Social Learning and Customer Engagement

One of the approaches to improving Customer Engagement and Experiences I’d like to explore is the potential to include customers, partners and suppliers in the Social Learning process. One of the drawbacks of an customer ideation platform/community is that more than 99% of the ideas are never looked at or implemented because they do not take into account the business context and constraints.

Whilst ideation may be a good source for innovation for companies, they can be a source of dissatisfaction for those customers who submitted ideas if they do not receive any acknowledgement for the effort they put into it. So rather than feeling closer to your brand and becoming advocates for it, the quite opposite may occur.

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The Future of the Training Department

In my previous role at BEA Systems/Oracle, I created and managed a Professional Services business unit for training clients on the implementation of Enterprise Portals (including Collaboration, Knowledge Management, Content Management, Integration of third-party products) and Business Process Management tools. I have been exchanging with many people on twitter, mainly on the topic of Social CRM, but I keep my eye open to the topic of Enterprise Learning, and from time to time I exchange tweets with Frédéric Domon (@fdomon). So I was happy to be asked to contribute to the Enterprise Collaborative Initiative :) Enterprise Collaborative - Ecollab 250x250

Social Learning seems to me to be an innovative approach to continuous learning (I am an eternal student of life myself). From what I understand, the idea is to use the web 2.0 to enable free-flow collaborative learning that builds upon the insights of others and leads to new ones. This is advocated in opposition to the more traditional, structured instructor-led top-down approach to learning (tell me if I’m wrong?).

Though I do believe that there is a valid argument to the collaborative approach, I believe there should be a juxtaposition with the traditional one.  In my opinion be, what is learned through collaborative learning should formalised, structured an made available as traditional learning. The main reason behind this thinking is that there is a risk to create barriers to new entrants to access and acquire the knowledge of the ‘regulars’. One could argue that the regulars could do knowledge transfer – which is great in theory – but who has the  resources to do so (time, effort, motivation)? I think it will simply not scale.

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Customer Contexts

When reading through the tweets and the post on Social CRM I often get the feeling that we are focusing too much on the individual customer. We store personal and business informaion in our CRM system, we keep track of what they have bought as well as their history of interactions with Customer Service and Support (or at least we should be…). We try to analyse, extract leads and forecast whether they will be buying from us in the future  or inciting them to do so through push marketing (informing us that our little niece Suzy’s birthday in just under a week, so we should buy her a gift through our online store…).

I also hear more and more often that the major difficulty that we will be facing is the potential for data/information overload (‘drinking from a waterhose’) – even though Nenshad Bardoli argues that this will be dealt with eventually). The individual customers that we have in our systems suddenly are tweeting and bleating all over the internet, and curretn theory seems to say that we need to capture ALL of that so that we can then let lose the ever more sophisticated and more expensive Analytics Engines & Business Intelligence solutions on the data in order to extract ‘insights’ to guide our business and customer engagement with this individual.

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Social CRM for SMEs : WeCanDo.Biz Review

I’ve been out and about the last couple of weeks, first to Holland to the Dutch CRM Awards where Paul Greenberg gave a great Keynote presentation on The Social Customer, and then to the UK to meet with some interesting people to further my understanding of Social CRM – what it is and how it could provide value to how business is done. As I continue with my journey I will try to give you my impressions as I go along.

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On Social CRM Options

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.

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Social Media Communities

About a week ago John Moore @JohnFMoore put his stake in the ground on what Social Support Communities are in the arena of Social CRM. His definition centres around their purpose of conversation around dealing Support questions, for example the Dell Support Site. This got me thinking about what Lithium and Helpstream o.a. actually do, and I believe they cover can a far wider purpose.

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The Paradigm Shift is in the People, Social CRM is a Response to it

I think the actual paradigm shift is the realisation of the consumers that they now have power derived from choice and the means to share and influence others with a far greater reach through the use of Social Media. We can now interact in far greater numbers, when we choose and share our experiences about how happy or unhappy we are about your business. Happy customers can drive more people to become customers. When we voice our gripes, you had better listen and meet our expectations to make us happy again. We have no obligation to do business with you, there are others out there and we’ll go elsewhere. As a group we have power, but you’d better listen to me as an individual!

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The Boardroom’s Tipping-Point for Social CRM Implementation

Bob Warfield recently posted a great article with the title The Customer, as Social CRM, is the Fourth Pillar of CRM. I posted the following in reply, for you to muse over.

Customer-centricity is definitely the way forward, and I like the idea of the customer as a stakeholder in co-determining the company’s success. Enterprise 2.0 is potentially a great basis to promote collaboration between employees. CRM is the touchpoint between them and the outside world. Social CRM adds the dimension of opening up the company to the customers, allowing for better communication, mutual understanding and foremost enables a collaboration model to be put in place between internal employees and the customer community. Many benefits are expected, such as co-creation, peer-to-peer support, First Call Resolution, brand image improvement, opportunity detection…

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Social CRM + E2.0 = Competitive Advantage

Scorpfromhell recently wrote and excellent article [Enterprise 2.0 vs Social CRM - Fight or Tango?] that I suggest you read – good insights!

To summarise, Social CRM and Enterprise 2.0 need to walk hand in hand. One of his statements that I would like to elaborate on is that “”efficient employees lead to better customer experience” – I would say that you can react to external threats and opportunities more efficiently in a more timely and apt fashion. We could then say that Enterprise 2.0 is a prerequisite for the ‘better customer experience’, or at least a competitve advantage in customer service. When you go to a Four Season’s Hotel, the service you result is the result of many people interacting to make your stay as pleasant as possible – check-in clerk, hotel manager, room service, pool attendants, restaurant staff and whatnot, and they have all been taught to work together to make this happen for you.

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