Further to my previous planned relevance posts, today I’m addressing the value of taking an holistic approach to social Constituent Relationship Management (CRM). Often I notice that organizations focus on one or the other (either the “social” or the “CRM”) and divide responsibilities among departments accordingly. For example, Membership and Support may be responsible for customer relationship management but Marketing is responsible for managing the community. In another example, you may find that Membership is responsible for the community as a member benefit, but the database is the realm of the IT department.
No matter what your organization’s structure looks like, I urge you to stop and re-evaluate the purpose of your technology and how it relates to, and serves, your organization. Here are my four recommendations for jumpstarting a more cohesive approach to Social CRM:
- Data is Data – No matter how you slice it, data is data. As your members participate in your gated community, a trail of data is being left behind. That data can be collected and used, or it can be wasted in a lonely repository. Remember, if you want to provide a social outlet for the masses, you don’t need a Social CRM. The value of a Social CRM is the ability to collect data from various sources and bring it together for a specific purpose.
- Purpose is Universal – Talking of purpose, in previous posts I talked about the importance of having a purpose for your community that is connected to your strategic goals and your mission. If you’ve done this, then making the logical (and practical) connection from the purpose your CRM serves to the purpose your social facilitates is clear. The social element of your technology facilitates the marketing, product management or networking benefits offered by your organization and tracking them in CRM provides Dollars and Sense needed to validate the offering.
- Dollars & Sense – Social CRM offers an organization the opportunity to blend the objective (dollars) and subjective (sense) to enhance their overall purpose. In your CRM you are able to track buying-power, transactional history, product management, etc. This is where you run reports and take the pulse of your organization. With social you are able to gauge policy enthusiasm, product receptiveness, and overall community engagement and make sense of the numbers. Keeping them separated makes the holistic understanding of your purpose and its success that much more difficult and, by extension, the market responsiveness that much slower.
- Seek First to Understand and then to React – When you’re able to gauge the appropriate value of your offerings through the sales numbers and utilization rates that are tracked and correlated them with community engagement, your understanding of market trends is heightened. With that understanding a decision about retiring a product, restructuring a service or developing a new offering is made with strategic knowledge and value and as such the likelihood of success is far greater.
In the end, while organizations push to create a social connection with their constituents (members, donors, registrants, exhibitors, etc.) it is only by understanding the purpose of your organization, that of your community and your offerings, will the organization succeed or fail. A Social CRM is not two products to be split down the middle; it is one product that facilitates a customer-centric approach to Customer Lifecycle Management.