Analytics and Data Mining,Social CRM

Customer Contexts

3 Dec , 2009  

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.

Although it seems to make sense at first glance, is it not that we can’t see the forest because of the trees? Are we not focusing to much on the individual to miss out on the bigger trends? Customized service as opposed to being treated as cattle when contacting a call center is like Nirvana, but if we focalize to much on this as the main objective of Social CRM, do we not not risk getting too close when all the customer wants is to be ‘just friends’ (or said differently, ‘get out of my face!’)?

As an individual, it could be that I am not particularly looking for your company to engage with me. Engagement takes time – which is ultimately my rarest resource – so I want to optimize the time I need to spend with you (so that I can have more time on Farmville or socializing with my friends…about your brand for example ;). What I do want you to do is know enough about me, my situation, my preoccupations, my conversations with others, my likes and dislikes and so on…in brief, my context, so that you can get me to my desired outcome as efficiently as possible (and I may even volunteer some information about me to speed this up).

So it’s not about the tweets I twitter out and blogs I post, but rather about which conversations and exchanges I’m having and with whom, at what moment in time, what my current sentiment is and how it evolves, how my friends’ sentiment evolve, how the sentiment of people in my network evolves – or put simply the context in which I am evolving. Ideally, when I do need to exchange with you in any way, I want you to take all this into account and treat me as an individual. Moreover I want you to take into consideration that, whilst you are exchanging with me, I should be considered as a representative of my ‘tribe’, and if you do not treat me the way I feel I should be treated my tribe may sanction that behaviour.

So what am I trying to get at here? Basically, I’m trying to make the point that even though it may be technically feasible to store reams and reams of data about each customer in your CRM system (and your database vendor will love you for it), it would be more interesting to store information that provides you with the context in which the customer is evolving, metadata that will allow you same-time access to context facebook/linkedin/twitter or whatever other channel that is appropriate hobbies

3 Responses

  1. Love it Mark – You are right on. If we store the tweets, facebook & linkedIn updates from our customers, and their partners and influencers in our CRM systems. We not only try to replicate the Index System of Google – even worst, we store the whole stuff in a staggering redundant storage if Peta bytes of data – to do what?

    Instead – like you said why not just listening careful about what is on top of our customers mind here and now and react if it is appropriate and leave them alone if not. Brian Solis (author of Bring the public back to public relations) said: Take the C out of SCRM and we have a solution.

    Thanks for explaining it so well here

  2. marktamis says:

    Hi Axel!

    Thanks for your comments 🙂

    I think there is room in the market for third-party Customer-COntext providers. They will be the ones storing the Petabytes of data and extracting the context out of it for consumption in the Call Centers or wherever. On-Demand Context (I should put a copyright on this maybe lol…). This would at least stop the IT people from feeling obliged to use the data to justify the sunk costs of storage – and let people opt in to share their context.

    You could then have a CC-staffmember ask a question like “Would you mind giving me your OpenID so that I can understand your context and serve you better?”.


  3. Mark – It still says “draft” at the top, so I was waiting for you to come around a bit before responding.

    I might not completely understand what the key point here is, but I think that there is room for both. The marketing department as well as community managers need to understand with a broad brush, the feeling of the hive. However, I cannot make a sale to the community, the community does not have a broken washing machine, I do. The community does not have an error on their telephone bill (well, they might, ….)

    Insights and subsequent actions may be driven from the broader analysis tools, I do not disagree – but when I pick up the phone an call you do need to understand as much about me as possible. Anything that can help the company to increase the level of satisfaction of that customer is what matters on the phone at that time. This comes from both broad strokes and fine ones.