GartnerSym – Social CRM The Next Generation of Customer Innovation

My first session on Wednesday was about Social Customer Relationship Management (CRM), which I was looking forward to and it didn’t let me down, it was very interesting and highlighted a set of case studies where organisations have successfully used social media for customer relationships and where some had clearly failed to understand what was really going on with social media.

The Gartner analyst leading the session was Jim Davies who started by stating that very few organisations are executing Social CRM against a clearly thought-out social strategy that complements their overarching CRM strategy.

There is much confusion and uncertainty around the impact and scope for nurturing customer relationships through social channels, Jim highlighted 4 different approaches organisations take with regard to Social CRM:

  • Kamikaze – jumps in without a care or thought
    Jim highlighted the Nestle facebook example as an example of “fail”
  • Strategic – Focuses on business opportunities
  • Toe dipper – most people do this
    Curious and doesn’t want to miss out
  • In denial
    Doesn’t believe it will impact on them
The challenge for organisations who are in denial is that the next generation of talent will expect organisations to be socially aware.
What is social CRM, the following represents my view and interpretation on the areas that Jim outlined:

1) Internal –  “your people, your place”
Essentially this area is about looking at the internal opportunities that are there for you. This is an area which I personally feel will deliver great benefits not just around the learning but in supporting a wide range of internal business issues.

It is important to remember that unless your organisation has articulated business issues you will struggle to get buy in or support.
Some potential business issues you might hear which you could link to these tools are as follows: NB this list is an example and is not comprehensive. It also doesn’t imply any particular approach.

– people finder or skills finder (internal staff directory)
– project spaces and business collaboration
– real-time or near real-time internal communications (yes email is an option but that isn’t always collaborative)
– learning communities and peer support groups

2) External – “your people, other people, your place”

The second area that Gartner referred to was external but a platform that was managed by the organisation. An example of this would be where you host a community function for people to discuss and or support each other like a helpdesk community support function. In local government terms this is a challenge as we need to be careful about trying to create communities that we intend to be organic. So the difference here is that we are clear and open about what we would expect such a community to do or what broad outcomes we would expect.
Again some potential business issues you might here to link to would be as follows:

–  service improvement function
– service user support community
– shared communities of practice
– project spaces and collaboration with partners and other organisations

3) Public – “your people, other people, their place”

This aspect is the area that to be honest most people focus on, it includes facebook environments, twitter, youtube etc. This is where stuff (for most social media people) get interesting. However this is also where most fear resides and organisations are low in awareness around the possibilities, case studies, return on investment figures. BUT this is where the MOST VALUE will be gained to all.

Again some possible business issues (not comprehensive) you might come across which could be linked into these solutions or approaches – however i stress and i say this all the time now. Don’t focus on a single technology, do your homework, work out what will actually deliver the value in any given circumstance.

– connecting and engaging with communities
– civic debate and discussion
– trend spotting, listening to the social web community or as Gartner refer to it “the collective” can provide insights into what might be the next big opportunity or next big issue developing.
– people to people connections
– building relationships

Jim outlined a set of definitions which is useful when thinking about “Social”:
Social systems — describe the context for the way all of us work. They emerge from the people, processes, tools, organisation, relationships, skills and information associated with a group of individuals. 

Social computing — describes an approach to IT whereby individuals tailor information-based collaborative technologies to support the way they work.

Social networking — describes the use of online services such as Facebook to share information and interact with others. It is a subset of social computing.

Social CRM – a business strategy that mutually benefits cloud based communities and the business by fostering engagement while generating opportunities for sales, marketing and customer service

One of the key aspects organisations and in particular CIO’s need to recognise is that you need to shift away from Controlling Relationships to Guiding Relationships.
I started to think at this point about all this shifting to “social” If organisations and enterprises invest, adopt and completely embrace social media then do they by definition become Social Enterprises?
One of the top reasons organisations have invested in Social Media is to improve Customer relations, So Jim reminded people of the Eight building blocks for CRM:
1 Vision
2 Strategy
3 Customer experience
4 Organisational collaboration
5 Processes
6 Information
7 Technology
8 Metrics
For me the key is to Socialise these aspects in order to truly embrace and adopt social CRM. This means the whole organisation.
Also organisations will need to understand the links between Social CRM and Knowledge Management. How do we capture community knowledge into organisational knowledge bases and if we take this further – When does social knowledge replace corporate knowledge?
Kim completed the session by looking at the Ultimate sales (engagement) cycle < I’ve added in engagement as i see this as a model for Local Government as well and the sales bit is merely conducting an online transaction.
  • Mobile
  • Presence
  • Social
  • Sales (engagement)

I need a bit more head space to explain this in a local government context so I’ll just leave the four headings there as placeholders.


4 thoughts on “GartnerSym – Social CRM The Next Generation of Customer Innovation

  1. Hi Carl,

    I too attended this session and concur that it did not disappoint. What really struck me about this whole area was the scope for mis-understanding about the whole subject and the temptation to tag “social” onto whatever people are doing.

    A really exciting area and one which will hopefully follow a true community route and certainly something I would like to see work in the public sector.

    Great work on blogging so much so quickly.


    1. Thanks Stuart,

      The blogging has been hard work, but has actually helped me make more sense of what i heard…more blog posts will come later this week as i start to bring ideas together.


  2. Hi,
    Nice article Carl. I still feel that the space of social CRM needs a better definition. Folks end up limiting it to monitoring and management of customers using social networking channels. While that’s true, it’s only a piece of the puzzle. I like the definition presented here taking into account Internal, External and Public. Here is another way of looking at the space. Would be interested in your views –

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