For the last year, I have tried to engage with the small circle of social CRM influencers. I have followed many of them on Twitter; retweeted their good content, linked to them from my blog posts and tried to engage with them on a variety of different levels. Not to debate but to learn. I am trying to figure out what it is they know that I don’t know. Is there some secret formula to social CRM that’s hidden in their brains that they only share with each other, like the Illuminati?
Perhaps I am not taken very serious. Is it that I am a marketing guy by trade? Could it be that work for a PR firm? Who knows.
Whatever the reason is, here is what I know about social CRM (and I am summarizing):
The social customer is gaining influence (we all know that) and has been ever since Al Gore invented the internet. Companies that used to engage in one way dialogue realized that the social customer was important so they began to engage. Now many of them are trying to solve customer problems via Twitter, Facebook and other networks.
I know that CRM is about managing customer relationships in an organized way; and can help improve operational effectiveness within the organization, easier access to customer data, and improved collaboration between cross functional teams, specifically sales.
I know that “social CRM”, a term often debated by industry pundits, is about putting the social customer front and center. I have a tendency of over simplifying everything but this is how I see it. Social CRM is a business strategy that helps organizations evolve into a social business. It is an initiative that considers technology, intelligence and process; so when organizations communicate with their customers they know what to say, how to say it, when to say it and who to say it to in order to provide a more relevant and meaningful customer interaction.
I also know that all this talk about social CRM is much easier to write/blog/tweet/debate and criticize others about than it is to actually implement. I have spent many years working in the enterprise, and while collaboration is improving, it’s still not where it should be. Try to get sales, marketing, support and engineering to all agree on a social CRM project. Good luck even getting them to attend the meeting.
Lastly, I know that social CRM will eventually be integrated into normal business operations (or marketing?) once organizations reign in the chaos, technology catches up and processes are established. Perhaps we won’t even call social CRM anymore, just social business.
Other than expanding on the points above, what else am I missing? What is the holy grail of social CRM that I am overlooking? Is there a trigger, process or methodology that I have not yet read that sheds some light on this?
I don’t care who coined the phrase. I don’t want debate the definition. I don’t really care if you agree or disagree with my views. I know I am not a part of the inner-circle. I just want to learn. I want to understand.
This is why I feel new thought leadership is needed in this space.
I have spent many months researching this and I am tired. Everyone is saying the same thing. I even searched YouTube for “social CRM” and the content is old dating back to 2009. Is there no more innovation in the space? Maybe the experts have moved on to bigger and better things; possibly trying to establish themselves as social business thought leaders.
My conclusion is that new thought leadership is needed in this space. No disrespect to the “old school” but if social CRM is about the customer, we need people who are on the front lines engaging with them every single day sharing their views and establishing a point of view. Community managers, support professionals and others who are solving customer problems and building advocacy are the ones I want to hear from. There is a big difference between telling the world what “they should be doing” than telling the world what “they are doing.”
Certainly there is more to social CRM than just general community management and support. Enterprise collaboration, process improvement, technology, governance also play a substantial part in the CRM process. But guess what, many community managers and others are doing this today.
The landscape is changing so quickly that what works today may not necessarily work tomorrow. And, while theory is certainly a good foundation, practical application is where the learning actually happens and thought leadership gives birth.