Top

Social CRM: Strategy, Technology or Passing Fad? 

Bob Thompson | Sep 16, 2009 3,948 views 16 Comments

Share on LinkedIn

With all the chatter that has been stirred up in recent weeks, it’s clear that “Social CRM” is a hot topic. It’s less clear what we’re all talking about.

I’m confused. Should I put a stake in ground, an oar in the water, or a finger in the air. (No, not that finger, the one to test the wind direction.) For now, I’ll have to settle for this post!

My personal view is that Social CRM is the integration of social media and CRM. Literally: Social + CRM. If you don’t have both, you don’t have Social CRM. Simple.

Well, maybe not so simple. Because in practice the “social” and “CRM” worlds behave quite differently, as this diagram illustrates.


Now, whether Social CRM is more than just technology depends entirely on you, the practitioner. If you see social media as just another channel and CRM as the system/technology to manage channels, then Social CRM is just technology.

A guru or vendor defining Social CRM as a business strategy or paradigm shift doesn’t make it so, unless you make it so. That’s been the problem with CRM all along. Many industry thought leaders, myself included, have defined CRM as a customer-centric business strategy but our research finds that most don’t view or practice CRM that way. In the Real World, CRM is customer-focused but company-centric and can’t be done without using CRM technology.



Contrast CRM with, say, TQM. Or CEM. These are methodologies and ways of thinking. Strategies, maybe. Technology can play a role, but it’s not the first thing you think of. CRM has become so closely associated with “front office” automation that the “CRM = Technology” brand has stuck in our heads and thus defines what CRM really means.

But I digress. Getting back to Social CRM, here are my thoughts on the question I posed: Is “Social CRM” a strategy, technology or passing fad?

Is “Social CRM” a strategy? Maybe

To answer the first question, Social CRM is not a business strategy unless you’ve defined a business goal. If your definition of success is the installation or use of technology, then you’ve fallen into the same trap that resulted in many failed CRM projects.

Business success metrics includes things like increasing revenue, reducing churn, improving productivity or increasing loyalty. You need something that either directly or indirectly impacts the top and/or bottom line.

It’s not a business strategy, for example, to say that Social CRM is “the company’s response to the social customer.” That’s a nice way to position why Social CRM is happening, but doesn’t define what it is in terms that a business leader can understand. These days, what isn’t a response to the social customer?

One of the better definitions comes from Lithium:

Social CRM is a strategy and applications approach to harness the power of online branded customer communities, broader social networks, and traditional CRM systems. By bringing customers into your processes, your business can effectively multiply resources and reach by 100 times, 1000 times, and more. Your customers and advocates become your competitive advantage.

OK, this is a bit vague about exactly how customers and advocates become a competitive advantage, but at least there’s a connection to business value. Lithium says elsewhere that their solutions drive value by reducing support costs (what I call CrowdService), supporting viral marketing and driving innovation through ideation.

It’s interesting to note that most of these benefits accrue not from CRM systems or the connectors, but rather from the social technologies. This is one reason I’ve questioned whether it’s wise for primarily social software vendors like Lithium to use the term Social CRM.

In any case, Lithium’s CMO Sanjay Dholakia, who wrote the definition above, says he believes that Social CRM is both strategy and technology. But he agreed with me that it’s a strategy only if there is a business goal. Do you have one?

Is “Social CRM” technology? Absolutely

Of course it is. Just like CRM, I challenge anyone to think of Social CRM and not think about technology. If you don’t have social media and some kind of CRM technology, how can you “do” Social CRM?

A better question is whether Social CRM will become a technology category. As Esteban Kolsky points out, E-CRM was once the hot thing, too. When the web became an important channel, CRM vendors rushed to add new capabilities and, for a time, E-CRM (or sometimes eCRM) was the term used to differentiate these solutions.

But nobody talks about E-CRM anymore. It never became a market, because CRM vendors treated it like another feature. For similar reasons, I doubt that Social CRM will become a separately tracked technology industry category. In just a few short months, most CRM vendors have added connectors to social media (external and internal) and voilà, they are in the Social CRM business. Analysts will have no way to count the beans and decide who is the market leader in Social CRM.

That’s unfortunate, because unlike the E-CRM phase, there’s more to Social CRM that just connectors. Helpstream, for example, offers a fully integrated (on one platform) solution that combines community tools (Social) with customer service functionality (CRM). RightNow just announced that it will acquire HiveLive and later this year plans to also offer a fully integrated Social CRM solution. Expect more announcements like this in the months ahead.

In the end, Social CRM will most likely be absorbed into the CRM software industry. I can’t imagine why major vendors like Oracle and SAP won’t eventually offer their own branded social media solutions, instead of partnering with Jive, Lithium and others.

So, again, Social CRM is definitely technology. Just make sure you ask vendors what they are selling: the social part, the CRM part, or the glue that brings them together.

Is “Social CRM” a Passing Fad? Probably

I don’t think the term “Social CRM” will have a long life, so from that standpoint it could be viewed as a fad that will burn out. But social media will continue to have a profound and lasting impact on customer relationships. It’s clear that it truly is a shift in how we humans interact and communicate.

But I’m afraid that most companies will treat social media as a fad—following the hype and adopting the technology, but not actually changing how business is conducted. For example:

  • If you approach social media as another channel to push the same old marketing messages, you’ll find that customers won’t listen socially any more than the old ways.
  • If you use social media as just another way to deflect calls and avoid talking to or caring for customers, then you’ll end up in the same sorry position as off-shoring fanatics who didn’t pay attention to the customer experience.
  • If you treat social media as just another way to collect sales prospect information so you can “stalk” them more efficiently, you won’t find it any easier to get appointments.

Social media is an enabling tool that’s already caused a paradigm shift for customers. Whether the same is true for businesses depends not on the adoption of technology, but rather on changing culture, processes and reward systems—creating a “social business” that engages with the social customer.

What is Social CRM, let me count the ways

Does anyone besides me think it might be helpful to come up with one definition that we can all hang our hat on?

Well, until that happy day comes, here for your viewing pleasure are posts I’ve collected to give you an idea of how Social CRM is being defined by others in the industry (additional to the Lithium definition already mentioned). These are in alphabetical order, not in any preference.

Please add your comments or links to other definitions and commentary that you find useful. Enjoy!

Brent Leary

Social CRM adds a whole new dimension to the traditional view of customer relationship management. The focus is undoubtedly on people and not technology. It’s about joining the ongoing conversations our customers and prospects are already engaged in — not trying to control them. It’s about using any tool available that will allow us to meaningfully engage with more people like them. It’s realizing people like doing business with people they like — and understanding we love doing business with people we trust.

Brian Magierski

The Social CRM movement has the potential to re-claim the term CRM for its real purpose – engaging customers and driving a virtuous cycle of value for the customers, company and shareholders.

Brian Solis

Social CRM is no longer an option. It necessitates brand involvement to proactively share answers, solve problems, establish authority, and build relationships and loyalty, one tweet, blog post, update, and “like,” at a time.

Esteban Kolsky

Does Social CRM exist? Yes. Does it correspond to the current model of CRM? Sure, as extensions to it. Does it matter? No.
It does not matter because this is no more than a temporary state as we move towards a new model. A paradigm shift in customer relationships. Customers won’t depend on the organization any longer for — well, mostly product and services but not much more.

Helpstream

Leverage new and advanced social Web technologies to deliver an extra-ordinary customer service experience while reducing costs. Nurture your customer relationships by building a deeper understanding of their needs and their perceptions of your brand. Delight customers by consistently exceeding their expectations.

John Moore

Social CRM is CRM Next, a superset of what we consider today’s CRM solutions. CRM is not just software. It is people first, process second, tools third.

Michael Fauscette

Social CRM captures both the tools AND the processes around the tools to leverage crowdsourcing customer ideas, apply the wisdom of crowds to those ideas, create a public customer ecosystem, take the customer experience and communication to the time, place and method the customer prefers, increase customer intimacy and empowerment.

Michael Krigsman

The vague terms “Enterprise 2.0? and “Social CRM” express a collaboration-centric view of business and work relationships that de-emphasizes traditional command and control boundaries in favor of engaging community. Social CRM is a powerful tool for quickly tracking and understanding customer sentiment.

Oracle

Oracle Social CRM Applications leverage Web 2.0 technologies to help sales people identify qualified leads, develop effective sales campaigns and presentations, and collaborate with colleagues to close more deals quickly.


Neighborhood America

Social CRM: Drive additional value from existing systems by integrationg select social data with CRM to generate new leads through extended reach and viral marketing, trigger sales opportunities based on community activity, enhance transactional CRM data with more social data to better understand customers, leverage targeted outreach to pull CRM contacts into community where greater information sharing takes place.

Paul Greenberg

CRM is a philosophy & a business strategy, supported by a technology platform, business rules, workflow, processes & social characteristics, designed to engage the customer in a collaborative conversation in order to provide mutually beneficial value in a trusted & transparent business environment. It’s the company’s response to the customer’s ownership of the conversation.

Wim Rampen

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Recent Editor's Picks:


Categories: BlogChief Customer OfficerDigital MarketingEditor's PickEnterprise TechnologyLeadershipSales PerformanceSocial Business

3,948 views

16 Responses to Social CRM: Strategy, Technology or Passing Fad?

  1. Axel Schultze September 17, 2009 at 1:38 am (156 comments) #

    Social CRM is the dream of a sales person who wants to stick to their old processes while being part of the social media movement.
    It is the nightmare of the IT manager who recognizes the omnipresent and completely open information flow which is diagonal to his/her security requirements.
    So after all I trust
    1) There is ERP or accounting which always tried to absorb CRM – never did.
    2) There is CRM trying since 5 years to be 2.0 or social – never even had a vision to get there – but also was never absorbed by ERP.
    3) Now there is social media with a whole new behavioral dynamics – not part of CRM – and actually no need to become part of it.

    A CRM system is architecturally a customer data collection system. I guess there will be no business “sharing” their CRM database with the rest of the world.
    Social media is architecturally an information network. I guess there will be no user who is interested in maintaining somebody else data silo.

    So I trust established businesses will maintain their ERP and CRM systems, and continue to manually maintain their customer data that only the business has access to for a long time.

    And I trust there will be new businesses who don’t have those data junkies but focus on the business relationships – they don’t need CRM and will have new tools.

    Axel
    XeeSM.com/AxelS

  2. Graham Hill September 17, 2009 at 2:31 am (992 comments) #

    Hi Bob

    Great post.

    My take on the Social CRM phenomena is pretty well known. So I won’t repeat it here.

    I don’t think Social CRM will turn out to be a fad. Indeed, it may even turn out to be a paradigm shift (in the strict Kuhnian sense) in how we look at customer-facing business. This will occur if companies turn their inside-out CRM approach upside-down and start to see the world with their customers’ outside-in perspective.

    As Esteban Kolsky suggests, the definitions listed are pretty meaningless at this early stage of Social CRM’s evolution. They will all change over time as we understand Social CRM better. But looking at them it is interesting to see how technology companies like Oracle take a technology view, customer service companies like Helpstream take an, errm, customer service view and community companies like Neighbouhood America take a, you’ve guessed it, community view. Only three of the definitions, from Brent Leary, Paul Greenberg and Wim Rampen, really focus on collaboration with the customer as anything like an equal partner. And only Wim Rampen talks about collaborating with customers for anything other than marketing, sales or service. We have clearly got a lot of work to do before we really understand what Social CRM is, how it creates mutual value and how to make it work.

    Perhaps it is time someone wrote a Manifesto for Social CRM describing the essential behaviours of Social CRM and what they mean for companies and customers.

    Graham Hill
    Customer-centric Innovator
    Follow me on Twitter

    Interested in Customer Driven Innovation? Join the Customer Driven Innovation groups on LinkedIn or Facebook to learn more.

  3. Bob Thompson September 17, 2009 at 10:40 am (875 comments) #

    Thanks, Graham.

    I looked around and didn’t find any blog posts where you defined Social CRM. Sorry if I missed it, please provide a link in the comments here.

    I do think you made excellent points in your post Does Anyone Really Need CRM 2.0? A BIG NO!. (Paul Greenberg who coined the term CRM 2.0 has since shifted to Social CRM instead.)

    There’s been some talk about whether Social CRM is ready to “cross the chasm” as a technology. But as you pointed out, the bigger chasm to cross in a company’s approach to its customers.

    [quote]It may even turn out to be a paradigm shift … if companies turn their inside-out CRM approach upside-down and start to see the world with their customers’ outside-in perspective.[/quote]

    So, what do companies need to do to move to more of an outside-in perspective? Seems to me this is what will determine whether Social CRM ends up as a short-lived technology fad, or a real business strategy.

    Bob Thompson, CustomerThink Corp.
    Blog: Unconventional Wisdom

  4. Mitch Lieberman September 19, 2009 at 12:12 pm (85 comments) #

    Bob,

    Thanks for the thoughtful and insightful post.

    The definitions you list happened at different points in time, and some are likely influenced by their predecessors. It would be interesting to try and figure out the timeline.

    Paul did put a stake in the ground, and I question the value of trying to alter his statement, at this point in time. His definition allows for people (us) to focus on strategy (Like Wim did), or philosophy or technology. Could it change, sure, it might. So, Oar in the water is fine with me, as long as we are all rowing the same direction.

    I believe the name actually fosters a more valuable connection among practitioners coming from different directions, and allowing their opinions to be heard. I personally have learned a great deal from Brian Solis and David Armano, just to name a couple of folks. These folks and John’s simple, straightforward definition puts an emphasis on the people and process part. If the focus becomes too technical, it is possible that we may lose the insight of a few important players.

    If I read the comments correctly, I think Graham volunteered to write the Social CRM manifesto. I am looking forward to reading it 🙂

    Mitch Lieberman
    @mjayliebs

  5. Bob Thompson September 19, 2009 at 11:00 pm (875 comments) #

    Mitch, thanks for your comments.

    I’m not sure that regular business managers, the focus on this community, pay much attention to the name debates that industry insiders like to have. It would be interesting to find out whether anyone besides us cares how Social CRM is defined. (If you do/don’t, please add your comments!)

    I do think it’s important to have some clarity about what we’re talking about. By talking about Social CRM, we’re slowly defining what the term will mean.

    To give credit where credit is due, props to Paul for his work on CRM 2.0. My vision for CRM in the early days was the same as Paul’s collaborative relationship more explicitly defined in his CRM 2.0 wiki. And the fact that the definition was defined in a collaborative process carried some weight with me and others. I didn’t see everyone jumping in with their own CRM 2.0 definitions.

    But when Paul threw in the towel on CRM 2.0 and decided to put his Social CRM “stake in the ground”–apparently after seeing that’s where the industry was going, it’s interesting how many people have jumped in (vendors and consultants) to provide their own definition. Since Paul’s definition for Social CRM is the same as CRM 2.0, why didn’t everyone just follow along?

    I for one would have been perfectly happy to go along with CRM 2.0 as the latest attempt to “fix” CRM and finally make it customer-centric. But now we have such a mishmash of Social CRM definitions, with predictable skewing of vendors towards the technology and consultants towards strategy. Any reasonable business executive will just write this off as campaigning for individual interests: vendors selling tools and consultants selling services.

    A manifesto sounds like a great idea. Helpstream says it has one already (see http://corpblog.helpstream.com/), does that work for everyone? Or should the next phase of Social CRM be dueling manifestos?

    Seems to me that we need a cross-industry consortium of vendors and consultants to come together and develop one Social CRM definition with some practical steps to success. If everyone agrees with Paul’s definition, then it should be a short process.

    Now, who would like to volunteer to call Oracle to get the ball rolling? Because if big vendors like Oracle don’t want to play along, they’ll have the marketing weight to sway the definition in their Web 2.0-internal-sales-automation direction. Anyone?

  6. Vandana Ahuja September 21, 2009 at 1:17 am (32 comments) #

    What is being intrinsically termed as social CRM or CRM 2.0 finally corresponds to data generated by the consumers or data generated in reference to the consumers, which needs to be transformed to actionable knowledge.

    This knowledge is to be leveraged by the organizations for improving consumer relationships(increase consumer engagement etc.)and above all, as a source of Business Intelligence. For instance, while all consumer generated content pertaining to consumer complaints needs to be routed to Customer Service, all suggestions regarding product or service improvements needs to be redirected to Product Development and so on and so forth.

    While integrating the three components of people, process and knowledge, somewhere, to me, social CRM or CRM 2.0 appears to be a good tool for ‘Business intelligence for Sales, Marketing and CRM’.

  7. Francis Buttle September 21, 2009 at 11:16 pm (70 comments) #

    Academics, as my rightly mocking friends like to remind me, are professional knowers (or maybe that’s professional Noahs).

    This is an exciting time for CRM as experts, commentators, technocrats, academics, bloggers, Uncle Tom Cobly and all, get to debate what this term ‘Social CRM’ means. If anything.

    In my book “Customer relationship management: concepts and technologies” (2nd edition) I define CRM as the “core business strategy that integrates internal processes and functions, and external networks, to create and deliver value to targeted customers at a profit. It is grounded on high quality customer-related data and enabled by information technology.”

    The book identifies 4 well established types of CRM: strategic, operational, analytical and collaborative. However, in the last year or so, there has emerged another type of CRM, which some people are calling Social CRM. CRM Type 5!

    You’ll note in my definition of CRM that “It is grounded on high quality customer-related data and enabled by information technology.” Customer-related data for the 4 established types of CRM has typically been highly structured data such as buying history, demographics, campaign responses, life-style and interaction history which is stored in data warehouses and data marts. CRM practitioners are right at home when customer-related data are structured in tabular or cube form.

    This new type of CRM, Social CRM, recognises that there is a lot of other customer-related data available that is not structured but that nonetheless has significant potential to be collected, interpreted and used to improve customer experiences and relationships. Some of that data is already in company repositories, for example, emails and voice data held in customer service centres. Other data is present in social networks such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, and in blogs and other online fora.

    Leading edge technology firms are beginning to provide companies with tools that gather and interpret this data, and a few companies are beginning to realise its potential, though, it has to be said, there are few success stories.

    So what are the key attributes of the new Social CRM? Here’s my current list: unstructured data, new data collection and interpretive technologies, management inertia.

    It is neither a fad (but it will be if we stop interacting through social networks), nor a technology (though there are CRM technologies that can be applied to unstructured data), but another form of CRM that tries to make sense of and exploit unstructured data to enhance customer experience, and thereby, business performance.

    Francis Buttle, PhD
    The Customer Champion
    http://www.buttleassociates.com

  8. Bob Thompson September 24, 2009 at 4:17 pm (875 comments) #

    Be sure to read Esteban Kolsky’s notes from an SCRM panel he moderated in the San Francisco Bay Area. While there was agreement that SCRM is real, the question remains whether it will become just an another feature of CRM (as the Oracle exec suggests) or a new market (as Helpstream and Lithium hope).

    This question of whether SCRM is a market is mainly important to vendors. New vendors want to create and lead categories — so they can create more value for investors. Existing vendors want to absorb new categories, and offer more choice to their customer base.

    But what really matters to business leaders is “doing” SCRM, which takes good tools and a whole lot more. One way or another, I think SCRM is here to stay, although the biggest risk is that it will be marginalized by bigger CRM vendors that don’t really “get” the changes required to engage with social customers, and just sell another CRM feature.

    I think it’s more likely that we’ll see a separate and distinct class of “social business” software vendors that include both Enterprise 2.0 and selected Social CRM vendors that are heavy on the social stuff.

  9. Catherine Sherwood October 7, 2009 at 4:40 pm (5 comments) #

    I am a novice in this debate and actually read this blog to figure out what Social CRM meant. I am not a CRM expert, but a social media consultant so I will treat myself kindly and say that I have an unbiased view on CRM (sounds better than saying I am ignorant). However, I do know enough to know that – using the broadest definition of the term – customer relationship management is not a bad thing. If we all managed our relationships better, everyone would be happier.

    However, CRM seems to be more about data mining to better exploit customers (and I am using “exploit” non-judgmentally). The top-down approach is what – ultimately – gets in the way of developing relationships with customers based on trust. I think that being “social” with customers and potential customers is a very different thing. Through social media you have the ability to relate in ways that are similar to real life. The difference is that you can connect with hundreds of people, not just a dozen or so. Social media is obviously enabled by technology, but it is essentially about the people who converse there.

    I think that companies like Oracle and the multitude of CRM vendors are not going to create products that enhance relating in the social media. For one, the solutions are not all that complex to build and there will not be enough money in it for them. Anyone who comes up with a way for people to put their many friends, colleagues, and acquaintances in various buckets so that they can relate to them as a group of individuals will succeed. It is tough to have to go to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube, Delicious, TripIt, etc. to see what individual people are doing.

    If I were a sales person, I would want to be able to more easily engage with my active prospects or my top customers as a group. I would want to be able to see what Joe Brown was doing and get engaged with him, then look in on Mary Jones, then Charles Williams. It is a simple flip from the “place” perspective (Facebook. Twitter, etc.) to the “person” perspective that will make social media easier to use and obviate the need for CRM.

    http://XeeSM.com/CatherineSherwood

  10. Bob Thompson October 7, 2009 at 9:17 pm (875 comments) #

    Catherine, welcome to CustomerThink. I agree with your perspective and think that many CRMers should spend more time living in the world of social media and learning from consultants like yourself.

    Your point about “where is the money?” for CRM vendors is brilliant. Unless CRM vendors acquire enterprise social software vendors (like RightNow acquiring Hivelive), social CRM will mainly be enhancements to existing CRM products and unlikely to become significant new revenue streams. But “socializing” existing products will give them a mid-life kicker and nothing wrong with that.

    But there are companies going to market under the Social CRM banner, at least in part, that major on social and their CRM is mostly connectivity to another CRM system. For example: Helpstream, Lithium, and Neighborhood America. If more vendors join this group, it could get interesting…and even more confusing to the market as to what a Social CRM solution looks like.

  11. Paul Ward October 12, 2009 at 3:20 pm (3 comments) #

    So, my view is this. Terminology aside, the strategic impact of social networks is that they represent a huge risk and opportunity to companies, at a scale and speed that can swamp a corporation’s ability to respond.

    This is why Social CRM is here to stay. You just cannot responsibly manage a company without figuring out how to respond to the value-creating and value-destroying power of the customer ecosystem. It has to become a corporate competence.

    That said, the problem with the terminology Social “CRM” is that it does have the pure tech overtone that Bob mentions. Nevertheless, this is a problem with the companies who use “CRM tools” mostly tactically. CRM is still capable of being a transformative program (culturally and competitively). The social side of customer management is just as transformative.

    I think Paul Greenberg hits it on the nose with both CRM 2.0 (meaning a transition in state emerging from a maturity of CRM), and Social CRM as phrases. Social CRM definitely captures the elephant in the room. CRM 2.0 captures the internal response to this big externality. You just cannot do business the same way anymore.

    Finally, I want to say that Social CRM, to be truly strategic, will indeed need to be more than a technology. It has to be a decision support system embedded in cross-silo processes (don’t you love that kind of language). But in some cases (mature sectors with low rivalry), Social CRM “technology” can just turn up the volume on your listening posts, and for some companies, that may be just enough.

    For most companies, though, you should obsess about Social CRM.

    PS Cannot wait for Paul Greenberg’s 4th Edition of CRMatSOL.

  12. Axel Schultze October 13, 2009 at 1:48 am (156 comments) #

    Paul – allow me to completely disagree

    1) Social CRM is a term, a dream, a vision – it is all sorts of things but NOT an existing product. I cannot buy a Social CRM system and collaborate with my customer. Therefore I have a hard time to think of something staying that doesn’t even exist.

    2) Social CRM has an inherited problem: The term was created out of desperation to not loose the connection to the fast growing and highly attractive social media world, where all the customers are. How can a solution stay that was created to serve the declining CRM business – not the customer? There is not even a clear definition what it is – let alone something that can stay.

    3) Social CRM is like a perfectly square shaped round ball. While square may be in fashion, a ball is still a ball. Functionality wise, CRM is a system where the owner of that system has CONTROL over the data and OWNS those data – PERIOD. Social is a system where all data are shared and are neither OWNED nor CONTROLLED by the system owner – Period. A “decision support system embedded in cross-silo processes” YES exactly. Ehmmm but only internally. No customer access, no social, no networking… just yet another enterprise app. Call it CRM 2.0, maybe CRM 3.0 or even 4.0. It ain’t be social, meaning connected in the globally accessible open social web.

    Ergo – a nice try, an interesting attempt to keep the CRMer in the ring. But hey – a bummer for every customer. Because the C in CRM doesn’t even have access let alone a saying, not even a benefit. And the social in the social CRM is like Bob mentioned in another post the lipstick on the pic. 🙂

    You may want to join the B2B Sales event. I will elaborate a bit more about the future of customer relationships.

    Axel
    xeesm.com/AxelS

  13. Paul Ward October 14, 2009 at 11:00 am (3 comments) #

    Axel,

    Not sure what you’re “completely disagreeing” with!

    Social CRM is not a technology in the sense that there is a single solution. The scope and size of the external forces that impact a company depend on the sector and the customer ecosystem, as well as the company’s appetite for risk and rivalry. There will not be a single solution, ever, but instead (ideally) a measured response that deals with the external risks from how the company is embedded in the ecosystem, and the opportunities inherent in that ecosystem’s knowledge and connectedness.

    Social CRM is a vision, of course, but just as a first step in a coherent plan and culture (vision-mission-goals-strategies-tactics). Social CRM can be defined in terms of the key indicators of perceived value created by a company in its group of stakeholders, and how that value is disseminated. The use of complexity theory and social network analysis – built into as many customer-facing tools as possible – combined with listening posts and enterprise feedback management provide a SPECIFIC set of tools, measures and tactics to help a company navigate the customer ecosystem. So, social CRM is not a “dream” in the sense that it is untouchable and evanescent. It deals in part with intangibles in the business sense (brand equity, perceived value, customer value added, etc.), but this in no way makes it illusory.

    As for whether social CRM is a paradox (in the issue of control), I agree with you that “social” implies distributed control (controls emerging in part from the dynamics of the network), while CRM implies centralized control. However, the whole point of Social CRM as a discipline is to change that paradigm, while remaining with the controls that companies must (by law and by practice) abide by.

    My model for this in the customer experience management teaching I do is MIB, which does not stand for Men In Black (but now that I’ve mentioned Men In Black you will not forget MIB – voila, an example of micro-CEM) … MIB means “manage, influence, balance”. The implication is that you cannot manage everything – in fact, you SHOULD not manage everything. But you must be able to credibly influence what you do not directly manage (hence, authority, credibility and alignment with stakeholder values matter). And when all else fails, you must clean up the mess by balancing negatives that appear in the customer ecosystem. This MIB concept captures the reality of social networks (real ones, not like Facebook, which is merely a platform for real social networks among people): you cannot manage them. At the same time, it focuses businesses on new competencies they MUST develop, including how to engage the customer ecosystem, and how your performance will be measured internally and externally.

    All in all, you can see we disagree, but I don’t really see that we do, except as I’ve expressed above!

  14. Axel Schultze October 15, 2009 at 1:49 pm (156 comments) #

    Paul – I really like what you said. I can see that vision and I’m actually working hard to make it a reality. When Paul Greenberg put up the CRM 2.0 wiki some 5 years ago it was a hard nut to crack. We ran in circles and one of the key words on that wiki was CEM Customer Experience Management. But also CEM is more a vision, philosophy, a way of viewing customers… then a product.

    Here is why I actually have the hardest time with the term sCRM: Most of us earthlings see CRM as a product, Siebel CRM, Oracle CRM, Salesforce.com CRM… Now if we bolt on the “S” we continue to think in software and look for something that doesn’t exist.

    But then maybe sCRM can make it to a term that is no longer or at least only in part software and maybe some other software.

    Brian Solis, author of “Put the public back in public relations” said once “Take the ‘C’ out of the SCRM”

    I like it a lot because SRM (Social Relationship Management) opens up whole new venues. SRM is no longer just sales but the can work for product management, HR, Marketing, Sales…

    But only time will tell.

    Axel

  15. Jim Kaplan May 31, 2010 at 9:55 pm (1 comment) #

    Let’s revisit the basics: Contesting the Death of Traditional CRM: Social CRM is a Process and not a Technology. http://bit.ly/cXiu5c

  16. Matt at Intelestream October 25, 2010 at 12:59 pm (66 comments) #

    Great post, its very interesting and telling to read everyone’s varying definitions. An important point to note is that the definition and expansion of sCRM has evolved since some of the listed thought leaders came up with definitions. It seems to us that most have focused on the inclusion of social media; quite naturally as social networks helped to prompt CRM 2.0. However, it’s important these days to distinguish sCRM from social networking. We find, including our own social CRM solution, that sCRM is really a balanced proficiency between better reaching and understanding your customers from an external perspective and better communicating internally – creating greater business efficiency and transparency. Therefore, social CRM isn’t just about tapping into the social network giants like Facebook and Twitter; but also about better connecting your sales, marketing, customer service, executives and anyone else in your company in order to enhance over competencies. That’s what our social CRM solution does: intelesocial.

Add Your Comment (All comments are reviewed by moderator, no spam permitted!)