The discussion around Social CRM is entering a phase whereby we are trying to move away from turning around in circles about semantics, towards a more practical and pragmatic approach that businesses can identify with so as to consider implementing it. I won’t deal with CRM Vendors here, as Social CRM can be seen as an extension to CRM. As a primer on SCRM I suggest you look at Bill Band’s article on Customer Think. The main idea that we all do agree upon is that we need to become customer-centric in order to respond to their changing needs and expectations, and this may have some major ramifications on the way we organise our businesses.
Wim Rampen recently did a must-read post on Real-Options for Social CRM, with great comments from the #scrm crew. If you’re like me, you have been looking around for what these options could be - sifting through all the information links provided through the accidental community on Twitter #scrm- so that you can start mapping your own options and seeing where they would fit in an approach that is apt for your business situation. Below I have tried to describe some of the the landmarks that you may encounter on your journey. Please join in and tell me what I’ve missed!
1. Monitoring and Analysis
We have settled on the idea that we cannot manage what is being said about us (as long there is any Buzz we should be happy, right?). What we do need to do is understand what is being said and for which reasons. We also need to do some introspection and find out whether we are aligned with customer perceptions about our business, and this is where monitoring and analysis comes in.
- Social Media Monitoring
Twitter, FB, Search Engine Result Analysis, crawling non-managed forums, or whatever this month’s Black is (according to Altimeter you need at least 6 channels to be an engagementdb.com Maven).
- Sentiment Analysis
Natural Language Processing in order to extract opinions - automation of Social Media Analysis
- Customer Surveys, Website-, Call Center-, Customer Support Feedback, Email Campaign Results
Feedback from other channels should not be neglected - Social CRM is not only about feedback obtained through Social Media channels. I suggest reading Aggregated Stats Are Key to Social Media ROI
The return of this could be used to shape your Marketing Strategy (Social Media and traditional) or for even for Lead Generation. Vendors in this area are Radian6, Scout Labs (see list), or for the budgetarily-challenged Open Source/Freemium
2. Social Media Marketing
I know I am over-simplifying, but sometimes I think SMM has sofar mostly been facilitating banner clickthroughs based on adwords and user browsing history and the likes to push trafic to brochure websites in the best case, and buckshot email spam in the worst. Consumers are however becoming more web-savvy and filter out these ads from the content they are interested in so this is becoming less effective.
Community and conversation is all - if the consumers trust the community, they will extend the trust to the brand (Brand and Marketing trends for 2010). People have spontaneously gathered for example on Facebook, now companies are trying to get in on the act by setting up their own Fan Pages (at their own risk and peril, I must add…). These communities offer the company the opportunity to engage in the conversation, but it still very much an unstructured, resource intensive approach. My take on SMM will be aimed at driving people towards and participate in Brand Communities (point 3) where monitoring what is happening and identifying causal relationships will be more manageable. See Junta42 42+ Social Media Marketing Tools.
3. Brand Communities
Providing a platform that can house a community around your Brand and attracts prospective customers would be the next step. The objective is not to gain control, but rather better monitor what is going on, find opportunities, work on your reputation by adding value rater than pushing a message, and react in a timely manner to any issues.
I would like to split this out into three separate areas (even though they could share the same platform provided by the same vendor)
- Social Support Communities
Peer-to-peer Support can be great means for finding out what customers have issues with concerning your offering, as well as deflect calls from your Customer Support, leaving them with more time the more difficult cases or just to go beyond the Call Handling Time and focus on the Customer Interaction (see Cicero). To me this type of community because sometimes its super-users can provide more value than has its merits for because ROI can be shown (see John Bauer’s comment on SCRM for SMBs, reduce by at least 10% your case load).
- Social Objects Communities
In an earlier post, I set out to give a name to another type of community that has as its purpose to provide a platform for people to socialize around “Social Objects”. Barnes & Noble Review would be a good example of this. It is said that participants have a higher average customer spend and higher customer lifetime spend on the B&N site (any hard datafacts, Lithium?). Furthermore upsell opportunities are placed into the community site to drive revenue.
Behind this is the objective to create communities where customers would put forward ideas for the company (crowdsourcing). Where they have failed is that the ideas not always were in line with the operational realities or objectives of the company, and are often left unanswered (leading to dissatisfaction). Graham Hill has written an interesting article on co-creation that has some insights on what could be a better approach to co-creation.
Players here are Lithium Technologies, Helpstream, Parature. Prem Kumar recently mentioned on John F. Moore’s blog that there are Open Source solutions out there, I think they do not (yet) have the monitoring & analysis capabilities that we’d be looking for here
4. Feedback Management
Our friend Esteban Kolsky is very keen on this one. The main idea behind this is that we take existing data available through the CRM system about our customers (not only profile information) and mix it so that get a full 360° view that includes history and information gathered from monitoring and analysis as well as information from 3rd parties. Just as there is a market now for Credit Score informatin, there may be a time when companies sell trend information to other companies as a by-product. Imagine if PayPal or eBay were to make historical purchase data available!
FM has the potential to analyse and determine a response and who should be dealing with formulating it (add a dash of Business Process Management?). The wikipedia link has a list of vendors, no actor has a significant advantage as far as I know
5. Response Communities
In the way that Brand Communities can be used for customers to share and collaborate, the same platform could also be used to let cross-functional teams (and even cross-organisational if we also include partners and suppliers) collaborate on the response to the events generated in EFM. Super-users could be identified and nurtured in the same way as in the Brand Communities.
Response Communities only really make sense once your company has learned how to collaborate internally – which takes us to Enterprise 2.0 (the collaboration kind, not the knowledge management one…). Internal networking will create the right mindset to then go out and collaborate with customers, for value co-creation.
Insourcing is about allowing your employees to collaborate directly with your customers, such as your store personnel providing product informationor answer support questions through the likes of Twitter (see Best Buy’s Twelpforce). This can increase the breadth of your response by added more voices to the conversation than just your customer service and support reps, but increases the risks of potential blunders. Good, clear and precise policies can help to mitigate these risks.
I am aware that I have probably missed out on some elements (and have not developed each of the bullet-points sufficiently) but my objective here is to give a quick overview, a starting point. Please chime in and add your point of view!