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…
The question that now arises would be up to which point we open up, just how much before it becomes counter-productive. When I go to a restaurant, I don’t expect them to open up the kitchen to me – I’m there to enjoy the great food that is prepared there (and I can’t cook as well as the Chef). You could reply that some fancy restaurants do actually showcase the kitchen and you can see your food whilst it is being prepared (great entertainment!), but that doesn’t mean I can just wonder in, touch the ingredients, fiddle with the stove and visit at leisure. Other patrons would not appreciate.
The biggest obstacle to change will be not come from the customers, but rather from the Boardroom. Defining where the tipping-point for Social CRM (and Enterprise 2.0) implementation is for Upper Management will be the next big hurdle. It is not just about the ROI of a Social CRM software solution and its pay-back, but rather a “remise en cause” of the entire Business Model with far-reaching consequences for the way the company goes about its affairs. How much investment will it take to retrain the workforce to “think customer”, to implement and use the tools effectively? How much resistance to change will be encountered and how to deal with it? What will the implementation timeframe be and the cost of starting off too late? And most essentially, what is the ultimate overall pay-off. The Boardroom needs to justify its action to its Shareholders, and more specifically justify the expenditure of Social CRM in conjunction with Enterprise 2.0. If the metrics of the costs and the expected benefits are not clear it will be tough to swallow.
To summarize, the Boardroom will need to determine where the the tipping-point is to implement Social CRM, what level of customer-company collaboration they’re after, and in exchange for which expected benefits, and this needs to be understood by the shareholders.