A recent discussion on the blog of Jacob Morgan led me again to the question that came to my mind when I first heard about the term "Social CRM" – where’s is the line between Social CRM and Social Media Marketing? Is Social CRM the holistic tech view as seen in the Altimeter report ? Isn’t there a difference between Social Media Marketing and Social Media Campaigning though used quite indifferently on Jacob’s post?
In the middle of all this thinking there is the notion of the "Social Customer" who is more likely to connect and conduct an open and collaborative conversation with and about a corporation, its products and its brands. While not every customer is a "social customer" the percentage of consumers and also B2B decision makers that consult social media for third party information about a company and its offering is steadily growing. These kind of customers like to get engaged and share their experiences and opinions with others. Though again the willingness to share is not even for any kind of product and service there is always someone on the Net. And third for this kind of customer the perceived value of the goods and services include the online experience of the purchasing process.
So turning towards a "Social Customer Orientation" means putting the customer into the middle of all actions (aka being customer-centric) and generating additional value into the customer experience and the corporate outcome by making use of the network effects of social software.
While referencing to the highly questionable functional design of a corporation within the marketing & sales department I came along the following five "social activity pattern" for the integration of the social customer into the social business strategy:
- Social Campaigning : At the lowest level of the integration we can find the by promotion purposes driven social campaigning. This includes firing up some viral ads, videos or other more complex actions like "Alternative Reality Games" etc. The purpose is to gain awareness and build up some reach in forms of fans/followers/"listeners" in those distributed social media channels. The social customer is integrated on the level of distributing the "message" about the corporations’ fun stuff – the generated value is limited towards an entertainment benefit – but it also pays a portion of the total online experience value that the social customer is taking into account while evaluating different offerings.
- Social Marketing (aka Social Media Marketing, Marketing 2.0, Conversational Marketing) : On this level the company is providing means for a real customer engagement. As social toolset used at this level you can find short- and long-term investments on community activities (both own as well as on third party platforms like Facebook). The generated customer value is around the created relevance of the conversations about the corporation, its products and brands. An important objective of this level is to identify and support advocats within the prospect and customer base. The integration of the "Social Customer" goes along with the open and collaborative conversation of the company. This changes the role of the customer from being the recipient and distributor of the company’s message towards being the voice (also in a polyphonic or modified form) of the company.
- Social Sales : On this level we have to differentiate between two aspects. It’s the notion of the extended (new) sales model that Paul Greenberg is talking about in this presentation . On the one hand we have new forms of lead generation and sales closure by third party affiliates aka brand/product advocates. By recommending the company’s offering there are new sales opportunities. On the other hand the inside sales has new forms of interacting and managing relationships with prospects and customers throughout social media. A clever salesperson takes advantage of the open and collaborative conversations within the social space to position himself/herself as expert and first contact to ask. The integration of the social customer is therefore two-sided. On the first the social customer becomes the external salesperson of the company. On the second side the social customer get a direct contact person who can be easily addressed and is not pitching everytime he/she is being addressed.
- Social Service : On this level there are again the same two aspects as for the "Social Sales" part. On the one hand the social customer and his published reviews and experience reports become or better are part of the customer service information on the net. And on the other hand the inside customer service can be directly addressed and is able to re-/interact in realtime with the customer and his/her issues.
- Social Production : On this level the Social Customer is fully integrated into the design and production process. But contrary to the classical mass customization approach the designed products of the Social Customer are made available again also for others (like at this lovely shop of "Julie & Grace ").
So wrapping up – extending the social software approach towards marketing, sales and service embraces different "social activity pattern" along the integration line of the social customer. So far I am not talking about Social CRM yet – as for me CRM is only an IT-enabled management approach for customer relationships and "Social CRM" is a CRM concept enhanced by a social toolset. Nothing more and nothing less. I fully agree on the definition of Lisa Moore in limiting it towards the formula: "social CRM (sCRM) definition : CRM + aggregator + socialytics ". I also agree on the greater idea behind the post of Mark Tamis: "Enterprise 2.0 and Social CRM Converge towards the Collaborative Enterprise " – though I would still limit the notion of "Social CRM" towards the technology part. And for this I would break up the characteristics of a "Social CRM" application into five main feature sets:
- Analytics of Social Activities – aggregating and analyzing the social activites around a company’s product and brand offering is the basic task of a social CRM application.
- Campain Support – identifying the peers and promoters to be linked to and to engage with and seeding it to them are further supporting features to be fulfilled
- Conversation Support – identifying the hot topics around a company’s and brand’s conversational world as well as the conversation leads on these topics are more features
- Advocacy Selection Support – identifying and supporting advocates in direct and indirect sales processes are the key feature. While the other features are really extending the data-driven world of classical CRM systems the provision of enhanced social information about some customers and proceed important peer customers differently should be a basic feature for socially enhanced CRM systems.
- Service Information Aggregation – The aggregation of own and third party service information ressources in order to provide a better self-service experience for the customer is IMHO the fifth key feature of social CRM systems.
In my opinion putting the social into the customer sales and service processes is definitely not only a technology "thingy". But IMHO "Social CRM" is also not the right term to be compared with "social marketing". But maybe I am also wrong in my perception of this – therefore I am really looking forward to your feedback and comments.
UPDATE: Published my “drawings” in a SlideShare deck for further reflection at http://www.slideshare.net/bnegelmann/social-customer-social-business-design-social-crm
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