Home > Enterprise 2.o, Social Business > Can the Value of Social CRM be realized in the absence of a Collaborative Organization?

Can the Value of Social CRM be realized in the absence of a Collaborative Organization?

In short, no, it cannot – that simple. Disagree?

The essence of Social CRM is about inviting your customers into your organization, like you invite an old friend in for dinner. But, in order to invite them in, you must be prepared. The preparation will require change, both cultural and technological. From a technological perspective, tools (yes, tools) that support social networks are going to be key. The support, or the backbone, will need to enable, and even foster collaboration between and within 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 a natural collaborative ecosystem. “Natural” is a fun concept, here, it means, hang out with your customers where they are, not where you want them to be. If they invite you to dinner, that will work as well, just mind your manners.

It is about the best use of technology, leveraging what is present, or expanding what you have as needed. It is not about the platform, but about the people who are the platform.  If tools and technology can be used to leverage the knowledge within and across your organization, then make sure people understand the tools. If you are a small agile organization and this is not about technology, but experience, then make sure your team gain experience at every possible opportunity.  If your teams are able to adapt and communicate efficiently, then  meeting the needs of the customer will be that much easier; then, and only then can SocialCRM can be realized. Wait, is the objective to realize Social CRM or the value, independent of the name? And does technology need to be involved at all? No, asking the the right questions, at the right time, in a caring and sincere tone is Social (we have been living with that for the past 1000 years).

Friend and sparring partner Esteban Kolsky wrote a post “What comes after Social Business” recently where he shares a concern with trying to match internal transactional data with collaboration data. (no he is not really a sparing partner, I actually learn a lot from Esteban)

“The idea behind social business of bringing internal collaboration together with external interactions has one major flaw – it attempts to integrate an action (collaboration) with information (data) as if they were equal.”

I think Esteban gives more credit to businesses than is deserved, no one is there yet – thus we are not ready to figure out what comes next.  We need to think about what the customer wants to do, and enable it. You know the royal “We” this is going to take some work to figure out. These are important aspects of your business, no one, nor a tool can direct you to nirvana. It might take some long hours, and lots of thinking (and data analysis) to get there – think about your customers, put yourself in their shoes. Even better ask other parts of the organization to do it, it is worth the time!

If a customer wants to collaborate, cool, let’s work together. If we are focusing on transactions and information, then that is good too, just another type of good. If I am a small company, with a unique clientele, then there is the possibility that we can achieve both at the same time. In other words, let’s do business together and work towards increasing the value of the business for each of us. I cannot do it alone though, other members of you team, organization or enterprise need to be involved.

In short, I stick by my first statement, if you cannot help, allow or enable your organization  – large or small – to be collaborative, work together, then the value of trying to be Social within the context of CRM will be lost. How are you going to get this done?

  1. wrongflowers
    May 19, 2010 at 3:21 am

    Thanks for this post Mitch.
    This is so truely correct and hard to change at clients side.
    A recipe for failure.

  2. jeffhazel
    May 19, 2010 at 10:51 am

    Among its many uses, social media has become a vital “suggestion box” where companies can gain valuable input from customers. Without a doubt, customers want to be heard. Whether companies do a good job listening is another matter. Convergys’ 2010 Consumer Scorecard research finds that just 61% of customers agree that companies generally listen to and act on feedback. Companies need to do a better job of listening, and start taking social media very seriously. Social CRM may be in its infancy now, but it’s growing fast. Some 24% of customers now use social media as a customer service channel — a 31% uptick over last year. Ignore their input and customers can just as easily use social media to pan your company.

    Jeff Hazel
    Director, Convergys Corporation

  3. Mitch Lieberman
    May 19, 2010 at 2:08 pm


    Thanks for stopping by, but it needs to go beyond listening. Listening only is just a little better than broadcasting. Companies need to listen with the intent to act. In order to act, companies need to break down the silos and collaborate, to solve the customers problems. The channel here, is not as important from the customer perspective. They are just able to be vocal in public if you do not listen.


  1. May 18, 2010 at 5:34 am

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