Social Versus Traditional CRM - dummies

Social Versus Traditional CRM

By Kyle Lacy, Stephanie Diamond, Jon Ferrara

There are some key differences between traditional and social CRM. Social CRM is a strategy. It’s a philosophy, not just software and technologies to gather and manage customer data, though such technologies support social strategies. On the other hand, traditional CRM aims to move customers through a pipeline with the desired result of repeat business and incremental sales. Marketing, sales, and customer service departments manage and maintain the CRM system.


Traditional CRM largely is a customer data bucket. Any and all information that can be collected about a customer is dumped into the CRM bucket, with intentions to better target customers. It was and still remains very effective and valuable at doing exactly that. However, traditional CRM is most effective when a business determines the media for reaching its customers — media that the business controls.

Customers’ preferred communication channels are evolving and greatly varied. Customers hang out in online media that your business doesn’t control, they’re constantly influencing their own experience with your brand, and they’re in control of their experience with brands.

Customer influence over a brand drives the socialization of business and changes in CRM. Businesses used to own the media in which they would interact with their customers. Now, customer relationships take place in media outside of a business’s control. Customers determine where and when to engage with businesses in social CRM.

From selling to relationship building

Sales strategies for your product, service or idea used to encompass a flashy brochure and a salesperson with an agenda. Then your customers got online and started talking to each other, using referral sites like Angie’s List and Yelp. They detailed their experiences with your brand for others to read, and rated you amongst your competition.

Prior to making a purchase, consumers turn to these referral sites to ask their network for recommendations and an insider’s knowledge of a brand. No longer do your customers rely on your biased brochure or sales force to learn what you really have to offer. They tap into a social network of people with similar interests to get a less biased opinion of your service or product.

With all that talk taking place — out of your control — it becomes paramount to build and maintain good relationships with your customers. Happy customers can become your brand advocate, offering personal experience that speaks volumes compared to agenda-riddled corporate literature.

Everything social is public

We’ve all heard the horror stories of brand, celebrity, and politician missteps on Twitter. Oprah has apologized on Twitter. The White House’s Communications Director received major grief for chatting up sports on Twitter while much of the world was watching historic events in Egypt in 2011. You can see the tweet that led to Chrysler’s public Twitter apology.


Sure you can delete a tweet or a post, but there’s no saying who saw it first and maybe even grabbed a screen shot. Social media is primed for quick, impulsive messages. You must remember that it’s all public, open for the world to see.

Resisting the urge to tweet and post like firing loose cannons will prove to save you from embarrassment and apologies down the road. Even if you delete a tweet or post, it still lives on out in the cyber world on some server somewhere. It never really goes away.

Also, freedom of speech reigns supreme online. While you might politely ask a customer to remove an unfavorable comment or post, that customer may not be inclined to do so.

New metrics of success

Success or failure is preceded by goals and expectations. Traditional CRM carries easily quantifiable, clear-cut goals and desired outcomes. The first goal is to get a decent ROI on the CRM technology just adapted by the organization. The next goal is to get incremental value from new and established customers.

With social CRM, another change of perspective is required. Your ideas regarding success metrics need a significant shift to big-picture ideas. Determining social CRM success doesn’t have clearly outlined transactions generated from CRM interactions. Your success and positive changes will occur over time, not overnight. Approaching social CRM really requires an organization to adopt a new cultural philosophy.

Consider these ideas of success and evaluate where your organization stands:

  • Word-of-mouth referrals

  • Positive online feedback

  • More deeply engaged customers — across multiple channels

Customer-focused objectives become paramount with social CRM and require whole organizations to get behind the philosophy and live it. A strategy with perhaps only the marketing department cheering on the sales team to engage customers doesn’t work. You must put a top-down strategy in place to launch successful social CRM.

The organization’s leaders must guide this long-term change of a customer-centric culture. Not everyone will or can get on board overnight — so understand that you should be both patient and persistent. It’s the long-haul goal of customer engagement that will keep the cultural shift on track.

Aim for customer engagement

Customers can engage with a Facebook post, once or maybe twice. You may get a retweet or comment on your blog. Is that customer engagement? Sure. Is it enough to define success for your brand? Probably not. Fully embracing social CRM fosters something much more than one-off interactions.

The customer engagement we’re talking about is when customers become involved in the overall experience of your brand. The motives for this ongoing involvement with your brand are determined by your customers, each with their own set of reasons.

Your business may never know all the reasons for a customer’s engagement, but you’ll need to know enough to continually foster that involvement. Your customers are selecting the ways in which they will engage. Some customers want to keep you at arms length, and others may invest more time building a relationship with your brand. However, that can’t be the end-all, be-all goal of social CRM either.