(Customer Experience Designer, Storyminers)
Social CRM (or CSM for Customer Social Management as some are calling it) can help retailers stay current with customers' changing needs and desires and be more relevant to their customers.
Retailing is designed as a store-and-forward business (know what people want in advance, make it for them, and have it ready for them at a store when they wander in) but really operates as a just-in-time business now (customers only know what they want at the last minute). By knowing sooner what customers want, social CRM can help customers and retailers.
I agree with Mark Tamis's comment AND would like to add to the conversation that Social CRM with its sensing and scanning features can alert retailers to what's trending product- and service-wise. This means more profitable buying, better merchandising, and more buzz on the street. For customers, Social CRM offers the opportunity to hear about what matters most to them at that moment in time--not a season or a year later. This means easier shopping, greater connection with the brand, and less wasted effort at shopping.
Used properly, Social CRM helps everyone get more of what they want.
(CEO, ITESA - People Convergence Consultants)
With retail going on the web, and global consumerism on the rise, delivering outstanding experiences consistently on a wider platform has become a challenge as well as an opportunity for retailers. Social CRM, and Customer experience is now the new brand differentiator among competition in the retail/eCommerce industry. Awareness and listening in to the voice of the customer is an absolute necessity, as increased choice in products and prices have led to an increase in customer expectations.
Consumers now have access to multiple communication channels that are selling 24/7 (bricks & mortar, internet, call centers, catalog, kiosks, etc.). Delivering a consistent customer experience across all these channels is more challenging than ever. The pre-purchase, purchase, and post-purchase touch points at each of the channels have to be mapped, measured, and managed in order to understand customer behavior and deliver a customized 'you got me' experience. I believe that the following list, however short, is a crucial checklist for creating a consistent experience for customers across multiple retail channels:
Often, before we buy, we surf for products and services. The pre-purchase social experience is essential – Is the website working, and is the message clear? Customer interaction is created as soon as a customer becomes aware of your company. Generating impressive pre-purchase experiences is important for visitor-to-customer conversion. Since a majority of retail customers depend on the Internet for information prior purchase, it is important that companies are supported by a strong online presence.
In-Store Experience – Is your store clean, crisp, colorful and 'feel' good? If it is online or brick and mortar, a store experience is important to persuade your customer to make a purchase. Online or offline store design that allows for easy location of products, store aesthetics, quick billing, personnel assistance, easy parking, all constitute in-store experience. These all contribute to post purchase 'buzz' and word of mouth..
There is a lot more to say that can't fit here. A complete brand experience results from a consistent delivery of the above experiences, which translates into loyal customer relationships, and consequently, a great social CRM experience.