“Sure, we’re customer-centric”, I hear you saying. “Now, this new social stuff…how can we use it to promote our products?”
One of the big dangers, each time a new term is introduced to the world, is the “latching on” that takes place. People and companies latched onto the term CRM and sucked it dry until it really had no meaning left – and it had been commoditized. The term SCRM is also in grave danger – already. While it has been clearly defined (and a stake put in the ground), social media gurus and consultancies are trying to lay claim to a concept that has little or no cross-over into their specific skills and experience. Sorry for being blunt, but it has to be said (repeatedly).
Whether you like the term Customer Relationship Management or not, the underlying concept is important to understand before you start running out the door waving your CRM or SCRM flag for the world to see. Nothing against software vendors (including social media solutions), but they do it. I get why they do. But when social media consultants do it, I have to draw a line. CRM is about changing business cultures to focus on customer needs and design experiences that add value and reduce friction. The process derived from these strategic changes is supported by both people and technology. Somehow, we allowed the term to be tightly associated with the technology.
I think we’re prepared to fight this battle on the SCRM front. The social extension to CRM is really a means to expand something customer-centric businesses already do – listen to their customers, understand their needs and adapt to fulfill them in a way that creates value. SCRM has more roots in technology, yes. But, it doesn’t change what we’re really talking about here. So, if we’ve already licked this software is the solution problem – after a decade of death spiral – what is the new danger we’re facing?
Enter the Social Media Consultant
Social media is media designed to be disseminated through social interaction, created using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media uses Internet and web-based technologies to transform broadcast media monologues (one to many) into social media dialogues (many to many). ~Wikipedia
At first glance, this appears to be a definition for a new SPAM channel. But then it moves on to many-to-many, so maybe that’s a little bit harsh. I have this bad habit of assuming that certain types of people believe if you make something (like an email) look pretty enough, it’s effective – and not spam. Unfortunately, too many graphic designers have taken over marketing departments – it’s all about touchy feely with them. But do they really understand customer relationships?
Darren Roanoke: How can you be the Love Guru if you’ve never been in a relationship?
Guru Pitka: Well, there is someone I like. But until I learn to love myself, I can only go out with three girls named Ann.
Darren Roanoke: Three girls named Ann?
Guru Pitka: Yeah. Ann Visible, Ann Flatable, and Ann Job.
Let’s be frank, social media gurus are popping up all over the Internet and also in your local business clubs (maybe your board rooms) – trying to use the momentum of SCRM to jump start their consultancies. Maybe they actually believe this is a new market, and that this market will transform a business by simply adopting solutions in their arsenal. And let’s be honest, these solutions didn’t transform any businesses to customer-centric, or improve the customer experience, before the term SCRM, so why would we believe it to be the case now? Where’s the track record to back it up?
Don’t get me wrong, I would never pretend to be an expert in social media. If it becomes a component in a CRM strategy I’m working with, then I will bring an expert in soc med onto my project team. But, what I won’t do is come on board a project that started with a social solution and tries to work itself backwards to a comprehensive customer-centric business strategy. Or worse, it never even attempts to work backwards as it’s seen as the complete solution. In these cases, businesses will simply leverage the solution more and more until it’s simply abused. Gotta get results, right?
Sounds too much like the good old days of CRM failures. Leave CRM to the CRM people, even if there’s an “S” on the front. We’ve been there and done that.. Mariska Hargitay everybody!