Earlier this month Google took the next step between deeper integration of its Google+ social network and its widely-used Gmail web-mail service.
It announced it is rolling out an update that allowed any Google+ user to message another user without knowing their e-mail address. In other words, a person merely has to add you to their circles on Google+ in order to get a message directly into your inbox.
First there’s the annoyance of the idea you’ll be receiving even more unwanted e-mail in your inbox. It can be avoided if you change a setting in your Gmail account to opt-out of receiving these messages, which we detailed previously. But then there’s the viewpoint put forward by Forbes contributor Gene Marks that Google’s update is exactly the killer feature needed in social customer relations management (CRM) for small businesses. When you flip the equation around and you’re the message sender instead of the recipient, the feature suddenly starts to look appealing.
Social CRM software on the market right now is still challenged by the fractured inbox scenario created by multiple social networks being adopted in the business space, Marks writes. The problem faced by marketers and customer service reps is not all customer communications are necessarily found in an email inbox any more. Rather the conversation is split across LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Plus marketers face the challenge of not being able to easily distribute messages over social networks from an e-mail message management platform.
But the new Google+ feature solves that. It effectively turns the “Social” tab in Gmail into a place where you can read all incoming social messages. Then you can even compose an e-mail that you can send to people via e-mail or by Google+ message, all from the same address line. That actually sounds pretty useful if you’re a marketer or sales professional.
Still, there’s no indication Google has any intent of releasing a social CRM product. But maybe those software makers can make use of this functionality.