Social CRM and the Tinkerbell Effect

The Tinkerbell effect describes those things that exist only because people believe in them (source wikipedia). I suppose I could make this really controversial and slam Social CRM as simply in existence due to vendors, and people like me who talk about it. It would be quite easy to simply state that customers are more vocal, they do all sorts of new things; but it is really just CRM for here and now. I included the following in a post I wrote last week which speaks specifically about your customers – yes, Yours!

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

Generation C is a cross-generational, age independent sociagraphic (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 –  We use the Phone, Email sometime, 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

OK, so what,  just because I say it is so, does not make it so, does it?

The real value from Social CRM comes from being able to change how you and your company do business and communicate with (not to) your customers, present and future. If done right, you will improve the user experience while building advocacy at the same time.  Simply responding to as many comments or tweets as possible is senseless and not scalable – oh and a waste of time. For the detractors in the crowd, this should simply be a matter of course, not something new. Jumping on a new channel, trying to be cool and hip, does not work either. Have you ever tried to jump in on a conversation with your teenager (or someone else’s) and tried to act cool, and fit in? Yeah, how did it go? Not great, huh? My kids laugh at me, but that does not mean I will stop trying, or believing.

Social CRM is the simple belief that you are able to speak to your customers on their terms, not yours. They actually want to collaborate with you, let you know how your product can be made better. Customers may not always be very tactful, but information is information, right? Customers are mobile, right? If, you are reading this you might be researching CRM, you might be a customer, or a future customer. Do you have a mobile phone, I am guessing yes.  Do you create content, blogs, or write reviews.  How about chat on Facebook, Linkedin?

The Conclusion? Social CRM is not here because I am writing about it, nor because vendors are creating products around it. Just as the strategy of Social CRM is in response to the Social Customer – the solutions required are in response to a companies need to track that information.

9 thoughts on “Social CRM and the Tinkerbell Effect

  1. Ah music to my ears! One of my biggest pet-peeves during any SocialCRM discussion is that it turns close to 100% customer support issues. That way of looking at it is incomplete, but I think people are enamored with it, because that’s what you see externally. The importance of internal collaboration just as important and will drive your ability to provide good customer service (which is NOT the same thing as answering each comment about yourself – you are absolutely right). What’s even more important than customer service, in my opinion, is co-creation – fully letting your customer “in” and letting her feel like part of the process of making the product better. And yes, all of that has to be done where your customer is, not in the “shiny new object” of today – so again, you need to collaborate internally to make sure that you can meet the customer where she is, on her terms, and collaborate with her.

  2. Don’t remember who said it “If we can think it we can build it”. It’s funny: Oracle created the term. Consultants redefined it as a “strategy” and a little startup like our – finally built it.
    The interesting part of our journey is this meeting with a client when he said: “But why on earth don’t you want to call it Social CRM – it is exactly what I and many other envision how a Social CRM system should look like.”
    I guess it will be interesting to watch the space down the road.

  3. @Maria – Thanks for stopping by, the comments are appreciated! I wonder what you would call my actions of simply responding to your comments, good business?, common sense?, the right thing to do? Because you are not a “Customer” does that make this an E20 comment response? So many different ways to assign a label, which might not be necessary at all. Just interesting food for thought.

    @Axel – Many companies do build things that few believe are necessary. That said, we gain value out of what was built, but might not admit it for many years. I am not going to start a war and state that a few Apple products fit that category (probably because I use some of the products). Social SCRM is an innovative approach, and the masses will decide the answer to this question in a few years, but likely not until then.

  4. Mitch,

    I love the way you have described the Gen C! And got to learn abt a new term too – Tinkerbell Effect!

    Well, if Social CRM a Tinkerbell or not is something we will come to know in due course of time – assuming someone comes to wake us out of the dream. For all I know we might just find out the whole universe is a figment of some amoeba’s dream. Or that its just an atom in my 5 YO’s toenail.

    What I am interested in is knowing … say for example … how to apply Social CRM for the brand Listerine. Does it need a facebook page? Does it need a cross-channel integration? Does it need a Levi’s like Facebook Like features on its website? Yes, one needs to know what are the customers clamoring for. So how do we figure that out? What do they want? A clean mouth? Fewer visits to the dentist? Not smell bad on a date? What are the jobs they are trying to accomplish with Listerine? How can Listerine engage with its social customers?

  5. Prem,

    You apply a solution to a problem. Did you just “project” that Listerine has a problem that a bunch of social media tools will fix?

    We can’t always expect a company to understand the problem they are faced with. So, they either have to describe the problem, or I have to see it based on experience. Are we talking about a lack of customer-centricity in the business? is it a problem for them? Or are we simply trying to solve every problem with the latest set of gadgets that may not apply to any tangible problems they are experiencing?

    If they talked to me about a problem they were having, I guess I would listen. If they told me there was bad sentiment building for their brand, I would ask them what they’re doing wrong and fix that and the sentiment will improve – I mean come on, United didn’t know that broken guitars upset people? They should’ve had a strategy that included dealing with those instances in customer-centric ways and UBG never would have happened – not that it had any impact anyway.

    If they can’t figure out how to understand the “jobs” done with their product, I would ask them what they are doing to find out. There “are” other ways to engage your customers beyond Facebook. If Facebook seemed like the best place to find their customers and determine the jobs surrounding the use of mouthwash, then I would tell them to setup a Facebook page. I doubt Facebook is going to lead to innovative ideas, but you never know (except that it won’t be reproducible).

    Unfortunately, anyone touting their software solutions / or the use of public communities as the solution, is misleading us at best. There is a lot more discovery involved before any problem can be solved.

    Oh, unless you just happened to create a product that solves all the worlds problems. I read that somewhere recently by the type of person/company I’m referring to.

    I think the Tinkerbell effect is a huge problem here. This whole SCRM thing has once again been hijacked by software startups. Everyone has a different idea and it’s going to work, promise. Is there really a problem? Sure, customers have changed, but is it really a problem for customer-centric businesses.

    The answer is, customer-centricity is the problem, and *things* are not the solution. A tool is not going to drive cultural change. There are tools that will tell they will, though – if you know what I mean. As long as I have to bring this up, the Tinkerbell effect is real for SCRM. It’s unfortunate, because there is a larger importance to the topic that is being obscured.

    So, what’s the problem again?

  6. Mike,

    You the man! See, thats exactly what I was trying to drive at. You can’t just go & say, ok here are some cool social xyz tools that everybody is going gaga (not the Lady Gaga) about … lets just get & them see the registers ringing.

    BTW, though problem is a great way of figuring out how to implement social xyz, there is also the case of thinking through & trying to use new tools for meeting the business objectives.

    Electricity was a new source of power, but it was not used properly until folks figured out that you need not place all the machines in one place like with the water/steam powered mills/factories, but could actually take the machine to anyplace where you would need it. And thus assembly lines were formed around process/work flow not power supply.

    Something similar is waiting to happen with all this ‘social’ too.

    Be it to solve a problem or to meet a business goal using new tools, strategy & thinking through is required. Not throwing new toys into the mix.

    Thinker, Tinker, Connector.

  7. @ Mitch – Ah, a great question you ask! Well, I think the notion of customer has expanded (well, it’s not just me that thinks that) – we all think it’s expanded 🙂

    Because the notion of capital has expanded to include social and intellectual capital, I think customer is now defined by not only exchange of money for goods, but also transference of social capital. For example, if someone is taking the time and energy to act as an advocate and engage with your brand (which blog comments are just one measure of), they are a customer. Because I can’t comment on each blog that’s written each day, but I can select a few to zero in on, and I consider to have given those few my endorsement. In this example of us commenting on your blog, we are not buying stuff from each other, we are contributing intellectual capital, we are co-creating, and in the end, this amplifies the message, thus boosting our social capitals and the social capital of the blog, and the visibility of the ideas. And who knows where life takes us: we may be monetary customers of each other at some point down the line.

    However… I think when you say “customer service” – that automatically means (at least in my mind) that someone needs help. They could be a paying customer, someone on trial period, or a free account – but in this case they are interacting with your product. That’s has a much more limited scope, because it denotes people who are currently using your product or service. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t need service.


    – @themaria

  8. Pingback: Klout, The Tinkerbell Effect Remix « Mitch Lieberman – A title would limit my thoughts

  9. Pingback: Klout, The Tinkerbell Effect Remix -

Comments are closed.