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Helpstream aims to be bridge for social CRM, marketing and returns

Helpstream launched a new module that aims to bridge customer service, social media and tangible marketing results.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor on

Helpstream on Tuesday launched a new module that aims to bridge customer service, social media and tangible marketing results.

Helpstream, which is a social CRM software-as-a-service provider, acts as an add-on to what Oracle and Salesforce.com offer. What's notable about Helpstream's latest module is that it is trying to quantify the links between customer service, marketing and social media. The main effort: Integrate business processes with social customer service.

Among the key features:

  • The release integrates with marketing automation software companies like Eloqua, Marketo and Infusionsoft.
  • Integrates with Twitter and Facebook and bridges customer communities with social media.
  • Tweet monitoring with "Tweet Backs" from the CRM application.
  • Marketing tracking. Helpstream melds the community with outside services and sales leads to track user behavior without being a pest.
  • Integrated conversations, activity streams, wikis and social monitoring.

Helpstream CEO Bob Warfield walked me through the module and his vision of social CRM, which is becoming a rapidly abused term for any service app that can incorporate a Twitter feed. Warfield, a fellow Enterprise Irregular, says Helpstream's secret sauce is the social CRM and integration of tracking. The other big takeaway is how customers are using their communities---knowledge bases, help communities and Web forums---as a sales lead generator.

Here's Warfield's virtuous social CRM cycle:

The most amusing exchange with Warfield came when I got to the bottom line after seeing how Helpstream uses search engine optimization to build customer communities. I said:

So the goal is to get people to join the community so they are a lead later.

Warfield:

It's crass and commercial to be that blunt. If they choose to become a lead through their actions well we've made that very easy for them to do. But it would be a mistake to start spamming right away. The better thing to do not to spam. Let them use self service. Be helpful and don't get too salesy.

Simply put, Helpstream secret sauce is helping customers walk that social CRM line between being a revenue-grubbing pest and helpful. To balance that equation, the real trick is to monitor customer activity, say someone that has watched a demo, asked a few questions and came back to the site 25 times. With that information a sales folks may have just enough insight to jump in and be helpful at just the right moment. The other item Helpstream is bringing to the table is a dashboard that shows where a customer got help. The goal: Let the community answer the questions so you don't blow money on overhead and customer service reps.

The results of these interactions are summarized in what Warfield calls a service waterfall, a dashboard of the customer's experience.

"Enlightened companies aren't going to use the megaphone. They are going to sit back quietly and watch," says Warfield, who says the key is to monitor community and customer reaction. "Social CRM is not a black box. If you poke the community it'll poke back. It's easy to tell when you're screwing up."

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