A 5'3 Perspective

This is how businesses will collaborate.

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As a (almost) graduate, I have started to attend local networking events to meet Ottawa business gurus. Today I had the pleasure of attending the OCRI Zone5ive networking lunch to learn more about customer relationship management (CRM) in the Cloud.  Key note speaker Rob Baldassare, Vice President Corporate Sales at Salesforce.com, began the session by playing a short video welcoming audience members to the Salesforce Cloud.

This video is not only captivating, but also entertaining as Baldassare comments on the head bobbing and foot tapping in the crowd. I was definitely guilty of both. The next hour was filled with an overview of Salesforce.com, an explanation of social CRM and its importance, and how it can be leveraged.

What is social CRM? Paul Greenberg, author of CRM at the speed of light and godfather of social CRM defines the concept:

“CRM is a philosophy & a business strategy, supported by a technology platform, business rules, workflow, processes & social characteristics, designed to engage the customer in a collaborative conversation in order to provide mutually beneficial value in a trusted & transparent business environment. It’s the company’s response to the customer’s ownership of the conversation.”

There has been a significant shift of power in the marketplace. Marketers and businesses are losing control over the conversation and communication regarding their brands and offering, notes Baldassare. Managing the market place is becoming increasingly important, especially online. The internet really has changed how business is conducted. Users are no longer just logging on to use the search capabilities, they are spending more and more time using video hosting and social media sites. These new(ish) functions have given consumers the power, intelligence and vehicle to take over brands. It is imperative to recognize that (almost) everyone is using social media. Those who choose to ignore it are doing so at their own peril.

This finding leaves businesses scratching their heads, how do we deal with this excessive power consumers have gained? How do we decide who or what content is most important? Is it the twitter user with 100,000 followers who tweets about a minor complaint more important than the user with 10 followers who is irate? These questions led to the introduction of Salesforce.com’s three pillars:

#1: Conversation on your site.

This one is pretty self-explanatory, you create your content on your own page and you have full control of what is being said and done. This is where most businesses feel comfortable starting off. Think Dell, Starbucks and Salesforce.com. These companies give customers the opportunity to generate new ideas to improve and enhance the functions of their offerings. This has a major impact on creating brand advocates who will be loyal to your company. Giving consumers the opportunity to take part in idea generation is extremely effective, however, it must be something that is supported throughout the entire organization, from CEO to intern. Without employee buy-in this strategy will not be possible as it will add to workload. In the end the extra effort is worthwhile to build brand ambassadors. In summary, you have to have dedicated employees who are willing to embrace customer input.

#2: Creating a channel on a social media platform.

This option reduces the amount of control a business has over its consumers conversations, however, it is still your channel and many programs and dashboard have been developed to help monitor these activities. Salesforce.com is an excellent example of a company that has mastered this pillar. Recently the company focused its efforts on video sharing. Baldassare reports with excitement that each video posted on their YouTube channel receives over 7,500 views a day. This is a very lofty achievement. These videos educate viewers about the product offerings and also act as a sales presentation. What does this mean to the company’s bottom line? Salesforce.com states that these videos are equivalent to having “46 extra super excellent sales personnel working 8 hour days and giving flawless pitches to prospective customers each time”. Enough said.

#3: Listening and engaging.

With millions of blogs and forums, the third pillar is the most difficult to control. Baldassare explains that there is good news and bad news regarding listening and engaging. The good news is that there are tools that can enable effective monitoring including; cotweet, scoutlabs, and Salesforce.com’s most recent acquisition, radian6. The bad news is that a portion of this community is developing ever increasing expectations. This is where the problem occurs. There is a technology disconnect, a chasm between the technologies built in the 1980s and where the conversation is taking place today. So how do companies bridge the gap? We start monitoring the internet, or as Baldassare recalls a comment from a colleague, businesses must “figure out what is happening online”. Anyone who is familiar with the way the internet works understands that this is an impossible feat.There is far too much content online to ever be able to “figure it all out”. We need to have a tool that is able to look at all social media platforms, keep track of conversations, and filter these conversations to the appropriate person to take action. How does a business do this? Think 3 m’s (not to be confused with 3M Innovation); mapping, management and measurement.

Mapping is the link to the customer database. This is putting two and two together. Which twitter handle coincides with the entry in your CRM database? At first this can be done manually, but as your conversation and database grows, it will be much easier to use automation. This is best implemented through social single sign-in (e.g., log onto the company site using twitter or Facebook).  Management refers to the organization of information and then turning into actionable tasks. The main goal is to find the common conversation threads and then take action. The third “m” focuses on integrating the aforementioned into business, typically using dashboards. Measurement will help to give the company a 360 degree view of their customers and help to find opportunities and to wow the marketplace.

And with that, Rob Baldassare leaves the crowd with a video answering his question ‘how can you tell if you’re doing this right?’ If you are interested I’ve added the link here, it is definitely good for a laugh – if you’re into business excitement.

Huge thanks to OCRI Zone5ive and Salesforce.com for putting on this incredible event. Saying it was insightful would be an understatement.

Author: ellepottsie

I'm a five foot three recent commerce graduate and marketing enthusiast. Recently I've noticed that life is a little different when you're closer to the ground, but maybe that is just my perspective!

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