If your company has established a social media presence—as most have by now—the next challenge is figuring out how to convert all those seemingly random conversations taking place on Twitter and Facebook into data that can support your core business processes.
In essence, you want a reliable means of putting the data generated on your social networks into the hands of people who can use it to generate new revenue, cut operating costs, or both.
The obvious way of doing that is linking your social networks directly to your ERP system, the place most employees expect to find the information they need to do their jobs. The question then becomes: How do I get this information into the ERP system, and ultimately to people in various parts of the business?
The CRM module of an ERP suite appears to be the most logical place for introducing social networking information into the core of the business. The CRM system has emerged as the natural point for integrating social networks with mainstream business applications partly because most companies are using social media as a new way of interacting with customers.
Recognizing this, software vendors are developing tools to help companies harness social networking data for business purposes. Industry analysts coined the term “Social CRM” to describe both the tools and processes for integrating social networking data into mainstream business applications.
In a recent report on the topic, Altimeter Group, a Bay Area strategy consulting firm, explained why companies must practice Social CRM.
Social networks allow groups of customers to come together and hold impromptu conversations, and eventually someone will have something to say about your company, whether you’re paying attention or not. In fact, some companies have stumbled on Facebook fan pages devoted to them or their products that were created by customers, social or political activists, or even disgruntled former employees.
That can’t be good for business or can it?
Companies that monitor social networks not only know what’s being said about them, they can use that information to develop strategies for quickly improving products and services, and thus turn negative conversations into positive ones. Some companies are even acquiring new customers through social media.
So, how does all this work?
Suppose a person considering one of your products goes on Twitter and asks, “Is this product worth the money?” If your company has someone monitoring Tweets related to your company, they would see that question and be able to bring into your company’s own online forum. A person in the company who’s familiar with that product could then explain exactly why it’s worth the money and send that response back to Twitter.
The original questioner sees the response, and not only is satisfied with the answer, but is impressed that someone from the company actually took time to respond. And because your online forum is linked to the CRM module of your ERP system, a salesperson is able to follow this entire conversation and is now in position to initiate contact with this potential new customer.
That is just one of many ways social media can impact core business processes. There’s also potential for using this data to improve product development, supply chain management, and a host of other business functions. This is one case in which your own imagination truly is the only limit on what can be accomplished.
For more information on Social CRM, see the Altimeter Group report.
Posted by James Norwood, Senior Vice President, Product Marketing, Epicor