Ed Thompson of Gartner on Social CRM


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In case you don’t know Ed Thompson, he is the Gartner analyst doing research, writing, and presenting on Customer Experience Management. We wrote a book (well, a long research note) on how to do Customer Experience Management that was one of the most read notes. He is also one of the few people in the world who can deliver a 45 minutes presentation in almost two hours – and still get a perfect score.

I asked him his perspective on where SCRM is today, where is going tomorrow, and how to get there.

1. How do you see Social CRM and Customer Experience Management meshing?

Interesting question. I see CRM as having broader goals (eg acquire more customers or cross-sell upsell, or CSAT) and narrower roles (sales, marketing, CSS) than CEM. Social CRM I see as more customer centric than analytical or operational CRM so closer to helping CEM than other forms of CRM projects. Social CRM is key in setting expectations, collecting feedback (community EFM) and in some cases delivering such as customer service with Lithium. So I guess I would say its more aligned with CEM than other forms of CRM projects and technologies.

2. You are exposed to some of the largest organizations in the world and assisting them with their CRM and CEM implementations, are they getting on board the social network integration?

No. Most are wary and most are being very careful as they can see many downsides. In particular many are stuck on how to handle the governance and rules for employees. They know they can’t stop it but if your employee bad mouth’s the company what’s your policy? Some are caught up in discussions with unions, other with regulatory bodies like the FDA and others with their lawyers. So even if the intention is there, the operational aspects have not been ironed out. There are some who are moving ahead aggressively and gaining from it like P&G but the majority are moving ahead tentatively.

3. Is it very different to deploy Social Networks and Communities as new channels for your CEM initiatives?

I view social networks in three types: those inside your org looking at the outside world, those you host as a supplier and those that are independent and in which you can take part like Facebook. Each has a different role in terms of improving the customer experience. The first two are seeing technologies already delivering well with more to come – and are easier to sanction and prove the business case. The independent social networks are being monitored so the org can respond and used for testing of new ideas and products but everyone can see that they have not yet been fully harnessed but equally if you make the wrong move it may be very damaging for the reputation of the firm.

4. Can you share with us two or three of the best practices you recommend your clients embarking on this journey?

A) focus on internal social networks, hosted communities before messing up your image/brand/reputation on independent social networks. Instead experiment with the independent social networks and monitor them closely.

B) accept that the customer does not want to have to come to you, they want you to come to them – that may be on their desktop, phone, email, portal, social network – but only when you have permission. Building your own better website that personalizes better and better will be necessary but not sufficient, you’ll need to fit in with the customer’s environment in order to be trusted

5. What is your vision for Social CRM and CEM in three, five, and ten years?

I’ll look out 10 years. Social CRM will move from 0.1% of CRM application spending to 10% of all spending by then. Still not anywhere near as big as traditional SFA, Campaign Mgmt, Customer Service but vastly bigger spending than today. I don’t think it will be revolution but it will be a big change from today. Personally I think 2020-2030 will see the bigger transformation of CRM applications and processes.

Esteban Kolsky
ThinkJar, LLC
Esteban Kolsky is the founder of CRM intelligence & strategy where he works with vendors to create go-to market strategies for Customer Service and CRM and with end-users leveraging his results-driven, dynamic Customer Experience Management methodology to earn and retain loyal customers. Previously he was a well-known Gartner analyst and created a strategic consulting practice at eVergance.


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