There have been some interesting discussions around what elements your Social CRM efforts can or cannot do without. It started with Bob Thompson asking whether one can do Social CRM without Social Media/Networks, or CRM Systems. Another interesting thread can be found here, where Prem Kumar asks whether Apple is using Social CRM. I recommend you read both posts and the discussions in the comments.
These discussions made me think though what would be the one thing your Social CRM Strategy cannot do without. The one element which would differentiate Social CRM from any other Customer Centric or Customer Management Strategy (Like Customer Experience Management or traditional Customer Relationship Management). THE sine-qua-non of Social CRM.
In my humble opinion the sine qua non of Social CRM is:
Empowering the Customer in the process of creating value for the Customer.
This actually is also the missing element of my last post: The “S” in SCRM is not about Social Media. It is not only missing.. it’s the key element that is missing.
Implementing social tools, and doing absolutely nothing differently than before, would not make it part of a Social CRM strategy. Just like adding e-mail or chat to the channel-mix wasn’t truly game-changing. And increasing your listening capabilities by adding Social Media Monitoring, however important, is not game-changing the value creation capabilities of your Customers either.
From 18 to 2 Use Cases?
Having said this, it is also clear to me what popular “use cases” under discussion would not imply a Social CRM Strategy. This does not mean, by the way, that there’s no value in these use cases. To me, they would be part of regular CRM or CEM programs, like we have been running them for quite some years now. They are either about using or adding the Social Media channel and tools or improving upon practices that should have been part of being Customer Centric long before Social Media. Again: still lots of value to capture for you and your company by implementing these use cases.
I reviewed the 18 use cases of Social CRM as published by Altimeter early March of this year. I believe the following 2 use-cases described there, would fit as use cases for a Social CRM Strategy sincy they are about empowering the Customer in the process of creating value for the Customer (themselves or their peers, that is). They are about involving and empowering the Customer in the design and delivery of experiences:
# 11: Social Support and Service – Peer-2-Peer Unpaid Armies or Customer Support Communities – :
Where smart organizations find ways to harness the collective expertise available within their networks of Customers (and providing the platform for Customers to exchange that expertise with their peers).
# 13: Social Innovation streamlines Complex Ideation – Crowdsourced R&D – :
Where companies find ways to harness the collective expertise available within their networks of Customers for ideation, product development etc..
All other use cases are smart things to do, but mainly about doing smart things you (should) have been doing before. Social tools or channels may help you to get these jobs done better than before, but they do not significantly change the game of providing value for your Customers.
Use cases as such can be found all around by the way. They are cases that involve the Customer to customize the products before ordering or even build their own (Lego), cases that bring Customers together in communities of practice or social networks and allow them not only to share, but shape their experiences with their peers (much like Nike + is doing), and cases that allow your Customers to sell, share or distribute their own ideas and products through your platform (E-bay, Amazon, P&G Connect & Develop etc).
These use cases require a higher level of creativity and “guts” than just implementing social media or social tools to existing processes. They require you to re-invent the process and, more importantly, to change the way you perceive your own role and that of your Customer in that process.
Transferring the power
Acknowledging that Customers own the conversation is not enough. Having meaningful conversations on online social networks with your Customers is not enough either.
You need to design experiences and experience platforms that will allow the Customer to influence their experiences or that will allow your Customer to support their networks and peers in creating personalized experiences.
It is about actually transferring the power from the company to the Customer, and that is much harder to do, than implementing social tools to do a better job at the things you (should) have been doing before. And, in my humble opinion, it is the most appropriate answer to the Social Customers’ ownership of the conversation.
What do you think? Are you ready to transfer power to your Customers?