By Dave Evans


If you’re looking to build brand advocates, integrate your CRM and social data to ensure you don’t overlook great customers who may have small followings.

Building beyond social media marketing and marketing engagement? As you build your social media platform, consider how CRM fits into your plans. I’m not talking about “social CRM,” per se, though elements of it are certainly present.

Rather, I’m referring to aligning your social engagement process with all other tracked engagements, in order to create a unified customer experience.

A unified customer experience is, of course, more than saying the same thing or using the same language or tone at every touchpoint. It means engaging your entire organization and taking full advantage of the knowledge it contains with regard to your customers and the products and services you offer.

The goal is to drive toward the creation of customer advocacy at all touchpoints. To do this in the specific context of social media requires that you integrate your business systems with your social platform, that your social customer care and marketing/pre-sales agents have access to customer history whenever and wherever they need it.

At a practical level, it means that when @patsmith contacts you on Twitter, you immediately know whether Pat is a customer or not and what Pat asked about the last time you talked. When you know that, you can relate to Pat as an individual based on past history and as a result, her experience is so much better.

The result? Pat becomes an advocate for your brand.

Consider the impact of customer experience on loyalty. More often than not, great customer experiences, in addition to solid product and service experiences, result in what creates a great story.

Those great stories form an easy device through which to advocate. Customers can relate the positive qualities of interaction with your brand more easily. “Speaking of that, I remember once when…” is much more natural than, “Oh, I see you’re buying ____; I had a great experience with that…”

Stories also help customers fully articulate the joy that leads to (or expresses) advocacy. A recommendation is clearly valuable on its own, but an articulation of joy or other positive emotion helps potential purchasers to see themselves as customers.

When they do this online, and when you are paying attention, you can use this information to refine your own offering. Listening to customer conversations (or looking at them, in the case of video) means you can discover opportunities around purchase, care, product or service design. How do you use these learnings to make actual changes?

How do you tie CRM to social media?

The simplest method for integration between your business systems and CRM is through a link to the conversation as it’s recorded in your social media engagement tools.

Importantly, and given the centrality of your CRM tools as the single source of customer data, your social tools will typically not write customer data into your CRM system.

However you implement it, the link between the social tools and your CRM system lets you see who you’re talking with and then use that information to plan and execute the best course of action. Again, the goal is to create advocates, so any steps taken to better relate to a customer or prospect can make a difference.

What does it look when it actually plays out? Here’s an example. On a recent Singapore Airlines flight, I asked the brand a question on Twitter. Not only did I receive a response back moments later, but an agent actually met me in Singapore to ensure that I had no further questions.

While this is the kind of service Singapore Airlines is known for, a colleague traveling with me remarked that it happened because of the number of Twitter followers I have. Not believing this, I suggested a test. My colleague posted a short comment and sure enough, he had not heard back after three weeks.

Why is this notable? My colleague is one of Singapore Airlines‘ top revenue customers globally. We had just come from the uber-first class lounge, where everyone knew him by name. By comparison, prior to this trip, I had flown on Singapore Airlines exactly once. Yet I was getting all the attention on the social channels. So what?

To be sure, there is business benefit in encouraging connected individuals to share stories about great service. What’s not OK is to appear to ignore – on any channel – your best customers.

Connecting CRM to the airline’s social engagement tools would have alerted the agent who received and evidently passed over my colleague’s thank you note that this particular request should be handled in the same manner as his visit to the lounge.

Without such linkage, the only information the agent had to go on was my colleague’s Twitter profile, something that’s typically limited and rarely contains brand passion or loyalty. So Singapore Airlines missed out on the thing that it’s amazing at: delivering excellent service.


However you do it, as you develop your engagement strategy, be sure to think about how you will identify and respond to requests received via social channels.

Thinking about actual business-value status, rather than social channel status, will ensure that you create a uniformly great experience, thereby encouraging your customers to share their own stories about you with others.

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