The Customer EcosystemI'm trying to figure out a way to make this seem emphatic without capitalizing all the letters. Lets see....Okay I think this might work. The business ecosystem is controlled by the customer. Period. That means its NOT controlled by the company and its NOT jointly controlled. The controller of this ecosystem is going to be whatever group drives demand and, currently that is I think, indisputably, the customer (if it isn't that - meaning you want to dispute it - prove it to me. Take my word for it - it would be tough.). While we call the the customer-boss the social customer, that doesn't mean that all customers are consciously social. Those who are social demand much more of the companies that they deal with including some way to communicate with that company transparently. That goes along with an expectation that the company is going to take action on the communications in some way too. Here is a somewhat simple, sorta catchy slide that outlines what the social customer is.
The Strategy and Model Suggested by the Customer EcosystemI think there's one more thing before we get into Bob's question. I'd like to reseat the ongoing bigger discussion a little bit. A few points:
- Social CRM is an extension of CRM, not a replacement so some of the tenets of traditional CRM remain as important as ever.
- The true difference between CRM and Social CRM is the customer strategy associated with it, not the use of technology. Traditional CRM was a customer management strategy that was aimed at providing the programs to a business so that they could be more effective with their customers in providing them with the products and services that they needed. Social CRM is a customer strategy that aims at engaging the customer with the company in ways that allow each to make an intelligent decision on how they can interact with each other. This allows them to both transparently cooperate - and meet each other's needs. Make no mistake about it though - even though the benefits will be mutual, to make this work, the business organization has to be realistic and acknowledge that the customer is now in the driver's seat.
- That also means that the new business model is different too. The traditional model associated with CRM was based around providing better products and services to the customer - and also good customer service. It was a sales driven model to some degree - thus the first mover in CRM technology was salesforce automation. It was also transaction-focused, driven by purchases. The new model is interaction-driven (though transactions still matter, obviously) and with that, the most interaction-directed pillar, customer service, is emerging not only as the primary of the three pillars of CRM, but as a wrapper around all interactions in business.
- This new model is no longer based on just the constant improvement of products and services. At this stage businesses need to be aggregators of products, services, tools and consumable experiences - so that the customer has what they need to sculpt their own involvement with the company that they've chosen to be involved with.
- In the longer term, the model will be (hopefully) a company that's sufficiently transparent, institutionally structured and culturally ready to collaborate and innovate directly with the customers. Obviously, this isn't the way that most customers will interact with all the companies that they have some interaction with. Many times we buy for immediate need and for convenience - and that mostly doesn't require deep or rich customer/company relationships. But it is the way that companies need to structure themselves, allowing for the fact that while social customers of the level I'm speaking of don't exist in the billions, those that do exist (could be hundreds of millions - given the ubiquity of internet connectivity, the near ubiquity of broadband connectivity and the findings that 74% of all adults on the web are active in some social network or another) have influence far beyond their individual purchases and there will only be more and more of them as time passes and tools to communicate cheapen - even as features get more sophisticated.
- One thing that CRM and SCRM have completely in common is that no matter how you view these things, or define them, or implement them, they are based on the customer experience with the company and the perception of the experience by the customer. As I always say, "you don't have to have luxury, you only have to feel luxurious."
Can You "Do" Social CRM without Social Media/NetworksEmphatically yes. The same way that you could always do CRM without the use of a CRM technology system. Nothing has changed when it comes to whether technology needs to be used. Social CRM is a reflection and acknowledgement of the changes in customer behavior and the resulting demands on business institutions. It means that the company needs to figure out what the customer is demanding and how to utilize the new formats and channels that the customer is communicating in already. That's what makes it social, not social media. First a quick look at what at least I think when we're talking about when we talk about social media and what Bob T. makes clear in his question. There is a distinction between social media and social networks. Social media are tools (blogging, podcasting, client communications tool, etc) - and, as a matter of fact are different than social channels such as Facebook and Twitter. For example, Twitter is a communications channel while HootSuite, Tweetdeck, Seesmic etc. are tools that facilitate communication via Twitter outside Twitter's native client tool for communications via Twitter. I'm going to leave it at that. Social media doesn't have to be included in programs for customer engagement. That said, there is no reason to constantly disparage the use of technology or denigrate its importance to a Social CRM (or traditional CRM) program. In fact, for the first time in a long time, consumer technologies like cellphones/smartphones and various web tools are partially driving the changes to the customer's behavior because they are cheaply and easily available and eminently learnable, which makes these new modes of communication simpler than ever. Unlike in traditional CRM, where technology was strictly an enabler, not a driver, in SCRM, some technologies have been drivers of the transformation in the customer and are now becoming in part drivers of business change. I don't want to overemphasize this, but I do want to note it because its something that I personally wouldn't have supported several years ago. I do think that consumer technologies and social channels are impacting business in ways unheard of years ago. Look at the iPhone or Facebook or the growth of the social media monitoring space in a short couple of years. The use of a Facebook page (channel) or sentiment analysis tools to monitor brand activity outside the firewall can only be part of a strategy that's based on the programmatic requirements that a company has when it comes to gaining the kind of insight into the customer to provide them with the aggregate component I mention above. But if you can provide an extraordinary customer experience without them, then don't use them.
Doing It Without (Oh, Be-HAVE)Several years ago, I met the CIO of a Latin American branch of a huge multinational corporation who told me that their competition was huge when it came to nabbing distributors for their products. Because most of their distributors were in small villages, there was no internet connectivity at all. So the only way they could communicate with most of their distributors who were mom-and-pop sized was via the phone or in person - and they sometimes didn't have phones. The only thing the the star distributors (small retailers) got as a reward was great signage. What could they do? Social CRM tools or CRM tools didn't do a thing in this situation. So here was the game plan I suggested.
- Provide vacations and prizes for the best distributors that gave them something for their families, not just signage for the business
- Hire all the drivers locally, since they would then know the retailers in the surrounding area and it would strengthen the relationship.
You get the picture right? No internet, no social media, no SCRM technology, but a customer engagement strategy designed to give this company a real advantage due to the social bonds between retailers and the drivers and using the preferred communications channels of those customers. Here is another example that I've used many times. The Green Bay Packers - has been wildly and widely engaged with its direct customers - the town of Green Bay and many others outside there for more years than there has been a CRM, much less an SCRM. They have a social media presence which as you can see is minimally indifferent and apparently ineffective. But what they do have is a program for community engagement, which is a hallmark of SCRM. Their purpose is to turn those community members into advocates and nothing less than that - again, a hallmark of SCRM strategy. They've succeeded with a measurable ROI and no particular CRM or SCRM or social media tools making much of a difference to that strategy. The program is an engagement and advocacy program whether there are tools or not, and here, for the most part, there are not.