From Could to Should. Or how to rethink #scrm or even your business?


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In my last hurried post titled “What led us to Social CRM? Or why you should be serious about #scrm?” I jotted down a few points on how the customers have been given a rough hand since Industrial revolution and how they are trying to hit back in the information age with the various digital technologies at their disposal.

In this post I try to jot down a few thoughts on how the business needs to rethink itself and this is not an easy task. Its a hurried post again.

I ended my previous post thusly:

“It should always have been about the customer, but thanks to the industrial revolution, it was about the capabilities of the organization rather than the needs of the customer … and this led to transactions being paramount to relationships (how else would you get better capabilities than competition?).”

And I left it hanging there.

What I meant to say was that businesses have always been doling out products/services (offerings) based on what they could, given the limited resources and capabilities. The more innovative of them would look for procuring newer resources & acquiring newer capabilities so that they could differentiate themselves from the competition. But never was a offering built to help customers accomplish whatever jobs they had to get done. Since businesses exist to provide service to the customers this is what they should have been doing all along.


Say Christensen, Anthony, Berstell & Nitterhouse in MIT Sloan Management Review Spring 2007 issue:

Most companies segment their markets by customer demographics or product characteristics and differentiate their offerings by adding features and functions. But the consumer has a different view of the marketplace. He simply has a job to be done and is seeking to “hire” the best product or service to do it. Marketers must adopt that perspective.

And in the Spring 2008 issue say Ulwick and Bettencourt:

With a clear definition of what a customer need is, companies are able to get the inputs that are required to succeed at innovation.

Bettencourt shares the following four questions in HBR Blogs:

  1. Out of the many different jobs that our customers are trying to get done, which offer the ripest opportunities for service innovation?
  2. If we mapped out the job the customer is trying to get done, where would we see the biggest points of inconvenience, frustration, and poor results?
  3. What is our customer’s experience of doing business with us, and what aspects of it could be better?
  4. As a seller of products, what services could we also provide to help customers get their jobs done well?

Once you have a grasp on the customer jobs to be accomplished and have an offering to help achieve them, the next should be to provide a great end-to-end experience to the customer at all stages of the customer’s buying process and not the company’s sales cycle. Businesses should also take into consideration Customer engagement, which is defined asthe behavioural manifestation from a customer toward a brand or firm which goes beyond purchase behavior“.

Customer Experience

As I mentioned in my previous post, value is realized by the customer across multiple touch points. But value is both in use as well as other aspects. A good understanding of the customer jobs would help you deliver value in use. Choose customer moments of truth if you will or Voice of Customer or both to help you figure out these ‘other’ aspects.

In his clear and simple post on Paul Greenberg posits Voice of Customer as the first component of Social CRM to help in Customer Experience Mapping.

Only after you have a grapple on the jobs customers are trying to accomplish (and what offering you would provide to help them accomplish those jobs) and ensure a great end-to-end customer experience (considering VOC, MoT, Customer Engagement, etc.) should you look at the resources at your disposal and your current capabilities, which I am guessing most businesses reading this post are already good at.

Resources and Capabilities

When it comes to resources and capabilities, consider your complete business ecosystem, not just yourselves (and your partners). Ecosystems are complex adaptive systems, as I have explained it before and working with the business ecosystem requires communication & collaboration. This is where social computing (social media, social networking sites, enterprise social software) comes into picture along with social network analysis.

Social and Collaboration

I wrote a post about collaboration and biomimicry recently where I put forth these key aspects I have put forth:

  1. collaboration in the user tasks as part of various business processes (Social CRM/ERP/BPM, ACM, etc.),
  2. learning inherent in the system/platform (Social Learning) in conjunction with the corporate training goals & systems and
  3. finally the epitome of connected individuals – innovation – both democratized sourcing/filtering/execution as well as beuracratic sponsoring.

Remember, communication and work output both are key components of collaboration, without either of which the later is not possible.

Social Media, Social Networking Sites and Firm Hosted Online Communities are all crucial components of customer channels as well as the business ecosystem whereas Enterprise Social Software (online communities, intranet, portals, other enterprise systems, analytics, etc.) forms the key component for employee (and maybe partners too) collaboration.

This is where all your social media marketing, social media monitoring, social media policy, PR & IR on social media, crowdsourced customer service, etc. come into picture. But understand that the social channel needs to be integrated with the other traditional channels of communication, transaction as well as engagement with customers. And merely a multichannel approach wouldn’t do, you need a proper cross-channel approach, which then means a 360 view of the customer by the business and a unified face of the business to the customer (Facilitated by what I like to call as the 4π view of what the customers perceive about the business).


This post has been structured loosely around Graham Hill’s Seven Step Framework on Customer Collaboration that he described to me via tweets:

Jobs > Customer Jobs > Resources > Capabilities > Collaboration > Social Media > Customer Development

Hope I have been a bit more lucid in this post than in the previous one. Please do let me know your feedback/inputs.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Prem Kumar Aparanji
SCRM Evangelist @ Cognizant. Additional knowledge in BPM, QA, Innovations, Solutions, Offshoring from previous roles as developer, tester, consultant, manager. Interested in FLOSS, Social Media, Social Networks & Rice Writing. Love SF&F books. Blessed with a loving wife & a curious kid. :)


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