Social CRM – A customer oriented view on the state of affairs

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I have spent the last week talking about CRM and SCRM to three retail companies. They cover different, although overlapping ranges and are of very different organizational maturity states. They are also on different positions on both, the CRM and SCRM scales. What they have in common are a desire to have a 360 degree on their customers and the opinion that it is important to excel on the service side. They also are looking for or running tier one enterprise systems with Oracle/Siebel and SAP. None of the three companies is looking at their main software vendors when it comes to “social software”.

The first company, a retailer in startup mode with a wide range, will actively pursue Social Media, for listening but also using it as a sales channel as part of their omni-channel strategy. They want to get the proverbial 360 degree view on the customer, who is “owned” in the marketing department, with PR, not marketing, owning their upcoming Social Media platform, an e-commerce group building the web shop, mobile applications, and sales apps to be embedded into several platforms – yes, there is something else beyond Facebook, if you leave the US. IT organizes and owns the ERP and CRM systems and implementations.

Overall they are striving to implement a superior experience when interacting with their brand, which includes a branded community and listening/engagement abilities in the social web.

The second one, an electronics retailer, wants to become the “best brand in the industry” and looks into a systems implementation from next year on, after some higher priorities are dealt with. These priorities include getting a zoo of technologies migrated into a more manageable architecture and to gain a complete 360-degree on the customer leveraging the existing data and touch points.

The third company is the retail daughter of a mobile phone carrier; their people were listening with some interest when we talked about SCRM. It, however, was clear from the outset that Social Media, to not even thinking of SCRM, is not on their agenda at this time (which is a shame as telcos regularly find themselves at the bottom of customer satisfaction rankings, have e.g. a look at the recent Temkin Group study).

This gives a number of insights on the state of adoption of SCRM, also in the wake of the current discussion about the recently published Gartner Magic Quadrant on Social CRM.

  • Companies are still at very different states of maturity when it comes to leveraging the power of the social web
  • Even young companies in a build-up phase still look into the topic of creating value for their customers from a traditional company centric point of view; or the other way round: very few companies start to think about co-creating value with their customers yet
  • The notion of a 360-degree view on the customer regularly does not yet include the information that consumers leave on the social web. Far from wanting to create a new buzzword we might want to talk about a spherical view on the customer when including social data.
  • Companies still have pressing needs resulting from previous implementations that are more important/urgent and are reluctant to start too many parallel initiatives
  • The tier one enterprise software vendors are not providing the functionality retailers need for interacting with the social web (shameless plug here: This is one reason why I am building SocialmeetsCRM)

Why is this? I think that the brief analysis that Wim Rampen recently published is right, at least a very good starter. Then it seems that companies currently are looking deeper into their operational efficiencies again, instead of pursuing growth strategies. On top of this the majority of vendors is not yet there, which makes up for an immature and highly segmented market, with no vendor showing the ability to cover all or at least most of their customers’ requirements. As a proof in point one just needs to have a look into the Gartner MQ, which shows a very fragmented market.

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