Friday, November 11, 2011

CRM & Google + – What You Need to Know

by Sidney Angelos

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is now established as a superb tool for businesses to use for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of their customer relationships and in turn, increasing profitability.

One of the key strengths of CRM is the way in which it integrates with other products and services. It is therefore little surprise that there has been much speculation as to whether and/or to what degree, Google + can be used as part of an overall CRM strategy.

The initial impression of many who have used Google + is that it lends itself well to the world of CRM. It does this through a number of refinements and improvements of previously available features along with the introduction of some new tools


Arguably the most discussed feature of Google +, Circles is at its most basic and group management tool. However, it is also much more than this. Facebook has long had a method of organizing contacts into user-defined groups. This is a very useful tool for CRM as it allows a business to create groups of their customers, so an electrical retailer could have a list of customers who have bought microwave ovens and another who have purchased hi-fi separates, instead of just a list of all customers. The advantages are self-evident: the retailer can target its customer base much more accurately and in turn customers will not receive marketing that is inappropriate. The problem has been that group management tools have often been hard to use. Circles changes that by creating a simple UI that utilizes drag and drop so that a user can build much better groups. Google + provides a list of recommended contacts (based on Google Contacts and/or Gmail) from which a user can easily set up their groups (or circles). This ability to target marketing means that Circles is a first rate CRM tool.


Initially, this could be seen as simply an area for entering text to be taken to a search engine. However, it becomes apparent that Sparks is much more than this and is a useful CRM tool. Essentially, it is a method by which a user can enter an interest (say bird watching) and be taken to a list of books, blog posts, video clips (and indeed anything that a normal Google search would show). This is really useful for businesses from a CRM point of view as a business’s product or service could be entered (say “hi-fi turntable”). When the list is brought up, the user can add it to an “interest list” for future reference. The user is then in a position to see what others are saying about the product and gain an easy snapshot of what customers are talking about. This could prove invaluable in not just gauging how customers feel about a current product, but also in the process of developing future products. There is also a “Featured Interests” section that is particularly useful for finding out what are trending topics.


This is an app that is designed to allow a user to group message across key mobile platforms (including iPhone, Android and SMS). The possibilities here are superb for CRM implementation. A business with user groups set up (such as the electrical retailer’s hi-fi list) can send a group message concerning an upcoming hi-fi campaign just to the customers in that list. This will help improve customer relationships by providing targeted information to those who stand a high chance of being interested.
Google + is in some ways a refinement of previous Google tools that also brings some new ones to the social media party. For business, it enhances their CRM capability by offering users the opportunity to streamline the process of customer interaction as well as providing a platform for the discussion that lies at the heart of all CRM.