What the business world needs now is a bigger, badder, more powerful social media dashboard for customer relationship management (CRM). It almost goes without saying that TweetDeck just won’t cut it.

Ideally, the social media dashboard would provide a CRM-integrated interface for monitoring what customers are saying about you in Twitter, Facebook, and other communities. It would also allow you to aggregate high-level customer satisfaction metrics; to flag smouldering issues surrounding defective products and poor customer service; to respond inline through these channels; and to escalate issues internally to the appropriate parties. In other words, it would be, per my colleagues Bill Band and Natalie Petouhoff, a true “customer business intelligence (BI)” dashboard.

As you develop your company’s social CRM strategy, you must provide social media dashboards to all roles that participate in the customer lifecycle. Whether you’re a brand manager who simply wants to listen into social networks to track awareness, sentiment, and propensities, or a sales person who is interested in identifying and qualifying leads, or a customer service rep who wants to interact closely with established customers, a social media dashboard will soon become a core productivity tool.

In many ways, social CRM dashboards are business activity monitoring (BAM) tools for the new age of customer interactions that take place partly or entirely in social networks, both the public ones and those confined to your intranet and  business-to-business value chain. At heart, it’s for monitoring, listening, tracking, and reporting on the full range of customer issues. But it should also generate rule-driven responses to structured, predictable events (e.g., tweets complaining “I can’t find the user manual on their website). It should escalate exception conditions to contact center agents and other human beings (such as knowledgeable, willing customers in the social network) to provide expert response. And, like any good process analytics tool, it should highlight how well the various CRM-related roles are handling the steady stream of issues bubbling up from social networks. In a perfect world, the dashboard would access inline predictive models to forecast potential new issues so they can be neutralized before they become showstoppers.

At Forrester, we’ll be focusing increasingly on social CRM dashboards as an important new business application of BI, BAM, and even predictive analytics. Clearly, these dashboards will rely on a wide range of leading-edge technologies in business process management, collaboration, interactive visualization, content analytics, sentiment analysis, complex event processing, business rules engines, and data warehousing. They have the potential to boost customer lifetime value while greatly improving the productivity of all customer-facing functions, including brand management, marketing, sales, and support.