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STAMFORD, Conn., March 3, 2011 View All Press Releases

Gartner Says the Use of Social CRM for Customer Service Will Grow Rapidly Over the Next Two Years

Analysts Examine Key Issues Facing CRM Industry During Gartner Customer Relationship Management Summit, March 14 to 15 in London, and Gartner Customer 360 Summit, March 30 to April 1 in Los Angeles

During the next two years, 30 percent of leading companies will extend the goals of their online community activities to the design of enhanced service processes, such as social CRM, according to Gartner, Inc. Social CRM for customer service has the potential to bring new and dynamic methods for improving customer service, and in doing so is creating opportunities for new and existing providers in the customer service and contact center infrastructure markets.

"Social CRM for customer service has only recently entered into the realm of contact center infrastructure and customer service software components, where it has been met with significant hype despite a limited number of field deployments," said Drew Kraus, research vice president at Gartner. "There is strong corporate awareness, including at corporate executive levels, of social networks and their potential impact on corporate brand management and customer service perception. We expect the high-profile nature of social networks and social CRM for customer service to rapidly advance adoption from early adopter to mainstream deployments despite the volatile and rapid evolution of social networks in general."

As awareness and use of social networks increases, customer service executives and planners are feeling increasing pressure from corporate executives to articulate a strategy for how this new communication channel will be harnessed so that they don't get left behind.  

Most deployments of social CRM are taking place in corporate marketing departments as an exercise in brand management, such as maintaining a presence on Facebook or Twitter. However, savvy customers are learning that the employees that manage interactions across these channels can also provide customer service functions — sometimes with much-faster responsiveness than that provided over formal contact center channels. As customer awareness and use of social CRM for marketing as a back door to customer service increases, Gartner believes it will rapidly progress from an exception-handling situation to a process that needs to be standardized to scale to broader use.

Despite these powerful drivers, social CRM for customer service also faces several significant adoption inhibitors. Although there is significant awareness and hype regarding social CRM for customer service among corporate and customer service executives, the lack of broad-scale adoption of the technology makes the business case more theoretical than proven. This has the effect of slowing adoption by mainstream and late adopters who traditionally look for proven technologies and shy away from those perceived as "bleeding edge."

In addition, social CRM for customer service is still in the early stages of adoption, and as a result the business processes and policies for handling these interactions are still being determined. Many contact centers in mainstream and late-adopter companies struggle for budget and focus their efforts on streamlining their present operations. Adding social CRM for customer service to their operations has the potential to add high-profile uncertainty, and many will hold off on bringing the new technology into their contact centers until optimized processes and policies have been vetted by earlier adopters. Instead, they will opt to allow their marketing departments — which often have access to near-term budget for such investments — to take the lead in handling all social CRM interactions in the interim.

A further barrier to success is the fact that social networks are a rapidly evolving technology space, making it difficult for social CRM solution developers and users to know where to place their bets in terms of creating systems and processes to support those networks. An example is Second Life, which only two years ago drove significant hype as a potential customer service and e-commerce venue, only to slip rapidly to obscurity for all but its most ardent participants. Many contact centers are not equipped or managed to support rapidly changing communication paradigms and are choosing to "wait until the dust settles" before choosing which social networks to support.

"In 2010, only 5 percent of organizations took advantage of social/collaborative customer action to improve service processes; however, customer demand and heightened business awareness is making this a top issue among customer service managers," Mr. Kraus said. "At current trajectories, within five years we expect that community peer-to-peer support projects will supplement or replace Tier 1 contact center support in more than 40 percent of top 1,000 companies with a contact center."

Additional information is available in the Gartner report "Emerging Technology Analysis: Social CRM for Customer Service." The report is available on Gartner's website at http://www.gartner.com/resId=1531825.

About Gartner Customer Relationship Management Summit
CRM is entering a new era, in which the focus is much more on the relationship and less on its management. Driven by social media, a more open, honest and balanced approach is emerging, where organizations listen to and work with their customers to provide mutually beneficial and rewarding relationships. At the Summit, Gartner analysts will provide guidance on how to apply intelligence to customer interactions and become socially aligned and digitally enabled. They will also explore best practices and technology to effectively help organizations use analytics and achieve lasting improvements in data quality.

The Gartner Customer Relationship Management Summit 2011 will take place March 14 and 15 at the Lancaster London hotel in London. For further information about the Summit, please visit www.europe.gartner.com/crm. Analyst blogs and tweets related to the event can be found at http://www.gartner.com/technology/summits/emea/crm/media.jsp. Members of the media can register for the Summit by contacting Laurence Goasduff, Gartner PR on + 44 (0) 1784 267 7195 or at laurence.goasduff@gartner.com.

Additional information from the event will be shared on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Gartner_inc using #GartnerCRM.

The Gartner Customer 360 Summit 2011 will take place from March 30 through April 1 in Los Angeles. For further information about the Summit, please visitwww.gartner.com/us/crm. Event analyst blogs, and tweets related to the event can be found at http://www.gartner.com/technology/summits/na/customer-360/media.jsp. Members of the media can register for the Customer 360 Summit in Los Angeles by contacting Christy Pettey atchristy.pettey@gartner.com.

 

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