Is Mr. Paradigm keeping up with Mr. Big?


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A call on (up) scaling Social

With Social Business Design, Social Media Marketing and Social CRM being more or less mainstream thoughts right now, most seem to be seeking how we can leverage social technology to uncover cost savings or serve customers more effectively. There is a clear calling throughout all company’s disciplines to adapt to and adopt the new paradigm that we need to focus on having more transparency and more authentic and meaningful conversations with Customers, employees and partners. At the same time we see an increased call for scaling in resources for social.

In technology we trust

Esteban Kolsky, in his 3rd part of The Roadmap to Social CRM states:

Building a SCRM strategy or deploying it is no different from building a CRM strategy and deploying it – except for two tiny, tiny details: the volume of feedback you collect has increased by magnitudes in excess of 100X the original feedback you used to collect via surveys (and it is unstructured), and the emergence of communities (try a different mental picture).

Of course this implies that we have a problem: how do we scale the increasing number of conversations with Customers, employees and partners? How do we scale collecting feedback? How do we scale our organizations to all this?

As we usually do, we trust upon technology to solve the problem. Here’s a snapshot from Mike Fauscette at the Destination CRM Blog:

Scale: This is an interesting topic. A lot of social data already exists and a lot of Web 2.0 tools are available for use in the new social enterprise — but the issue for enterprise adoption is scale. In fact, IMHO, scale represents the opportunity for technology and technology vendors. We want to leave the customer, partner, supplier, etc., “experience” in the model of “when, where, and how” THEY want it, but on the back end we have to deploy tools that allow us to build business processes around the interaction and to scale at a reasonable cost. We will also need the tools to collect, manage, and analyze the social information.

Social does not scale

But does Social scale? Some, like Jeremiah Owyang, admit that they have reached their limits and state this:

So what does this mean? It means the social media space is starting to look like just about every other industry that starts to get mainstream. Social media is often the premise built on 1:1 relationships, and even with technology, that clearly doesn’t scale, and I can relate.

Others claim that

if businesses want to be successful in participating in social media, they’ll need to allocate resources in proportion to the volume that exists for their brand. Small companies can get away with small teams. Large corporations will need large departments. They will be structured like call centers with IVRs, scripts, answer trees, etc. It will take a substantial investment in staff training, infrastructure, and rolling out business processes. Everyone in the company will have to know how to use the tools and different departments will be responsible for different pieces of the conversation.

Customer Services is coming to a community near you

If it is not technology it is people we use to scale. Best Buy has taken this approach with Twelpforce. Much is said and written about this already and the judge is still out as to whether this will be a successful approach or not. The numbers are not astonishing high. According to this article only 125 questions per day. But there is no information whatsoever on how many DM’s are involved. How many conversations are transferred to the Contact Center or their own service forum etc. Furthermore it is not clear if this volume is cannibalizing on other channels (which could be a good thing) I can also not relate this to the number of sales-transaction they do.

Same conversations, same solutions

When thinking about all of the above, I’m thrilled nor amused. It even brings me down a bit. Are we really seeking to meet Customer needs? Are we trying to find better ways to sustainably grow our business? Are we listening to what Customers (mind-blowing thought: your one yourself too) are saying? Or are we just gasping at the size of the Big Shift and trying to apply old solutions to cope with the size of the “new” problem. Are we really just going to throw lots of people and some new technology at it to facilitate the same old and same (or increased) volume of conversations?

Social Dialogue (Interactive) Marketing

There is extensive talk in the marketing side of the business to shift from Direct Marketing to Dialogue or Interactive Marketing, and from the looks of it, we’re still struggling with the approach there too. We understand that we need to have these authentic and meaningful conversations, but still have little ideas how to change the conversation into meaningful relations. Telemarketing and e-mail-marketing are suffering and will be done and over with within several years. Still we are discussing new ways to send the (right) message to the right (potential) customer at the right time. This is still a message based on push-theory, while we need to think about Customers pulling the message they want, when they want.

Think of the problem like this: What should you do if you need 20 million of new revenue and have an average revenue of 500 per Customer? How are you going about to pull 40 thousand meaningful conversations from Customers with your company that result in a sale, without the traditional broadcasting approach? How many touches with prospects/Customers do you need if your average revenue per sale is far below 500 and you still expect 20 million revenue? There is an end to creating multiple million touches to generate these (relatively small) kind of sales-volumes. Modern analytics will help your company cope with the volumes, but will your Customers cope too?

The Big Shift is taking place, but is the Paradigm shifting enough too?

In believe the Big Shift () is taking place, but is the paradigm too?

I think that, among lots of other paradigms that need to be restated, these are up first:

  1. We need a big shift in the marketing paradigm that we seek more conversations because we are so poor in turning them into a sale. We need less, way less, conversations, and we need to make them meaningful, successful and sustainable again.
  2. We need a big shift in the Customer Service paradigm that we solve more Customer problems by allowing more Customers to help themselves through more automated conversations or have Customers solve problems amongst each other. What we need is less Customer problems, so that we can have meaningful and personal conversations again.

If you ask me Social Business should be about scaling down the number of conversations and significantly increasing the value of conversations for all participants. That, in my humble opinion, is the essence of the Big Shift that’s taking place.

Did your Paradigm shift enough to keep up with his Big brother?


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