Two Social CRM Confusions You Can Live Without

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For those of you who are not CRM thought leaders, academics or social media companies trying to invade the CRM space, I’d like to hit the reset button and explain a few things – hopefully in terms that the average business person (who’s creating value) can understand.  I’m am not a thought leader, or a big thinker, so I’ve had to burn some brain calories on this one to get the conversation back on track.

Business is business is business is business is business. Smart businesses have always known that a great customer experience is the best value driver. And delivering that kind of experience comes from knowing your customer’s needs.  The companies that are able to determine customer needs (and here’s a great paper on the subject I got from @GrahamHill) are in the best position innovate and grow.

To be a customer-centric business, you have to ask questions, listen, adapt and execute based on what you learn from your customers’ changing needs. As soon as you begin assuming you know what they need, or misinterpret what they’re telling you, you will be at the mercy of competitors that get it. This is nothing new. Slapping Social or Co in front of existing terms will never change that. It simply muddies a message that is simple and powerful – deliver value to your customer in a way that delivers value back to you.

If you don’t get that, then all the terms, definitions and new social software tools will simply accelerate your demise or weaken your competitive position – in my opinion

Confusion # 1: Social CRM is the Replacement For CRM

Sure, no one is happy with where CRM went. It fell right into the arms of the software vendors -  oh so many years ago. But, forward thinking evangelists like Paul Greenberg have done a lot to shift that momentum. He, and others, were talking about customer-centric business strategy (as CRM) a long time ago. To them, CRM was not a platform, it was a program – the difference being that the platform is technology designed to support the program – e.g. an initiative.

As new avenues have been created on the Internet for customers to take some control back from inside-out thinking companies, a shrill cry is in the air that the new Social CRM will replace CRM as both a strategy and a platform. image People – listen up. I understand why everyone is excited. But really, assuming that this social stuff is going to magically change inside-out business cultures to outside-in? That’s just not going to happen! What will really happen is something akin to what happened when unscrupulous marketers realized how cheap email delivery was.

It’s also what happened when CRM vendors told you their software had best practices built into it. Just install it and your wildest dreams will come true (taken from Napoleon Dynamite without permission)

We need to realize the CRM 2.0 (social) is a new version with some new pieces – both as a business strategy and ultimately as software (it ain’t there yet). You will not understand the needs of your customer simply using social tools no matter how many times a social media evangelist says it. If you’re not already having direct conversations with your customers (interviews, surveys, golf outings, happy hour, whatever) then bolting on this social stuff will just frustrate you in the long run – maybe even the short run,

But, this does give us a great opportunity to go back to our clients and help them see the benefits of customer-centricity. If we start talking about social this and social that, they could very well just run away. Let’s take this back to basics please. And software vendors, please understand that we will sell your software, we’re just going to to do things in the proper order, so step back and enjoy the ride! :)

Confusion # 2: “Value” is Now Co-Creation of Value (In Use rather than In Exchange)

OK. You lost me when you added the “Co” on the front. I didn’t bother listening to “creation” or “in use” etc etc. Seriously, what the heck does this mean?! What is this discussion all about? The best definition I’ve seen to date was in Paul Greenberg’s new book (CRM at the Speed of Light 4th Edition) where he simply gave an example of the game Doom. I don’t have time to tell the story here. Read the book, it’s excellent!

When we start debating at which point value exists defeats the purpose of nearly everything (for me, maybe not you). When I sell something to someone, assuming I’ve met their needs (and exceeded their expectations), I’ve created value and I’ve received compensation for it. Maybe you depreciate the value as you use it (if it wears out – like a car), but I started with value and I continue to have value as long as I can put it to use. Suggesting that value is “co-created” by the consumer as they use it is a waste of time (in what I do). I don’t even understand that. I made it after all (the car) so they are not creating value, I AM! They are deriving value from it – for certain. Does the “co” mean that I helped create value? How, I’m not driving the car with them?!?

If you’ve listened well, you will increase customer value by delivering value (not just when they use it, when they salivate for it) to your customer. In turn you will see your shareholder value increase. Simple.

Anyway, this topic keeps coming up in the conversations around customer experience and CRM (and Social CRM) and simply frustrates me that we have to get so granular with a piece of the CRM pie when overall, most businesses don’t have the culture to give hoot about it. So, let’s focus on the fundamentals of outside-in thinking and cultural change. If things get going really good for your business and you have lot’s of free time, invent a board game called “Redefining Words For Family Fun Time.”  It’s perfect for late evening entertainment – especially when you’ve been drinking.

What This Post Is Not About

  1. This post is not bashing Social CRM (although I still like CRM 2.0 because it’s next next version of CRM with new features). In fact, I agree that while our customers expectations have always needed to be well understood, and exceeded, they have much more control over the way they buy now, and how they decide to buy as well. That doesn’t change the fundamentals in any way shape or form. It’s a facet of the customer ecosystem that any business that listens and adapts has probably been dealing with for some time now.  Revelation: your customers talk about you behind your back, and now they have megaphones. Deal with it.
  2. It’s not about bashing the discussion of value. Value is key. It’s one thing we should be measuring instead of actual sales vs. quota by month,  The question is what we’re measuring. Sure, value is created along the entire (value) chain. But we need deal with this in terms that Barney Fife would understand.  Let’s not cloud the real customer-centric mission here.

I believe all businesses will have to embrace some realities of the social customer going forward. Some more than others. It depends on your customers, after all, and that’s really what CRM has always been about.

I’m sure I got this all wrong, so please set me straight by continuing the conversation below.  Otherwise, just tell me how awesome I am. If too many people give me a thumbs down, I will have to turn my rating system off. Transparency in action folks.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

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