When you take a look at the picture below, what do you see? Do you see an older woman, or a younger woman? In case you have not seen this picture before, they are both there, trust me. OK, what is the relevance? The realization I have come to, and it is likely that others are there ahead of me, is that much (not all) of the debate regarding definitions – nit-picking words is simply due to our own myopic perspectives.
When an experienced marketer, social marketer, CMO or someone within traditional public relations looks at Social CRM, what do you/they see? I suspect, based on what I have been reading for the past year, is they see an old school system that is going to suck the life out of modern, cool, hip and social marketing efforts. When the more traditional information technologist, CIO, or 15 year CRM veteran looks at Social CRM and they see the young beauty – something that will finally breath life into what CRM was supposed to be 15 years ago – Customer Centric. There are a spectrum of perspectives, I chose only two, to illustrate my point. We need to bring these perspectives into alignment, and stop trying to prove we are right.
Know Your Audience and Lead them to Success
When someone tries to explain what Social CRM is, it often starts with a definition, followed by a talk about what it is, or does, surrounded by a few examples or case studies. Looking objectively at this, if the audience is mixed, then each person may leave the discussion with a very different idea of what exactly is Social CRM. The unfortunate truth is that within each organization there will be a bit of battle surrounding who should own this new “Social CRM” initiative. Before many people work to understand what is in it for their customers, they are likely going to ask “What is in it for me?”, sorry, tell me I am wrong. Friend and colleague Graham Hill wrote a post about 9 months ago: Who Should Own Social CRM? Graham suggests the following:
“In a business new to social CRM, this may be a disparate social network of individuals doing their own thing across the business. A self-organising group with no formal authority, but a lot of social authority. In a slightly more advanced business it might be a cross-functional team formed specifically to look at Social CRM and containing many of the earlier social network. Further on it might be a formal Social CRM Coordinator given the role, responsibility and authority to promote Social CRM across the business. In some organisations, it might even be the Chief Customer Officer (although organisations have a few hoops to jump through before they get that far!).”
Maybe you should figure out first what Social means to you
Another friend and colleague, Esteban Kolsky spoke about Social Business and specifically, he keyed in on the word ‘Social’. You can find the full post here, but, my biggest takeaway is that we all need to figure out what Social means to our business, then we can figure out what Social CRM is and who should own it. My favorite line is “Social is not about Kumbayah”, ok, that is what it is not, but, what is it?:
“Social is about leveraging the customer willingness to work with us, as a business, to achieve better products, better services and have better relationships. Social is about collaborating in a win-win environment where both customer and business achieve maximum value in each and every interaction, regardless of how it was planned and executed.”
This description does not force social efforts into one department. The ownership, in my opinion is by the business, for the business. We all need to be able to view the topics from other parts of the organization, as well as here in the blogosphere, other disciplines. What is your perspective? Have you been guilty of looking at this from only one perspective, and are willing to share?
I penned a post yesterday, on the CRMOutsiders, blog titled Are all Interactions Social Interaction? The post was a little more sarcastic than my usual rants and I think it caught a few folks who do not know me a bit off guard. I start the post with the following:
“SugarCRM is holding its annual customer, developer and partner conference, April 12-14, in San Francisco. The venue is the cool Palace Hotel. It is going to be a great event, with some really great presenters, panelists, as well as an awesome evening event at the California Academy of Sciences.”
I went on further to suggest that I did a little bit of a ‘bait and switch’. I even posed a question to myself: “is what I did appropriate?” My idea was to draw people in with a topic intended to create some conversation, but was it really a marketing message in disguise? – not a very Social thing to do. The post was prompted by a question posed by Bob Thompson, the CEO of CustomerThink. The question is: “Can you do Social CRM without Social Media/Networks?” In order to answer that question, first the question of what determines if an interaction is a Social interaction needs to be answered.
Is every Interaction a Social Interaction?
The conclusion I reached, possibly prematurely, is “No” not every interaction is a Social Interaction. The post did have some back and forth with people willing to share their thoughts. I may need to retract my conclusion, or at least alter it. It it not really binary, it is a continuum, and there are degrees of social. Phil Soffer, Vice President of Product Marketing at Lithium Technologies wrote a great post which I think gets to the heart of the matter. Phil suggests the following:
“a more rigorous definition of the forms that Social CRM interaction takes. I’m not talking about channels here: Facebook versus Twitter, or whatever. I’m talking more about norms and expectations that govern the interaction.”
Phil went on the discuss the Typology of Social CRM Sociability. I agree with the concept, and even some of the specifics. I would like add a bit to this and state the following, the intent of an interaction speaks much more to the Sociability than the channel used. I can broadcast a commercial on YouTube, do nothing but send spam links on Twitter just as easily as I can pick up the phone or send an email to a group of people – which is Social which is not?
The 6 Degrees of Social Interactions
Here are examples of the 6 Degrees of Social Interactions from the Customer perspective. Since this is a continuum, as you progress from 1-6, the characteristics suggest that the customer is becoming a Social Customer.
- I said what I am said, really not hoping for a response, just action – monologue
- I am talking, hoping for acknowledgment, not necessarily a response, but might be nice – venting
- We are talking, but the conversation is a bit one sided – skewed
- I am actively asking for information, will not be happy until I get it – social pressure
- We are engaged in a conversation and others may join in to push things forward – objective
- A community of conversations Many to Many – icing on the cake
Here are examples of the 6 Degrees of Social Interaction from the Business’s Perspective. Since this is a continuum, as you progress from 1-6, the characteristics suggest that the Business is becoming a Social Business.
- Here is my press release, look at me – broadcast
- Register and Download my whitepaper – broadcast with bait
- We are listening, but I am really waiting to talk – pretending
- We are blogging and hoping the message makes it out untarnished – comment, nicely please
- The Facebook Fanpage is set up, I hope everyone is nice – <fingers crossed>
- A community of conversations Many to Many – objective
Is 6 Degrees enough? Probably not, the title sounded cool though. This is analog, not digital. How does this play into Social CRM and answering Bob’s question? Share your thoughts, mine are still gelling and I will share my thoughts in my next post. The short answer is yes, Social CRM can be done without Social Media/Networks, because Social CRM is as much about culture and other soft – but important – change management ideas.
People are the fuel that makes the Social Engine run
Remember, that the Social Engine is my own metaphor for what drives Social Business. My objective is not to cram the word “Social” into the first paragraph as many times as possible, it just looks that way. Social is top of mind, and many people are simply trying to put it all together. So, how about this – I have my networks, my media, I talk about CRM, and I do business with people (left that overused word out). Whether you are talking about Collaboration, Relationships, Knowledge Flows, Engagement, Expectations…It all comes down to people. At the core, Social simply means sharing with other people, in the digital sense, it is done in the open.
“People are the platform”
I wish I could take credit for that statement. Proper attribution goes to Michael Fauscette from IDC. We both attended the #scrmsummit last week in Washington, DC. The statement is not some esoteric, bigger than life hyperbole. It is quite simple really. You cannot have any of these things without people. A Social Business employs people, just as a Social Customer is reliant upon people. A Social Business is one that recognizes the amplification effect – the amplification of value by continuously meeting (or exceeding) the dynamic expectations of the social customer. If you do a good job, other people will hear it. As we are all well aware the converse is certainly true as well.
Co-Creation takes people
Co-creation is another one of those terms which seems overly complex, people throw it around, seem to be scared by it. Paul Greenberg reminded everyone that is does NOT have to be complicated. Friend Wim Rampen writes about it often. I will be honest, it is a term that has scared me. I will give a simplistic example, surely to be corrected (but write and learn right?). Say you are at the local Pizza joint and you select a few cool toppings from the ‘make your own’ section. You also suggest a new topping, say Pineapple. The restaurant does not have Pinneapple, but makes note of it. As it turns out, when talking to other patrons, Pinneapple is an ingredient that is more popular than they thought. Within a week, the restaurant not only adds the ingredient to the menu, but offer a special rate of a pre-made pizza that has Pinneapple as a topping.
Relationships with people generate value
Wim Rampen wrote a great post on this topic a few weeks ago, along with some great dialog and conversation after the post. My favorite theme is that Customers (People) do not value a relationship with a company, rather the outcomes that can be generated by such a relationship. The one addition I make here is that it may be not only customers, but potential customers, influencers, partners and communities (groups of people). Strong, value driven relationships are crucial components for the fuel that drives a Social Business.
Communities are a critical component
So, if I say that people are the fuel, then communities are increasing the Octane content. This is very well stated by friend Michael Krigsman, in his post Social CRM and enterprise business:
“Social CRM recognizes that current technologies enable customers spontaneously to form large, ad hoc interest groups at remarkable, sometimes even viral, speed”.
Esteban Kolsky commented here that these “impromptu communities” are going to help “advance social CRM faster by not worrying about the channels (Facebook, Twitter, Forums) and focus on the behaviors and data.” I will extend Esteban’s comments and say this is beyond Social CRM, but will help fuel the value derived by all members of the ecosystem for any particular Social Business.
People have experiences, and they matter
There are many factors which drive experience. I am not going to call it customer experience, as the Social Business it needs to go beyond the customer. Customer Experience Management is nearly an entire discipline, one that I try to be well read, but tepid to weigh in strongly on. I will speak more from a logical viewpoint, people enjoy (or not) an experience on a relative scale. The scale is based upon their expectations. Esteban recently wrote a post, where we did not comment enough, so we did not meet his expectations. I am not a customer of Esteban, but we work in the same ecosystem. I am using this to simply illustrate the point that experience within a Social Business happens many many ways, beyond just product and service. By the way, he wrote a second post, just about expectations (I took the bait there). ‘Meeting’ or ‘Exceeding’ is an interesting conversation, for my purposes here, there is a bar, you need to get over it. Where the bar is placed changes, and ‘it depends’.
Are people a new kind of fuel?
No, of course not, just one we have not been leveraging very well. Why, because people are passionate, if they are not, they want to be, and we want them to be passionate. John Hagel wrote a nice post “Shifting Identities – From Consumer to Network Creator“. It is a post worth reading for sure. Again, the title sounds a bit complex, but it is not really. The post talks about many things, the last part focuses on the mounting pressures at work. Unfortunately, not many employees are passionate, this will become a problem for Social Businesses. As a business, you will need to encourage employees to find passion, otherwise people will struggle to cope with the pressures.. By the integration of personal and professional lives people will be able to become passionate and passion shines through.
We are Social, we are people and when we all truly recognize that, we will be able to realize a Social Business. Is this a change in business culture, probably…your thoughts?
A friend asked an innocent question on Twitter a while back. “Who has a good B2B iPhone app? Anyone?”. In typical fashion, I Tweeted, then thought (the reverse order is usually recommended). My response “The actual phone part, where I dial and talk, best B2B part of the iPhone! ” This is probably not what she had in mind, hope I did not offend; though it did get me thinking. B2B, or B2C, that is the question. What is the difference?
I put my thoughts away for a while, thinking that I was just not getting to where I wanted it to be. Then this post appeared this morning. The context is that some brands express concerns about using Social Media. There was one section which caught my eye, related to the topic at hand:
There is no difference between B2B and B2C - This one drives me crazy. What is the difference between B2B efforts and B2C efforts? Nothing other than the target and the message. We are all consumers at some point in the day unless you are that famous young cult hero thief, Colton Harris, living in the woods. The person you are trying to influence to buy is a person and a consumer. The only thing that needs to change in your efforts is your message not the platform. Again, quality messages lead to quality fans/followers/friends/connections, all of whom can help you to build you(r) Influence Stream.
I commented and suggested that there are few nuances, and that Social Media is a platform, with many channels. Funny, they have the same conversations as we do in CRM – but I digress. Getting past that, there are some great points here, worth exploring. Has the Social Individual, whether it is for business, or personal become the Social Customer – period!
If you put this in the context of one of those selling seminars we have all taken at one time or another, some interesting things pop out. As a buyer, people are more likely to trust someone who they feel is an ‘expert’ – oh and someone they know. In the eyes of the buyer, the seller must display professionalism, an understanding of the need, empathy. Finally, the seller needs to understand what is in it for them, the buyer, personally. OK, am I talking about a personal consumer, or a business consumer? Does it matter?
Even (Especially?) in a Business to Business environment, there is a significant emotional component to the sale. Do not take my word for it, there are many others smarter than me saying so. So, if you combine that with my post – Social Just Is – what do you end up with? People buying from people – people who are like them, have similar values and people they trust. The emotions might be different, but so what?
OK – so that is a bit of sales, not really touching on CRM. One of the best posts recently on the topic of Social ‘this and that’ (CRM, Business, Media) is by Esteban Kolsky. I am not sure if Esteban intended this or not, but a wonderful part of the post is what is not there; is it meant for a Business to Business audience or a Business to Consumer audience? He does not specify – because he does not need to specify. The lines are blurred.
So, such is life in the age of things move really really fast. As I was preparing to simply post this, a mostly stream of consciousness set of connected thoughts, Graham Hill, a person I have the utmost respect for posted a comment on my Posterous Blog Feel free to take a look (last comment), but my take is that the relationship side of B2B versus B2C is most definitely not the same. Will have to explore that one later.
Back to a quick conclusion: Sure, your strategy needs to consider what you actually sell. Assess what channel makes the most sense, I know that. But the end-game is the same in the decision on strategy. What are your thoughts? Where else has the consumer market had a significant impact on business purchases and how is Social ‘this and that’ a part of it?
Before my peers from the Accidental Community slap me silly because of the technology focus of this post, I completely get that any Enterprise initiative, especially CRM, is People, Process, then technology. The focal point here is that the people and process do need a supporting infrastructure in order to truly provide Social CRM. For the purposes herein, Social CRM will use the Paul Greenberg definition:
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.
A friend and collaborator Prem Kumar Aparanji (@prem_k) has put together a initial take (with good explanation), from an architectural footing, and my objective is to take that one step further. Even as I write, Esteban Kolsky, someone whom I have the utmost respect, has written the history of the world (CRM world), which is an important read. What is important to note, is that as time passes, we are all diving in a little deeper. It is too easy to “wax poetic” at the 50,000 foot level, but we need to help figure out exactly how to do the things we are talking about. Prem even did a little crystal gazing and wrote the prequel to this post Enterprise 2.0 v SocialCRM – Fight or Tango (thanks Prem) – the answer is… down a few paragraphs….
The core of my suggestion:
There is no reason to reinvent the wheel and as technology advances we (business leaders in the CRM arena) should absolutely take advantage of it. There is also no reason, therefore, to ignore the great work being done in the Enterprise 2.0 arena. I am a huge fan of Dion Hinchcliffe – not just one of his posts, a great many of them (cool graphics too). Especially interesting to me are a few recent posts: the August 18, 2009 (Using social software to reinvent the customer relationship)
The elimination of decades of inadequate communication channels will suddenly unleash a tide of many opportunities, as well as challenges, for most organizations.
and September 2, 2009 (Enterprise 2.0 Finding success on the frontiers of social business).
….there is something fundamentally unique and powerful about social computing. Though not all uses of social tools result in rapid adoption or instant results, those that establish an early network effect can and do push existing IT systems
Finally, Dion also spoke of a crucial component of making it all work, citing him one last time (today) the Data obviously a crucial element; August 5, 2009 (The future of enterprise data in a radically open and Web-based world)
Exposing data — whether it is internally within an organization or outside to partners, or even the whole world — is a way of thinking about the very nature of the business, more than it is about achieving a one-off end goal. This is because open data seems to create immediate, close, and powerful relationships between the publisher and the consumer of the data, and leads to a series of unexpected outcomes.
(I thought about posting his great artwork here, but that would not be proper and would not do the articles justice, so take a look when you have a few minutes.)
Here is my line of thinking – Enterprise 2.0, by definition is “the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers.” Andrew McAfee, May 2006 and given the definition of Social CRM above, should it be such a leap to suggest that in order to truly engage the customer, we should invite them into our Enterprise? What better tool set to do this than Enterprise 2.0 tools?
There are lots of very smart people who can solve the technical challenges which will certainly arise – security, access control – just two of I am sure a dozen more. The larger challenges will certainly be on the people and process side – you know, that 80% of the real effort. If we are truly going to be ‘Transparent‘, and foster ‘Trust‘, in addition to one of my friend Graham’s favorite topics Co-Create then we need to treat the customers and partners like family, and invite them into our home.
Graham’s article is certainly worth reading in its entirety, here is one of the key points:
Use just enough collaborative social technologies – Technologies, particularly those that support ‘social networks’, provide the backbone for collaboration between a companies and increasingly, with customers. This doesn’t mean a technology-first approach. But it does mean selecting the right technologies (and only the right ones) to enable effortless collaboration. (0ne of 11 bulleted points which are part of the article, seemed fitting for inclusion here)
In order to accomplish these goals, we really need to think of the customer as an extension of the Enterprise
As we invite the customers into the Enterprise, into our home, it is no longer an ‘us’ and ‘them’ – Customers are no longer managed, rather data is managed, analyzed to and for the benefit of the customer, the company and greater good – Customers are embraced.
It is not about technology, but about the best use of technology. It is not about the platform, but about the people who are the platform (how web 2.0 of me). It is not about one vendor either (I work for a vendor, full disclosure), it is about a solution that can provide the ROI and validation that Enterprise 2.0 is looking for – let’s call it Social CRM.
I do like how Esteban ends his blogs - “OK, I am done now. Let’s open the floodgates of criticism and praise.”
When my kids were very young, we played a little game while on long car rides. ‘Let’s make different animal sounds ‘ We would joke with them that if the back seat were very quiet, that “there must be a giraffe in the car” as the misconception goes (more on that near the end), a giraffe does not make any notable sounds. It was also a bit of trick to quiet the car, as silence during a long trips is sacrosanct.
For modern businesses, customer silence is not a good sign. As the data points below suggest interaction and conversation are extremely important. My question to group is, how can/should SocialCRM facilitate a change? A study by the Strategic Planning Institute (I do not have access to the original work) suggests the following:
- The average business does not receive complaints from 96% of its unhappy customers;
- At least 9 out of 10 non-complainers will not do business with the company again – they are gone forever;
- Of the 4% of unhappy customers that do complain, 7 out of 10 will do business again with the company so long as their concern in handled properly, and 19 out of 20 if the grievance is dealt with swiftly.
Without the original study, I may need to take a couple ‘leaps of faith’ or rely upon others who have read the original study in order to push the conversation. We can therefore consider this more a of qualitative discussion, versus pure quantitative.
Kevin Lawrence (2000) author, speaker, and business building coach suggests “Businesses encounter real problems far more often because customers don’t complain, and the absence of customer complaints is usually a bad sign” as they don’t feel comfortable voicing their concerns or not enough is being done to obtain their feedback. He believes that “If people feel that they are being listened to, understood and valued, they will usually give you a second chance”. (reference)
The real question now is how can Social Media, or more importantly, the combination of Social Media and CRM – aka SocialCRM alter the basic behavior? I believe that it can, but the path the customer takes may not always be the path we would like. We used to have a saying at work, called “Brave behind email” This is a person, you know the type, often sending damning emails, full of finger pointing, emotion and a couple of loosely tied facts – oh, their boss was either copied, or worse BCC. But meet them face-to-face and they are as nice as can be, all smiles.
In the current world, the new (or alternative to) ‘brave behind email’ is Facebook, Twitter, Blogs or YouTube. In the social realm people are more empowered (they feel it, they act it). Does this empowerment remove the barrier to confrontation? My take is that while it does not remove the barrier, it does allow people to make their opinion known by a very vocal, but more indirect means – Social Media.
There is no doubt that for the 4%, good CRM practices, listening, acting quickly showing empathy will indeed help companies to continue to work with that 4%, but that is a small number. The real benefit is to get to the 96% and alter their thinking, how can SocialCRM help there? Do you think that within the 96% some subset are actually now going to be more vocal through indirect means? Giraffes do make noise, just not that many, and not that often.
I also owe a bit of thanks to John Moore for a ReTweet that got me thinking, thanks John.
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