Managing the customer lifecycle process: the case for consolidating CRM, ORM and social media

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The question isn’t, ‘What do we want to know about people?’ it is ‘What do people want to tell about themselves?’ – Mark Zuckerberg

This statement has far-reaching consequences for companies and digital agencies.

In order for companies to provide maximum value to customers, they should listen to what customers want to tell about themselves first.

Customer expressions, demands, viewpoints, needs and opinions can provide rich opportunities for fine-tuned, granular level customer segmentation, which if acted upon correctly, will lead to better customer experiences. Therefore, understanding why, where and how customers express themselves pre, during and post their customer lifecycle, requires integration of customer relationship management (CRM), online reputation management (ORM) and social media disciplines.

It’s about customers
Since customers’ expressions and the like are in constant flux, a siloed approach to social media, ORM and CRM will results in a fragmented view. It also limits a company’s ability to deliver incremental value to customers and ROI for itself during the customer lifecycle.

Isolation = limitations
Of course, data analysis used in isolation has limitations. The consequences of this isolated viewpoint are clearly visibly in:

  • Customer frustrations with some brands’ intruding into their private life (SMS spam as example).
  • Well-intentioned but misguided communication during key points of the customer lifecycle.
  • The struggle to clearly define and segment highly profitable customers.
  • Inability to sell the right products to the right customers at the right time and place. (See my previous article on understanding the true value of your customers)
  • The use of social media by customers to vent their frustrations at issue’s not addressed adequately the first time.
  • Companies not adapting to market sentiment and conditions quickly enough.
  • The inability of most companies to engage in a meaning full way with their customers – be it on social media or through CRM systems.

While we mention companies having a limited view, ultimately it’s digital agencies that need to make the leap to consolidate these silos first. Since digital agencies are at the forefront of the value chain, communicating a company’s offerings and promoting its name to customers, the shift in consolidation needs to happen here first.

Guilty as charged
Many digital agencies are guilty of creating pockets of excellence within their production units that are good, but cannot combine their collective strength to be truly great.

Integrating CRM, ORM and social media into a collective unit will improve customer insights, allow for optimisation of media channels and create opportunities to engage with customers in a more meaningful way. Data and more importantly, the intelligent application of it, will be the golden thread that will allow each silo (CRM, ORM and social media) to operate most effectively within the collective whole.

In practical terms this means the gap between what we can predict of customer behavior and customer’s actual behavior should shrink.

Bridge the gap
The current siloed approach – will lead to a loss in client’s market share.

The pressure to consolidate ORM, CRM and social media is being driven by cost advantages, precision in data analysis and speed of corrective execution which digital marketing channels offer. Most importantly, it is driven by the need to have a more holistic view of customer’s requirements, trends, likes and behaviours.

Digital agencies need to deliver ever more value in both retention and acquisition of clients and ultimately nurture their own reputations. Clients themselves will grab any opportunity to get an edge over their competitors and customers will flock to companies “who get them” and who provide them with the right products, at the right time and in the right way.

Market forces will pressure agencies and clients to consolidate these disciplines. Changing will not be painless nor quick. Competitive edge for both agencies and their clients will depend on those who consolidate and share first.



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