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14 Leading Social CRM Applications

Social CRM is a double-edged sword. It gives businesses a tremendous opportunity to easily communicate with consumers, rapidly answering questions and responding to concerns. But it also gives companies more chances to slip-up or to be perceived as being unresponsive or uncaring. That is why a growing number of organizations are stepping beyond the confines of traditional customer relationship management and incorporating social media into the next wave of CRM implementation.

Social CRM offers great opportunity for reaching out to prospective customers -- not just deflecting dissatisfied ones -- using the power of consumers' personal networks to learn more about clients, their passions, and the way they like to shop, communicate, and share information. Businesses can use social media for brand auditing, to stay aware of a marketing campaign's success or failure, like the Gap's speedy response to the public's mostly negative response to its newly launched -- and quickly canned -- logo last year.

Companies should align their social CRM strategies with existing CRM implementations, said Ray Wang and Jeremiah Owyang of the Altimeter Group in a report last year. "Social CRM does not replace existing efforts -- instead it adds more value," they wrote. "In fact, social CRM augments social networking to serve as a new channel within existing end-to-end CRM processes and investments. Social CRM enhances the relationship aspect of CRM and builds on improving the relationships with more meaningful interactions."

Some developers, coming from a heritage of developing CRM applications for years, are now adding social media capabilities to their products. Other vendors, newer to the market, are starting out from the ground up with social media-enabled CRM products.

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