Is Your CRM Vendor Social?

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If your CRM vendor has a website, a blog and an online community powered by Lithium, you probably think they get the whole social thing, right? And if they have the Ideas module installed you’re probably thrilled because now you have a place to offer your ideas directly to the vendor.

What a great concept. You offer ideas, they get voted on by the community, and some are ultimately considered for inclusion into the product. This whole idea of crowd-sourcing can be debated as to it’s effectiveness. But, in a small community of experienced professionals, you’ll usually identify a few ideas that really stand out, and the community votes them into prominence.

I have such an idea. It’s been at the top of the list since it was submitted – months ago. The Ideas community has been around for quite awhile now as well. So, I was pretty disappointed when I found out recently that none of the management had heard of the idea. Then, as I was poking around this community today, I noticed this box….



Do you see what I see? 62 ideas, yet none of them are under consideration. None have been implemented. None have been accepted. And none are even up for future review. Hmm…..

So, I decide to submit a new idea. This idea was

Why don’t you update the statuses of the Ideas so we are inclined to post more ideas?

A friend of mine tagged it and responded to it. How do I know? Because I got an automated email from the community with the message. However, when I clicked on  the link, I found that the Idea had been deleted within 5 minutes of its posting.

OK, fine. They don’t like being criticized for pretending to be engaged with their community. But, that’s exactly what they appear to be doing, and it concerns me a great deal. I have a vested interest in their success, yet they don’t listen to their partners and simply create product roadmaps they then ask us to sell for them.

I Don’t Expect Every Company To Be Customer-Centric

But, I do expect a CRM vendor to get customer-centricity – even if at the end of the day they have to sell a product. Being out in the field, my colleagues and I simply know more (collectively) than any of the corporate guns.  Why aren’t these companies looking for people like me (or my battle hardened colleagues) to fill their ranks? Yes, I’ve read the resumes. They often come from a channel .So, why the heck aren’t they listening to ours – and what channel were they operating in, certainly not mine.

The Ideas community is supposed to provide the experience that we can bring to the table. Yet, it’s ignored. It’s not taken seriously. And I’ve found myself asking “Did you read my idea?” only to find out that they hadn’t.  And the idea statuses are a clear indication of that. They are simply being ignored in favor of an internal agenda.

So why bother putting up this module in the community? I’ve already asked myself if there is any point suggesting any more ideas. This embarrassing reaction to my Idea tells me a lot about the people I’m counting on to deliver an excellent product – one that meets the needs of my customers’ business strategies.

Every interaction my peers and I have had (with them) starts and ends with them telling us what they are doing, under the guise of getting our ideas (consent). I find it disturbing and also pretty offensive that I’m expected to pretend like this; while at the same time trying to educate my customers on customer-centric strategy and social engagement – admittedly, I’m still in the learning process here.

I am therefore exercising my rights as a social customer and social partner to voice my opinion on this matter – in a venue I control – where nothing will be deleted, including comments from anyone who feels I’m talking about them



Update

Suddenly, the status are being updated. Yet, not according to votes, and with a few twists. It seems that Ideas are being forced to fit into their plan instead of building a plan for the Ideas. I guess my Idea to update the statuses is the only one that’s actually been accepted, although it’s not reflected in the statistics.

Everything is under consideration, accept the top idea….by far the top idea.

Nice….

1 COMMENT

  1. Hi Mike. Great post! I totally agree with you. There are so many problems with traditional crowdsourcing approaches. Check out a new customer-centric approach to Social CRM, beRelevant (http://berelevant.com). The collaborative exchange that occurs in this system delivers the customers’ ranked priorities– actionable insights that companies can use to make decisions inspired by customers. And I guarantee that nothing you or anyone else contributes in this collaborative exchange is ever deleted or removed.

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