Best Practices for Social CRM?


Share on LinkedIn

They do not exist. They will never exist. You do not need them.

FC Expert Blogger Daniel W. Rasmus wrote a great article on Friday “5 Reasons Best Practices Suck ” the post was an easy read and definitely had an edge. Something the reader could really sink their teeth into. You see, the author uses a Vampire metaphor to make the point. In a way I am a bit jealous, as this is the type of post that needed to be written, one of those that you say – ‘I wish I could have written that’ – Well, I did not write it, but it struck a nerve on a number of fronts so I am going to use it as a launching point.

If we have learned anything during the past few years it is that the pace of change is absolutely ridiculous. No matter what part of the organization you are in, your ability to keep pace is challenged daily. If we can accept this as a truth, then there is uniquely one best practice that might stand a chance, how we adapt to change. Other than that, all other ‘Best Practices’ are simply roadblocks to success and excuses to remain irrelevant. The use within Social CRM is certainly not an exception here. The past couple years has been about experimentation, the data shows that to be a truth. It is not time to codify the experimentation and call it something it is not. It is time to refine it, adapt, learn and share the knowledge.

I am going to share a part of the post, cheating if you will, stealing part of the ending. Maybe a bit unfair, but you may choose to leave now and come back.

“Best Practice is a forensic science, an autopsy on a corpse. Learning is an activity of the living. Millions of good practices can co-exist and co-evolve. But there can only be one Best of Show, Best Record of the Year or Best Picture. And these never repeat. They are bound to the time of their making.”

Placing this into context, Social CRM is about your relationship with your customers. It is about your communications, listening, internalizing and responding. Best practices are either about taking something someone else learned, with their customers, in another organization, at another time and making it gospel. Or, it is about taking what you have done, patting yourself on the back and writing it in stone, like an epitaph. Neither is going to work. Why? Because when the new device, new toy, new shiny object comes along, your customers are going to change, yet again.

“The Best Practice makes an organization feel a sense of accomplishment and closure. It gives it focal point for celebrating its hard work. But in a blink, entropy and pandemonium invade again. People can sense the real power: the dynamic, ever-changing flow of knowledge, just below the thin skin of codified policy and practice.”

Good practices do exist, they are needed and they can and should be shared. The successes and failures are important stories to be told. But, they are stories, there for you to pick out the pieces which make sense to you, your team and your organization. Don’t assume someone else knows best. Has anyone really been doing what you have longer than you have been doing it? Sure, some parts, of course. But all of it?

Interestingly, in doing some research recently with ThinkJar and my own team at Ciboodle what struck me is that companies looking to implement Social Customer Service had no practices from which to draw. They listened to their customers, internal teams and understood the vision of their own organization. Fortunately, for us all, the business side of Social is very young, so there has not been enough time for anyone to claim “Best Practices for Social CRM”

Vampires do not exist, they will never exist and they would suck the life right out of you (if they did exist).

(There, I said it. A personal objective for 2012 is to sharpen the tools a bit, and be a bit edgier. It is time to let the inner New Yorker out and see the light of day. I am hoping that my Klout score gets a boost. It is time to stop beating around the bush and get shit done.)

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mitch Lieberman
Finding patterns and connecting the dots across the enterprise. Holding a strong belief that success is achieved by creating tight alignment between business strategy, stakeholder goals, and customer needs. systems need to be intelligent and course through enterprise systems. Moving forward, I will be turning my analytical sights on Conversational Systems and Conversational Intelligence. My Goal is to help enterprise executives fine-tune Customer Experiences


  1. I remember reading a marketing book a few years ago, which explained how it is that marketers can say something is “best” when it’s clearly not better than all other options.

    The answer is that in marketing-speak, “best” means as good as other options. No other may be substantially better, but there are (maybe) some that are worse.

    So it is with “best practices,” which in my experience are usually a collection of good ideas that seem to work, but can hardly be called better than all other ideas.

    But best (or at least good) practices are valuable — for followers. If you’re trying to learn from others, they do help shorten the time to catch up. Why start from scratch when you can learn from others experience?

    The problem is that while you’re following some “best practices” the leaders are innovating new “next practices.”

    So best practices do exist, so long as you understand that “best” doesn’t mean best.

    And I do think there’s a role for best practices, because we can’t be a leader in everything, can we? Use best practices to maintain parity, but don’t assume they will make your organization the “best” in your industry — unless you want that to mean only as good as everyone else.

  2. Bob,

    Thanks for the comment, much appreciated.

    In a way, it seems to come down to a bit of internal marketing and logic. Throw a white paper, analyst report, even a blog post to a team and say “go do this” and the rank-in-file have a choice to make. My key point here is that for the general practice of best practices it is a larger debate topic, one where many others probably know more than I know.

    My point in the post is that for something as nascent as Social CRM, apply even a bit more skepticism. My reasoning is simple, because it is new PLUS Social CRM is about customer relationships and communications in a social landscape. Practices carried from other orgs or other parts of the org with lose the context and may do more harm than good.

    Cheers – Mitch


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here