My latest column for Inc.com is up - It Takes A Community to Raise a Customer...and a Small Business. Community relationship management is the key to customer relationship management in the Social Age, which I guess is why so much focus is directed at Social CRM right now.
I wrote about community relationship management over five years ago for CRM magazine's site at DestinationCRM.com - here and here. As you will see the context of me calling community relationship management "The New CRM" was completely unrelated to today's definition. But the concepts are the same - show respect to the customer by showing respect to the community in which they reside. Improve their experience with you by improving their experience with everything close to them. That's how you win hearts in minds, isn't it?
Back in 2004 "showing respect to the community they resided in" meant participating in chambers of commerce, sponsoring meet-and-greets, and frequenting other businesses in the local community. These and other kinds of traditional efforts were key to connecting with customers and prospects. Because that's where the people were. But now the people are also on Facebook, and Twitter, and many other places online. There are more of them to connect with, and more opportunities to do so. Mobile devices have enabled people to easily share experiences and stay connected to their communities from wherever they are. And because of all this, customers wield more power than ever before. Because they can come together... on Facebook, and Twitter, and many other places online.
So community relationship management, in whatever context we choose to focus on, is critical to the development of any customer relationship we're involved with. Which also makes it critical to the survival of our businesses. But then again, it's always been this way. It's just more pronounced and immediate nowadays... because of Facebook, and Twitter, and many other places online.