.net) and discusses the topic similarly, here.
Michael Fauscette describes is as, “Social CRM…encourage[s] better, more effective customer interaction…leverag[ing] the collective intelligence of the…customer..[to]…increas[e] intimacy between an organization and…customers. The goal is to…better understand what [customers] want and how they interact with the various company touch points.” Mike’s explanation was exceptionally verbose, so I trimmed it.
Formal ‘social CRM’ tools are increasingly available. Yet, for the masses, there is another class of tool out there letting you do your own ‘social CRM’ without even noticing it: your various instant messaging clients.
Increasingly, popular IM clients are all giving you, the individual, the ability to aggregate the different venues you use to communicate. For instance, the new Trillian 5 IM client I like, lets me use a single tool for AIM, Facebook, Yahoo!, Windows Live, Astra, Google Talk, and more. What many users do not realize is, each of the discussions you have are (or can be) logged. This is how you have prior conversations displayed when you relaunch the application…all your discussions were saved in a log file on your computer.
Is this really a CRM? No, but as you interact with people across multiple venues, you start to gain an understanding of what they’re interested in. Further, with your conversations captured in log files, you have the ability to search for past topics as far back as you care to store them.
So even the ‘poor man,’ and woman, has the ability to centralize their points of interaction, more easily observe their contacts’ interactions, and develop more effective relationships.
(photo credit: Michal Koralewski)