A Killer Use Case for Social CRM Inside the Enterprise


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Public Enemy live @ Estragon, Bologna (Italy) 02/12/2008

“Don’t believe the hype.” In addition to being one of my favorite songs by Public Enemy, this is often the motto of very pragmatic IT executives when they listen to the benefits of new software products. Photo by LittleO2

Fool Me Once…

IT executives have good reasons to be skeptical. “If I had a dollar for each ‘revolutionary’ new product pitched to me over the past ten years, I would be rich,” said the CIO of a long time customer to me last week. Software is the only industry that commonly uses the job title “evangelist” to describe people who promote their products. (Well, I guess the religion “industry” does the same.)

Enter Social CRM

Over the past year or so, a new software category “Social CRM” (sometimes also called “Social Business”), seems to be climbing up the hype latter. The theory being that traditional CRM isn’t as collaborative and customer engaging as Facebook or Twitter, and by adding social features to CRM, or by incorporating social ‘streams’ into CRM, you create tremendous value to the typical CRM user. Like all new categories of software, there doesn’t seem to be any agreement on how to define Social CRM in the industry.

Companies like Jive Software and Lithium Technologies seem to be building successful companies around Social CRM. Oracle has their “Oracle Social CRM Applications” (great name guys) and Salesforce.com has Chatter.

Social CRM Failures Create Resistance

The IT executive I met with last week had a very negative initial reaction to my mentioning Social CRM. Our conversation was originally about their need to switch CRM platforms. We talked through the pros and cons of the various options, and towards the end of the conversation I suggested that “social” be one of the criteria for their decision. After all this company is a big user of social media to promote their products and brand.

The VP explained to me that they had previously implemented Yammer, and it was a disaster. Yammer acted as a sort of “internal Facebook” for this company, but with some very negative consequences. Employees using Yammer got into long and pointless debates and inappropriately criticized senior management’s decision and lifestyle choices. Name calling abounded. The plug was pulled after employee morale was lowered and productivity reduced.

So, he said that for his company, Chatter wasn’t a selling point for their going to Salesforce.com.

The Key Social CRM Feature

I suggested that Chatter has a killer feature that seems to get lost in all the hype: the ability for anyone to ‘follow’ an opportunity. Just like you can follow someone on Twitter, be their friend on Facebook, or a connection on LinkedIn, your following an opportunity means that you see all of the updates to the opportunity in your ‘activity stream’.

The company that we were discussing is working on thousands of opportunities every day, but their CEO may only be really interested in a dozen. How is he supposed to cut through the literally millions of activities associated with their thousands of opportunities?

“He could also follow an account?” this astute IT executive asked me. Exactly – executives, sales managers, marketing people, anyone could stay on top of things in their CRM system that were pertinent to getting their job done without having to wade through mountains of unimportant (to them) data. This can easily increase productivity and drive engagement with a CRM application.

This one use case made the value of products like Chatter much more appealing to my customer. He immediately grasped how this could make a big impact on one of the primary CRM challenges: user adoption.

Other Features and Imperatives

The potential use cases for Chatter, Jive or Lithium are much, much larger than the one I’m focused on here. In fact, Jive has published their The 18 Social Business Imperatives showing all the ways their products can help you make a “quantum leap”, and Salesforce.com has about 40 examples of how Chatter can “take your company to the next level “.

Most of these revolutionary ideas are likely hype. But even if that’s true, a few of them can have a very positive impact on your CRM application and business.

Learn More

Going to Dreamforce? Join Innoveer, our customers and special guest Bill Clinton at a party at the W Hotel on Wednesday, December 8th. RSVP here. Want to understand how to get the most from Chatter? Read about Innoveer’s Top Ten Chatter Tips. Interested in learning about what makes a global deployment of Salesforce.com successful? Read about our point of view for the key success factors for a multi-country rollout.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adam Honig
Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a recognized thought-leader in sales process and effectiveness, and has previously co-founded three successful technology companies: Innoveer Solutions, C-Bridge, and Open Environment. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the 'No Jerks' hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.


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