Effective Social CRM


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My journey from Effective CRM to Effective Social CRM is
is a bumpy one, and the destination is unknown. As a believer in a
customer-centric business approach, I don’t feel a compelling urge to adopt a
new term to describe something many of my colleagues feel has always been a part
of business. In fact, maybe Social CRM is on a journey to CRM.

Many of my colleagues do not believe mere tools will change human nature to the
extent that many tool vendors are proclaiming. People haven’t really changed.
Tools just happened to come on the scene, and this has me wondering if software
is going to try to tell businesses how to do business….once again.

I did take a journey — from software is the solution (dummy) — to customer
relationship management is about putting the customer at the center of your
business. What that means might be part of this article series, and it may not
be. The question remains, is the Social CRM debate about customers, or about the
need to sell new technology. It’s going to be an interesting discussion.

I’ve asked a handful of professionals that I truly respect to join my internal
debate, mostly to open my ears to the thoughts of others, but also to share with
you. Some of them you will know if you follow CRM closely, and a few you might
not know, since I cherry picked a few from other (yet related) disciplines. This
is going to be a roller coaster ride folks! But, hopefully, it will open your
eyes to some of the friction we’ll all experience as the Social CRM initiative
gains a head of steam (it already has). In a nutshell, right or wrong, it’s not
going to be a slam dunk; mostly because of people like me.

Consider the following two definitions:

Customer Relationship Management – “Delivering value to your
customer in a way that delivers value back to your company
” ~Dick Lee
– Outside-In Business Process Guru

Social CRM – “Social CRM is the company’s response to the
customer’s control of the conversation
” ~ Paul Greenberg
Author of CRM at the Speed of Light (4th Edition) and leader in the CRM (and
social) thought leader race.

I’m not putting a process guy up against a CRM guy so we can pick them apart.
They are both CRM guys. And these two definitions are for different terms we are
using now, or have used in the past. What I want to point out here, for each of
you to consider, is that these two definitions highlight a difference in

Discussions involving effective Social CRM revolve around the control issue.
Customers supposedly now, or soon will have, control over how businesses engage
them. On the other hand, CRM (excluding the tech guys) has historically
(supposedly) been about designing your business around the customer. Do they
achieve the same ends? After all, one has the company in control (proactive –
although clearly reacting to customer needs) while the other seems to say that
the customer is in control (reactive – company is doing what it’s told).

OK, before you start jumping all over me, I don’t believe it was ever implied
that the customer would be in the board room, lunching in the executive dining
rooms or have the key to the executive bathroom suite. But, there are those out
there that clearly take the Social CRM definition as it stands and convert it to
their own marketing means. Good or bad? That is one of the things that we will
be exploring.

In this series we will have access to the collective wisdom several people I
follow closely (but not all) in the CRM and SCRM conversation. There are other
voices out there, and I don’t mean to minimize them, but I couldn’t include
everyone – oh, but I did include me! After all, I’m writing this.

A Few Introductions Are In Order

You’re going to see tid-bits from each of them sprinkled through out this
series. They will be taking my mind on a journey of Social enlightenment. So,
here are stars, and I’ve included them in no particular order (OK, I had to put
Paul at the top but I don’t think anyone’s going to ding me for that

Paul GreenbergPaul
– Paul has been the leading thinker and evangelist for CRM
for the past decade. His credentials are too long to review here. Besides, he
includes them in his signature file 🙂 He is the author of CRM at the Speed of Light – now in 4th edition – which is considered by many to be the Bible of CRM.
Paul is a really cool guy, and incredibly in demand. I’m grateful he found the
time to participate.

Bob WarfieldBob

– CEO of Helpstream, Bob has been a vocal figure in the Social
CRM conversation. His company’s products are designed to empower customers
through online communities by allowing them to contribute to the problem solving
process along side a company’s service staff. Trust me, I didn’t do the product
justice with that description. It’s pretty cool stuff. They’re also integrating
the world of marketing into their offerings, which is going to be very

Brent LearyBrent
– Maybe Brent is to blame for this effective Social CRM melee. The creator
of Brent’s Social CRM Blog, he is also to blame for the Twitter hash tag #SCRM.
He’s been thinking about the social business longer than most of us. Question:
If Brent hadn’t gotten involved, would there have been a paradigm shift? That’s
a trick question! He’s also
the author of Barack 2.0,
Barack Obama’s Social Media Lessons For Business.

Brian VellmureBrian
– Known as @CRMStrategies on Twitter, Brian always has
interesting facts, figures and thoughts that he shares on his blog. Unlike me,
Brian is articulate and patient. Just sitting down to write this series, I’m
looking for ways to wing it!


Wim RampenWim
– Wim helps his customers develop customer care strategies by
day, and he helps evolve the discussion on what effective Social CRM and Social
Business is by night (and day). I wish I could Twitter as often as he does. I’ve
automated most of mine 🙂


Graham HillGraham
– Maybe the most guilty party when it comes to embarrassing my
intellectual prowess. If you’ve ever wondered what goes on in the mind of a
thinker, just forget it. There is no way to know what new and interesting tid-bit
will be put to paper/blog when Graham decides to write something….which is
frighteningly regularly (no other way to put it).

Jim NovoJim
– His was the first marketing book I ever read (DRILLING DOWN: Turning Customer Data into Profits with a Spreadsheet – Third Edition
), and I wish I had
read it 10 years ago when he wrote it. Jim is not an “advertiser.” I dare you to
call him that! He was talking about ways to measure and extend customer
lifecycles, loyalty and value way back in the 90’s. He used the term CRM (in a
marketing book) and also had tables on scoring, trip wires and hurdle rates (in
a marketing book) and talked about customer-centricity (in a marketing book).
What he failed to cover was how to design my next postcard mailer, which is
exactly why I included him.

Prem Kumar AparanjiPrem
Kumar Aparanji
– Prem keeps us on our toes from all the way on the
other side of the planet. Prem took the #SCRM hash tag at Twitter and made Brent
Leary famous. Much like me (I have numerous Twitter names), @Prem_K is also known as @ScorpfromHell; whatever
that means. It’s scary though, and his participation level and apparent lack of
sleep is just as scary.

Mitch LiebermanMitch
– Limited only by his name, because his blog’s name is “A
title would limit my thoughts
“, Mitch obviously thinks before he writes or
Tweets (unlike me). He’s a steady and valuable force in this discussion.


Dick LeeDick
– The leading authority on front office workflow design. His Visual
Workflow methodology is the first of it’s kind and a deep dark secret I’ve been
trying to pry from his hands. He won’t let go! Just kidding. He shares his
wisdom freely on his CustomerThink blog and also in his
Outside-In Process
subgroup at LinkedIn
. Sometimes you have to dig deep when he answers opened
ended questions with “ugh”, but he grows on you.

Esteban KolskyEsteban
– There are a few people out there that just like to make us
think. Esteban is one of those people. If you have work to do, do not read his
blog or your productivity will drop, and I’m sure he wouldn’t want that. I can
tell Esteban and I have a similar sense of humor. It just works better with him
because he’s a hell of a lot smarter than me.

So, What Did I Ask These Guys?

Well, I asked them all the same things. And no, I’m not going to publish a
series of interviews. After all, this is my blog, if you will. So, I want to
address these questions too, and tie in the varying perspectives. I don’t know
that any single vision is going to lead us to the promised land. But maybe
taking a look at the debate, we’ll see the path we have to follow; if not a few
land mines scattered about. It wouldn’t be that interesting if we all agreed,
now would it?

The conversation begins soon. Stayed tuned! 

  1. Do you feel that the Social components of CRM emerging today will have a
    significant impact on how your customers do business in the future? Why or
    why not?

  2. Do you believe that effective Social CRM should be justified with ROI? If so, what
    would be the key components of your formula?

  3. Keeping in mind that all businesses are different, what basic, tangible
    steps should a business take, to develop a CRM, or Social CRM strategy.?
    What questions do they need to ask themselves?

  4. Based on your past experience, what would the ultimate effective Social CRM solution
    look like for your most interesting customer ? How would this solution
    support their strategy and work processes?

  5. If you were to design a effective Social CRM suite of solutions, would you ask your
    customer base to help you design it, or would you design it based on your
    understanding of your customer’s behaviors?

  6. Let’s assume, for a moment, that the Social CRM hype is real and a vast new
    market will emerge. Do you believe relationship marketers will adapt their
    tools to regain control of these conversations? If so, how and why? If not,
    why not?

  7. How do you think employee incentive programs should change in the context of
    both CRM and effective Social CRM? Or do you believe they’re just fine the way they

  8. During the certain push for social investments, what will be the key(s) to
    learning from CRM adoption failures of the past and applying that knowledge
    to ensure these mistakes are not made again? 


  1. How could I be any smarter than you when you came up with this awesome idea!

    Spot on! great project, happy to help more if i need to — not that i did that much. answering those questions was great fun.

    Great job! Seriously, no humor on that one.


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