SINGAPORE--While both are important business goals to have, a mobile customer relationship management (CRM) strategy is "imperative" and brings better returns on investment (ROI) than a social strategy because it has faster and greater impact on sales conversions and cost savings.
According to Praveen Sengar, Gartner principal research analyst, a socially-driven CRM strategy, on the other hand, tends to focus mainly on enhancing brand awareness, marketing and customer service, and does not directly drive sales.
Speaking to ZDNet Asia at the sidelines of Gartner's CRM Revolution briefing here Friday, Sengar said social CRM strategies should not be centered on sales generation because when customers view their social feeds, "they don't want to see a pop-up or message saying 'Buy this product'".
In comparison, the potential of sales via mobile channels such as marketing campaigns or apps, is "real" and companies must begin efforts in this area now, he said, citing Gartner's research which put mobile as the number two CIO priority this year.
Sengar explained there would already be some degree of interest or intention when a customer visits a brand's mobile-optimized Web site or uses its mobile app. Sales conversion rates on mobile traffic, hence, are higher and faster compared to browsing online via the PC.
Other benefits include improved productivity, efficiency and cost savings, the Gartner analyst pointed out.
Salespersons can have instant access to customer data on-the-move with CRM on their tablets, while self-service mobile apps mean companies can have fewer call center agents handling customer enquiries, he said.
Although other regional markets such as North America are about 1 to 2 years ahead in terms of enterprise adoption of mobile CRM, the potential is high in Asia, given the growing ubiquity of smart and feature phones in developed and developing economies, Sengar said.
Ed Thompson, Gartner's vice president and distinguished analyst, said social and mobile CRM strategies were equally important, but agreed that in terms of priority, "mobile is imperative [whereas] social is still optional".
Given the rapid and continued rise of mobile devices in the consumer and enterprise spaces, the "mobile [strategy] is what you've got to get right first--and fast", Thompson added. With social CRM, companies still have some room and time--for now--to experiment and finetune their strategy, he said.
CRM is strategy, not software
Thompson also highlighted that CRM must not be viewed as merely software.
As it first emerged during the 1980s, CRM is an overarching customer-centric business strategy and may be supported by various technology, should companies choose to do so, he explained.
He had observed companies wanting to dive straight into CRM by simply asking about software, only to find out they did not know how and which tool to choose from the hundreds of CRM software vendors in the market.
Because each company would have their own goals and expectations with their CRM strategy, it cannot be fulfilled solely by software, he added.