Can The Central Problem Here Possibly Be Social?


Share on LinkedIn

These days anyone hanging out on twitter or in the blogosphere is is being bombarded with the word social. OK, the CRM 2.0’ers lost the good fight but has the word really changed businesses? Or did businesses, all businesses, change to drive this new term? I have to tell you that I’m out there talking to customers all the time, and I’m just not sure. Are you?

I certainly understand what is being described when terms like the social customer are discussed. But this suddenly leads to The Social Business and that’s where my alarm bells start going off. Sure, customers operate differently today – more so in the retail area I feel, but I don’t let myself get sold, I am an informed buyer because I have access to the information I need, and the network of people I trust. I’m social. But are all customers social?

The Varying Degrees of the Social Customer

  1. The local Popcorn Shop – I’m from a little town in Northeast Ohio called Chagrin Falls. It has a waterfall. Directly above the waterfall is an extremely old building precariously balanced over the falls. Each time I walk in there, I’m afraid today’s the day. But I digress. The popcorn shop is a cool place to go when your strolling around town, window shopping or just gazing at the river. It has great ice cream, candy and of course popcorn. It’s popularity is from word of mouth (WOM) that has developed over years and years of happy experiences. People know about it because people talk about it. I’m sure there are web references to it. I’m sure there is the occasional teenage tweet about it these days. It has always benefitted from the social customer – the traditional way. Yes, they existed way before Twitter. In fact, they existed before the Internet.
  2. The Regional Ice Cream Franchise – My sister used to live in Cincinnati and one of the only reasons I would visit her is because she lived 2 blocks from a Graeter’s Ice Cream Parlor. Just kidding – kinda. If you’ve ever had Graeter’s you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s the best damn ice cream on the face of the Earth! Huge chunks of chewy chocolate in every bit. Large chunks peppermint (they need to make this year round).  They just started selling it through Kroger’s here in Atlanta a few weeks ago and my wife, who is even more obsessed about Graeter’s than I am, are in heaven. We talk to people about it all the time. Oprah has talked about it. It’s another one of those WOM deals, only on a larger scale. Are people tweeting about it? Yea, probably more than the Popcorn Shop. But, is it enough to justify a geek squad to monitor it? I don’t know, most of the people I know are very happy with Graeter’s. What’s the point?
  3. The Well Known Brand – When you have a retail product, and everyone knows who your are, there are certain percentage of the folks who are gonna be gunning for you – regardless. Do you worry about them? I wouldn’t too much normally, but now they have big megaphones. But are they customers? Well, you do have to protect the brand regardless, but you also need to find disengagement in your customers so you can keep them. Maybe social media is a trigger, maybe it’s other data. Bottom line, it depends and it’s not something you would just do because it’s cool. Remember when the new Coke came out? There was no Twitter, yet Coca Cola had to take the product off the market within weeks of it’s launch. So, there’s always been the impact of the crowd, but does the business strategy become recentered around social toosl simply because there are new channels out there? Yea, I said it – CHANNELS. :)

Sure, as you get bigger, there is going to be more chatter about you in the new channels that make it easy. You as a business, have to decide whether it makes sense to make this investment in monitoring technology, and increased staff, to deal with a tangible problem. Beware of sales people with solutions looking for a problem!

What About This B2B Business?

Recently I’ve been involved with a middle market company that contracts with facilities to provide services used by the tenants. The deal is with the facility or management company and the bill goes to the tenant. What? Who’s this bill from? Sounds like it’s ripe for a tweet. But wait a minute. This company is not widely known outside the companies it does business with. They have a modest number of clients, not millions of retail, brand loyal, or disloyal, customers. Basically, no one is spending time blogging about them or tweeting about them. No one is posting articles about them to article directories. Their Universe simply isn’t that big.

Do they have social customers?

They are B2B. There customer isn’t a person, nor is any single person the decision-maker.  Buying committees don’t assign tweet responsibilities when pricing negotiations breakdown.  That just isn’t happening, nor would it have much impact if it were (which is why it’s not happening). The answer is that they kinda have social customers in that the people they deal with browse the Internet and have much greater control over the buying process in their personal world. But that doesn’t necessarily apply to this particular business now, does it?

So, is the problem this business faces social?

The answer is no. In fact, they are like many companies out there that are still struggling with implementing strategies, processes and technology that allow them to scale instead of being hamstrung by people processes designed to navigate numerous functional and data silos. So which problem do you fix first? The answer is simple, the only problem that has presented itself. Is the problem a lack of customer-centricity? Don’t know – I haven’t gotten that far yet. But even if it is, I haven’t seen an obvious problem that a more traditional outside-in CRM approach wouldn’t solve. Did I miss something? Is the problem really social?

Lemme know….

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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