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!
The current reaction of business to adapt to this shift is to become customer-centric, to listen and adapt their offer to the changing needs and expectations and ensure a happy customer that come back and and influence others to come. CRM is the touch-point between the business and the consumers and can serve to formulate and coordinate the response of the company to ensure a positve experience. Social CRM is about extending the touchpoints to include Social Media, both internal to the company and external.
This customer-centric response plays into consumer risk-averse behaviour to obtain and repeat a positive experience. By taking away the risk of dealing with the company, the company will incite the consumer to avoid taking a risk of not meeting expectations when going to the competition, a potentially negative experience.
Technology is only but a means to give the customer the experience she is expecting. Social CRM is an attemp to optimize a company’s organisation in order to realise this experience in the manner that is most adapted to the Customer’s needs and expectations, whilst keeping in mind the company’s business continuity objectives.
Currently the focus is mainly on the external-facing tools that link CRM to Social Media – such as Online Customer Communities – mainly because this is where businesses can measure ROI, do profiling, monitoring and analysis (Helpstream, Lithium, Fuse, Radian6…). Other companies have been focusing on internal-facing tools, such as CRM with Web 2.0 Collaboration tools for helping the salesforce do their business better (Oracle etc.). As the market matures, these two approaches will become better integrated and like include what we now specify Enterprise 2.0, and evolve into “Social Business”.
Social CRM is about people and engagements, and about organizing the enterprise to nurture and value relationships to optimize the Customer Experience to co-create value that is mutually beneficial. The balance of power is changing with the (very!) main-stream adoption of Social Media, formulating a response (such as Social CRM) will be a fun journey!