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Posts Tagged ‘Business’

A Social Business Strategy needs Teeth

June 12, 2010 1 comment

Sometimes it is a good idea to keep things simple, and work to hide complexity. This type of exercise can be valuable for people trying to grasp new concepts. That said, oftentimes if you are not careful you can actually do a dis-service and cause issues. With something new, like Social Business, Social CRM and quickly evolving concepts like Social Customer and Social Relationship Management you actually need to produce something with teeth if you are going to recommend people have a strategy. Something that you (or they) could build upon, or take an executive and execute against. If the simplicity takes away all meaning or steers people in the wrong direction, then it really needs to be, well, challenged. Sorry, if this is too harsh, but just calling it like I see it.

A Social Business strategy needs to be more than just a plan that takes into account a modified definition of Social CRM so you can maximize your ability to meet specific goals. That may sound strange, but it was recently done, and I felt the need to address the trend. Something like this does not offer anything of real value to anyone (except me who can use it to try and make a point).  If you really want to help businesses and prepare them for what is needed dig deeper, analyze the problem and add value on top of it. Include the work of Graham Hill, specifically his post a Manifesto for Social Business. Or, dig a little deeper on the recent post by Michael Fauscette, the Social Customer Bill of Rights. Engage with Brian Solis and agree, disagree or modify his thoughts on Social Relationship Management. Pull up a chair and talk to Esteban Kolsky about part 2 of his Roadmap for SCRM, which talks specifically about the changing nature of relationships “Shifting Relationship models”. If the relationships are your focus, how can anyone not read and reread Wim Rampen’s stellar post What Relationships You Should Care For, And Why, along with many many great comments.

I am not trying to go academic here, we have others who are much better at that than I am, really! However, a constant dumbing down of critical concepts does not help implementers, businesses nor push the thinking forward. Taking the works referenced above, and the embedded concepts contained within (including the comments and dialog) would be a hugely valuable exercise (I might just do it when I have some time), but there is no way to summarize a strategy for all of it, in one sentence. Never referencing the work of anyone else, suggests either a lack of research, or disrespect for people’s work who came before. Never commenting on posts, unless they are  your own bugs me…sorry, just sayin’. It is not all about people who agree with me either. Bob Thompson, host of CustomerThink and some newer communities (SocialBusinessOne and SalesEdgeOne, two I am part of) has challenged me to dig deeper about why I am suggesting the things I am suggesting. He questions  whether Social <this or that> is new, or not and needed or not. I have great respect for Bob, we do not always see eye to eye, but the challenges are respectful and thorough – and I am the better for listening. I also have great fun going at with someone I am happy to call a friend; Mike Boysen. We do not see eye to eye on many things (the fact that he is 6’4″ is only one reason). Mike is the pragmatic one in the group, and shares his thoughts on his blog – he keeps me honest. When I learn something new, I reference other who taught me, whether by name, article or twitter handle.  I could have and should have mentioned more people here, I will be sure to do so in the future.

It is not about winning the battle, or the war…it is about pushing the conversations forward together for the betterment of the ecosystem. BTW, the USA won the game 1-1 😉

The Value of Social CRM to the Individual Employee

June 11, 2010 1 comment

I wrote a piece a couple weeks ago  where I referenced Laurence Buchanan’s piece “Measuring the ROI of Social CRM“, now, I am taking a look at it from a slightly different perspective, the value to the employee. How very ‘Inside-out’ of me, I know, but hang in for a moment, there is something here. My favorite quote from his post still stands, and sets the stage:

“The real question in my mind is not whether ROI is measurable or valid (it is), it’s whether ROI is the only metric worth evaluating? I would suggest that ROI as an isolated metric is not enough. In fact nothing like enough.”

Absolutely, ROI is NOT enough. There are lots of ways to look at return, how about employee empowerment? I have suggested myself, on the shoulders of many others that happy customers start with happy employees. Is it then a big leap to suggest that passionate employees might lead to passionate customers? If you are willing to make that leap, as I believe you should, then there is real value to the business!

Reap the rewards of a innovative and passionate organization!

Innovation can seldom, if ever, be measured in the time frame of one quarter. It is like watching your child grow, there in front of you every day, then suddenly, ‘wow, you grew’! If you encourage individual, or small team initiative, what your teams can and will do, if empowered to do it will surprise you. If you sponsor and enable, people within your organization to get closer to the customer through Social means, the payback (Return) will happen.

As an organization, you need to be flexible with regards to the return, flexible in what and when. I realize that some might take issue with the flexibility on return, but you might also be flexible on the cost part too – since people are the main cost, there are worthwhile, non-monetary rewards.

What are you doing to reward employees who take initiative?

I previously used the Twelpforce initiative by Best Buy to make my point. Are there others? There must be, what are yours. How do you reward the employees? For businesses of all sizes, employees with passion are a great asset. Allowing these impassioned employees to get close to and help customers get their jobs done builds stronger relationships, and dare I say leads towards loyalty. I had the chance to chat with the smart folks over at SpigIt a few weeks ago, and they have some great ideas on how to reward initiative from a ideation (sharing ideas) perspective, I bet many of the same concepts would work here.

I highlighted this sentiment with a post on ZDNet this past week, with the following ideas:

Innovation, the Kissing Cousin of Initiative
One path to solving this is to make, foster and push people to shine. Innovation is directly related to initiative, and you have everything right there in front of you. If you encourage and empower individuals, or small teams, the results can and will surprise you. Taking it a step further, to sponsor people within your organization, specifically to get closer to the customer through Social means, the value to each side of the equation will amaze you. The return on initiative will pay dividends well into the future, for both you, the employee and the customer.

How to get it done:

Tackling the hard problems Ask people within the organization to focus on their role in the customer experience, they have one, it might be obvious, or a stretch to figure it out. How can they improve that experience? What do they find frustrating? By taking initiative, focusing on, or even directly helping customers, employees will elevate their visibility, and gain personal satisfaction as well.

Taking a chance Do not make it taboo to take risks, calculated risks of course. Do not punish for initiative, or even failure. A Social Business needs passionate employees, ones who do not always wait for their boss. Yes, they must be willing to be accountable for their actions, and have sound business logic behind their ideas.

Voice of the Customer The hope is that as many people as possible are talking to customers as frequently as possible. Within an organization, you are always knowledgeable about your products and services. Add this knowledge along with something you learned about your customer and tell someone, become an advocate for the customer!

Create a Company of Entrepreneurs The best employees are self-starters. Giving them the freedom to do what it takes to get the job done. Using their best judgment in all situations enables them to express their individual creativity. By encouraging and supporting a culture of freedom and trust, employees will naturally assume a feeling of ownership – ownership in delivering a remarkable customer experience.

All initiatives need to be supported by a business case. It is possible to measure return by more than dollars, but cost has only one measure – or does it? As an organization, you need to be flexible with regards to the return, flexible in what and when. If employees are allowed to put a little bit of passion into their own work, the payback is going to be very powerful. They will become the new shiny object.

In a response to the post, Maria Ogneva, of Attensity360 suggested that “companies are starting to realize how important voice of customer is. However, most still fail to realize that voice of employee is just as important.” She also pointed out that barriers are a problem: “Putting red tape in employees’ way, making them feel stifled and unappreciated will definitely not result in any kind of passion or excitement.” What are you doing to make sure that your employees feel empowered?

The Value is still with Customers, but Looking Beyond is OK

I followed up a post written by Brian Solis yesterday, and shame on me, I am doing it again. But, today’s post was not really written by Brian, it was written by Paul Greenberg, not sure that makes it much better. Is this cheating? You know, writing a blog based on a blog, then following up that blog with other one. I happen to know Paul is in Europe for a couple weeks, so, I figured I would put my thoughts here. Brian is asking us to look beyond folks that we have a direct transactional history with, beyond just prospects.

I said yesterday that I believed SRM (Social Relationship Management) felt more like PR 2.0. Brian responded to my post, saying that we were not really talking about different things, but that he does not see SRM as PR 2.0. I am not yet convinced that it is a lot more, BUT I am willing to hold off pushing it too hard until I have a chance to talk with Brian (In real life, phone or some other traditional means like face to face even). I have and will maintain an open mind, willing to bend a bit, if needed. I am looking forward to the conversation

In today’s post Paul bridges the gap between SRM and Social CRM (potay-to v potah-to ) via the work of Dr. V. Kumar, Chairman of Georgia State University’s Marketing Department and the Executive Director of the Center for Excellence in Brand and Customer Management (CEBCM), what he calls CRV (Customer Referral Value). The idea is that you should maintain these relationships, as there is value in the referral, and we can measure it.

“CRV is a measure of advocacy and positive business value that an influencer brings. It fundamentally acknowledges the existence of the social customer that Social CRM deals with.”

To really build a well rounded picture of the impact of CRV, the introduction of one more TLA is required. I will be brief, but Paul does a more thorough job here, a post from August 2009. NPS (Net Promoter Score) is a large topic, which has issues all its own, and not something I am going to dive to deeply into today. Dr. Kumar, in his work actually expands/extends NPS to make it more meaningful and useful (ie, one question just is not going to cut it, sorry). Let me explain: NPS asks a customer one simple question “Do you intend to recommend this product or service to someone you know?”, while that question is interesting, the study shows little correlation with the really important question: “Did you actually recommend this product or service to someone you know”. For now, take my word for it, then feel free to read the article referenced.

They are still customers, or are they?

The studies done to date refer to customers, and struggle to put a stake in the ground on the actual value of influencers, who are not customers. That said, as Brian suggests, we need to look beyond the customers, or at least look within more closely.  While Customer Lifetime Value is a more direct measure of what a customer spends and their direct value to the bottom line, we need to look beyond these people and understand better those who are engaged, advocates and otherwise bullish on your products and services.  The extreme case here is that they are not actually a customer,  but there is value to the organization to have a relationship with this person.

Do you know who those people are? If you have an idea, do you actively manage the relationships, or are the relationships managed externally? In a response to his first post Brian makes an interesting (valuable interesting) statement:

“..how do you move something beyond the literal interpretation when the infrastructure (technology, process, and methodologies) works again much of what you’re attempting to implement?”

Do your current processes or technology prevent you from reaching this goal, if it is a goal? If so, what are you going to do about it?

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.

The Value of Social CRM for Small Business – Take One

May 31, 2010 1 comment

I had the opportunity to speak on the Vermont Business Expo 777 panel last week,  to a full room of 80+ smart folks gathered to learn about Social Business. The panel covered a wide range of topics, the focus was on what it means to be a business, in this new age, call it the Social Web, or Web 2.0. The panelists, listed below all had great insights, from Social and  Mobile to Legal and from Cloud to Geo Location. My focus was on Social CRM and what that really means, specifically to a small/Vermont business. We each had 7 minutes, before a scoreboard buzzer (think NCAA basketball type buzzer) sounded.

The Highlights:

  • Social CRM is an extension of CRM, the biggest change is a Focus on your customers, not a focus on you
  • Organizations are not properly aligned, any Social CRM strategy must include strong guidelines for alignment (around the customer)
  • Social CRM is based on the principle that you will invite your customer into the ecosystem and interact with them based on their needs, not your rules.

For Departments:

  • Service and Support: Keep the ordinary, ordinary; Social includes public channels; include more personality in your interactions,
  • Sales: The value-add of you and your company’s expertise, not just your product are important, show your knowledge beyond just your product,
  • Marketing: Learn to listen, engage and create with your customers, highlight facts and value along with personality

Finally, Social CRM can and will go beyond technology. For small businesses, think about the clerks who work the check-out line, delivery personnel, finance who speak to customers about invoices. All these people represent your business and represent a Social Network.

The Panel included: Karen O’Niell, Gravel and Shea, Rachel Carter, Rachel Carter PR, John Burton, Network Performance Inc., Jessie Angus, Angus Media Services, Tom Jaros, Empower Mobility, Me, Comity Technology Advisors and Joe Mescher, http://www.joemescher.com/

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?

A CRM Lesson Learned, from a Gardener

(Trying something different – this is a cross post from one done earlier this week on CRMOutsiders. The idea is to incorporate some feedback from comments on the post and discussions I have had to enhance the topic)

So, what exactly did I learn from my Gardener? (Gardener not Gartner) And, how in the world can I apply it to CRM, or further, a CRM implementation? In a nutshell, I learned that proper planning for application development, deployment and just many initiatives seems to be a lost art. This seems to ring especially true for Social Media initiatives.

Plant a $5 shrub in a $10 hole

When I am not in front of a computer screen, (which seems to be a little too often) I long to use some of the handy skills, which my dad taught me when I was young. Build it, fix it, rinse and repeat. About as close as I come is reading my monthly issue of Popular Mechanics, looking at all the cool things I should be doing, or getting some advice on topics such as gardening. The inspiration for this post is the May 2010 issue, page 126 (yes, I bet it is online somewhere). The simple statement, in bold above, “Plant a $5 shrub in a $10 hole” really just sunk in (bad pun, sorry). The small blurb goes on to say: “In other words, your extra labor will be repaid with vigorous trees and shrubs.”

I hope that you, the reader are able to make the leap. If the focus is too heavily skewed towards technology and not the planning, requirements gathering, analysis, design and then implementation – not too mention people, culture, process changes and role changes – then how can you expect success in deploying a new system of any kind? Spend the time, up front figuring out what you need to do in order to make the project a success.

Mark Tamis had this to say about the topic:

Not only is the problem not understanding the problem you are trying to solve, the problem is also in thinking that the technology will solve the problem. This is like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. The shiny object may look nice, but if it doesn’t get your job done and lad to your desired outcome, why waste the time and the effort?

This is not only about something new

The article referenced above is not only about a new ‘hole’ for a new ‘plant’, it actually starts with a question about what to do if a plant does not seem to be doing well after a long hard winter. Hmmm, I wonder if I can get away with calling the economy we experienced during the past 2 years a ‘long hard winter’ – yeah, I think I can. So, in this scenario, do I just say ‘out with the old in with the new’? I am not only talking about CRM, I am talking about technology of nearly any type. Extending the metaphor just a little further, if I simply swap the plant, without checking the soil, making sure there is enough water, or proper drainage, putting in another plant will likely lead to the same end result.

When I shared these thoughts with Reem Bazrari from SugarCRM, she  offered the following as important to the conversation:

More importantly, the provider should sell its technology with that understanding as well:
1- Educate the customer on standard or industry process that would help them improve their business
2- Provide the technology with a ramp-on plan and explain how it will tie with those processes
3- Continuously monitor the customer’s feedback

Simply replacing technology with newer technology often seems like the easiest solution. But ask yourself, and your team, what is the real reason we need to do this? I have read from many highly respected sources, that technology is rarely the problem, it is properly preparing for the technology that is the problem. Again, I am not talking about net new here, I am talking about ‘rip and replace’ because of that new shiny object in the corner over there.

Who Owns Social Data?

April 21, 2010 3 comments

Martin Schneider (CRMOutsiders) asked this question – Who Owns Social Data? to a panel at the recent SugarCRM conference, held in San Francisco. Sameer Patel, Esteban Kolsky, Jeremiah Owyang and Diogo Rebelo participated in the panel. Since I was in the room, and organized the track, I threw my $.02 in every once in a while (sorry guys). I followed up via email with Sameer and Esteban, and Jeremiah started a whole thread on data and data ownership on the scrm-pioneers Google group.

Please keep in mind that I am looking at this question from the company perspective. I know, how very non-social of me and of course Inside-out. In fairness, companies knowing more about people is a good thing, it can aid in more Social CRM types of activities – I understand your privacy concerns, but let’s not go there just yet.  The idea I threw out at the conference was simple “Data owned and Data borrowed”. My meaning was/is simplistic, there is some data that will be managed by the company and then there is data managed by someone else (maybe even me). An example of this is the data that a company has because they asked me for it, core demographic (Email, Address, Phone) and then there is the data that they try to find out about me and my company by taking the core demographic data and looking elsewhere (Hoovers, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Radian6, Gist).

So, on to my thoughts…

The following taxonomy (a bit of an obnoxious word, apologies) which I forwarded to Sameer and Esteban looks like this:

1 – Data owned – The system in question is the canonical source for the information
2 – Data copied – The system has a copy (synch maybe) of a piece of data
3 – Data borrowed – The system is either pushed a piece of data or it pulls it and it can act on it logically but does not keep a copy
4 – Data displayed – Think UI mashup, the system itself is basically unaware of the presence

(With friends as witnesses, this article was well underway prior to the SalesForce announced intent to purchase Jigsaw. What was once ‘borrowed’ or displayed data – as we will see – might now be managed data, if this becomes a trend, the equation may change)

Esteban, in typical fashion, started with “I like your taxonomy, but…” Esteban suggested a slightly simpler approach “Created, Stored, Used”, which is a little simpler, as borrowed and displayed are combined. While the majority of the world seems to enjoying bickering (me too sometimes) on minute details, I am perfectly fine with the suggestion (no “but”). Esteban’s most valuable point to me is the following:”..the true value is not in the creation or storage, is in the proper use.” I like that, as long as the use within the terms specified by the owner. Going into data ownership is beyond this post, (and I will quickly get in over my head), as the Terms of Service seems to be a little different for various data sources.

Now, on to some feedback from Sameer. Sameer struggles with my suggested taxonomy as well, and he has a right to, as I was unclear in my email to him. Was I intentionally ambiguous, no, but I tried not to lead the answer either. Thinking out loud if you will hoping to get others to think as well. Sameer flattened my taxonomy as well, but he combined copied and borrowed. This is an interesting perspective and I cannot disagree with his logic either: “Where it used to be that the money was in the aggregation, now its in the network facilitator who in turn gets to sell the fire hose or the data to be manipulated into intelligence.”

Operational versus Analytics, it makes a difference

If the system is looked at from a purely operational perspective; meaning people trying to make decisions based on atomic changes (versus masses of data) the approach needs to be one way. If you would actually like to understand trends and behaviors (you know, Analytics) then you would actually need a copy of the data I referred to as borrowed.  In reading back through my own words, I suppose the question is not really “Who Owns Social Data?” (As I believe Sameer said on the panel “Who cares?”) it is more important to understand what you would like to do with it – what you need, when you need it.

In the end, I might suggest to keep the more detailed taxonomy, and you can feel free to condense or expand as necessary. I believe that for their described uses of data both Esteban and Sameer are correct.  I also know that Sameer does not just focus on Analysis, nor does Esteban just focus on operational use – my point is specifying the use upfront is important.What are your thoughts? Is the taxonomy too simple, too complex – or just plain old unnecessary?

I would like to thank them each of them for their time. Each has their own blog, and you should pay attention to them there!

Esteban Kolsky is a customer strategist. He advises organizations of all sizes how to approach their customer initiatives to succeed. Esteban believes strongly in analyzing data from carefully thought out research. Esteban also likes to tackle the sticky issues that the rest of us avoid – calling a spade a spade if you will.

Sameer Patel helps leading organizations accelerate employee, customer and partner performance via the strategic use of social and collaborative approaches and technology. He shares his thoughts on this, as well as the software vendor landscape and on occasion, a healthy rant or two about unrelated stuff that’s on my mind.

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

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.