CRM Evolution Conference: Social CRM Takes Center Stage


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I caught an all-star panel on social CRM today at the CRMEvolution conference in New York. Up on the dais were Jim Berkowitz of CRM Mastery, Esteban Kolsky of ThinkJar, Brent Leary of CRM Essentials, Ray Wang of Constellation Group, and Denis Pombriant of Beagle Research Group. You won’t find a more distinguished set of gurus, and moderator Berkowitz asked appropriately incisive questions.

Yet my final impression was that social CRM is a problem in search of a solution. Maybe it was because the speakers kept emphasizing the need to define strategy and goals for any social CRM project. Of course this is sound advice, for social CRM or anything else. But that the speakers kept repeating it suggests pretty strongly that they’ve seen lots of people deploy social CRM without that sort of planning. In addition, the goals the panel cited, collaboration and customer intimacy, struck me as pretty darn vague themselves. A couple of audience questions asking for more specific examples of the benefits didn’t yield much more substance.

The group did better when it came to tactical advice. Two suggestions that stuck with me were that companies should start with internal collaboration projects before trying to collaborate with consumers, and that companies recognize they shouldn’t be equally transparent about everything.

The panel also recognized the serious privacy issues raised by social channels, and the danger of appearing to be creepily aware of everything customers have done in different public forums. The focus was more on the dangers of displaying the information than on the dangers of gathering it in the first place. That probably mirrored the concerns of the audience.

For what it’s worth, I did pick up a pair of intriguing buzzwords: the need to display information in “context” and to pick the context based on the user’s “intent”. At least two people discussed these, so apparently they’ve been echoing through the gurusphere for some time without my noticing. The general idea is that context and intent can tame the flood of raw information by giving users only the data they need in formats that make sense. That’s certainly not a new idea, but if some nice fresh buzzwords can get people to do a better job presenting data, I’m all for it.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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