With more workers Twittering and connecting with one another through Facebook and other social networking sites, it is hardly surprising that enterprise technology vendors are starting to notice the potential of social media in business applications.
I caught up with Anthony Lye, Oracle’s senior vice president for CRM products who shared about the company’s Social CRM products that integrates the social networks of sales reps into existing CRM systems. The portfolio comprises the Oracle Sales Prospector, Sales Campaign and Sales Library, which allows sales reps to share information with one another, seek out sales leads by combining external information sources with internal customer data, as well as manage sales campaigns.
“Customers want to talk to other customers and these conversations are happening in Facebook and other social media,” Lye said during a media briefing at Oracle Openworld 2009. “It’s important for enterprises to listen to these conversations and take action.”
What social CRM does is to expose the structure of customer relationships within the CRM system through conversations. “For example, if I sell to telco A, can I see what telco B, C and D are buying, because people usually buy what others are buying.”
These contextual based social networks allow sales staff to work together to reach out to customer networks. However, this presumes a knowledge sharing culture is in place within and outside an organization. In Lye’s example, telcos B, C and D may not be willing to share their buying decisions out of competitive reasons.
Moreover, the success of the social CRM assumes that sales reps will share information with one another. Competitive pressure to top the sales figures for the month is likely to discourage sharing. What companies can do is align the reward structure for sales reps with collaboration. This will provide incentives for knowledge sharing and collaboration since each sales rep will want to increase the overall revenue and profits for the company.
Outside the enterprise, Lye advised businesses not to panic at every single comment made by customers on social media platforms. Instead, analyze the relevance and context of the comments, as well as the credibility of the person who said it. “If no one cares, it’s irrelevant,” he said, adding that “if you react to every single request, you’re serving the world and you don’t have a customer.”
Check out Techgoondu’s video interview with Lye, who spoke about social CRM and the adoption of social media within the enterprise: