There has been a lot of writing lately on the definition of Social CRM. Although neither of the definitions is fully wrong, in my humble opinion, I think they all share one and the same logic of building, understanding, using and/or leveraging a relationship between the (Social) Customer and the company. I believe we need to completely let go of this company centered relationship logic and put Customers’ relationships at the center of our thinking, when we are designing our answer to the Social Customer’s ownership of the conversation.
Allow me to immediately take that back: Of course one needs to put Customers’ needs at the center of your business strategy. Your Customers value you mostly on the bases of their experiences when using your product or service. That’s because they hired your product or service to do a job for them, that they desire to do. It’s the outcome of the job your Customers want, not the relationship.
Also from a company’s perspective, a relationship with your Customers is not what you need most. You need most to understand what job it is your Customers are trying to get done. Company’s can do that without any relationship with Customers at all. If the relationship with Customers was required no start-up would be able to make it in this world. Fortunately they do.
Where CRM focused on the Customer – company relationship, a Social CRM strategy will only succeed if it centers around ALL of your Customers’ relationships.
And here’s why:
Because a Customer does not value a relationship with the company, but mostly values the outcome generated from the experience of using your product or service, it should not be difficult to understand that Customers value knowledge or information on how to improve that outcome, over relationships (with the company). Even if the company is involved in providing this knowledge, it is not the interaction or relationship, but the actual knowledge or outcome of the interaction that is of value to your Customer.
We all understand and experience ourselves every day that the Social Customer does not depend on the company for knowledge or information. Moreover Customers turn to peers in their networks to obtain this information, or to rating sites, Customer support communities and what have you. And all this information is valued higher than the information a company provides.
Hence, in the era of the Social Customer, after understanding your Customers’ needs, you may want to better understand how your Customers leverage ALL their relationships (strong and weak ties) and other ways of tapping into the knowledge-flows that matter to them, to obtain the information they need to increase the value they get from the products and services they use.
Social Customer Relationship Management is not about managing the relationships with your Customers, it is (increasingly) about managing the knowledge-flows through the relationships of your Customers. And yes, you as a company maybe part of this eco-system of your Customers’ relationships. But please, don’t put yourself at the center of it..