We find ourselves in times of radical change. Traditional CRM is everywhere, but is struggling, as customers demand their quid pro quo. The CEM reinforcements management has drafted in are getting bogged down too, as companies belatedly recognise that the problem with CRM has little to do with branded experiences, but everything to do with a lack of customer-centricity. Social CRM has the potential to redistribute some power to customers.
But how should we proceed when no-one can even define what SocCRM really is?
I have faced similar problems in many of my ‘edge’ projects in the past; the ones where clients are pretty sure something will work, want to take a small bet on it working, but are not sure exactly how to make it work. Not having a roadmap is absolutely no excuse for not starting out on the journey. Providing you take the journey one step at a time.
- Develop Your Vision
The way I tackle these projects is through a simple three part structure of Vision, Value and Venturing. The first part is developing a coherent growth vision to provide a clear description of what you want to achieve. There are many approaches to developing a growth vision, so I am not going to define one here. Suffice it to say that the growth vision provides you with a direction to take when you start the journey. It doesn’t have to provide a detailed roadmap for the journey, but it does have to set out the broad principles for the journey and be compelling enough for the company to want to get there.
- Identify What is Worth Doing
Once you have developed your growth vision, the second part is understanding the value of each step you take on the journey. Value comes from obvious things like growing revenue and cutting costs, but it also comes from less obvious things like reducing risk and to touch on your blog post, from generating insights, developing new skills and gathering experience to help decide what to do next. This is where scenario planning and real options come in very handy; scenario planning to understand what your options are and real-options to understand what the value of taking each option is. And real-options don’t have to be difficult either. They can be worked out with the aid of a simple decision trees and MS Excel. As you take each tentative step, the financial value you create helps to defray the cost of the next step, whilst the informational value helps you decide what the best next steps should be. Proceeding in this way you can create what McKinsey call a Staircase for Growth, with each step taking you that bit closer towards your growth vision.
- Run Projects as Internal Ventures
Now that you have developed your vision and started to take your first few steps, the final and hardest part is to run each group of steps as an internal venture that you can complete within 100 days. That means very careful planning of each of the activities in each step, developing a detailed understanding of how to get things done, only co-opting resources when you really need them, and focussing all your energies on delivering milestones and minimising cashflow. Just like you would if you were running a startup with VCs breathing down your neck for results. It is so easy just to start another project, but that is the kiss of death if you want to deliver results quickly in an uncertain environment.
SocCRM is going to be a long and difficult journey. Now is the time to your first few tentative steps towards your own growth vision and to learn on the way. You can use the Vision, Value and Venturing approach outlined here to do that. And real options will help you understand what is worth doing during the journey. Or alternatively, you can wait until others have blazed the SocCRM trail before starting out. If you do decide to wait, don’t forget that ‘there are no prizes for coming second’.
See you at the finishing line.
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Copeland, Real Options: A Practitioners Handbook
McKinsey, Staircases for Growth
Graham Hill, Customer Lifecycle management in 100 days
Guy Kawasaki, The Art of the Start