Like Dimples On a Golf Ball – These Are The Silos of Social CRM


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If you look at CRM like I do, one of the things on your radar screen should be the identification of silos in a business. From an operational standpoint, they may be necessary, but from the customer’s standpoint, they are nothing but annoyances. Unfortunately, the vast majority of CRM acquirers (software) don’t think through the part where they actually have to redesign their business to effect the change needed to present the appearance of one company to their customers. So, did we think that the social customer was going to do that for us?

Maybe worse, did we think Social Media companies were going to do that for us?

As we all get super excited about all the over-hyped Social CRM software out there, it’s easy to lose site of the fact that almost none of it is supporting the customer-centric business. Look at what Gartner considers to be Social CRM, and you will see a number of seemingly unrelated attributes they just throw into the mix

  • Social Monitoring
  • Customer and Partner Hosted Communities
  • Enterprise Feedback Management
  • Product Reviews
  • Sales Contacts

Product Reviews

I have to get this one off my chest right away because I have created a number of product review websites in my other career, and for the life of me, I don’t see how this is CRM at any level. I understand that the social customer (I’ve been one for 20 years) goes to sources where they can get answers from peers instead of from the company. But 1) what does that have to do with CRM and 2) the company in question most likely does not control the product review website.

It seems that SCRM includes engagement with a customer, or prospect, on someone else’s review site. Fair enough, as a tactic, but the software is not Social CRM that a company buys. If they do, how can they guarantee people will come? Am I the only one that sees this as bizarre? How much more disconnected can you get? I’m even sure it can be considered a silo it’s so far out there.

Social Monitoring

I’ve slowly but surely started to see the benefit to this. I still believe it is a lagging indicator of a problem you should be able to identify much earlier, but it is definitely validation. So, here are the issues I have with these solutions:

  1. I have not seen any of the CRM vendors incorporate this into their platforms in a way that allows us to use the information in a cross-functional way. I believe it’s typically being used by the marketing departments, and when was the last time you worked closely with them? Honestly! Silo
  2. It requires an additional effort, yet it is nearly impossible to calculate the benefit. Since it’s a lagging indicator of problems, it may not clearly put the problem in the appropriate context. The work to identify and correct (the problem – not the symptom) needs to be done whether you have social media monitoring or not. The effort to do the monitoring is typically going to cut into someone’s existing job because most companies don’t have the information they would need to justify a new team.
  3. Do these tools monitor all social media effectively? Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook aren’t the only places people go. Google Alerts can go a long way and it’s free. Is sentiment analysis worth all those bucks for the software and the team? Don’t you already know that your customers hate you?
  4. Social monitoring, done cheap, treats each engagement point as a silo. Twitter is a silo, LinkedIn is a silo, etc., etc., etc. The context is the silo when it should be the customer. These need to be in the correct context and our CRM platforms already have a customer context.

Customer and Partner Hosted Communities

If done right, and some are getting very close, these are a valid investment for optimizing customer service to the benefit of the customer, and the company. The only problem I see is that customer service is often still a silo in the CRM 1.0 world. We still need to work on that.

Enterprise Feedback Management

I’m not as familiar with this area as some. I like collaboration, both internally and externally. Sure, it’s not always going to look as efficient. But, I rely on my collaborative networks heavily. Being able to tie customer engagement into the internal enterprise collaboration is something I may never see. I would love to see it. I would love to have it. I would love to think about it more.

Anyway, tell me if I’m wrong here (please) but doesn’t this tail into Enterprise 2.0? Is it really only Social CRM?  These criteria that were used are extremely confusing to me; like we’re mixing apples, oranges, and orapples (you read that right).

Sales Contacts

I guess this is Sales 2.0 stuff. I thought we got past the SFA is CRM debate? Isn’t CRM supposed to pull all of this together? Silo! Great stuff and we need it, but how is it all tying together?

In closing, I would ultimately like to see better integration between all of these things for the sake of the customer. Some of these things may lose steam, I don’t know. But, in the long run, CRM is the heart of all of this (3 letters beats an S) and for consultants to help companies with more strategic changes in their business, we need tools that tie together much better than they do today in the social world. I don’t believe we’ll see it until a CRM vendor gets it and doesn’t just bolt on a Twitter monitor and call it Social CRM. I don’t think we’re building a market for SCRM as much as we should be expanding the market for CRM. We need to do it right, though.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


  1. Mike, maybe it’s because I’m a sometimes golfer but the golf ball is a very interesting analogy for Social CRM.

    Social CRM is becoming a catch-all for next-generation CRM. For some it’s finally getting CRM to be collaborative and truly customer-centric. For others, it’s a handy way to catch attention for a lot of new technology.

    Hopefully at the “core” of all this is a customer-centric business philosophy! If not, it’s just more tech on same old business models and processes — with the same results as you’d get with an old golf ball if you just layered on a new coating.

  2. Mike, take the golf analogy a step forward, CRM is like a *shotgun golf tournament where each department and function tee off aiming for different holes (objectives). SCRM is another hole on the same CRM course – but the customer suffers because the individual departments/functions rarely all finish the entire course.

    Take a look at the CxC Matrix at to see a holistic picture of CRM wrapped around customer experience. The Matrix addresses SCRM concepts in the community column and rows which maps to a technology integration diagram (linking systems, processes and data the way customers do – yes, a novel concept).

    Take a read of free chapter from book here to get a sense of how this all fits together.

    Would like your thoughts –

    Michael R Hoffman

    *A shotgun start is a golf tournament format in which all groups of players tee off simultaneously from different holes. Each hole on a course will be the tee off hole for each foursome


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