Social CRM strategy – counterproductive

There are a lot of discussions and endless posts about Social CRM being a philosophy, a strategy and other esoteric viewpoints. Hmmm – why is that?

First: The term Social CRM was coined by Oracle in 2008 – certainly not as an esoteric view of the world but a technology that is going to evolve in the future. Over time others chimed in and companies like Nimble, SocioToco and Xeesm began to actually build products from scratch and the traditional CRM companies will soon have solutions too. Social CRM = Technology.

Many consultants and analysts however pointed to the esoteric part of Social CRM for several reasons:

– One it is good for selling consulting hours
– Two there was no solution to implement anyway
– Three it provides an open field for discussion, confusion and then offer help to resolve it.

But there is a thing called social media where it is much harder to base your consulting business on the “fear uncertainty and doubt model

An interesting list of influencer you may check. It is not a quality seal but at least people who are very active in the social web and do understand the social part of Social CRM.

Reality check

A business leader need to implement strategies for their various departments. One being sales. And whatever that leader is implementing is a “business strategy” maybe a “sales strategy” or it may be the “customer engagement strategy” it may be a customer experience improvement strategy or any other term that fits the O B J E C T I V E of that strategy. But trying to “sell” a cookie cutter “Social customer relationship management strategy” is just sick in my point of view.

Why “Social CRM strategy” is counter productive

Most businesses are trying to achieve a better customer relationship, they try to find ways to better listen, they try to be more social and more connected with their market. To do that right, each business leader wants to find their own, very individual and tailor made strategy for their very specific market, very specific industry and very specific geography, very specific customer demographics and very specific products. Any “XYZ strategy” is counter productive and the root cause to failure. Why? Because a business leader need to find a business strategy not an “XYZ strategy” and follow the pack like a lemming.

The technology part

Now based on whatever strategy a leader and their consultants developed will need some tools to execute. A social CRM solution may or may not be such a tool. Branded online communities is another tool that will raise above the surface any soon. Social media monitoring for lead identification is another set of tools, the social networks themselves are yet another set of tools. And of course Social CRM systems. All valuable technologies that may become part of the execution plan of a strategy.

Calling a strategy “Social CRM strategy” as a global strategy term is doomed to become a dead end very much like the CRM strategies in the past. A mistake that cost customers millions of dollars in the past.

Don’t be fooled

As a business leader you may have a variety of considerations. Here are a few in no particular order and just a few examples

* How can I improve the customer experience for my market?

* How can I build a better customer engagement model?

* How can I involve  more customers in the brand building process

* What can we do to listen more carefully to market needs

* What do we have to improve to actually better / faster *act* on needs

* How can we empower teams and partners to better and faster response processes

And whatever concerns you most in your specific business. Define the objectives and build a strategy – the name of that strategy only matters to you and your ecosystem.

In other words if somebody want’s to “sell” you on a Social CRM strategy, be extremely careful.

What to look for

If you look for a business consultant, look for people who don’t run behind a term and sell you a cookie cutter model (of course they would tell you it’s all custom). You will want to avoid the “10 best blah blah blah to implement Social CRM”. Instead look for consultants who understand customer experience models, customer engagement models, understand social media and base their work on common sense and most up to date market situation. You will find those in large established firms (did you note that none of them follow the “social CRM strategy hype”) and you will find that in young, up and coming solo consulatnts.

As a leader you will want a consultant who understands your very specific needs and then create a solution in the good old model  “Assessment – Strategy – Execution”.  Tools are a result of said strategy and the name for the strategy is totally up to you.

As a follower you will want to wait two years and see what others did and than make a decision. Watch the market and mark your calendar:  June 2012 “Review Sales Strategy”.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *