CRM or customer relationship management is a crucial tool for ensuring optimal customer experience. CRM solutions are a significant evolution of contact management software, which provided customer contact data and little else. While contact management remains a crucial function, CRM adds information about the entire customer lifecycle. Accordingly, CRM provides stellar customer experience by arming employees such as sales and support agents with a 360-degree view of the customer.

Often, CRM solutions are either software packages or cloud-based software as a service (SaaS). However, the growth of social media platforms over the past decade has seen organizations tap into the benefits of social CRM for customer engagement. Almost all businesses can benefit from connecting and interacting with their present and prospective customers through social media networks. The key to using social media as a CRM platform is to integrate social use with unified communications.

The Power of Social Media 

Social media integration taps into the vast communications ecosystem of social media giants such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more. Since customers are likely already members of one or more of these platforms, businesses can meet customers where they are active. A brand's social media presence is an indicator of relevance to most consumers. If someone wants to visit a restaurant, for example, they are likely to search Facebook for the restaurant's business profile to scan the menu. Being absent on social media in today's environment can be fatal to a business. Most businesses know this, and at least have some amount of information on these sites. 

While social media has been relevant for consumer-facing businesses for years in addition to or instead of a business website, the message and chat functions of social media have increased in importance recently. Users now want to interact with brands on social media. On Facebook, for example, users discuss products, like and follow brands, and use Facebook Messenger and comments to communicate concerns. These customer questions or complaints once were mostly dialogues between one person and a telephone customer support representative. Now, a comment from a customer can be visible to millions of curious users. 

Because of the mass use of social media, integrating customer activity in the social sphere is no longer optional. If a business ignores social media, negative information can grow uncontrolled. Neglecting social media, and customer activity on social sites also results in missed opportunities. The benefits of social CRM include creating more opportunities for customer engagement.

Social CRM Integration

The massive relevancy of social media, including the constant flurry of consumer activity, provides a potential goldmine for businesses. But while many companies believe that social media users are simply using Facebook, Twitter, and others for information, a survey by IBM indicated that customers are looking for value. While customer engagement is still critical, it is essential for companies to design customer experiences that reward a customer's time with tangible value.

This desire for value is where companies and customers can reap the benefits of social CRM. Traditional CRM focuses on data and information — which are essential for organizations that want to know more about their customers. Social CRM adds conversations and relationships to the CRM equation.  With social CRM, it is easier for businesses to reach potential customers because in many ways social networking platforms are marketplaces. Millions of voices comment on and discuss their experiences. This broad conversation creates opportunities for smart, adaptive organizations that can not only generate sales pitches and marketing campaigns but more importantly can listen to the pulse of the public.

Connecting Social CRM to Your Contact Center

Many contact center solutions integrate with traditional CRM. Combining your unified communications with social CRM is also easily facilitated through these solutions, such as 8x8's Virtual Contact Center. Social media integration with 8x8 adds Facebook and Twitter to an organization's customer-facing communications channels. Enabling this chat function creates a seamless experience for both the customer and business. Customers can quickly inform a business about concerns through chat or in comments, and due to the transparency of social media, companies are highly incentivized to resolve issues promptly.

Social CRM helps businesses better engage with their customers, which optimizes customer experience and creates opportunities for quality improvements.

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