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Best Practices for Social CRM?

February 13, 2012 13 comments

They do not exist. They will never exist. You do not need them.

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FC Expert Blogger Daniel W. Rasmus wrote a great article on Friday “5 Reasons Best Practices Suck ” the post was an easy read and definitely had an edge. Something the reader could really sink their teeth into. You see, the author uses a Vampire metaphor to make the point. In a way I am a bit jealous, as this is the type of post that needed to be written, one of those that you say – ‘I wish I could have written that’ – Well, I did not write it, but it struck a nerve on a number of fronts so I am going to use it as a launching point.

If we have learned anything during the past few years it is that the pace of change is absolutely ridiculous. No matter what part of the organization you are in, your ability to keep pace is challenged daily. If we can accept this as a truth, then there is uniquely one best practice that might stand a chance, how we adapt to change. Other than that, all other ‘Best Practices’ are simply roadblocks to success and excuses to remain irrelevant. The use within Social CRM is certainly not an exception here. The past couple years have been about experimentation, the data shows that to be a truth. It is not time to codify the experimentation and call it something it is not. It is time to refine it, adapt, learn and share the knowledge.

I am going to share a part of the post, cheating if you will, stealing part of the ending. Maybe a bit unfair, but you may choose to leave now and come back.

“Best Practice is a forensic science, an autopsy on a corpse. Learning is an activity of the living. Millions of good practices can co-exist and co-evolve. But there can only be one Best of Show, Best Record of the Year or Best Picture. And these never repeat. They are bound to the time of their making.”

Placing this into context, Social CRM is about your relationship with your customers.  It is about your communications, listening, internalizing and responding. Best practices are either about taking something someone else learned, with their customers, in another organization, at another time and making it gospel. Or, it is about taking what you have done, patting yourself on the back and writing it in stone, like an epitaph. Neither is going to work. Why? Because when the new device, new toy, new shiny object comes along, your customers are going to change, yet again.

“The Best Practice makes an organization feel a sense of accomplishment and closure. It gives it focal point for celebrating its hard work. But in a blink, entropy and pandemonium invade again. People can sense the real power: the dynamic, ever-changing flow of knowledge, just below the thin skin of codified policy and practice.”

Good practices do exist, they are needed and they can and should be shared. The successes and failures are important stories to be told. But, they are stories, there for you to pick out the pieces which make sense to you, your team and your organization. Don’t assume someone else knows best. Has anyone really been doing what you have longer than you have been doing it? Sure, some parts, of course. But all of it?

Interestingly, in doing some research recently with ThinkJar and my own team at Ciboodle what struck me is that companies looking to implement Social Customer Service had no practices from which to draw. They listened to their customers, internal teams and understood the vision of their own organization. Fortunately, for us all, the business side of Social is very young, so there has not been enough time for anyone to claim “Best Practices for Social CRM”

Vampires do not exist, they will never exist and they would suck the life right out of you (if they did exist).

(There, I said it. A personal objective for 2012 is to sharpen the tools a bit, and be a bit edgier.  It is time to let the inner New Yorker out and see the light of day.  I am hoping that my Klout score gets a boost.  <yeah right!> It is time to stop beating around the bush and get shit done.)