Transforming into a Social CRM Enterprise  

    It's no secret that the power of social media lies in the connections it creates. More companies, however, are also realizing that good social CRM connections can improve their bottom line as well.

    Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide is a case in point. The company's Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty program provides various ways for hotel guests to share their travel experiences and photos with family, friends, and other hotel guests on social media networks. As an added benefit, guests who check into one of its hotels with their Facebook or Foursquare account can receive "Starpoints," which can be applied toward free breakfasts and room upgrades.

    Such social media efforts have helped to double the loyalty program's membership over the past five years. But, perhaps, more importantly, members are spending 60 percent more than they did five years ago.

    These results would understandably whet any customer strategist's appetite. And, in fact, the promise of social CRM has done just that: Gartner is expecting social CRM sales to exceed $1 billion by the end of this year, up from $820 million last year.

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