Recent Conversations With Executives Confirm Demand For Social CRM

Good news! Organizations see an opportunity to tap into the proliferation of social networking channels for their CRM initiatives.  Speaking with 23 business leaders over the past 10 days, it became obvious that Social CRM initiatives were top of mind for a few reasons:

  • Pressure from the boardroom. Social networking achieves top of mind status.  Board of directors have asked their executives to “look into the issue”.
  • Success through internal pioneers. In every organization, a few Social CRM pioneers have emerged. They kick-off small pilots, test the waters, and fund new projects from their successes.
  • Fear of falling behind. Organizations that have survived the past two business cycles know that they need to respond to change or be changed.  e-commerce provided good lessons learned in how channels could transform business modes.

Social CRM Must Move Beyond ‘Just Another Channel’ Status

Bad news!  Most executives believe that Social is just another channel and often liken Social CRM to e-commerce.  Others felt this was just an extension of CRM with a social flavor.  Those that take this point of view miss the point because Social CRM:

  • Reflects a customer driven cultural shift. Organizations should realize that customer behavior has changed and social networking puts the power into the hands of the customer.  Conversations occur unfettered at a peer-2-peer level and proliferate as each new social medium emerges.  Organizations must influence not control.
  • Requires an internal transformation. Existing customer facing processes must adapt to these rapid changes.  Staff must be trained.  Management teams must build a good socialgraph and foundation (SCRM Use Case F1 – Social Customer Insights) to constantly reassess where to allocate and reallocate resources.   Organizations will have to invest in training and change management to tie back to existing CRM processes.
  • Realizes the limitations of and synergies with existing CRM solutions. Without accounting for new behaviors, patterns, and processes, legacy CRM solutions lack a social design.  Built for automation, most lack social relationship management features.  Social CRM will have to integrate back to legacy systems and master data management to succeed.  However, existing CRM solutions will need an upgrade.

The Bottom Line – All Social CRM Ecosystem Players Must Do Their Part

Social CRM requires significant organizational transformation for success.  In fact, Social CRM projects can fail in the same manner as other CRM projects have in the past (via Michael Krigsman). However, the customers and the industry can ensure success through better ecosystem coordination.   Each side must describe and balance the holistic dependencies required for success.  For example:

  • Customers. With the most at stake, customers must acknowledge the upfront risks.  As pioneers, they must invest in the change management required for success, challenge the vendors on their promises, and push their system integrators to close the gap between vendor promises and customer requirements.
  • Advertising and marketing agencies. Because the creative teams have mindshare with the CMO and line of business executives, care must be given to highlight the technology dependencies to existing systems and the constraints in today’s technologies.  Many have been burned by previous promises from CRM.  Advertising and marketing agencies should partner with the social CRM vendors and system integrators to ensure that expectations can be fulfilled.
  • System integrators (SI’s). Often close to the CIO and IT side of the house, system integrators need to enable the requirements from the advertising and marketing agencies.   SI’s should partner with the agencies to coordinate on proposals to deliver the technology that supports business vision and value.  Partnerships with the Social CRM vendors should focus on understanding road map, direction, and vertical opportunities.
  • Social CRM vendors. Most vendors start with their purpose built best of breed solutions.  Over time these solutions will evolve into suites. In the meantime, social CRM vendors need to stay close to meet customer requirements, partner with system integrators on vertical opportunities, and work closely with the creative teams to understand emerging requirements.

Your POV

Share with us your successes in the Social CRM ecosystem.   You can post or send on to rwang0 at gmail dot com or r at softwaresinsider dot org and we’ll keep your anonymity or better yet, join the community!

Please let us know if you need help with your Social CRM efforts.  Here’s how we can help:

  • Assessing social CRM readiness
  • Developing your social CRM  strategy
  • Vendor selection
  • Implementation partner selection
  • Connecting with other pioneers
  • Sharing best practices

Related resources and links

20100305 A Title Would Limit My Thoughts – Mitch Lieberman “Is Business Culture Required To Find Value in Social CRM?”

20100305 Research Report: Social CRM – The New Rules Of Relationship Management

20090831  Monday’s Musings: Why Every Social CRM Initiative Needs An MDM Backbone

Copyright © 2010 R Wang and Insider Associates, LLC. All rights reserved.