The Social Components of CRM And Their Impact on How Customers Will Do Business – Part II

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Well, we got things going with
Part I of the impact of the Social
Components of CRM
. I promised somewhat of a rollercoaster ride as we explore
the many perspectives on this concept and we’re going to see some more of that right
here.

But, before we get to that, we still have to see the many opinions of those
leading the way on the Social CRM front. For instance,
Brent Leary said that “The
impact is already being felt and it’s still very early on in the game
“. 
So, businesses are feeling the impact of the social customer because “The
biggest impact right now is on how people find information and how they share it
with each other.

I think Brent’s argument is that we are evolving along with our technology and
as the pace of development increases, so does our ability to adopt it.

“As smartphones get even
smarter, and  mobile broadband expands our abilities to share huge amounts of
information quickly, the speed of social adoption will accelerate.  So business
will have to get more comfortable speaking the language of the customer, using
social media and networks to reach them if they want to effectively enter the
world of their customers.  It makes sense if we keep in mind that business
people all have one thing in common – we’re human.  And if we want to
communicate with other humans to stay in business, we better figure out the
right social components and strategies to use.”

I definitely agree that the language of our society changes over time
and with all the 140 character limits, and texting charges, it’s become
ridiculous. I use contractions all the time, even when I write. I don’t think
the abbreviated language of teenagers is going to have a huge impact on how
businesses function. Maybe how they market.

The key question for me, and please jump into the discussion,
is whether consumers are going to demand that businesses transact like a
Facebook page. We gave them Internet shopping carts, but I’m having a harder
time seeing what’s really going to change in a paradigm sort of way. The
Internet’s already here, where’s the next big shift? Is there some specific
social component I’m missing that is going to be a big time
game changer?

Brian Vellmure follows
this theme on communication…

“The emergence and rapid growth of Social Technologies transcends CRM. It
transcends the business landscape, for that matter. It is a fundamental shift in
the way we as humans are now communicating. Will it have significant impact on
how our customers communicate? Absolutely. It already has.”

I totally get where he’s coming from. When you look at this objectively, we can
all now sit on our fat butts and anonymously, and asynchronously, be very very
obnoxious. Here’s two things I’d like to throw in, and then you all can
jump in down below. First, people have always had a place to
congregate and be heard. Have you ever heard the term “Commons?” Back when there
were no on line social support communities, people would drag their very lean
butts out of their log cabins and take the wagon into town. It was not
anonymous. And while it was direct, it was also asynchronous in many ways
because “did you hear what Jedidiah said down the Commons last night?”

Second, even taking the Internet into account, we’ve had access to online
communities for nearly 30 years. Yes young T-shirt wearing Social CRM
consultant! AOL is almost (if not) 25 years old! How’s that for research? You
all didn’t think I could pull out an important fact did ya?  The fact that
we’ve been online doesn’t lessen this conversation because we’ve certainly
advanced along the technological line, and as Brent points out, the adoption
line. Simply put, social components of CRM or any piece of it are far more
accessible today, even if we had forums, newsgroup and AOL and CompuServe
communities for 25 years or more.

But have people really changed during that time? I would say NOPE! And I’m not
the only one. Meet Jim Novo. Jim is
the only marketing representative on the panel. Jim isn’t what you think of when
you think of the marketing department. He’s the former VP of Marketing
for the Home Shopping Network and they did some really neat stuff back in the
90’s when he was there. He still does this neat stuff and it’s working
quite well for him. So have people changed? Will it be a requirement that
businesses change or die? Here’s what Jim thinks…

“I don’t see how “new social” affects anything, it seems there is a focus on
tools instead of culture. Customer-centric companies were listening through the
mail, call centers, chat rooms and message boards, etc. for the past 30 years,
at least.

If a company has a relationship marketing culture, they already new it was
important way before the web, and on the web before “social” was hot. I think
all the fuss is primarily oriented towards companies who have a different
business model than customer intimacy, perhaps operational efficiency or product
leadership.

For those companies, CRM itself may never mean anything, it doesn’t matter, it’s
not the business model. So all this furor over social is really a bunch of crap
– the
companies that are relationship oriented already got it on day 1, the companies
that don’t care about relationships don’t care about social either.”

Are you all going to hate me if I agree with Jim? Good. Because I believe he has
a valid point. Just because our customers are becoming more social
doesn’t mean all companies care. The ones that have always been customer centric
will certainly adopt any tools they feel they need to keep their customers
loyal. The ones that’ve been product focused? Well, they’ll try to use the
tools their own way, and spin it so it sounds good. There, I said it.
Don’t agree, you can let me know below.

OK everyone. Just simmer down, now. Remember, we’re having a social conversation
here, so let’s talk. And who better to be an arbiter of this debate than
Esteban Kolsky. Esteban has got me
thinking clearly again. All this paradigm shifting has got me reeling so I
welcome his input.

“The way businesses conduct themselves in the future is changing – whether you
change your CRM or not. As the new generations start to penetrate the workforce
and consumer bases we will see these changes become more dominant.

The best part of a generational shift (as opposed to a paradigm shift) is having
the forewarning and being able to do something about it – if you are
sufficiently smart. Businesses must adapt to survive, and they have some time to
get there.

Socially-enabling your CRM is one of the steps to evolve through, and
organizations will have to make it happen in the very near future to be able to
effectively compete in the marketplaces.”

Once again, I agree! It’s amazing how all those different perspectives can blend
in my mind. Esteban, of course, is talking about businesses that already have
CRM. In my mind, and I don’t think he would disagree (he can
below
), CRM is not software, so if you are already customer-centric and your
customers demand (or if you just figure it out?) to be engaged through some new
medium, or channel, you’re gonna do it, right? I would!

So what are the rest of the businesses going to do? That’s a great question if I
do say so myself! What are all the business that aren’t customer-centric doing
now? They’re rushing out to buy CRM software! So, I’m sure at some point (if
Social CRM ever trends with any significance at Google)
enough people may
hear about it to make it dominate our hearts and minds. Then the
consultants
wearing T-shirts and Twittering private business discussions
will have tons of
customers — and their product will be commoditized. Nice margins in that
business!

Enough discussion for today. Part III of the first question on my journey to
Social CRM wisdom will feature a few more thoughtful panelists. Oh yea,
thoughtful doesn’t mean they all agree that the social components of CRM will
have any impact. You’ll just have to wait to see who may feel that way.

Return to Part I

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