Customer Service vs. Social CRM

A conversation with a partner recently highlighted an interesting question: what’s the difference between customer service and Social CRM?

To me, Social CRM is a subset of traditional CRM; a way of doing business leveraging media and social networks…and technologies…to respond to the control that customers now wield over the conversation. Customer service is one of the functions under the purview of CRM, others being sales and marketing.

The difference lies in the role both play within a company’s greater CRM initiative. Customer service plays as much a role in customer nurturing and retention as sales and marketing or account management activities. Social CRM provides other channels for customers or prospects to communicate with a company, and it’s important for a company to proactively manage these channels as much as other traditional forms like phone or email.

What’s important to remember is that participation in social media is a channel-specific action, just as the communicating with a customer via email or telephone is. Customer service and Social CRM are both a means to capture information and data about activities within the difference service channels. The difference is that Social CRM places different sorts of demands on data collection – and conversation participation – than calls and emails do.

In general, customer service interactions are those that support opportunities to solve a customer problem, whereby Social CRM is about nurturing enduring customers relationships within social platforms where the customer feels comfortable communicating and interacting with you. That said, I believe the lines dividing customer service and Social CRM will continue to blur as Social CRM becomes less a subset of customer service and marketing and more about CRM in general.

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