Since 1986, I have argued that at the core of every successful CRM initiative is a robust customer profile that provides insight into your customer’s needs and wants. Think of the profile as a daisy, with the customer in the center of the daisy and the petals symbolizing different information about that customer (e.g., name, address, email, activities, products/services purchased, financial value to your firm, customer service issues, operational issues, competitive products/services purchased, marketing opportunities).
The problem with this definition of the profile is that it is static or transactional-based. It lacks the emotional or sentimental side of a relationship. What does the customer think of us as a supplier? Would he/she recommend us to their colleagues? What has this customer said on social communities about our company and about doing business with our company?
Enter the “Age of Social” where one can easily listen or monitor social communities that your customer frequents or forums where your company becomes a topic of discussion. And here is the beauty of today’s social tools; they allow you to easily monitor and then harvest or scrape information off of social communities and attach them to your customer profile. So now you have a customer profile that contains both static or transactional information AND dynamic, sentimental information that reveals additional insights into your customer’s want and needs and how they feel about doing business with you.
For the past several years, ISM has been helping our global, best-in-class customers to redesign their customer profiles, taking advantage of the Age of Social. For example, we just completed an engagement to help Marriott create their 2012-2014 Marriott Rewards customer profile roadmap that takes into account information from social communities.
Needless to say there is an entirely new set of challenges with looking and gathering customer information in the Age of Social. For example which information from which social source is worth gathering? How best to act on this information? Is a response required? How to train sales personnel to take this information into account when calling on the customer?
But not bringing social insights into a customer’s profile is like playing a sports game with one-hand tied behind your back. And that’s a game you will never win.