Social CRM – the shift from “inside-out” to “outside-in”


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Much has been written about Social CRM. Paul Greenberg’s definition of Social CRM is one of the best I have seen. Paul describes Social CRM as a natural extension of CRM as follows:

“CRM is a philosophy & a business strategy, supported by a technology platform, business rules, workflow, processes & social characteristics, designed to engage the customer in a collaborative conversation in order to provide mutually beneficial value in a trusted & transparent business environment. It’s the company’s response to the customer’s ownership of the conversation.”

Or his shorter tweetable version: “The company’s response to the customer’s control of the conversation.”

It strikes me that one of the fundamental tenets of Social CRM (and one of the toughest challenges) is the need to shift from an “inside-out” culture to an “outside-in” culture. Key characteristics of an inside-out culture include:

  • Marketing assume they know what products a customer will want to buy
  • Marketing bombard customers with offers hoping a small % of customers will bite
  • Sales people launch into product pitches without first listening to the customer
  • A company’s web site is a “destination site” that aims to own the customer and control the community
  • Customer Service is a cost centre with a fire-fighting mentality aiming to fix the immediate problem and move on
  • There is no connection between customers and product development
  • There are functional silos between the different people who deal with the customer and no single view of the customer experience
  • Performance metrics incentivize all of the above

In contrast, some of the characteristics of an outside-in culture:

  • Customers are freely invited to comment, share and recommend
  • Customers participate in the product design and creation process
  • Marketing is a conversation driven by the needs of the customer
  • Sales people listen first and create the right solutions for the customer (product, configuration, price, logistics etc)
  • Customer Service has a peer to peer element where customers flag problems and are part of the solution.
  • Issues are passed on to the right people who can fix and improve the product / process
  • The organisation has a Customer Experience Director who is empowered to make a difference
  • Performance metrics incentivize the above

The shift from an inside-out culture to an outside-in culture is not insignificant. It goes against many ingrained habits and performance management incentives. But without the shift Social Media simply becomes another channel to bombard and annoy customers with.

Powerful tools are dangerous in the wrong hands.

Republished with author’s permission from original post

Laurence Buchanan
Laurence is CEO of EY Seren and leads EY’s global Customer & Growth practice. He works with clients to help them re-imagine growth through human-centered design, innovation and the transformation of Marketing, Sales & Customer Service functions. He is a recognized authority on digital transformation, customer experience and CRM, he has worked across a wide range of sectors, including telco, media, life sciences, retail and sports. He received an MA in Modern History from the University of Oxford.


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