Is your CRM crowd-sourced?

How many times have you looked through your organisations Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system only to find stale information and incorrect data on people and organisations?

The traditional approach of trying to maintain your own internal storehouse of data and information about people and organisations is becoming increasingly outdated and more difficult to secure a satisfactory return on investment.

Trying to replicate information internally that is also stored elsewhere (and more accurately) outside of the organisation is for the most part, becoming somewhat nonsensical.

Social media delivers your crowd-sourced data integrity

The Linkedin trend occurring across business generally delivers extraordinary benefits to service provider organisations around “people and organisations” data currency and data integrity.

The challenge that most service organisations face is how to keep their database on people and organisations current and accurate, whilst Linkedin is an accessible database where the individuals themselves maintain their own record.

Data integrity is something that most internal CRM solutions fail miserably at. How many CRMs can you go to today to find that the current people listed in the organisation have already left or the company itself has since been acquired?

An obvious observation is that people are the most knowledgeable about themselves and their own data and if this is true, therefore they will be have become the best keepers of their own information and the maintainer of their own status across their social media presence.

Many people will update their Linkedin profile with news of their promotion, while the CRM in the service provider may continue to show them in a position they held years earlier and with a stale email address.

Linkedin provides the source for reliable updated information, and status as people move from employer to employer or job position to job position within the same organisation. Reliable and up to date information is a valuable commodity in trying to find the best contact into an organisation.

Social media expands your reach and functionality

  • Social media sites such as Linkedin provide additional benefits to users such as the ability to send a direct message to an individual which is often also delivered directly connected to a personal email account and not the work email address.
  • Linkedin also allows external parties to record some basic information against any person’s profile – information seen only to the person/s entering this information – and this is information is not seen by the profile owner.

These additional functions provide a strong clue that Linkedin has already established itself to be a source of current and accurate information on people and the movement of people across organisations.

Social media messaging is becoming an enabler for service organisations with the provision of an unofficial and more personal, unstructured channel for approaching contacts in an organisation. The social media connection is proving to be more responsive and more reliable than the traditional approach of retrieving an email address from the organisation’s CRM.

An email address is no longer the prize, but a social media connection can be gold

Studies have shown that email list turnover is the blight of marketeers and one early study into email usage showed that the turnover rate is over thirty percent. While this figure may come from an old study, the problem of email turnover is still relevant today. There are many people who have multiple stale email addresses but they have only one profile on Linkedin and this is where they maintain their current status.

How to leverage the crowd-sourced social media stream

  • In a service providers database the email address may be the most important piece of data for connecting but it is also the most difficult to maintain currency, as people not only changes jobs but also change personal email providers.
  • Service provider organisations need to accept that the social media stream will become increasingly important to them for capturing updated information about people and organisations.
  • Service providers should consider social media analytics as a data mining tool to uncover further insights and intelligence into the markets where they operate.
  • Further, organisations should consider how they can integrate with social media APIs so that the current profile they use on a person is sourced from social media tools and not from internally stored data which may well be stale.

The suggestion here is not to ditch the investment in CRM, certainly CRM is a good place for recording information that is internally specific and for matching information that is not found externally nor ever should be. And CRM should be much bigger than the contact management aspect that has been discussed here, CRM should be about marketing automation, fulfilment, workflow engine and the integration of data amongst many other things.

When it comes to contact management, however, it is time for service provider organisations to learn from the recruiting industry, many of whom have reassessed the value of strenuously trying to maintain candidate profiles in internal databases, when the most accurate and up-to-date information on a person’s status can be easily found and accessed from external sources in real time.

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