Social CRM: A Social Extension of CRM
The previous chapter covered engagement in the context of social technology and social interaction. Engagement—in social business terminology versus advertising and marketing—arises out of collaboration and the active realization of a shared interest.
Two mothers facing the same cold and flu outbreak at school are very likely to compare notes through an online forum, or as part of a conversation in a discussion space like Blogger’s “The Juice” that was, “Building a Social Business.” When I was a kid, parents of school age children would sometimes deliberately send healthy younger kids over to a sick child’s home in order to “catch” chickenpox. Pox parties, as they were called, served to “inoculate” before the days of actual vaccines. Rather than “parties,” parents now use social media—forums, for example—to compare notes on vaccine programs, cold remedies, and general health and nutrition with regard to their families.
What all of this adds up to is an opportunity to participate—something you may already be doing in some form through a social media marketing program—that leads to an opportunity to learn and adapt your products and services according to the experiences and desires of your customers. This is the entry to Social CRM, a more formalized process by which these customer conversations are picked up and used to drive change and evolution of your business. Paul Greenberg provides the following definition of Social CRM: the link to the complete discussion leading to this definition is included in Appendix A, “Terms and Definitions.”
Oil and Water
Beware: some businesses and organizations will fi nd that, like oil and water, the principles of social business simply “do not mix” with their own existing practices. Whether it’s a case of “not invented here” or “we know our customers best” or most any other reason, some organizations will find it tough to listen openly to their customers, and tougher still to rebuild their internal communications channels to support receiving customer conversations and then applying them constructively to their next generation of products and services.
The Wrong Way to Control a Conversation
Coincident with the rise of customer-driven ratings and reviews, a second practice— which may affect you as a consumer and of which you may not be aware—some businesses are now attempting to curtail the customer’s right to post a review! It works like this: Buried somewhere in a “service” contract is a clause aimed at controlling bad reviews: by signing the contract, one may also be agreeing not to post negative reviews! For example, a physician’s office may use a “standard” office agreement that might include a clause like this: “As a patient of this office, I agree not to talk publicly about my treatment.
The Elements of Social CRM
Noteworthy with regard to Social CRM are the many ways it is similar to the relationship (or lack thereof) between social media and traditional media. Social CRM is not a new type of CRM but is rather a fusion of the principles of CRM—data collection around a specific customer or transaction, analysis and projection of a next action with regard to that customer—with the norms and technologies that are associated with the social elements—like collaboration—that are associated with Web 2.0.
Social CRM and its potential for driving beneficial change and innovation are built around the underlying engagement process. Social CRM brings to that process the same sort of discipline and quantitative rigor that (traditional) CRM brings to sales programs and customer relationship efforts.