Social CRM and Enterprise 2.0 are a natural fit. In an endorsement for the Enterprise 2.0 book, Leo Apotheker (now heading HP) said that “McAfee clearly understands the role of IT in creating superior customer value…”, and indeed, I very much agree with this statement. However, where I believe software vendors have put too much emphasis in their interpretation of what needs to be done, is that they have focused too much on the pure IT side of the equation. This is where the social CRM approach can bring balance to the discussion by looking at how innovative customer engagement strategies – enabled through employee participation and collaboration – can help deliver the sought-after superior customer value.
In order for a social CRM programme to be effective, it cannot just be assigned to and run by a single department as many other parts of the company can add value to to overall customer experience and help achieve goals of innovation, loyalty and advocacy through customer interaction and participation. For example, if customers wishes to contribute product or service improvement suggestions through an ideation platform (or some other means such as through surveys, letters, email…), these need to be filtered, prioritized, and dealt with by the organisation. The right stakeholders and expertise within and outside of the company need to be identified and brought together at the right time to collaborate together, and during the course of its evolution the context (information, discussions, insights, documentation etc.) may need to be transferred to different people as the idea is matured into a “deliverable” . This is where Enterprise 2.0 concepts and tools can play a pivotal role in enabling customer engagement through employee engagement.
Social CRM comes in many different flavours, and your approach will depend on what your company’s objectives are and level of organisational maturity is. A company cannot become customer-driven overnight, and most companies will just dabble in the basics to get their feet wet rather than jump straight into the deep end of the pool. It also requires an alignment of the company culture and possibly push the company to take another look at roles and tasks of its employees, as well as revisit current processes and workflows.
For example, I previously wrote about the changing role of the Salesperson, moving from gatekeeper to coordinator. The salesperson will have much more contextual background information on leads and prospects through Social Network Datamining before first contact. She may also go out and actively contribute to online customer communities, blog and tweet for lead nurturing to improve the company’s (and personal…) reputation. Moreover, as prospects that are researching your offer increasingly turn to their peers for advice and information, the salesperson can observe and facilitate the right connections between internal and external resources as required and proffer the right information at the right time.
As Marketing Guru Peter F. Drucker said: “The purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer”. Social CRM aims to promote loyalty and advocacy for this purpose through customer interaction and engagement, in order to understand and cater to customer needs and providing the experience the customer expects. However, the experience you provide may not be only dependent on you, but also on your partners and suppliers. For instance, your company may provide excellent customer service, but if your suppliers do not provide adequate and timely support when something goes wrong (such as product repairs that take months), this can reflect badly on your own business. Patronage can actually be lost due to negative Word-of-Mouth that spreads like a wildfire through the social channels. It may also be that your partners and suppliers have additional insights about your customers that you can then combine with yours and capitilize on. By using social concepts to break down the barriers to collaboration to meet desired outcomes together, the customer experience can be greatly enhanced to the benefit of the customers, your company, your partners and suppliers.
Enterprise 2.0 is all about getting the information flowing and collaboration going. Social CRM strategy adds the customers interaction to the E2.0 mix to ensure that we focus on understanding what is of value to them so that we can better cater to their needs whilst ensuring the sustainability of our business. Deciding just what approach to take, when and how and with whom will be the crux of the matter.
The above are just some ideas that illustrate the some of the many facets and flavours of social CRM, what impact they can have on the organisation and where Enterprise 2.0 can facilitate in helping a company become customer-driven. I will be participating in a customer and thought leader panel during Social CRM Track of the upcoming Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Santa Clara (11/8-11) to discuss in detail how theory matches with real-life examples. We with a great line-up; Sameer Patel (Sovos Group), Paul Greenberg (President, The 56 Group), Emilie Cole (LaunchSquad), Spencer Mains (BtoD Group), Chris Yeh (PBWiki), Manuela Farrell (TechWeb) and Vince Canobbio (Merced Systems) and I’m very excited to have the opportunity to exchange views with them!