The Social Employee and CRM Incentive Plans


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How do we reward employees who engage the Social Customer?

The Social Employee and CRM Incentive Plans….one of the many things I’ve struggled to wrap my mind around over the past few years. The “customer-centric” way of business really poses a number of challenges related to employee incentives. How is loyalty measured and can that be translated into something that fits in a “quota”? Quota’s are generally placed into the business calendar as monthly or quarterly goals that need to be met by an employee.

Of course, this approach generally applies to resources that directly execute tactics designed to generate incremental receipt of actual dollars. You can go after dollars, touch dollars, or at least see them on paper…and know when they arrived.

However, there is a larger customer-facing workforce that certainly has a significant impact customer loyalty; especially in the Social CRM era. The sales resource may only have a limited role here. Keeping customers loyal, not just satisfied, can require significant efforts from customer service personnel, and yes, the marketing department. These are the Social Employees. Heck, according to some, it may even be from other customers…if you provide the right engagement platforms.

So, doesn’t it make sense that in the era of Social CRM, it’s time for us to explore not just ways to track customer loyalty, but also to design incentive programs that work with these metrics and reward the Social Employee? The fact that many of us do not see these programs in our current CRM client base suggests that helping our clients change the way they look at incentives is going to be a daunting task. Another key question will be how we convince our clients that using periodic profit and loss statements may no longer get the job done when competing for loyalty?

I talked about this issue a little bit in my post aboutcustomer accounting. Some marketers have been on top of this issue for quite some time. In many of the companies I’ve seen, the relationship between marketing and sales has been so disjointed that it was difficult to know if a particular campaign, or message, turned into dollars. So, the only way to track success was to come up with a separate approach to understanding loyalty. It’s not a dollar you will see arriving in the period you predicted. It’s really about a change in relationships over time that increases the factors you use to measure lifetime value of the customer.

Sales organizations are already finding it frustrating to correlate any social initiatives with sales. That’s not surprising. How might you track your Twitter activity against your sales goal for next quarter? I’m sure there are genius’ out there working on ways to tie Twitter users into your contact database so you can track messages and say “Hey, looky here. I twitted to him last quarter and he bought something.” How do you actually forecast when Social CRM is all about reacting to the customer’s “control of the conversation”?

Well, you can’t.

At least not the traditional way. At this level, doesn’t it need to become a set of behaviors and reactions that are tested and tweaked until you get the desired change in customer loyalty? Not just one customer, but all customers? Your engagement with the social customer, individually, is not going to be measureable in the same ways as the traditional hunting techniques. Sure, active sales prospecting is still going to happen, but still, how do we incent others (and the sales force) to adopt the behaviors required to evolve a business to the social side and with a focus on customer value?

If you believe that Social CRM is a key component to increasing customer lifetime value, then traditional compensation models are not going to work anymore. Here’s one example. Let’s say you believe that the value of the customer is directly proportional to the challenge of selling to them. Makes sense right? Well, what happens when the end of the quarter is approaching and Joe Salesman hasn’t reached his incentive level? He goes for the quick sale. Now if the value of the customer is proportional to the challenge of the sale, what did you just get? You’re efforts have just been sabotaged.

It’s going to be important in the era of the social customer (and the social employee) to bring the entire organization under a new compensation model. Once you develop it, and you learn to account for value, it will be a snap to incorporate those employees that haven’t traditionally been a part of the incentive program. Imagine the employee loyalty you can generate from that!

I’m not an incentive expert and have just begun to get a grip on the challenges our customers face in this area. I would love to hear your thoughts on how we can measure value in the Social CRM era, and more importantly, how we can use this to incent our sales organization and other players in the social customer engagement game. So here are my questions:

  1. How do you measure customer lifetime value or changes in customer lifetime value?
  2. How do you tie this in to incentive programs for various parts of the organization?
  3. How do you get your clients to discover the importance of this change?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.


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