Once upon a time, people had a thing called landlines. A landline was an extension of the telegraph, made audible by Alexander Graham Bell into a device we now know as the telephone. Before telephones were used to send bazillions of messages per day and swiping right on attractive mates, they were used to call people. Families had one phone. It was often in the kitchen.
Very often, right around dinnertime, the phone would ring. In my home it went something like this:
Them: “Hello, can I speak with Mr… Hymns please?”
Me: “Mr. Who?”
Them: “Mr…Hi-mess, Hemans, Heems?”
Them: “Mr. Your Father, he purchased one of our products a few months ago and I would like to see how it’s working out.”
Me: “Oh, ok” [Hand over phone] “Dad! It’s for you.”
My mom: “It’s another telemarketer.”
My dad: [picking up phone] “Hello? Thanks for the call [not waiting for a response] we’re not interested.”
Young me didn’t realize it at the time, but this was CRM, a company reaching out to its existing clients to engage with them, solicit product reviews, resolve problems, and — my mom was right — sell more products to their faithful customers.
Customer Relationship Management
We’ve all heard the various versions of the statistic that it costs anywhere from 4 to 30 times more to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing customer (you can see all of the different statistics for different industries in this PDF by the Chartered Institute of Marketing). Bottom line: acquiring new customers is expensive, so retention should be the name of the game.
Retention also makes sense from a product perspective. In theory, a company should make a product that has a high enough quality that people will want to use it again later. If they don’t they go out of business very quickly.
Any good B2B salesperson knows this: when it’s coming down to the end of the month and the quota monster is coming, what do you do? Hit up your top clients and snag a few upsells. It’s much, much easier than cold calling people, getting their attention, presenting them your product, explaining what it does and why it’s awesome, giving them enough time to think about it (but not enough time to find a competitor) and closing the deal.
Classic CRM involved things like call centers and evening phone calls to the home. There was also snail mail correspondence for things like rebates and coupons. Vacuum cleaner and knife-making companies even had traveling salesmen going door to door. Imagine if a guy holding a bunch of knives shows up at your door in 2016…
CRM has evolved during two big phases, what was known for a while as eCRM, and now Social CRM.
Not the practice, just the name, which dates from the era of adding “e” in front of everything to signify that it was electronic. Information technology is now such a fundamental part of CRM that the “e” was dropped. Since this is a post about social CRM I’m going to do a hyperdrive explanation of eCRM:
- In the beginning, there was no technology. CRM was done on paper and with analog telephone calls.
- Someone said, “hey, sure would be nice to organize all these customer profiles into one place, that we could all access.”
- Someone else said, “you know what, that’s a really good idea!”
- Salesforce and competitors launch CRM platforms.
- Now companies can keep track of their customers, share information between departments, figure out how to segment their customers, and maximize how they meet their clients’ needs.
- Salesforce is has a market cap of $50 billion.
Sure, it wasn’t all roses and champagne, but that’s the gist. Companies could now centralize their customer information, organize how/when/where they contact their customers and figure out the best ways to talk to each type of customer. But the eCRM platforms went further, they enabled companies to start collecting and organizing information about their target customers, people they hadn’t sold to yet but who they had started to court. Entire sales pipelines were accessible and sales forecasts became much more accurate. Big win for technology.
So they dropped the “e” from eCRM since even people in call centers had access to the same digital platform as other employees. Telephone became just another channel, along with in-store, email, website, and all of the other places a company interacts with their customers.
But then, everything changed again.
When social media exploded onto the world’s stage a lot of companies were caught with their pants down. Heretofore companies had been in control of how they interacted with their clients. They determined when campaigns went out, what the hours were for their support centers, and how they dealt with unhappy customers. Since all interactions happened in private between company and customer, the customer had very little power. Word of mouth was limited to mouth to ear.
So social CRM was born, first as a way to adapt customer service, and then as a customer acquisition channel too.
Experiences and Environments
The differences in personalization
How Social CRM Fits Into an Organization
Just kidding, I hate conclusions. If you have something important to say, say it in the body content! But if you did find this article helpful, please share it. And if you are interested in learning more about social CRM and how it works for your area of business, please get in touch with me directly. I’m always happy to help!