Social CRM: Walk Before You Run

The customer has changed, the demands have changed and we have changed. Yes, “we!” We are all in the business of buying, so we do understand that side of the coin. 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 – which supports the processes – 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 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 pause, only briefly, to think about Paul Greenberg’s definition of CRM and then his further thoughts on 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 (both Business and Consumer type). There, enough about definitions.

Since the customer changed, companies also need to change with them. 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 Kolsky 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

As we move past definitions and focus on what it is, Michael Fauscette of IDC 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.”

I am talking about the practice and implementation of Social CRM. 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 Vellmure 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.

Being Social is the next wave, there is no doubt

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

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