The Ultimate Social CRM Question


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What Does the “s” Mean in  sCRM?

Did you notice anything? I used a lowercase “s” because it’s time for the hype to be over (I didn’t come up with it – but saw it on Twitter). It’s time to start putting the social extensions to traditional CRM into place. There’s really no reason to keep talking about the social customer anymore either. Why? Because we all know that our friends, family, vendors, prospects and customers do more than email. So, what are we going to do about it?

I’ve got an idea!

Instead of creating completely ridiculous new interfaces that completely ignore the continuing realities of complete businesses – and not just the individual sales or marketing or service faces – why doesn’t someone create something that takes into consideration the jobs we still have to do – and give it to us where we’re already doing it? Why can’t more traditional interfaces be enhanced to incorporate engagement channels that we are all using beyond email, phone and the face to face stuff?

Watching some of the stuff that’s been developed is frustrating because they tend to trample all over the outside-in approach to solving problems. They take a little piece of technology and try to build the world around it. Wouldn’t it be so much nicer if the jobs we do were simply enhanced? Even if we’re not completely outside-in, can’t we slowly draw people and businesses down that path by extending their reach to places they could never reach before?

I’m ready to throw away my Twitter client

The problem with these things is that I don’t really have time to spend on them. The hacks and workarounds for monitoring what’s important to me has a problem. There is no simple way to monitor the people I want to, when I should be monitoring them and where I should be monitoring them – or engaging them. I can’t be in multiple places at once – MY JOB HASN’T CHANGED!

  • No, I don’t want to create a stack for each person.
  • Yes, I do want it to be in context.
  • No, I don’t want to use yet another service that purports to weight the importance of my contacts – outside the context for my complete relationship with them.
  • Yes, I do want to engage them in the social world but I need to see everything else in our relationship – and it would be nice to know what they’re talking about without me as well (without yet another service!)

I’m looking for the solution that extends the big CRM with a little bit of “s” and not the other way around. You can’t run a business on social, so why do so many entrepreneurs continue to make the same mistakes over and over. Here’s the answer – they forgot about the jobs we’re already doing to support our business strategies (whatever they are, good or bad).  It’s time to get with the program. What are the existing CRM vendors doing that really gets it? Is there anything coming down pike that’s new, yet respects the jobs we already do?

I’m sure there is.  ;-) I’m waiting eagerly – waiting for that someone who has figured out what that little “s” stands for.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


  1. Hi Mike

    An interesting and insightful post.

    I have spent most of the last 15 months working with a client to develop a disruptive campaign management solution together with a major mobil telco client. Working from the principle that the majority of users don’t use the majority of features in existing campaign management systems, yet still have to pay through the nose for them, we developed a solution that does 100% of what telco campaign managers want at only 30% of the traditional cost to the telco.

    The project started by looking in detail at the jobs campaign managers were trying to do and the outcomes they were trying to achieve by doing them. Talking to campaign managers about their jobs and outcomes, about how they struggled to do them with their existing tools and about what they wanted tools to be able to do to help them provided priceless insights. The insights allowed us to cut through the traditional requirements ‘christmas list’ to just focus on the core; those jobs that are the bread and butter for the campaign managers. The jobs they need to do to create the most value in the market.

    Much of the software in the market that we looked at at the begining of the project was developed not on the basis of users jobs and outcomes, but on the basis of the ‘vision’ of the founder. Often the vision was based around solving core user problems, but over the years, the software took on a life of its own. A life that left users far behind. It was no longer trying to help users to do their jobs more efficiently and effectively, but trying to get the users to do new jobs that they don’t really need to do. And that often don’t create any value for anyone other than the software maker.

    Most of the SocCRM applications that I have looked at do not exhibit any deep understanding of how users do or could use social tools to help them do their jobs more effectively, let alone about how customers might use them to do jobs. Instead, they are based around trying to pursuade users and customers to do new, not always value-adding jobs. Another opportunity to develops oftware fit for users and for customers is being squandered in the rush to just get something out in the market.

    Graham Hill
    Customer-centric Innovator
    Follow me on Twitter

    Interested in Customer Driven Innovation? Join the Customer Driven Innovation groups on LinkedIn or Facebook to learn more.

  2. Mike,

    Over the past year, we have all had lots of conversations about what the “Social” is about. We are far from consensus, to each his own. With respect to the Social Customer, I will keep talking about aspects of that concept that make sense to my clients who are interested, as they ask. We are having a healthy debate about that on my last post, apologies if I am not going to debate it here. But, we have had the debate, 90% of the business folks have not even had the conversation.

    This is not a one size fits all problem. We all hear different problems from people, depending upon who we speak with. Example: I have been talking with real life sales people, who are spending a lot of time researching prospects, trying to connect the dots, going from interface, to website, to different interface. They find almost no use from the CRM application they are using. The reason: CRM is built for their management, not them. This is partially reality, and partially perception (which is their reality). What I have seen from up and coming applications is focusing on the jobs these people need to get done. This is only one example.

    I have made my opinions pretty obvious, no need to repeat them all hear. I typically write Social CRM as scrm – keeping it all small. We do not need big command and control crm any more than we need a big ‘s’. It is about the people and process first. I have been advocating about thinking first (and I get beat up for that too).


    Mitch Lieberman
    President and CEO
    Comity Technology Advisors

  3. Mitch,

    To me, CRM platforms are used to address the entire front office of a business. The entire business – workflow, information flow, work process – is supported by the CRM platform and various other utilities like process automation engines, back office to front office integrations, etc.

    To suggest that it is command and control is to simply focus on the Sales Force Automation piece. This is not a debate about command and control over customer centric business design. The tool must support the jobs that are being done and those jobs are being done to support the overall goals of the business – whether they be inside out or outside in in execution.

    The problem is this – you can focus on social this and social that. It makes no difference. If you understand what needs to be done then you will understand the supporting players needed. In most cases, I have to extend the capabilities of a “solution” to meet the needs of a customer. Sometimes, frankly, the tools I’m given to make this easy.

    Here’s the deal: My job is to work with my clients, develop solutions, deliver them and also to stay actively engaged in my community of professional peers – so I can stay sharp. Jumping from LinkedIn, to Facebook, to this Twitter client and that contact importance measurement tool is ridiculous. I simply don’t have time. I need a concise solution all in one place – preferably the place where I already am.

    To take your salesperson analogy. Guess what, they are subject to the oversight of their managers. They need to get used to it. Managers, your salespeople need the tools to engage or research prospects and customers where the info and conversations are taking place – get used to it and deliver a solution that fulfills the job requirement.

    Management: what is it you really need? Do you really need to tick and tote every phone call your reps are making? Are you still on a quota based incentive system? You are? Then salespeople, get used to it. If not, then let’s talk about how to collect information and measure performance of your customers instead of your sales people so they’re not rushing for the low hanging fruit at the end of the quarter.

    It’s about the job. Today, for the most part, the incentives are driving the solutions we have seen. That’s the job of the salesperson, sell. But, you are correct, the game is changing for them and my entire point was this …..

    I still have to do my job. It is what it is (for now). But the playing field has changed – so in fact, the job has changed because of it. So, give me the information I need to do my new job but don’t forget about the old part of the job. Just because there’s a social web doesn’t mean the rest of jobs in my company have changed. We’re still doing them. The solutions we have may or may not work. But, don’t try to tell me that a Sales 2.0 silo’d solution is going to replace my CRM system. It currently runs my entire business. Extend what I have so my employees can engage and collaborate, internally externally.

    I’m rambling. Too early in the morning. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

    Mike Boysen
    Effective CRM

  4. Radical change always takes time — and sometimes the “new new thing” peters out before it ever takes hold. Discussing how social media is changing the buying process and how companies need to change to more “flat,” outside-in organizations are for sure interesting discussion topics – but very few organizations are actually making these changes yet (and many may never make these changes)– Alas, we still live in a world where the hierarchical, departmental approach to running a company is the norm.

    In the real world, companies are using traditional marketing, sales force automation and CRM technologies. These tools don’t support an organization that wishes to become a more flat, outside-in organization. Although these traditional CRM vendors are trying to “bolt” social functionality into their solutions, these hybrid tools just don’t cut it in the new social world.

    Brand new social tools for marketing and sales have to try to find a happy medium between the old and new (more social) way of doing things… why the tightrope? There just isn’t a big enough market yet for radically new sCRM tools.

    Right now, we are in a “chicken and egg” syndrome. Social media, communities, collaboration et al. are radically changing the way people buy… but businesses and the technology tools available to them haven’t offered a new compelling way to sell.

  5. Mike,

    You already know I agree with you about the lower case ‘s’ in #sCRM as I have been using a little ‘s’ in my #sCRM posts since I joined the #sCRM conversation.

    I also agree that the right #sCRM solution does not need to abandon the basic structure/model of relationship management that I helped pioneer 20 years ago with GoldMine. That is, business revolves around relationships. A contact record that has items pending and items completed. You can see what’s pending and who is going to do it and what’s been done and who has done it. These items scheduled can be tasks, events, opportunities, support items ect. Connected to that contact record is all email and calendar activities.

    What changes is now you need all #SocialMedia unified too. It’s not that complicated. The devils in the details and the UI. It’s hard for existing products to “strap-on” Social and call it #sCRM. Some people call that ‘Lipstick on a Pig’ but i won’t go there… It helps if you start with a blank slate and build this dream #sCRM system from the ground up. Start with the traditional CRM paradigm and unify #Social and #Collaboration throughout.

    Then you can be #Nimble!




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