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« Coolness AND Content - SCRM Goes Global in the Same Room | Main | The Naked Tweeter: Traditional v. Contemporary Channels of Influence or is it AND Contemporary.? »

August 13, 2010


Ian Rossi

Excellent post, Paul. It certainly is funny how people like to argue about labels.

I find that for the idea encapsulated by the term Customer Relationship Management, Social Media = Customer Relationship. What I mean is, from many a customer's perspective social media represents the relationship. So in reality, social media is intrinsic to CRM. Funny that people say that CRM is going away because of social media. :)

Whatever the case, I guess I've just contributed to the fruitless debate. I just want to see a CRM tool priced for SMEs that has real usable social features built-in and not bolted-on. Hopefully that's what we can create with your plentiful insights (and those from the Altimeter group's fantastic efforts).

Kind regards,

Ian D. Rossi
aimtheory CRM

CRM Consultant

MwthomasSCRM, I agree.

I would think it somewhat strange to think about engaging with a company as being managed. But most companies will have their own CRM in as much they have their own strategy for engaging with their customers. So in that sense, it is very much the companies perception and definition of CRM that counts for them.

How well their CRM works on the other hand depends on many other things.

Stafford McKay, Jr - Intelestream

Paul, you are right. Industry talking heads need to stop talking / squabbling about definitions and they need to start doing. I have a feeling that the customer will be defining the future of Social CRM anyway. It is all going to boil down to what customers realistically find useful and practical. Intelestream is working on finishing up the final development stages of our social CRM platform, intelesocial (for intelecrm). To kick it off, we're launching a forum where we'll invite our customers and fans the opportunity to publicly voice their opinions to our development team, who will make adjustments accordingly. In that sense, we are making the customer part of the development process. The communication occurs through social media. The customer speaks, we listen, the product gets redefined according to their input.


"Businesses don’t care what you call Social CRM or CRM or how you define it. They care what they call it and how they define it."

To me this captures the overall sentiment, not only do businesses not care what it is labeled, the social customer/audience could care less about the label. The care more about successful engagements with a channel of choice.

I too agree that the conversations need to come down from the 30k feet level down to a "show me the money!" day in the life of effective collaboration and successful outcome.

Customers today and certainly the customers of tomorrow (youth, I have 3 teenagers) do not call it anything, they EXPECT it! Anywhere, Any channel or device all the time.


Hi Paul

A great post that challenges us all to move beyond talking about SocCRM, to experimenting with it.

I agree with you wholeheartedly when you say that CRM is not dead. Far from it. I see no sign of a reduction in interest in CRM despite the recent advances in potential alternative ‘logics’ to spend limited post-recessinary budgets, such as CExM and SocCRM. If anything, the recent upturn in market sentiment has already started to find its way into increased CRM spending.

CRM provides a robust backbone of customer of management capabilities upon which other logics can sit. Whether the logic is CExM, with its emphasis on knitting together all the separate CRM touchpoints into a coherent, end-to-end experience, or SocCRM, with its emphasis on engaging customers in the co-creation of value throughout the experience. We will have to see how VRM fits into this larger picture.

I would like to take you up on a couple of points:

1. Is today’s customer really all that different?

It is no surprise that customers needs, wants and expectations are continuously increasing. This has always been the case. At least for as long as I can remember. But that doesn’t make the customer fundamentally different.

Most of the many customers of client organisations I talk to as part of my consulting work want pretty much the same things they wanted before; they want stuff that does what it says on the tin, they want it at a fair price and they want help when things go a bit awry.

What has changed are the tools they hire to help them do these things. Whereas yesterday they relied upon traditional media and friends & family, today they increasingly rely upon social media and, let’s just say, people they ‘follow’. But as Christakis & Fowler’s research suggests, customers are still much more likely to be influenced by the first three degrees of separation of real friends, than by the hundreds of ephemeral people they follow.

Perhaps surprisingly I don’t meet that many ‘real’ customers who are particularly interested in becoming engaged with companies, in having a conversation with companies or even in providing all that much feedback. They just want stuff that works. And they have pretty low expectations of most companies service too.

Why this big gap between what we read and what I see talking to real customers. Perhaps we make the mistake of thinking that real customers are like us; people who make a living from being at the edge of developments in customer management. When in fact most customers are just trying to get on with their lives and pick the best tools that can help them do that.

2. Is the networked customers really all that influential?

We have all used the United Breaks Guitars as a clarion cry to heed the voice of disgruntled networked customers. Indeed, it has been a staple of my own conference presentations for the last couple of years. It is a great story of how not to handle an irritated customer, it is a great video and everybody likes faceless corporate bullies to get their come-uppance. The London Times ran a story that the Guitar Affair had cost United over USD 100 million in lost value. Yet when Laurence Buchanan checked longer-term share price movements for United he didn’t find any effect whatsoever.

Some SocMed disasters really do move the corporate value needle. Sprint’s absolutely insane firing of 1,000 customers for being not profitable enough is a case in point. Not only did Sprint’s calculations omit that it was its own grossly inefficient processes that caused customers to be unprofitable, but it also picked on US servicemen serving their country in the Middle East. It was only fit and proper that Sprint’s CMO and the CEO were booted out shortly afterwards. Not just for this, but for the fact that Sprint’s Net Adds were far below expectations in a rapidly expanding mobile telecoms market.

Why this big gap between what we read and what is happening to corporate value. Perhaps we really want to believe that SocMed or SocCRM are different. Perhaps we have started to believe our own hype. Hence my recent comments (which you picked up) about needing to show the value of SocCRM in moving the corporate value needle. And preferably in moving the customer value needle as well.

Where I do agree with you is in your prognisis for Mobile SocCRM. There are actually now over 5 Billion mobile devices in the world; a whole order of magnitude bigger than the number of Facebook users. But paradoxically, the majority of phones out there are not high-end smartphones like the iPhone4 (itself pretty low-end when it comes to telecoms technology) but earlier generations.

The killer app at the moment is not Facebook on the iPhone, or even the apps infrastructure, but good old SMS. Maybe that will change as smartphones increase their penetration rate. But for the time being although it is sexy and cool to develop corporate iPhone apps, the real opportunity is probably still in making the corporate SMS interface easier to use. Just go look at what dirt poor Africans are doing if you want to see the future of Mobile Money.

All in all a great post. It was a real pleasure to read it. And a privilege to comment on it.

Graham Hill
Customer-driven Innovator



Great post. We keep working on real cases and don't care what it's called. We do know that this is beyond a trend and clients have started to experiment. Adoption is a key area so we suggest a 5 stage process to getting buy-in So, stop talking, start doing!

BTW, congrats on the hall of fame award! You inspire, engage, and mentor a lot of us and it's definitely noted! Thanks!



Great post Paul and well done for moving the discussion into the doing space. Good luck with your efforts at University of Toronto. I'd take issue with you over the "ownership" of a place where best practice can be showcased. We're trying to do that at ClienteerHub & Clienteer.TV where we've already interviewed Ben Watson who's leading the customer experience work at Adobe. At the other end of the spectrum we're following Andrew Bragg who is the Clienteer at Paris Group in Melbourne. We believe the answer to getting the doing stuff right in future will be social learning. As we move from the Innovators (2.5%) through early adopters (13.5%) the early majority (37%) will use the web to learn from one another. Too many experts, consultants and "thought leaders" have been focussed on their own agenda rather than supporting the poor guys at the coal face. I'm hoping we can support your work in Toronto and all the other good implementation initiatives that are happening around the world. The real value for everyone, software vendors, consultants, authors and speakers will be in the development of an identified and acknowledged "doing" community that will buy and implement successfully whilst continuing to learn in a fast changing world.


Good point, Paul. As an interested observer, I am bemused by the amount of analyis-paralysis that seem to be going on in this space, especially around the naming.

As these debates continue endlessly, most companies are still struggling to come to terms with the changed world of the empowered customer. The time is right for the do-ers to step up to the plate and start providing true value to them.

Thanks for the timely call to action



Heck yeah!!!!

My organization does not call it social CRM. And we're all fine with that. We're focused on 3 things. First, maintaining our successes. Second, innovating within good 'ol regular CRM by providing add'l resources to our staff in account management, data quality/capture, training and more. Third, trying to figure out how social media can help us increase loyalty. And, we're moving into customer experience.

I've already mentioned this on a prior comment on Esteban's blog, but yes, I need more case studies and more examples of what works and what doesn't. As far as my organization is concerned, we've journeyed many miles past that stake in the ground. We just want to know how we can exceed our business goals quicker and cheaper. And we want to know now!:-)

David Myron

Nice post, Paul. By the way, I commented on the post that you are referring to, which claims that Gartner's CRM conference nearly doubled in attendance because it dropped "CRM" from the name of the event. Of course, this is ridiculous. I stated that we did not rename our CRM Evolution conference this year and our registration nearly doubled as well.


I remember the first time I tried to spell segway. Damn, did it again!

Great post. I with you Paul. Let's do it!


"We’re all doing too much of the talking at this point."


Thanks for this. It's #317 on my Master List of Still-Unwritten Blogposts: "Exiting the Social CRM Echo Chamber."

Can't wait to listen in on the podcasts.

P.S. - Since you may not have posted this link up on this site yourself, allow me to do it on your behalf:
The 2010 CRM Market Awards — Hall of Fame: Paul Greenberg -

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