There are several different ways to utilize CRM solutions with social networking tools to help enterprises increase sales, monitor customer satisfaction, and attract new consumers. The addition of online capabilities to CRM systems via a variety of means including social networking websites, blogs, wikis and discussion forums enables organizations to create a virtual community centered around its products and services with a marketing power comparable to expensive advertising campaigns—at a fraction of the cost.
Although Facebook is easily the most popular and efficacious of the current assortment of social media networking sites, there are others that may be utilized as well. Companies can use these sites to create profile pages that feature products, customer testimonials, reviews, and an assortment of images.
Some sites (including Facebook) have pages where customers can comment and correspond with one another in regards to a particular profile—which can provide invaluable customer feedback if properly linked to a CRM system. Additionally, social networking sites offer enterprises the means of making contacts with other potential business partners as well as with customers.
Blogging is a fairly integral component of utilizing social networking capabilities with CRM, since blogs provide a means of familiarizing customers with new products and services available to them. Blogs can be operated as their own individual site or as part of an existing company’s site, and provide a readily accessible means of addressing customer concerns and facilitating equity in a particular brand.
Discussion forums are almost entirely customer based, and provide a means for consumers to trade information, tips, and revues or recommendations for products. Various research firms have discovered that customers tend to trust the reviews of fellow consumers more than that of professional reviewers, which is another reason for utilizing discussion forums. Additionally, companies can utilize discussion forums to create interest in new products and record feedback through their CRM.
Wikis are another means of gaining virtually unadulterated customer feedback and interest in a company’s line of products. Wikis are web sites that allow for the creation and editing of content—with practically any browser—without using HTML. Such sites can be used to invoke customer input or for conventional marketing purposes.
The only drawback regarding the use of social networking tools is that they must be monitored—fairly consistently—to ensure that customers are using the appropriate language and being respectful in their expression of their opinions. Also, the more prestigious the client, the more discretion is required for the voicing of disapproval of an enterprise’s services—which should ideally be handled with an appropriate company representative, as opposed to on the internet.