I didn’t realize it until this week, but there still seems to be some confusion about Social CRM in certain business circles. Let’s fix that right now.
(Before you get too excited, Social Media ROI: Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization won’t be followed by Social CRM: The Complete Guide to the Obvious. We can take care of this right here and without the need for another 299 pages of examples and how-tos.)
This is how the discussion started: Neville Hobson (@jangles on Twitter) asked Edelman Digital’s Chuck Hemann (@chuckhemann) and I what we thought of Esteban Kolsky’s (@ekolsky) definition of Social CRM yesterday. The definition, as it appears below, comes from this piece on Neville’s blog, dated 9 May 2011, following Luke Brynley-Jones‘ Social CRM 2011 event in London:
[…] The closest best definition on the day came from Esteban Kolsky in his presentation on “Three Reasons You Will Do Social CRM”:
[Social] CRM is a philosophy and a business strategy, supported by a system and a technology, designed to improve human interaction in a business environment.
It’s a start. A good start, even, but while I don’t disagree with the definition completely (and here I must apologize to Esteban for what follows), it misses the mark twice:
First, CRM is neither a philosophy nor a business strategy, but a business function. CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. (Emphasis on management: A function.) So before we do anything else, the definition should be changed to this:
[Social] CRM is a business function supported by a system and a technology, designed to improve human interaction in a business environment.
Second, the definition is far too vague about what the system and technology actually do. And because it is vague and doesn’t actually provide a clear explanation of what the technology does, it fails as a definition. We have to go a little further if we want to make it work.
Let’s begin with the last part and maybe we can find a way to whip it into something more helpful: “Designed to improve human interaction in a business environment.” What does that mean? The telephone is designed to improve human interactions in a business environment. So are email and memos. Faxes, IMs, SMS, blogs, video-conferencing and high tech conference rooms and work spaces all perform the same function. What differentiates SCRM from any other collaboration tool? is it even a collaboration tool?
You see how already, something crucial is missing.
If we want to look at the definition of SCRM in the context of company-customer relations, then we must include that element in the definition. Let’s see what that looks like:
[Social] CRM is a business function supported by a system and a technology, designed to improve human interaction between companies and consumers in a business environment.
Okay, that’s a little better. But we still aren’t there. We’ve established that CRM is a business function. We don’t need the final four words of the definition. In fact, they are incorrect as the expansion of CRM into the social space blurs the line between business environments and non-business environments. Our definition now becomes:
[Social] CRM is a business function supported by a system and a technology, designed to improve human interaction between companies and consumers.
Now we are getting somewhere. The definition is far less vague than it was before. We are starting to see what the aim of CRM is… but it still isn’t entirely clear, is it. What kinds of human interactions are we talking about? Is SCRM a customer service tool? A technical support tool? A marketing tool? What sets it apart from communications tools, which also improve human interactions between companies and customers?
We need to dig deeper.
Let’s start with the obvious: What is the difference between CRM and SCRM?
CRM collects data on consumers so that customer service reps and salespeople can look up their purchase history, billing history, complaint history, and any other information pertaining to their interactions with your company. It allows you to serve them better when they call with a question or problem, and it also allows you to better target them when the marketing department cranks up the budget furnaces. That’s what CRM does. It focuses on what consumers do with your company and allows you to use that information.
Social CRM (SCRM) aims to bring a whole new data set to traditional CRM by linking customers’ social data to their transaction data. What does that mean? Well, it means is that in addition to what traditional CRM tells you about these customers, SCRM also adds what they do outside of their relationship with your company: Where they go, what they like, what they share, what they search for, what they talk about, etc. by collecting that data from social networking platforms like Twitter, Facebook, blogs, YouTube, Foursquare and many more.
Social CRM takes traditionalCRM and injects it with what can be best described as lifestyle data, human data, broader cultural and behavioral data. You are no longer limited to observing your customers in a controlled environment. You can now observe them in their natural habitat and understand him better.
It also gives you insights into whether or not specific customers talk positively or negatively about you, or not at all. It allows you to map their connections and affiliations. It allows you to understand their beliefs and behaviors better. It gives context to what they do in the tiny narrow bandwidth in which you interact with them as a business. It pulls back the curtain on what makes customers tick.
What SCRM promises to do is combine customers’ transaction data (what you already had access to through your traditional CRM system) with their social/lifestyle data (which they publish to the social web). Imagine the depth of insights this will yield.
So let’s come back to our definition problem. We left things at:
[Social] CRM is a business function supported by a system and a technology, designed to improve human interaction between companies and consumers.
We need to add what we just talked about:
[Social] CRM is a business function supported by a system and a technology, designed to improve human interaction between companies and consumers by connecting customers transaction data with the lifestyle data they share online.
The “improve human interactions” piece seems redundant now. The “technology” piece might also be too complex now to rely on just one. Let’s try that again:
[Social] CRM is a business function supported by a system and technologies whose aims are to improve a company’s ability to derive insights into customer needs and behaviors by connecting their transaction data with the lifestyle data they share online.
Note that the term “transaction” here meaning more than purchases. It encompasses all interactions with the company. An email is a transaction. An order is a transaction. A customer service call is a transaction.
Depending on how well you understand the world of CRM, here is a variation of the definition:
[Social] CRM is a business function supported by a system and technologies whose aims are to improve a company’s ability to derive insights into customer needs and behaviors by adding to their transaction data the lifestyle data they share online.
Are these last two ideal definitions of SCRM? I don’t know. You tell me. All I can hope is that these two versions of the definition – still works in progress – move the ball forward a little bit, at least for now.
My other hope is that by 2013, the term SCRM becomes obsolete, and CRM has simply evolved into the richer ecosystem of data, insights and consumer interactions provided by the social web. In my mind, the sooner we stop qualifying everything in terms of “social” or not social (as if the two were still somehow separate from one another), the better things will work. For now though, the painful transition continues. Viva la revolución!
A huge thanks to Esteban Kolsky for getting things started, and for letting me rudely snatch the baton from his hand (you’re a good sport, Esteban) and to Neville Hobson and Chuck Hemann for getting the conversation started earlier this week on the Twitternets. Their wonderful blogs, respectively, are here, here, and here.
Additional reading – This short and brilliant bit from Eric Swain: http://www.social-collective.com/2010/08/10/guest-post-social-media-is-dead-long-live-social-crm/
The comment section is now yours.
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If you haven’t already, pick up your copy of Social Media ROI: Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization (Que/Pearson) at quality bookstores worldwide, or download the e-version to your favorite device. Don’t let the title fool you, it is a lot more about building social media programs for companies than it is about measuring ROI. Check out the reviews on Amazon.com.
I am not actually going to comment too much on your core points. I think you have some great ideas and end on a strong note. What I would request is that you do a little digging into the core of CRM definitions that you decided to change. The definition is not owned by anyone, so, you are within your right. What you quote as Esteban’s definition, is actually only part of Paul G’s longer definition (and Esteban always reference’s Paul when he gives talks). There is a great deal of important history missed, my opinion.
The other part which I believe is important is that CRM is not a business function, it is a set of business functions (using your terms). I believe it is closer to a set of business objectives, and what good are objectives without a philosophy and strategy to get there. That is a longer conversation. I personally believe that in order to push the conversation forward – it is important to be clear on which part of CRM is being discussed; Sales, Service or Marketing.
One major point I think is lacking is the customer to customer interaction – community, which many consider part of (a very important part) of the Social CRM landscape. Your thoughts are very company centric, while I believe a critical component of the social aspect is to include the customer in the conversation, not just to glean insights into what they say.
I do appreciate your perspective.
Mitch, thanks for the comment. I don’t disagree with you. But here’s the thing: Of course CRM is company-centric. Consumers didn’t come up with CRM (neither the notion nor the corporate acronym). They didn’t come up with the entire CRM “solution” industry. All they want is for someone at the companies they do business with to give a shit, remember who they are, and treat them well. They couldn’t care less about processes and systems and technology.
Companies created CRM because somewhere along the line, they became impersonal, and more importantly incapable of managing relationships the way human beings engaged in commerce always had. CRM started out as a crutch. A way for salespeople and CSRs to access customer info without having to go digging in twenty file folders for it. More importantly, its purpose is, and has always been, to allow a company employee on his first day, to act like they know a customer with whom they have never had previous contact.
The cold hard truth is that CRM allows companies to apply an assembly-line methodology to customer service. Is it evil? Is it wrong? No. It’s functional. But it does take the place of real interactions, of relationships, between consumers and employees. It doesn’t matter if they talk to John, Chris or Mary. They’ll get the same exact quality of service every time. Why? Because John, Chris and Mary have access to the exact same information. They look at the same screen. If they’re gone tomorrow and the company outsources its customer service or its outbound sales, even its marketing, to a contractor 7,000 miles away, it won’t matter either.
Then there’s the data. If decent CRM solutions collect and organize data, good ones help you make sense of it. This is data you can use to target certain customers instead of others. If one customer or group of customers’ buy rate is falling off, you know it. You can do something about it. If one customer (or a group of customers) has suddenly stopped buying one of your products, you know it. You know when it happened. You can do some digging and find out why.
You really think that the majority of companies invest in CRM solutions in order to engage with communities and befriend customers? When you talk about CRM, the conversation almost always begins with the technology. “What’s your CRM solution?” “Do you use salesforce or something else?” CRM is about cost-effectiveness and efficiency.
Are your social relationships about cost effectiveness and efficiency? Mine aren’t. That’s why I don’t own a CRM solution.
Now, let’s get back to the human conversation. The aspirational conversation. Yes, companies should look to the social web as a means to personalize business again, to get to know their customers (and I mean REALLY know them), to establish lasting connections and bonds with them. But you know what? The second you bring CRM into the picture (or SCRM), that dream evaporates.
The vast majority of companies, while talking a good game, will use and regard CRM the same way they always have: As a crutch. As a tool. As a technology that allows them to improve their internal processes: Sales, customer service, marketing. CRM is technology in support of specific processes, which themselves support key business functions. That isn’t going to change because we add the word “social” into the mix.
So philosophically, I am with you 100%. But in practice, I have worked with enough companies, CRM vendors and consumers to mistake what I wish things would be like for the way things really are (and will continue to be for the foreseeable future).
What you are talking about requires a radical change in internal business cultures. The thing is, business cultures are not changing at the same pace as media and technology, and they certainly aren’t going to change just because CRM suddenly interfaces with social platforms.
If you want to talk about the evolution of business, about ideal management cultures and customer-centric organizations and slefless leadership, let’s. I bet you and I will be in lock-step on just about every point. But this CRM thing, social or not, it’s a completely different kind of conversation. 😉
Cheers, Mitch. Thanks again for the comment.
“Hello, cell phone company support rep, I’m having a problem with my bill. I continue to be billed for this service, even though I requested three months ago to have it removed.”
“Well, our CRM shows that you have Plan X, which includes that service by default.”
“But I canceled it three months ago.”
“I see that you requested to cancel it, but the terms of service for that plan don’t allow it.”
“So why did your rep say they’d take care of it?”
“I don’t know, the CRM shows they talked to the manager, but couldn’t do it.”
“So why didn’t they call me or otherwise let me know?”
“I don’t have an answer for that, all I know is that a change to your current plan was not possible, so it wasn’t done.”
“Ummm, so what you’re telling me is you have highly detailed information in your CRM about why your policies and employees screwed me?”
Yeah. I’ll take “Give a sh*t” over CRM any day (but GAS + CRM = better than GAS by itself, in most cases).
“My other hope is that by 2013, the term SCRM becomes obsolete, and CRM has simply evolved into the richer ecosystem of data, insights and consumer interactions provided by the social web. In my mind, the sooner we stop qualifying everything in terms of “social” or not social (as if the two were still somehow separate from one another), the better things will work.”
That hit the nail on the head for me. I keep finding myself yo-yo’ing between definitions for what SCRM is and isn’t, but this is a very succinct way of putting my frustration; everything we do is inherently social and it’s impossible to remove that element from the equation.
I think that a lot of the ‘zeitgeisty’ confusion and debate around what SCRM is and isn’t is a hangover from the revelation of ‘web 2.0’ [please forgive my use of buzzwords] and the social layer on everything we do (on and offline). For some reason ‘social’ is, to many people, still a huge revolution that is happening, when really all that I see is continuous iterations on extra functionality invented back in the 90’s.
Another thing I’ve seen is this idea that SCRM, because it has social added to it, becomes more simplistic than traditional CRM. This is completely false. If anything capturing the extra data and manipulating it in a way that benefits both the consumer and the brand is far more involved than things used to be. It’s not as simple as storing a list of tweets alongside someone’s data, and we are talking about data here. The data is the gold, not the ‘relationship’ that you foster by talking to your customers online through social channels. I’m not saying that this isn’t a worthwhile and important endeavor, but it’s not SCRM.
Forgive the waffle. Very good post. +1
The only reason we are talking about SCRM is because the technology is different from traditional CRM. Vendors have to be able to differentiate between the two. So instead of saying “Our new CRM solution integrates social components,” they just say, “we will be releasing a Social CRM solution this fall.” It’s marketing. Nothing more.
And internally, companies justify the investment in new CRM solutions by adopting the SCRM nomenclature because it’s cool and flashy and hot. CRM isn’t sexy, no matter how well it interfaces with social platforms. Nobody cares except for the employees who actually use it. But call CRM “Social CRM” and suddenly you have a shiny new object to talk about. Now, executives’ eyes light up. “We’re going to leverage that social media thing to get more customers. We couldn’t do that with the old CRM.”
Except… CRM main purpose isn’t to help you acquire new customers. It’s there to help you develop and retain existing ones, “social” or not.
You are spot-on with this:
“Another thing I’ve seen is this idea that SCRM, because it has social added to it, becomes more simplistic than traditional CRM. This is completely false. If anything capturing the extra data and manipulating it in a way that benefits both the consumer and the brand is far more involved than things used to be. It’s not as simple as storing a list of tweets alongside someone’s data, and we are talking about data here. The data is the gold, not the ‘relationship’ that you foster by talking to your customers online through social channels. I’m not saying that this isn’t a worthwhile and important endeavor, but it’s not SCRM.”
On the nose. Thanks for the comment, George.
thanks for doing this, always appreciate when someone continues the conversation.
a couple points to further this conversation.
that quote was taken slightly out of context, it was a portion of a presentation i did where i pretty much built a similar case to the one you build above (it is about relationships, it is about knowing more about the customer with the data, it is about using the data, etc.) but i also took it a little further to find a reason to be social (find the right people to collaborate with, and the right content to collaborate on).
the link to that entire presentation is http://www.slideshare.net/ekolsky/three-reasons-you-will-do-social-crm, and the link to the followup presentation talking about the collaborative enterprise is http://www.slideshare.net/ekolsky/to-socialcrm-and-beyond.
the second thing i wanted to highlight, there is an 800-page book on this subject that goes into way more detail than we can address in blogs, it was written by Paul Greenberg and it is “CRM at the Speed of Light, 4th edition” (amazon has it, http://www.amazon.com/CRM-Speed-Light-Fourth-Strategies/dp/0071590455/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1314805746&sr=8-7 non-affiliate link, i don’t do that). Paul has been defining and driving the CRM Market since 2001, and this latest tome is an ode to Social CRM – and the definitive guide to it. Paul spent 2 years and collaborated with over 200 people in an open wiki to come up with the definition for Social CRM that we all settled in some 2 years ago. You can find Paul’s blog http://the56group.typepad.com/pgreenblog/2009/07/time-to-put-a-stake-in-the-ground-on-social-crm.html (that was the post the defined Social CRM, and there is one or two follow ups in his blog as well), and more about his Social CRM definition is all over that blog.
the use of the term has been settled for some time now, we are not past the definition wars, but that does not preclude vendors from trying to re-define it to fit their specific needs. fortunately, we have lots of good case studies that are being brought forward and published. we are not arguing whether it’s a function, or a strategy, or a business imperative or whether it needs ROI or not – we are doing it and letting people who are into fighting over a word placement continue on that for their own benefit.
I know you’ve been brought into this 1/2 way in and without the context, so wanted to give you some of the context. and tell you that i agree with most of what you wrote, the only differences coming from the different perspectives we have coming to the market from different sides.
Thanks, much appreciated. I was, in fact, brought in not just 1/2 way into the conversation but weeks after it happened, and presented with a mere sliver of an echo of it.
Having said that, CRM (and SCRM) aren’t rocket science. I mean yes, the guts of CRM, the inner workings of the technology, of the code, of the way data is acquired and stored and parsed, yes that’s on par rocket science. But understanding what CRM does, social or not, what its uses are, that isn’t really super complicated. I have been working with CRM solutions most of my adult life, some good, some bad. I’ve even worked pretty closely with some key CRM vendors. So I am not completely new to the topic. I have seen it from every angle: The vendor, the distributor, the companies using it, and the consumers on their side of the magic curtain. I get it.
Now, in all deference to Paul, there’s no way on God’s green Earth that I am going to read an 800 page book on CRM. I read an 800 page book on hobbits and wizards once, and as fun as that was, it stretched far beyond the limits of my attention span. Unless all of the CRM solutions call themselves SkyNet, revolt, nuke the world and start sending robot assassins into the past to kill a little boy named John Connor, I imagine 800 pages of CRM discussions would probably melt my brain into a surrendering puddle of apathetic goo.
So Kudos to Paul for writing the definitive CRM opus, but the world I live in requires me to be able to explain something’s value in 60 seconds or less, not two and half weeks. And here, we come back to today’s topic: Coming up with a clear and concise definition for the new breed of CRM many like to call “Social CRM.”
The idea isn’t to compete against Paul or you or anybody else. What I did was take what Neville took away from what you presented based on your and Paul’s combined insights, (the one-sentence definition quoted at the top of the post) injected my insights into it, and reshaped it to suit my typical client’s (or audience’s) needs.
Here’s the thing, Esteban: If I can’t clearly explain what sCRM is in one sentence, I haven’t simplified my client’s life. I’ve complicated it. My objective isn’t to be the expert in CRM and impress people with how much I know or how long I can talk about it. I will gladly let Paul be the expert and the go-to guy for all things CRM. The guy probably knows more on the subject than I would ever care to learn. My job here isn’t to be the expert. It is to take complex topics and make them accessible to people who are confused by them.
Neville pointed us to your definition of SCRM, which you presented in London. I think I wasn’t alone in finding it a tad vague (in or out of the context of the greater 800 page opus). Neville and I thought that perhaps I should write a piece on how to make the definition work better, and here we are.
The collaborative enterprise bit you mention, it’s fascinating, and I think you and I are on the same page there, but it isn’t the topic of this post. Your presentation as a whole isn’t either. Neither is Paul’s 800 page CRM opus. Chuck, Neville and I, in our brief conversation, focused specifically on the one sentence SCRM definition piece. That’s what this post is about. Nothing more. 😉
Yes this is all actually based on the Greenberg definition. But I like your deconstruction. We did the same thing from an association perspective: Social CRM is the discipline of applying social media to membership management. Then we took our definition and applied it to use cases, which we believe is the key to get to ROI. (White paper is here – http://www.socialfish.org/2011/08/roi-and-the-impact-of-social-crm-new-white-paper.htm)
I do think the philosophy and business strategy part is crucial, though. If you google “Social CRM” you get thousands of links about tools and platforms and there’s way more to it than that.
Agreed, but then a) that’s a business culture discussion, and b) Customer Relationship is important enough not to turn into an acronym.
The second you call it CRM, you’ve stopped talking about philosophy and moved into a technology discussion.
Enter: Guy who just wants the companies he does business with to give a shit, remember who he is, and treat him well. He couldn’t care less about processes and systems and technology enabling big business to do more with less (typically, greater profits from less service, but he digresses), beyond those which empower the first person he speaks to on the phone (who picks up within three rings, sans robot gatekeeper) to resolve his issue right away.
Also, he apologizes for commenting in the third person.
Shifting gears, the reason redefining CRM is important is, many of the problems associated with CRM implementations gone wrong are due to its being sold as all things to all people and then not adequately supported after the fact (by vendor, by customer), resulting in all kinds of static on the wire. The common definition is vague enough to enable the shills and hucksters to keep collecting commissions on CRM sales a la social media “gurus.”
‘The common definition is vague enough to enable the shills and hucksters to keep collecting commissions on CRM sales a la social media “gurus.”’
Nicely done. sCRM is faster and includes more data (and is much harder to manage because we often don’t have reliable customer ID info and unified databases across social platforms). Otherwise, same thing with the same outcomes.
Thanks. That’s right.
Dang. I was getting all amped to say “We shouldn’t even be distinguishing between SCRM and CRM in a few years” and you went and stole my thunder in the last couple of paragraphs.
I think your definition, for today, is extremely clear and helpful.
Now, if there were just a product that met or exceeded the requirements put forth in your definition. I don’t suppose you’ve stumbled across one in the last week or so, have you?
Sadly, nothing stacks up to our requirements and expectations just yet, Todd. Maybe in a year or two. Or three. Maybe.
CRM was a convenient label to sell software, consulting, books, and speeches. Now Social CRM has become the same thing 10 years later.
While I agree philosophically that CRM should not be about technology, the market studies I’ve done over the years say that “doing” CRM is mainly about using technology to automate processes and deliver value to the company – not the customer. It’s not a business strategy, it’s an automation strategy.
Let’s set the record straight on some history. Social CRM was “invented” by Oracle in 2008. Not by Paul Greenberg or any other analysts, consultants or media pundits.
The good collaborative work that Paul facilitated was on CRM 2.0, which is defined this way on the wiki he created (http://bit.ly/oOh0fL):
“CRM 2.0 is a philosophy & a business strategy, supported by a system and a technology, designed to engage the customer in a collaborative interaction that provides mutually beneficial value in a trusted & transparent business environment.”
Then Paul relabeled CRM 2.0 as Social CRM (in 2009, if memory serves) when social became hot. But CRM 2.0 really wasn’t and isn’t about social media, although social media has been a contributing factor to why CRM should evolve to be collaborative.
Oracle’s Social CRM definition was much more straightforward:
“Web 2.0 techniques and networking techniques being applied to a business application.”
Oracle’s initial Social CRM solution was on internal sales collaboration, but the definition is actually quite descriptive of what is actually happening more broadly in the market today. Salesforce.com has chosen to call it the “social enterprise” (and is doing a much better job of actually delivering products, I might add), but the core idea is really the same as Oracle.
While it’s true to a fair extent that “CRM” was hijacked by vendors, I think the reverse is true for Social CRM. Oracle coined the term, then everyone else jumped on board to capture some of that social magic. CRM 2.0’s definition was given a new title and here we are today.
However, there is still not a consistent definition of what Social CRM really is – or what it should be. That’s leading many Social CRM vendors to jump ship to CEM, Social Business, and other buzzwords to be invented later (http://bit.ly/iguy7h).
Outstanding comment, Bob. Thanks a bunch for contributing that.
Excellent, point well made. I wrote a similar post, and the definition simply is really, really weak. It has been subject to argument and debate inside and outside of “SCRM circles” for years now – and where there’s smoke, there’s fire
http://www.martijnlinssen.com/2011/02/social-crm-oxymoron.html describes the social CRM oxymoron: it is hard, if not impossible, to link traditional CRM customers to online consumers. How is a company going to know that @thebrandbuilder is that very same Olivier Blanchard that they have on record?
If anything, that’s going to cost a relative huge amount of money
The definition at best describes a vague What, but not a Why, nor a How, nor a WithWhat. You can replace the word SCRM there by anything else: sharepoint, Twitter and even escort service
I’ve seen “the community” ask you to hold your horses and firstdo a deep and long study – well don’t. The conclusions you’ll draw after that will make this post look benign
Thanks for the comment, Martijn. I have been trying to wrap my mind around the bizarre (and at times virulent) push-back I have received from a handful of CRM “professionals” both here and on Twitter since publishing this article.
Here’s what I don’t get:
1. The definition submitted by Esteban (a variation on Paul’s longer and arguably better version) is vague at best. One of the “offended” CRM pros who attacked me on twitter over this post stated that the accepted definition of SCRM, the one I attempted to clarify here, was “deliciously vague.” I guess I must have missed the part where the definition of the word “definition” changed from “the act of defining or making definite, distinct, or clear; the formal statement of the meaning or significance of a word, phrase, idiom, etc., as found in dictionaries” to “the act of not defining or making indefinite, indistinct or unclear; keeping the meaning or significance of a word deliciously vague.” And yet, that was one of the key arguments being brought forth in “response” to this post.
Why would professionals in the CRM “community” purposely defend a definition that is at best, even by their own admission vague? This is not a rhetorical question. Something doesn’t smell right here.
2. In light of ongoing discussions inside the so-called “CRM community” in regards to the absence of a clear definition for SCRM, why is it that no sooner is an attempt at clarifying the term made, the first reaction is angry and defensive rather than excited and welcoming? Are new ideas forbidden? From the reaction (which degenerated into insults and ridiculous accusations on the twitternets this morning) you would think that I just took a piss on a holy relic or something. All I did was suggest a clearer definition. My hope was that the CRM community would embrace the attempt and build on it.
I would be happy to see CRM experts tweak my two final suggestions the way I tweaked Esteban’s. Cut out the parts that don’t work. Add pieces that clarify it further. Move the ball forward. be there for the pass and kick it downfield. None of my handful of vehement critics on this issue have made the slightest attempt to do this. They prefer instead to question my intentions, my tone, my credentials, even, and suggest that I have ulterior motives. That this post was some kind of attack.
Are new ideas (and I use the term “new” loosely here) not welcome in the “CRM community?” I have a hard time believing that.
3. Having been in management for a pretty long time now, I have used my fair share of CRM solutions. I can go back to the early days of CRM, back when people thought Goldmine was the shit. Several years ago, I shifted from being a user of CRM solutions to driving their adoption in the distribution channel. I worked closely with vendors, with their product, sales and marketing teams, and talked extensively with their customers about CRM. During the time I spent working with Microsoft, some of the most far-reaching discussions I had with their strategy people dealt with the future of CRM, market intelligence and consumer insights management. I know this stuff through and through. I see the potential for CRM 10-15 years in the future, not just 6 months from now. When you see the whole field, it isn’t rocket science.
And yet it has been suggested to me several times this week, by the same people who find this post offensive or arrogant or whatever, that before I can dive into this topic, I should do more research, read more blogs, engage in more discussions with the “CRM community.”
Whatever the CRM community is, assuming I haven’t already been an integral part of it for 15 years, I would hope that it would be represented by smarter, more intellectually curious professionals than a handful of clowns too busy to defend bad religion to actually embrace a productive debate.
Maybe there’s a CRM decoder ring I need to get, or a super secret handshake I need to learn before I can be allowed to step in the CRM community’s sandbox? Maybe I need to request a dispensation from the CRM community next time they hold their next conclave, giving me special permission to dare discuss CRM on my blog?
I can honestly say that this is the first time since the launch of this blog that an honest (and 100% innocent) attempt at injecting a little forward momentum to a stalled discussion has met with such an unwarranted negative reaction. Granted, it has come from only a handful of zealots, but still. It’s just bizarre to see people react like this to something as simple as the suggestion of a clearer definition.
I guess just like Social Media, the world of CRM has its little band of would-be gurus. Maybe some of them suck at the whole expertise bit just as badly as the hacks who give social media consulting a bad name.
Maybe I just struck a nerve.
Nice plug for the book right as you started this post. 🙂
Guilty as charged. 😀
Thank you for starting this conversation.
Please consider the following questions, as you continue to develop your definition:
1a) What are the purposes of [Social] CRM, beyond insight? What are the purposes of the insight? What are the purposes of the interactions?
1b) How will the company [customer] be better off as a result of [Social] CRM?
2) Is [Social-CRM] one-sided or two-sided [collaborative]? What is the role of the customer in [Social CRM]?
3) Who manages the relationship in [Social] CRM?
I hope these questions will help advance this conversation.
Definition discussions, yet again? 🙂
I laud the efforts at trying to wordsmith the definition to make it simpler for the audience in question, but the simplicity is too limiting IMHO & proposes that a (social) CRM doesn’t do anything, just gains insights. Please do not mistake my words to be condescending, but I wonder what good is an insight if it will not be acted upon. Granted you do not say that the organization will not act upon the insight, but I fail to understand who then does anything with those insights? Do you propose that marketing, sales, service do not fall under the umbrella of CRM? Maybe this newly wordsmithed definition is thus unintentionally misleading?
May be this is a chance for me to relook at my understanding of the stuff after understanding, observing, thinking, conceptualizing, designing, architecting, deploying social computing platforms & tools that were hired for various jobs to be done by my organization as well as clients over these past 3-4 years. So I will take an implied liberty of a blog and posit some of my views to help wordsmith the definition again. 🙂
If I were to take a systems view, I would see them as systems of record, engagement & awareness. My idea of Systems of awareness consists of Living Anlytics Adaptive Learning loop and Reality Mining too in addition to all the other BI/social analytics, etc. I am still building on a line of thought that started off with something I call the 4p Steradian view thats absolutely necessary in an increasingly multi-channel world. So please excuse me if I am not so clear in articulating it properly. My point being, lifestyle data shared online by people themselves is just scratching the surface.
But are we right in taking a systems view or should we consider a social computing or complex adaptive system view? Listen to this podcast to understand this question better.
BTW, why are we limiting our models to systems and other computational technologies? Didn’t the first contention center around a strategy & function? So how about considering this field from an organizational perspective?
Taking an economics view at why companies/firms form (The Nature of the Firm by Ronald Coase), social (or should we call digital) technologies and container ships are wearning down the very reasons why they exist (market friction, efficiencies, etc.). Flat world & power of pull talk about these at length of course; my point here is that social networks at play via digital technologies are bringing about disruptions in business models, a level above even business strategies, no?
Organizations are structured into departments & teams (predominantly around functions, right?). And they predominantly act as silos, especially in large organizations, no? Ranjay Gulati in his book Restructuring for resilience talks about the reasons why these silos got formed in the first place (efficiencies) and why they need breaking (innovation, responsiveness, effectiveness). Even amongst the social media gurus it is well recognized/agreed upon that social media response teams need to be cross functional.
Taking a slight diversion, social network analysis (SNA) applied in the context of organizations brought about organizational network analysis (ONA) to better understand the informal structures in organizations. However Value Network Analysis offers a better option to bring better collaboration amongst the silos that Ranjay suggests.
Even if we are to consider the customer relationship management as practiced in the past 40-50 years, they have evolved from a transaction based view to one-to-one to network based views. Social media, online communities and the rise of the ‘social customer’ has only reinforced the need for increased focus on networked relationships. Add to this the realisation about value co-creation and service dominant logic being the need of the hour as against the value exchange and product dominant logic of businesses. There is a heavy tilt in focus towards “jobs-to-be-done” framework.
Definitions will be unique to each individual, organization. They will be the axis around which they will seal their fate, since by nature definitions are limiting in their own quirky way. These organizations might hire us to help them come up with the correct definition conducive to their fate. In which case let us provide them enough data points for them to understand the cosmic relevance and then help them formulate a tightly wordsmithed definiton for themselves.
A very comprehensive and to us, a perfectly put definition of Social CRM. We have had trouble explaining this concept to clients before too. Many unfortunately think that it is an opening up of too many channels for communication and could potentially overwhelm support. Our take on it is that social network channels already exist and are already functioning as a CRM tool whether the business likes it or not. To develop a CRM is just a method to streamline a function that you already have and aren’t addressing yet.
Nice article…thanks for sharing…:)
Amen: “In my mind, the sooner we stop qualifying everything in terms of “social” or not social (as if the two were still somehow separate from one another), the better things will work.”
Nice to see Social CRM 2011 (London) kicked off such a long and excitable thread. I’m actually in New York tomorrow running the re-match (the innovatively titled) Social CRM 2011 New York. I’ll be asking Frank Eliason to define social CRM this time. Hold fire for his answer.
I’ll be in Paris on 6th Dec asking the same question again, in French.
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