Lithium Ushers in the Next Generation of Customer Relationships with Social CRM
Emeryville, Calif., July 15, 2009 — Lithium Technologies, the leading provider of on-demand customer community solutions for the enterprise, today announced the launch of Lithium Social CRM, the first suite to offer businesses a single platform to create a powerful customer network of advocates across the social web. Lithium Social CRM allows businesses to proactively build stronger, deeper customer relationships by integrating social customer conversations into existing CRM business processes and systems. Lithium Social CRM moves well beyond using social media channels to reach individual customers — instead, it creates a network of customer advocates that is integrated into core business processes, allowing companies to drive millions of dollars in untapped value through amplified word-of-mouth marketing, improved customer service, and accelerated innovation. As a part of the launch, the company is introducing three new products: Tribal Knowledge Base, CRM Connect, and Social Web Connect.
The explosion of social media has forever changed the way companies and customers interact. For every interaction that occurs directly between the company and a customer or prospect through traditional CRM systems, there are hundreds or thousands more that are happening amongst customers and prospects in other places on the social web. Too many companies today are missing these conversations — and the potential impact on their businesses and brands. With the launch of Lithium Social CRM , companies now have the ability to use information from social conversations to develop better products, to promote the company by creating incentives for its most valued customers, and to better support customers by answering their questions and concerns no matter where they appear.
“Our research is showing that over half of all executives place the value of a customer advocate at over $50,000 per year,” said Lyle Fong, CEO of Lithium Technologies. “Social CRM allows every executive to become the ‘chief customer officer’ and take advantage of this significant opportunity to deliver value to the enterprise through a new social network of customers.”
Lithium defines Social CRM as the strategy and applications that harness the power of online branded customer communities, broader social networks, and traditional CRM systems to turn customers into advocates for brands and ultimately become their most important competitive advantage. There are five key components to any successful Social CRM solution:
- A suite of customer community applications
- A reputation management and profiling engine
- Workflow-based integrations with traditional CRM systems
- Workflow-based integrations with social media applications including Twitter
- Actionable analytics for the measurement of business value
Today, Lithium announced three additions to its platform that enable it to provide its customers with a complete Social CRM solution:
Tribal Knowledge Base
Lithium’s new Tribal Knowledge Base application complements its market-leading forums, blogs, and ideas applications. It allows customers to highlight the best content and answers from discussion forums and package them into articles that can be used to support other customers. By tracking and measuring users’ contributions, whether they participate directly in creating knowledge base articles or contribute content to discussions or blogs, the Tribal Knowledge Base encourages users to create and maintain outstanding content on behalf of the company. A publication workflow process enables companies to control the quality of information even as they empower their customers to edit articles.
Lithium’s CRM Connect integrates online community and social web behavior into workflows within a company’s sales force automation and customer service systems. Companies can escalate issues or solutions from the community to a CRM system, and can use CRM workflow rules to ensure that high priority issues or important opportunities are tracked and managed effectively. CRM users can even respond to community members without leaving the CRM console, creating a closed-loop workflow spanning traditional and Social CRM.
Social Web Connect
Lithium’s Social Web Connect allows companies to have visibility into conversations happening on the social web. Lithium’s new Twitter integration, for example, allows companies to stream real-time comments and questions about their brand and products directly into the customer community as well as their own management console. From there, action can be taken. A customer advocate — based on information about their profile and reputation — might be given permission by the system to respond to a Tweet directly or to start a new thread of discussion based on a Tweet. Those responses can not only improve the customer experience, but the amplified voice of the company can now bring more people in from the Twittersphere to the company’s brand.
Comments on Social CRM: Customers
“As a customer with a lively community on the Lithium platform, we're enthusiastic about the Social CRM vision,” said Kevin Ryan, VP of Social Media at Barnes & Noble. “The readers engaged in our online Book Clubs at Lithium also have a significant presence in the larger social web, and helping them share the B&N experience elsewhere will bring more people into our community and strengthen our social commerce efforts across the board.”
“Lithium’s Twitter integration is a perfect fit with our vision to engage with and stay connected to Best Buy customers wherever they choose to congregate online. A key part of our strategy is to harness the power of the voices of our most passionate customers, so we couldn’t be more pleased with the direction of Lithium’s Social CRM vision,” said Lisa Smith, Vice President of Enterprise Customer Care at Best Buy.
“Lithium has taken the next evolutionary step in enterprise communities by delivering an integrated knowledge base that leverages the Lithium reputation engine,” said Mark Hopkins, Project Manager, Social Media, Lenovo. “The Tribal Knowledge Base allows trusted community members to mesh seamlessly with staff to harvest the most valuable community discussions, transforming them via a managed workflow into richer, more accessible articles. I believe this offering is a great opportunity to improve the customer experience while cost-effectively scaling support.”
“Lithium’s CRM Connect has helped us increase customer loyalty and reduce support costs by delivering unified search results from across our customer community and our RightNow-powered knowledge base. The integration increases the likelihood that a user can find an answer to their question on their own, creating a better customer experience and lowering our support call volume,” said Larry Miller Director, Customer Systems and Service, PGP Corporation.
“We started Redfin to make the whole process of buying or selling a home more transparent,” said Glenn Kelman, CEO of Redfin. Hosting a Lithium-powered community for thousands of consumers to discuss market conditions, best practices and customer-service problems gives any regular Joe the inside dope, shifting the balance of power between real estate agents and consumers. And it has created an army of Redfin fanatics. Redfin’s customer network comprises our best marketers, sales people, and product designers, allowing a resource-constrained business to operate on a far larger scale.
“Our customers are eager to answer one another’s questions in our community, and have a high degree of trust in the advice of peers who use our products every day. Pitney Bowes’ decision to take a more social and open approach to our relationship with customers has both improved our customer experience and helped us better manage our support call volume,” said Rudy Chang, Vice President pb.com Global Online, Pitney Bowes Inc.
“Customers amaze us every day by their passion for Roomba robotic vacuums and their inventive spirit for customizing our products to perform new tasks,” said Maryellen Abreu, Director of Global Technical Support, iRobot. “Some of our most innovative ideas have come from the community, including those that resulted in features for pet owners.”
Comments on Social CRM: Industry Analysts
“Businesses are differentiating themselves from their competitors by being more customer-centric, and social CRM is one means of achieving this goal,” said Adam Sarner and Ed Thompson of Gartner in their April 8, 2009 report, “Key Issues for CRM Strategies, and Implementations, 2009.”
“The phenomenon of the ‘social Web’ is forcing CRM professionals to expand their thinking beyond the goal of optimizing a two-way relationship between an enterprise and customer to include the simultaneous interactions that customers have between themselves,” wrote Bill Band of Forrester Research in the November 17th, 2008 report entitled “CRM 2.0: Fantasy or Reality?”
In the June 30, 2009 report “The ROI of Online Customer Service Communities,” Natalie Petouhoff, Ph.D., of Forrester Research writes, “Customer service professionals must find innovative ways to engage with “social customers” via emerging social media technologies. Online customer service communities make self-service a more satisfying customer experience, in addition to reducing costs for the provider. Companies that are still spending money on self-service solutions that don’t deliver good customer experiences are hurting their brands and their bottom line. The time to shift gears and join the social media business revolution is now.”
In the November 24, 2008 report “What Works in Online Company Forums,” Jeremiah Owyang of Forrester writes, “Marketers need a way to keep active members participating. A reputation system that identifies the most active contributors lets marketers easily reward members’ participation and nurture their positive behavior. For example, Lithium Technologies’ system accomplishes this by rewarding helpful members with badges, additional community privileges, and access to VIP areas.”
- White Paper - Social CRM
- Video Tour - Social CRM
- Datasheet - Social CRM Platform
- Datasheet - Customer Community Applications
- Datasheet - Tribal Knowledge Base
- Datasheet - Lithium and Salesforce.com
- Datasheet - Lithium and RightNow Technologies
- Webcast - The Power of Customer Influence
About Lithium Technologies
Lithium is the leading provider of Social CRM solutions to power the customer network. Working with market leaders such as Best Buy, Sony, AT&T, Research In Motion Limited (RIM), Univision, and PayPal, Lithium is delivering the next generation of customer relationships by unlocking the value of the social customer network. Lithium solutions combine the power of online customer communities with the broader social web and traditional CRM business processes to inspire customers to innovate, promote, and support on the company’s behalf. As a result, businesses measurably improve their marketing and sales, accelerate innovation, and increase customer satisfaction. Lithium's platform is proven in high-volume, growth environments and provides the security, analytics, APIs, and multi-language support that enterprises demand. Founded in 2001, Lithium is privately held with headquarters in Emeryville, California. For more information, visit www.lithium.com.
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