Archive

Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

Misplaced Focus, a Failure by Red Roof Inn

July 5, 2010 1 comment
I had the recent misfortune of spending a night at the Red Roof Inn, located in in Hurricane, West Virginia. The property is a dilapidated, unhealthy, don’t waste your money hotel property. Why then did I spend the night at all?  My son had the good fortune to make the Region 1 Soccer Championships, and the policy by Region 1 is that each team is required to stay at the assigned hotel, or be subject to a $500 fine. All travel arrangements need to be made through Certified Travel. In doing a little research, I did come upon a recent award won by the Red Roof Inn along with their design agency, “Top Honors at the Interactive Media Awards“. Per the subject line of my post, the emphasis is clearly in the wrong area. This is even more clear by the statement within the blog post (link above) talking about the website award:
“360i approached the redesign project with Red Roof Inn’s long-term strategic goals top of mind. In order to more fully understand the brand vision – and the persona of their customer base – we worked closely with the internal Red Roof Inn staff and utilized market research to ensure an optimal customer experience on the new site.”
I will say that the website is pretty nice. I will take the word of the agency, regarding the “increased engagement”, though I am not really sure what that means. There are no humans there, so it must mean more time spent on the site. They also point to “higher conversion rates across the brand’s search marketing campaigns” (reservations I am assuming). I wonder what will happen as more web savvy travelers do stay at the properties and see what they are really like. Be careful what you wish for, a web savvy person (like me) will take the “brand” to task if Expectations are not met, which they most certainly were not.

This post is NOT the opinion of just one Person

Even before entering the property, the group (16 soccer players and families) was concerned. The rating for the property were not very good, but we were stuck (Certified Travel??). The quality of the hotel was “verified” by Certified Travel, as the tournament brings in $12M to the local economy during a 5 day period, so they try to raise the bar for this week at least, oops, a failure there too:
  • Non-smoking rooms were rank with smoke – “We have a lot of construction workers, we do our best” front desk clerk.
  • Mold and cigarette burns in the bathrooms
  • The beds, well, not even going to go there….
  • Cars on jacks, for days on end (members of the team could not move from the location I went back for 2-3 days)
  • Drunks wandering the property, literally staggering around.
These are athletes, who chose to sleep in the car (some parents did as well). So, the question remains, did 360i meet their goal or the strategic goal of their client, or that of the brand: “a more efficient and engaging digital destination for web-savvy and cost-conscious travelers”? Probably, the digital destination was ok, too bad the real life one was not. The question is what is Red Roof Inn going to do about this? I say nothing, they do not really care, that is my experience with the brand, in real life. If you are going to go up-market with the brand, you better make sure it is ready for it, no?
For me, the brand of Red Roof Inn is tied to this agency. Did anyone from the agency actually stay at a Red Roof Inn (what about the team?) Survey’s and statistics are great, but first person is better. As for Certified Travel, I will be talking to them as well, as I love this line from their website: “Our leveraged negotiating position means lower group hotel rates ” – the rate we paid, was more than the locally advertised rate. Oops…

Relationships need to have Meaning

Last week, I wrote a post where I was not very nice to an author who focused on data, and not trust as the ‘tie that binds’ regarding relationships. You can agree, or disagree, but the current thinking is that engagement builds trust, trust is the basis for a relationship and a relationship is the basis for…hmmm, for what? Why do I need a relationship? For one, a relationship is valuable if we want to have a drink, play golf, maybe even do some business together. That said, if one side, or the other is not gaining anything of value out of the relationship, then what is it worth? Value itself is an interesting word, as it is a totally perceived concept, meaning, what something is worth is based on the value I assign to it, no more, no less. Back to the relationship, it needs to be mutual, not one sided. OK, what is my point, where am I going and who cares!

Social Relationship Management is PR 2.0

I have read, and reread a series posts that bring up the topic of Social Relationship Management (SRM). The latest was written by Brian Solis, a brilliant strategist and professional, for whom I have a lot of respect:

“At a minimum, SRM focuses beyond the social customer and escalates the promise and potential of sCRM across an entire organization, not just customer service. Equally, SRM zooms in to evaluate the various stages of decision making and the channels and people that influence outcomes.”

I do not see eye-to-eye with Brian, I commented respectfully and he responded (I will get into details in a moment). I want to take a quick moment and highlight the importance of engaging. A willingness to respond and engage is critical to building your own trust. Thanks, Brian, I appreciate it. There were a few other posts which touched on the topic, and I find it frustrating that on such a topic the companies would not engage. There was one written by John Bell a strategist for Ogilvy. They call it Social IRM (Influencer Relationship Management). To write in a blog format about the importance of the way YOU believe relationships should be managed, yet do not respond, is well, NOT very social is it. Sounds rather like advertising, not being social; ‘I will broadcast my message, and it is what it is, no engagement’. How then could someone trust you to engage with their customers and/or influencers?

Back to the concepts of SRM, which at a conceptual level I do not disagree with, but it feels like the direction which Public Relations needs to go, not CRM (remember, Social CRM is an extension of CRM). What I do believe is that if you spend the time to cultivate a relationship, it should be easy to quickly understand how each side gains value from the relationship. Some are customers, some are prospect, influencers, partners, suppliers, etc.,…The focus should remain on understanding what the relationships brings, not simply the relationship itself. Do we need another TLA to define these activities? If an agency needs to help their clients to manage these people differently, then maybe. For the company, I do not think so, for the agency, maybe.

Understanding Jobs to be done is the Critical Element

If you are not focused on what the customers needs to do with your product, or the service you are offering, what is the value of the relationship? In his article, John Bell makes the following statement:

“But until we connect all that great data to the actual sales data for said customers, I don’t think its wise to label it ‘Social CRM.'”

I am not going down the path of the ROI debate, which is an important conversation to have. But it sounds like Ogilvy does not believe in tying the numbers to Sales data, so what exactly should it be tied to? Again, the label game is not the critical point here, the critical point is who are the customers and what are they trying to achieve? You can and should have relationships with recommenders, influencers and the like, but how are they helping you to understand the job the customer is trying to get done. Whether you call it Social CRM, SRM, Sales or Marketing is not the question, the relationship is not the answer either – the value exchange enabled by the relationship is the answer.

The following from Brian’s post is important, but I believe it needs to be extended:

“I believe at the heart of sCRM methodologies, the recognition that customers are only part of the new equation, sets the stage for long-term and advantageous change.”

The heart of Social CRM is the simple recognition that companies are going to focus on the needs of the customer, not their own rules. Customers are not only central to the theme, they are the heart and focus. If companies spend too much time and effort focusing on influencers they will take their ‘eye off the ball’ and lose focus. There are certain parts of the organization which need to focus on the influencers and decision makers, and it would of course be advantageous to have a developed understanding of these people, whether I would call that a relationship is open for interpretation.

Why do so Many People think Social Media is only about Marketing?

I do not get it, I just don’t!! Please pardon the outward expression of frustration, my apologies, sort of. Apology made, I do want to know the answer: why is it that so many people believe that Social Media will live or die based on Marketing. I am not making this up, here, read for yourself:

“Social Media is business can go one of two ways, it will either skyrocket or cave in.  The next few months will be crucial in determining the direction the social side of online marketing goes.”

The author further goes on to state:

“We all must be extremely open to sharing and this is the only way in my opinion social media marketing and business will work together. Business owners need to share and share often.” and asks “Can social media and business co-exist?”

There is a link to the whole article further down, but I am still wondering about the question posed by the author. Of course they will co-exist. The real question is will your business be able to co-exist with Social Media. If all you do is Market to, Share with and Talk to, “NO” they will not coexist. If you use Social Media for what it was intended and begin to leverage is as an engagement platform, a place online to connect with your customers, well, then now we are on to something.

If you are able to focus, as a company, to  build and offer better products, while developing better, more engaging and longer lasting relationships, how could anyone wonder if they will co-exist? Social Media is an available channel and a powerful tool, if you screw up, by losing trust and using it as just another bullhorn, sure, you are hosed. The collaborative Enterprise, or E20 looks inwards which also leverage Social Media tools, and technology.

Let’s not forget, it is about the Customer

Friend Wim Rampen recently wrote:

“..marketers continue to focus on explaining to (potential) Customers what value they are providing or adding. Firms seem not to understand that the other side of the table is not deriving value FROM the product. The other side is trying to get a job done and your product or service is a means to that end, thus they are creating value WITH the product. And – this is really important – they can’t do that job without themselves.”

Wim’s article is quite good, and you should take a look, (after you finish here:-). But putting another part of the article together to further make my point:

“Actionable insights are not only derived from good analytics, you need to understand what it is you want your Customers to talk about too, and then see if you can get them to do so.. Don’t wait for the feedback to come to you, but actively seek the feedback you need.”

You cannot even get to this point if all your doing is using Social Media to broadcast messages, there is so much more you can learn from your customers, if you start listening and engaging, then acting. I apologize again for the rant, but it just seems so obvious, am I missing something?

Here is the article I am referencing. I usually suggest that people read it, but today, I am not so sure – your choice.

Social, brought to you today by the letter ‘C’

If Social CRM, Social Networking, Social Media or Social Business had the sponsor of a letter, it would be the letter ‘C‘. The reason however is not what you think, of course you need to be Customer Centric, but this post goes beyond that. This post aggregates and builds upon the work of others, who highlight this wonderful letter, as you should as well.

(note, this is my first post since starting Comity Technology Advisors)

Generation C (your customer, now or in the very near future)

Generation C – Cross-generation (source: Springwise and Paul Greenberg) Generation C spans from Boomers through Gen X and Gen Y right up to Millennial. From a customer perspective, this represents change, highlights peer influence and alters who I trust. Generation C is:

  • Content-driven – We are producers; blogs, text, images, audio and video, etc.,…
  • Connected – Phone, Email, Messaging, Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, RSS
  • Creative – We are able to choose the form of Content that allows us to express our thoughts
  • Collaborative – We like working with Friends, Peers, Mentors, Partners…Oh, and Customers
  • Contextual – What we say, do and think is highly dependent upon where and when we are
  • Communicative – Sometimes without a filter, we say what we say

Organizations need to act, react or just prepare

In his book, (RE)(ORGANIZE) FOR RESILIENCE, Author Ranjay Gulati uses the following to describe the “resilience tool kit”. The book is a worthwhile read, an important theme is centered around why organizations are having trouble keeping up with the pace of change displayed by their customers. The following is my interpretation of the author’s “5 Cs”:

  • Coordination – The alignment of people, process and technology within the organization
  • Cooperation – Focus on breaking down silos, addressing cultural and behavioral issues
  • Clout – Decentralizing power and allowing front facing individuals to act
  • Capabilities – Education and training of all individuals to be, or become customer facing
  • Connections – Create internal social networks which extend outward to partners and customers alike

My own additions to the list

During the course of my reading, implementations, discussions and writing, there are few more which you might want to add to the list. These do not represent a strategy, maybe not even an objective or goal, but focusing your time and energy around what these points mean to you, is time well spent.

  • Conversation – Make sure you having conversations,  not one directional monologues
  • Co-Creation – Involve your customers in the process of creating value for each other
  • Consistent – The message and approach should be as similar as possible with all customers
  • Committed – Once you begin to involve the ecosystem, stick with it!
  • Community – The creation of place where your ecosystem feels comfortable enough to hang-out and chat
  • Cross-Channel – Engage with your customers when, where and how they want (and it may change mid-conversation)

Some words which require more thought

There are some words which begin with the letter ‘C‘ which are words to pay attention to, but be cautious about. I am not going to say they are right or wrong, they simply need some paying attention to, to make sure you are aware of their power.

  • Command – no matter what the goal, an approach will likely have unwanted consequences
  • Control – Just think through what it means to you and your organization, and be cautious
  • Conversion – Many people focus on this metric, what does it mean to you and at what cost
  • Convince – Work to create buyers, not convince people to buy your products or services
  • Change – The only constant is change – be ready for it

What would you like to add to the list? Did I leave anything out? (Aside from the most obvious, Customer of course)

Social CRM, Perspective Matters

April 25, 2010 3 comments

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?

Is Social CRM a house of cards?

April 7, 2010 9 comments

I am not simply going for shock value, I am asking a tough question where one of the possible answers is ‘yes’, and that scares me a bit. If we choose to ignore 20 years of knowledge, experience and best implementation practices, then we are setting ourselves to repeat the same mistakes that gave CRM a bad name. This pushes the answer towards ‘yes’, how can we push it towards ‘no’? Is this post an about face for me personally? No, I do not think so, call it a prequel – something I knew, felt and should have said a long time ago.

There are some great ideas, even some really awesome technology components that can make up the pieces of a solid Social CRM strategy. However, at the core, there needs to be a well architected, flexible CRM application that will serve as the foundation for the Social CRM strategy. There are certain things ‘the basic blocking and tackling’ if you will of CRM which cannot be ignored.

You cannot jump to Social CRM if you do not understand CRM

Without a proper foundation, adding more layers and more cards simply adds to the instability. Recent posts (and some not so recent) are well suited to help me describe my concerns. (They are listed at the bottom, to avoid hyperlink hypnosis). If we first look at Paul’s definition of CRM and then Social CRM it should be clear that Social CRM is an extension – by process, culture and/or technology– of CRM. The change was and is required due to the changing needs of the customer.

Since the customer changed, the companies also need to change. But, If you change the focus (who and how), it is very easy to forget the battle scars of CRM 1.0 implementations. As Esteban points out in his recent post, the ownership of the concepts of CRM have moved from one part of the organization to another. Because of this change, the institutional knowledge regarding what it means to build a holistic customer strategy may not be all there. Some is lost, or worse, some is being ignored.

Social CRM is not simply a set of CRM bolt-on modules

Getting past definitions and focusing on what it is, Michael Fauscette says it quite well: “CRM is a customer strategy and many companies have chosen to use SW [software] and technology as a part of that strategy. SCRM [Social CRM] just extends that customer strategy in a few ways.”

Again, I am not talking about definitions, I am talking about practice. Is technology a part of the extension? Yes, it probably is, but it will not work if you do not make people and process changes first (think attitude!). If you use technology as a part of your CRM strategy, then you will likely need technology to extend it to a Social CRM strategy. If you do not have a well organized technology strategy for CRM (meaning it is not simply email and spreadsheets) then adding new technology for Social CRM will NOT be effective.

The Process of Social CRM is dynamic

It is dynamic because where and how the conversations happen will change. Brian and others speak a bit about ‘changes in centricity’ – I am summarizing, but the sentiment should not be lost. Customer centric versus management centric; Conversation centric versus Process Centric – Centricity, Focus whatever the best name for it is, needs to evolve and meet your business need – what do your customers want. Regardless of what you call it, both sets of data are still important. Can anyone tell me that what I purchased, when I purchased it and my buying patterns have stopped being important? I know Brian was not going there, I am illustrating a point. Please read his post, it is important.

Jacob posted the Social CRM process, is it right I am not sure, actually it is probably wrong – hold on, I am not coming down on anyone! I applaud Jacob because anyone should be able to take his diagram and use it as a baseline model (not a best practice) and move the arrows, fill-in the boxes and make it work for your business. People, Process and all that… Jacob is spot on for highlighting process – look at what you have, and where ‘Social’ should fit into the company. Do not force Social in, just because it is cool.

Ok, maybe a little bit of shock value

If at least made you stop and think, I feel a bit better. I really like Social CRM. I enjoy thinking about, writing about, talking about and even well debating a bit. Here is my mea culpa, I have a CRM application, I use it everyday. To me, thinking of Social CRM as an evolutionary step, not revolutionary as assumed. My apologies. If this seems like a change of course, well the Blog does not have a title for a reason…

This list is not just a WordPress – blogs you might also like to read! These specific people, posts and comments on the posts influenced my own thoughts – what are yours?

Paul Greenberg’s – Traditional CRM v Social CRM: Is There a Difference
Esteban Kolsky’s – Why We Cannot Get CRM (and SCRM) Quite Right
Brian Vellmure’s – Traditional CRM vs Social CRM: Expanded
Michael Fauscette – What makes “CRM” Social
Bob Thompson – Can you do “Social CRM” w/out Social Media/Networks
Jacob Morgan – The Social CRM Process

MindTouch CEO Aaron Fulkerson, on Collaborative CRM

April 2, 2010 1 comment

This is a Guest post and a cross post (with permission) by Martin Schneider

CRM takes on many faces, and encompasses a lot of different technologies.  We would be ridiculously arrogant, and wrong, to assume that our solution was the only way to manage a CRM initiative.  When at the optimal stage, CRM systems are hitting on all cylinders by not being one piece of technology but rather many tools working together to support the people and processes that make your human interactions unique.

In that vein, a major trend we are seeing among users and in general is the need for more fluid tools to support the highly versatile forms of collaboration going on around sales, marketing and supporting customers. Gone are the days of information silos – where a sales rep or manager reigns supreme over most of the interaction data surrounding an account; nor is it sufficient to only arm support agents with the data and tools to solve customer issues.

MindTouch is a company with an interesting take on collaboration and data sharing (and what’s even greater is that Mindtouch is a commercial open source company). I caught up with CEO Aaron Fulkerson recently to discuss his SugarCon presentation around Collaborative CRM, and the conversation quickly opened up to include concepts like the convergence of enterprise 2.0 and social CRM, as well as how cloud computing is affecting modern CRM deployments…

Aaron, your SugarCon session is around “collaborative CRM.”  Can you give a quick definition of collaborative CRM vs. traditional CRM?

Terms like “social CRM” and “Collaborative CRM” are being used a lot these days and it seems as if the products in this space grown daily.  MindTouch has a very specific view of what Collaborative CRM needs to be.

I can boil down the biggest difference in two words: Information Asymmetry.  Let’s take a common CRM use case – managing a specific transaction.   This transaction has a lead account manager, perhaps a sales rep who helped qualify the deal, a pre-sales engineer, and possibly a services manager engaged.  All of these team members have various contact points inside the prospect.   These multiple contact points can quickly create an information asymmetry situation where data that might be held in the form of emails, documents, phone call notes, etc., isn’t as accessible as it could be, and that could be to the detriment of the transaction.

Our vision of Collaborative CRM is to create an information advantage for all of the team members involved.  I’m excited to share this vision at SugarCon.

So, where exactly does “Enterprise 2.0” meet with CRM? Are they two separate things?

To realize the ‘information advantage’ I mentioned before, the CRM system must embody Enterprise 2.0-type attributes – that is to say, to openly and easily interface with other information-rich systems, to support the collaboration amongst team members, including those who wouldn’t traditionally interact with a CRM system.

A lot of CRM systems are great with structured data, but how can users better leverage unstructured data like emails and PDFs etc. in their CRM initiative?

Great question.  Unstructured data cannot be overlooked, as they are vital pieces of the activity stream.  All too often, aggregating the data in those activity streams is overlooked, this is especially true for purely ‘social crm’ solutions.  These emails and PDF’s are typically relegated to your desktop or your inbox.   Emailing these documents back and forth has to be the single most inefficient way to share documents, and everyone does it.   MindTouch ensures these types of data points are not overlooked, by integrating them directly into the activity stream, making them collaborative – easy to find, share and act upon.

How does it benefit a user organization to have open collaboration tools versus proprietary alternatives?

No two organizations are the same. You can definitely provide customers with purpose-built and feature rich solutions – but there will always be the desire on the customer side to perform their own customization.  Most often, this occurs with a custom application they’ve developed in-house.   With rigid, proprietary offerings, this might not even be possible.

Finally, how are you seeing “the cloud” change the way businesses collaborate with each other, and their customers?

MindTouch is web-based, so we’ve always had the benefit of providing our customers a solution that could cross boundaries – enabling internal teams to collaborate with partners, vendors and customers.  The big benefit we see in the cloud is that it becomes a great equalizer.   No matter how easy you make your product to download, install and deploy, there will always be that slice of the market that doesn’t have the IT wherewithal to make it a reality.  With the cloud, any size organization can simply sign up and be up and running in minutes.    This means a company of any size can now leverage the same enterprise collaboration solution that companies like Mozilla, RightScale, Intel and the WashingtonPost rely on.

6 Degrees of Social Interactions

March 26, 2010 5 comments

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.

  1. I said what I am said, really not hoping for a response, just action – monologue
  2. I am talking, hoping for acknowledgment, not necessarily a response, but might be nice – venting
  3. We are talking, but the conversation is a bit one sided – skewed
  4. I am actively asking for information, will not be happy until I get it – social pressure
  5. We are engaged in a conversation and others may join in to push things forward – objective
  6. 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.

  1. Here is my press release, look at me – broadcast
  2. Register and Download my whitepaper – broadcast with bait
  3. We are listening, but I am really waiting to talk – pretending
  4. We are blogging and hoping the message makes it out untarnished – comment, nicely please
  5. The Facebook Fanpage is set up, I hope everyone is nice – <fingers crossed>
  6. 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.

Social CRM is a Journey, not a Destination – Revisited

March 8, 2010 1 comment

I wrote the following in September 2009 – 6 months ago.  But, I could have easily written it yesterday, and it would not be too different:

“There has been a tremendous amount great conversation during the past couple weeks, regarding Social CRM. What it is as well as what it is not. I am not sure we have reached any conclusions yet, but we have all become smarter for the insights of a great many individuals. Interestingly, I am usually a bit opinionated, but I sat on the sidelines, just observing – for the most part.

As my title suggests, I do believe that we are all (customers, businesses, implementers and vendors) on a journey.  As a group, we are working (struggling) to compartmentalize, as that seems to be human nature. We are treating the landscape as binary, you either have it, or you don’t.  You will get there, or you will not. The economy is evolving, business is evolving, customers’ needs are evolving. So as all the components go through this evolution, yet, we are suggesting this needs to be a revolution, why? Very few of us subscribe to waterfall development methodology, therefore, we should be able to iterate through this as well, no?

The difference, among my peers, who are having the conversation, do not seem to be as much about where we are going (ok, first chance for a comment), rather how we get there. We all want very similar things. As Graham reminded us all today, in quoting Peter Drucker on his post (which is a must read). The end game is already defined for us.”

I tend to get a little philosophical at times – why, I am not sure, but it happens quite often, I am afraid. Mostly, because my purpose in writing is to solidify my own thoughts. In my previous post, I went on to say:

“If Social CRM is the destination, then what is the vehicle to get us there? Is it strategy, or technology? Answer: It is both. It is the proper introduction and combination of technology, in support of the evolving processes, created by the empowered customer. Like the business trips we all take – trains, planes and automobiles – each client requires a slightly different itinerary. Exactly, each client requires a slightly different approach.”

I have a lot of great comments from the previous post, by some great folks who have pushed my thinking further than I could have ever hoped. To start, friend Mike Boysen made the following observation (Last September) “Why are there Social CRM software solutions on the market if we do not know what it is” That is a very important question to be answered, and I am not sure how much further along we are, frankly.

As many have noted, we run the risk of Social CRM being dominated by the vendors (full disclosure, I am one). We also run the risk of having the same failures we did with CRM, but I think the chances of that are smaller. Kathy Hermann pointed out (last September) “I don’t think we’ll ever reach a final SCRM destination nor should we expect to…because of the diversity of the social media field of opportunities.”  This is also an important point, by putting Social on the front of CRM, the static nature of reporting transactions has changed to understanding where customers are talking, what they are saying, and where they are saying it – this last one (where) is dynamic and will keep us all on our toes!

Through the journey (personal and professional), there have been a tremendous number of great posts, papers, and exploratory ideas. Without a doubt it is a journey, spattered with some self reflection as well.  So, with all the posts, conversations and thoughts, are we any closer to the destination? Or as Kathy points out above, do we need to worry about the destination at all, and we should be focused on helping customers get their jobs done?

I wrote in November, “Social Just is…” This was right after friend Graham Hill released his Manifesto for Social Business.  At the time, I was thinking along the lines of the Social Customer – I summarized with the following:

“The key message here is to be cautious, all too often the “gurus” and “experts” pretend to be King, as did the the one-eyed man in the land of the blind. Challenge the gurus with the Social Media strategies, not just to challenge, but to ask them how they did it. How many times have they done it, if they have done it. These experts need to have a solid grounding in Marketing, and Media (not necessarily ‘Social’) first.

The current hype cycle that is Social (Media and by extension Networking) is very much about creating that feeling of closeness (emotions) and changing behaviors, between your organization and your customers. Make no mistake, while there is some hype, there is a new bar, and expectations have been set and reset.“

My point in revisiting this is because there is a wave of Buzz surrounding Social CRM at the moment, and the journey has just become quite interesting.  The smart folks over at Altimeter  have just released  the 18 Social CRM Use Cases report, which is an important read. This is great work, but also keep in mind the other really great posts and ‘road maps’ if you will. For Example Esteban Kolsky’s SCRM roadmap post and Brian Vellmure’s 5 Stages of Customer Acquisition. These (among other works) are a tremendous value add to the thinking within the space. It is up to us to turn these ideas and concepts into customer focused actions.

But, it is important to remind everyone that the Customers jobs come first, and the focus needs to remain on the relationships with the Customer – as defined by the customer, not us. As Wim Rampen states in his great post from earlier this year:

“Because a Customer does not value a relationship with the company, but mostly values the outcome generated from the experience of using your product or service, it should not be difficult to understand that Customers value knowledge or information on how to improve that outcome, over relationships (with the company).”

I have said it quite often within my talks, blogs and participatory comments of all kinds – There is no one size fits all here.  I do not believe that there are best practices to carried from organization to another – except, keep you customer in mind in everything you do. There are best approaches, and ways to think, but social may just be the new differentiator – thus it is different from place to place. Not a differentiator in technology, but in your approach to your ecosystem.

Best of luck on your Journey, god speed!

Is a Business Culture Change required to find value in Social?

March 5, 2010 9 comments

I wanted to get out a quick post based on some great experiences this week. The interactions were on many different channels; Twitter, Email, Skype, Phone, Face-to-face, Groups, Blogs…all of which make for great engagement, learning and productivity. Or, with so many channels to watch, does productivity take a hit? My approach to work has changed, a lot, especially during the past year. That drives the question is will everyone be as willing to make the changes they need to, in order to bring your business into the future?

A strong influence on my thinking this week came from two sources. One was a very simple tweet by @designthinkers (Arne van Oosterom) where he said simply “Change is synonymous to future”. A very insightful 5 word tweet. My response was “then why do people look forward to the future, but hate change”? I am far from a student in philosophy, I could easily get myself in over my head quite fast. This was my lead-in to the IDC Directions conference in Boston yesterday. Thinking on this topic during my quick jaunt from Vermont to Boston. The conference was very good, and for those of you on the west coast, you can go the 2.0 version next week.

The subject that interested me the most (and the second major influence) was the Social Business track hosted by Michael Fauscette (@mfauscette) and his team from IDC.  Michael’s talk was a fluid, well presented session on Social Business – or more appropriately how to get there. One running theme throughout his talk regarded the platform – no, not technology, the people. Another running theme was about culture, the culture required to enable a Social Business (a topic that will come up at SugarCon as well). Since ‘people are the platform’ does represent a change and will be required to move us into the future, how do we enable this change, without disruption? Or, as little disruption as possible.

I should be able to quickly bring these two thoughts together

For the most part, people do like looking to the future (no, not all people all the time) but, there may be a bit of hesitation. The reason; because moving forward often requires change, and very few people really look forward to change. As Arne correctly (my opinion) pointed out to me, there is the paradox. If change equates to the future, but people like one, but not the other, where does that leave us? When you say “change” or “change management” alarm bells, defense mechanisms and barriers get thrown up quickly. However, in order for people to accept Social Business or Social CRM, there is going to need to be a change in the culture within an organization – the whole organization, not just sales, or support. Without a change, then it will simply become about technology and we will repeat mistakes we have made before.

How do you help people get past the hesitation?

The answer is simple, really. Make your teams, your people, your platform part of the process – and talk about the future, not change. If you listen to your teams, they will in turn become better listeners. People are social, they want to share, then they will lead the charge. Break down silos, enable, reward and promote people being social. Why, because they know your customers and it the right thing to do. Being Social is a state of mind and culture, it is not about technology. Focus on establishing value for all the constituents of your ecosystem, and then things will really come together.