Hannah Johnson

Managing Director, London

October 26, 2016

Filed Under

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Social CRM: Fundamental Or Just A Fad?

Email’s dead, wait…no, Facebook’s dead, wait, whuh? Both are alive, and so are Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and many more. In 2017, your customers won’t be defined by a single platform, so your CRM strategy shouldn’t be either. As we move ever closer to a single customer journey view, you can see how one customer interacts with your brand across platforms.

Sounds great, but what does this look like in practice? And, what exactly is social CRM? We had a quick scour at some recent descriptions that have gained traction:

  • Social CRM has reshaped the customer experience, creating two-way conversations and multichannel endeavors. (TechTarget, 2016)
  • Social CRM is about a single customer view enabling companies to track a customer’s social influence, revenue, and source data from conversations occurring outside of formal, direct communication. It offers a full audit history of all customer interactions, regardless of social channel they choose to use, available to all customer care employees (The Next Web, 2016)
  • Social CRM is a fad. Nothing but a buzzword and it should be avoided at all costs—it is a money pit. (CustomerThink article, 2016)

Social CRM first gained high levels of public response in 2013. leading to it being a top search term as the industry looked to understand the opportunities it could offer organisations. In the past year, search data around the term has seen its popularity decrease, likely due to a lack of a standard definition across the industry, leading to confusion.

With that in mind, it is important to consider the role it could play. To do so, I sat down with Russell Pert, Facebook’s Business Partner Lead for Retail Banking; Shailen Joshi, Head of Digital Marketing Communications at Lloyds Banking Group; and Peter Fontana, Executive Director of Insights here at Blue State Digital during Social Media Week London. From our conversation, I’ve distilled three reasons why social CRM should be one of your top priorities in 2017:

Social CRM is personalisation at scale.

Consumers have an expectation to not only be listened to but truly heard and, where it makes sense, offered an active role in a campaign and brand development.

According to Russell Pert of Facebook, “Vast leaps have been made around standard setting for customers. Take Uber for example; there’s an instant element both in service and gratification that takes place in seconds. This has evolved consumers to expect a new level of savviness across industries.”

As customers continue to demand services on their own terms and channels, social CRM can be an effective tool for monitoring, tracking, and resolving complaints. Facebook is currently testing how brands can use Messenger to reach out with relevant offers to existing customers. They have also seen brands testing the tool to great success on reducing customer complaint values. “But, on that note, we’re recommending that brands really know the breadth of how they’re using wider products on Facebook before jumping to messenger—it needs to be about joining the platform to the wider marketing funnel. From this point you can then consider how the more advanced elements can help teams drive personalised conversation at scale,” says Pert.


It’s easy to get started with a test-and-learn approach.

At Lloyds Banking Group, social CRM is embraced as a way to be more personal in a bid to develop a deeper bond with its customers. Embracing an agile test-and-learn approach to social messaging, Lloyds is making leaps and bounds at understanding what messages resonate to smaller and more focused customer segments.

“Operationally one thing we’ve been focused on has been dialing up a true test and learn model—considering how we can continue to develop greater links between our social content and customer awareness, preference, and conversion,” comments Lloyds Banking Group’s Shailen Joshi. “To that point, this is about managing delivery and developing empathy with the customer (setting expectation from the get-go much in the way the timing element on Uber does). But sadly, the financial services industry hasn’t quite got there yet.”

Social CRM is your excuse to break down silos.

To drive action, social CRM has to operate across the whole business. The real challenge is aggregating data in one place. Your email program may live with one department and your social strategy may be segmented by platform. According to Peter Fontana of Blue State Digital, success is “having a customer-centric view not specific to one channel but allowing social and its benefits (such as Facebook’s advanced data and targeting) to enhance an existing centralized database that lets you target in a meaningful and thoughtful way.”