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Customer Relationships: CRM Gets Social

In the traditional sales cycle, CRM (customer relationship management) forms a datadriven understructure that powers an overall customer life cycle. Based on historical transactions, the insights into what a customer may need next, or when a particular customer may be ready for an upsell, offers are generated based on past transactional data and the larger purchase or use patterns that exist across the entire customer base.

On the Social Web, where the customer is now becoming an integral part of the sales process, CRM is being adapted to support this new role of the customer. Think here specifically about the Social Feedback Cycle and the role of a brand ambassador, or an advocacy program that plays out in social media. In each of these, there is a specific development process—from tire kicker to car owner to loyal customer to brand advocate—that can be understood in terms of available behavioral data. Posts on social 37

This new role of the customer, based in relationships and shared activities that play out on the Social Web, can be effectively understood and managed by borrowing some of the ideas and practices of traditional CRM and then weaving into them the essential social concepts of shared outcomes, influencer and expert identification, and general treatment of the marketplace as a social community. On the Social Web, participants form relationships for specific purposes: fun, discovery, or other uses of collective knowledge to better accomplish their own goals.

Conclusion

The changing nature of the overall relationship between a business and its customers can be understood by following the conversations along with the participants and the relationships between them: From the design of the products and services and their delivery into the marketplace to the conversations that form about them on the Social Web the telltale indicators are available.

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