Social CRM, FTW!: How Real Companies are Going Social and Winning


CRM Analyst,

Social CRM is one of the most buzzed about segments of the enterprise software industry. A quick search through Google Insights for Search illustrates the term’s meteoric rise in popularity over the past few years.









But what exactly is this whole social CRM thing? There are a few accepted definitions floating around from industry thought leaders, such as Michael Fauscette. However, social CRM “Godfather” Paul Greenberg offers a “Tweetable” definition of the burgeoning segment:

“SCRM is the company’s response to the customer’s control of the conversation.”

I think that might even leave space for a couple of #hashtags.

Many of us grasp the concept of social CRM, but knowing what it does is even better. We decided to write up some case studies that illustrate how a real company with real issues was able to improve their business with social CRM. If you have experienced success with social CRM or have a case study that you would like to share, please let us know in the section below.

The process for defining and prioritizing software product requirements is lengthy and fraught with difficulties. There are many people involved in the process – customers, marketers, product managers and developers, to name a few – and coordinating the needs and desires of these individuals to create a competitive product that makes everyone happy is a daunting task. Chordiant, an enterprise software company that develops customer interaction software, decided that there had to be a better way to manage the product requirements process. They wanted to roll out their products more quickly, engaging customers and decision makers throughout the process so that adjustments could be made as priorities shifted.

Chordiant turned to Jive's product to power Chordiant Mesh, an online community where Chordiant employees, developers, customers and partners can collaborate. Jive integrates elements such as member profiles, discussion forums, Q&A’s, wikis and blogs onto one platform. Discussions are conducted in the open and in real time, providing clarity to all participating members, as well as immediate feedback that the vendor can use in product development. The response to the Mesh community was overwhelming: over 30 companies participating from more than 20 countries; 1,000+ individuals contributing; 6,000+ discussion forum posts; and 15 collaborative product releases.

In 2006, Linksys, a division of Cisco providing consumer and small office VoIP and networking solutions, was looking to expand their self-service offering. In an effort to reduce support costs while upholding a high level of responsive service, Linksys decided to create an online support community powered by Lithium, an early mover in social CRM. The community would work in conjunction with existing self-service options, such as a support knowledge base and online chat, empowering Linksys customers to help themselves.

Within the first year of deployment, Linksys experienced very high levels of community participation. Visitors to Linksys’s online community can solve their support issues through the exchange of ideas, tips and helpful information. This enabled Linksys to do away with email support entirely, without negative feedback from customers and without an increase in phone traffic – an astonishing success for a customer service operation. The most measurable benefit from deploying the online community has been call deflection. This has greatly reduced the need for costly phone support. As a result, Linksys has reported a cost savings in the millions and overall increased satisfaction in their customer support.

Enterasys Networks
Enterasys Networks, a data-networking company based out of Massachusetts, employs 750 individuals around the globe. They required an enterprise social networking tool that would allow employees to communicate in real time to resolve service issues and collaborate across departments to support the sales process. After trying out other social CRM tools, Enterasys turned to’s Chatter.

Product support agents have made extensive use of the software, collaborating in real time to resolve customer service issues. They can contact each other directly, or post the issue on Chatter and receive feedback from the entire developer community. Project managers have benefited from increased visibility from live status updates that inform them of any changes with a project. Even the inside sales team has seen an increase in closed deals. Chatter allows sales team members to watch deals closely and make suggestions as the deals progress. In the first quarter of their Chatter implementation, Enterasys reported closing a record number of deals. Also, because the application looks and feels like Facebook, Enterasys was able to implement the social tool without any training whatsoever. You’ve got to “Like” that.

H&R Block
Tax season is one of the most stressful times of year, what with the forms and filing and updated tax laws. H&R Block, one of the biggest names in tax preparation, is all too familiar with the nerve-wracking process. That is why they developed a social media support initiative that includes an online community with advisor expertise, as well as social media outposts for monitoring customer conversations occurring outside the H&R Block community. This initiative proved helpful for solving issues as they occurred, but H&R Block wanted to take things a step further.

H&R Block is using the technology of Radian6, a social monitoring software vendor, to accomplish their long term goal: shifting from reactive to proactive. Radian6 offers trend analysis capabilities that help the company anticipate and resolve customer issues before they escalate. The software enables the user to literally take a “snapshot” of the topics being discussed by their customers. From there, they can take a closer look at the conversation surrounding that topic to determine if it’s something to which they need to pay more attention. The Engagement Console allows users to tag, assign, and respond to questions in the community. This functionality has improved internal communication, making it easier to respond to customer requests with less confusion and in a more timely manner. Taking support social has enabled H&R Block to expand their expertise from traditional in-office communication to the increasingly preferred online space.

Pepperdine University
The open exchange of thoughts and ideas helps facilitate the learning process in a collegiate environment. Pepperdine University’s George L. Graziadio School of Business and Management recognized the need for increased intellectual collaboration, not only among faculty and staff, but also among students and professors. Director of e-Learning, Susan Gautsch says that traditional message boards just “weren’t cutting it.” In an effort to connect the university, Pepperdine partnered with Yammer, providers of a simple communications tool that functions much like Twitter.

They created two networks: one for faculty and staff, and another that included students. The faculty and staff network was particularly useful for connecting users, both geographically (across 5 campus locations) and cross-departmentally. Bringing the user forum to a Twitter-like environment helped lower the barrier to entry for student users. Because the application mirrors the familiar social network used by most students, they were more quick to adopt it as an educational tool. Also, because students can easily see and respond to what their peers are saying in real time, the quality of discussion on the forums is similar to that in a classroom setting. Overall, Gautsch says that Yammer has enhanced both the teaching and learning process at Pepperdine’s business school.

While established as its own entity, Social CRM is still a relatively new segment of the market. However, organizations are clearly finding ways to use its tools for improving customer relations. Of course, there are still some kinks that need to be worked out, but early adopters are starting to prove out the value proposition.

Note: "FTW" means "For the win." It is a common shorthand used on sites such as Twitter and Facebook to express enthusiasm.

  • Allison Guimard

    This is a great article on social CRM and how it’s enabling fellow students, colleagues, etc to connect and alleviate stress, increase intellectual learning, etc. The ability to connect with others in similar situations provides so many amazing benefits from relieving stress to increasing productivity to increasing revenues, etc. Social media software takes it on step further by enabling people to further connect and collaborate with online communities where people can create groups for specific needs, do forum posts, post blogs, post videos and photos, and much much more. INgage Networks offers online community software as well as a variety of other software options.

    INgage Networks has been accommodating various social media trends, including community, crowdsourcing, and social mobile for 10+ years. Our ELAvate Community software is an online community with a full set of social media features including quick notification to your entire community as well as the ability to get your target audience talking about common interests and your brand. To take a look at our ELAvate Community splash page, click here:

    To see our customer success stories using ELAvate Community as well as our other ELAvate Business Services, please visit this page

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