A definition of Social CRM

Paul Greenberg on Social CRM:

“First, there seems to be a consensus on the definition already. We all agree on its general characteristics. We see it as the use of social and traditional CRM tools and processes to support a strategy of customer engagement. Or some permutation of that.

Second, there’s too much other work on Social CRM to do. Its time to start figuring out and documenting the business models, policies, practices, processes, social characteristics, applications, and the methodologies that we need to actually carry it out. There is some great work going on in those Social CRM areas already with folks like Graham Hill, Denis Pombriant, Thomas Vander Wal, Brent Leary, Prem Kumar, Chris Carfi, Bill Band, Natalie Petouhoff, Mike Fauscette, Michael Maoz and Ray Wang, among others (please forgive me if I didn’t mention you. There are many others). But we need to create a repository for all this work – and an institution that can represent it agnostically. Right now, the body of practice out there is all over the place. Even with this, the work on Social CRM’s “how” needs a dramatic escalation now.”

Paul Greenberg

Paul Greenberg, author of the best-selling CRM at the Speed of Light: Essential Customer Strategies for the 21st Century

And here’s his definitions:

“CRM is a philosophy and a business strategy, supported by a technology platform, business rules, workflow, processes and social characteristics, designed to engage the customer in a collaborative conversation in order to provide mutually beneficial value in a trusted and transparent business environment. It’s the company’s response to the customer’s ownership of the conversation.”

And here’s the tweetable version:

“The company’s response to the customer’s control of the conversation.”

Social media? You really need a reason to get stuck in?

Recently, I have been involved in a number of debates about the usefulness of social media in business. I was slightly taken aback that the business value of social media even needed debating. However, many people are simply immersed in their everyday business and personal challenges and have not had the time to consider or explore these issues.

This short article is to get you started in the ‘why’ social media is so important to future business success. I am not going to pound you with statistics: they now overwhelmingly point to majorities of people being online and involved in social media, even if we need to remember the digital disenfranchised and many businesses that operate perfectly well without any online presence.

Social tools, networks and media have enabled customers to do what they’ve always wanted to do — be heard and to have the power to turn their ideas into ways to make the products and services they love even better. These tools are also allowing them to reach more people like them, with common interests and information needs, creating powerful communities not possible only a few short years ago.

So, if you are in business, and can afford to ignore your customers, and potential customers, clustering online and willing to help you deliver them what they want, then you are missing a huge opportunity.

That’s why the best advice about social media, customer service, or anything other business initiative has always been to master the basics before proceeding to the more advanced topics.
Social media will still be here next year (and even the year after). Take the time to first address any serious issues or problems within your customer service organisation before pushing ahead into social media. And if you really can’t wait and feel compelled to jump right into social media while revamping your customer service organisation in parallel, at least start small and stay focused.
Choose a particular channel — whether it be Twitter, a discussion forum, or an online user group — and put enough resources and effort behind it to make it work. Put in the time. Engage with customers. Show people that you are serious and that you plan to stick around for the long term. If you respect your customers — and the community — they will likely both respect you back.
And that’s a pretty good start. If resources, in terms of people, are either scarce and you can’t find an in-house social media champion, think of hiring an agency. In a future post, I’ll give you some tips about choosing one. Or find a guru like me who has not only been immersed in this stuff for a while and already made all those classic mistakes and learned from them!

What a company develops from venturing into social media marketing is social capital. There are sound economic reasons for the importance of social capital. Oliver Williamson won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2009 for his work on transaction costs. One element of his research found that trust reduces transaction costs — in other words, if you’re doing business with someone you know, the cost of doing it decreases.

The Cluetrain Manifesto

The manifesto that started us thinking about being connected

Remember The Cluetrain Manifesto? It was a set of 95 theses organised and put forward as a manifesto, or call to action, for all businesses operating within what was suggested as a newly-connected marketplace, as far back as 1999. The ideas put forward within the Manifesto aimed to examine the impact of the Internet on both markets (consumers) and organisations.

In addition, as both consumers and organisations are able to utilise the Internet to establish a previously unavailable level of communication both within and between these two groups, the Manifesto suggested that the changes that will be required from organisations as they respond to the new marketplace environment.

Here is a summary, in their words: “These markets are conversations. Their members communicate in language that is natural, open, honest, direct, funny and often shocking. Whether explaining or complaining, joking or serious, the human voice is unmistakably genuine. It can’t be faked.

“Most corporations, on the other hand, only know how to talk in the soothing, humourless monotone of the mission statement, marketing brochure and your-call-is-important-to-us busy signal. Same old tone, same old lies. No wonder networked markets have no respect for companies unable or unwilling to speak as they do.

“But learning to speak in a human voice is not some trick, nor will corporations convince us they are human with lip service about ‘listening to customers’. They will only sound human when they empower real human beings to speak on their behalf.”

So social media marketing barely needs an ROI, as the current demand is phrased. You just need to decide whether you want to be in business in five years or not. Ignore the sea slowly being sucked away from you and the social media tsunami will catch you unprepared.

When should we jump into the latest social media tool?

The savvy e-marketer asks: “Will the tool help me reach and open a dialogue with customers and prospects more effectively and efficiently than my current toolset?”

If there is a more effective way to use your marketing resources, then use it. As far as Web 2.0 goes, take some simple advice: find out where your customers are online and what social media they are using.

Do new social media tools mean that email marketing is dead? A great advantage of email is its ubiquity: everyone has an email address. It is the world’s social network.

Email is still growing but that’s not the critical point. What is critical is that the email audience and user habits evolve, especially under the accelerating influence of Web 2.0 technologies.

All these new tools and technologies, like email itself, are conduits for content, not an end in themselves. It is not enough to email. It is not enough to Twitter. It is not enough to blog. It is not enough to have a Facebook page.

What you say, what you send, what you communicate still has to have value. In that sense nothing has changed since the day they printed the first newspaper. This isn’t a medium for just selling the sizzle; you have to be the steak at the same time.

Only invest in channels used by your audience where you know you can provide that quality and value that earns you the necessary attention and response. Each tool or channel has its own nuances and subtleties. The customers using your Web feeds might have a different focus and response to those preferring email; or Twitter; or those reading your Facebook page.