One of the main reasons I like Paul Greenberg so much, apart from him being a great guy and a good friend, is that he really, really dislikes taking sides among technology providers. As an analyst, I valued my independence from vendors above all else, and maybe that is why Paul and I got along so well – we never shilled for anyone, well at least not openly 😉
So, when I read a great article by Paul over at Mycustomer.com around the new customer service model, I loved that no vendors were mentioned.
This is relevant to me because I do see the importance for companies to first understand the importance of moving to a customer engagement mentality prior to trying to attack these concepts with technology solutions.
Sure, technology is all around the social CRM concept – Twitter, online social networks, mobile phones and SMS, blogs, etc. But – the management of these customer engagements starts with a strong cultural shift and the definition of processes and policies – otherwise it’s chaos.
Just as your original CRM strategy was not born out of a technology decision, but rather a process map that technology was later wrapped around (at least I hope this was your process), your social CRM strategy needs to follow a similar path.
Your existing CRM deployment need not be immediately disrupted by social channels to engage with customers, in my opinion. First, define your policies and then start engaging with customers. (Social tools can be easily embedded in a CRM interface for ease of use, especially with web-based CRM tools, making it easier for support reps to view all of their different channels in a single view.)
Once you have started to master the interconnectedness of it all, optimization through measurement and other automations with a traditional CRM system can be performed.