Altimeter Group has just published its new report entitled ‘Social CRM. The New Rules of Relationship Management.’ It assumes that companies are simply overwhelmed with social interactions. They need tools, but they need tools to deliver on certain, clearly defined objectives. This report tries to give an overview on the tech-related maturity of SCRM tools and their relation to company objectives. Most of you will find it f*****ing boring. I don’t. 🙂

About half a year ago I posted an article entitled ‘Social CRM. Ready for action?‘. I tried to give a rough overview on the relevance of a new approach to brand-customer-relations in an era shaped by interactions among users via social software.

Of course I am not the first one to reflect the outcome of a world gone social for CRM. People like Esteban Kolsky (read his articles ‘The Roadmap to SCRM‘), Wim Rampen, and a few more CRM guys try to define the role of SCRM for today’s marketing. And now there is a new report by Altimeter’s notorious Jeremiah Owyang and Ray Wang – Social CRM: The New Rules of Relationship Management.

What’s it SCRM?

Social CRM extends the classic definition of Customer Relationship Management. According to Paul Greenberg

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

SCRM accepts the fact that there are millions of people virtually interacting . They are chatting about your brand, recommending your sneakers, or rate your restaurant online. This is where SCRM starts off

Social CRM is more that just another channel.  Properly practiced, Social CRM recognizes the depth of the relationship and understanding the current state – good, bad or ugly.

As I mentioned earlier it is a shift in defining what Customer Relationship is all about – a shift into a decentralized understanding of brand-customer-relationship and what to do with it. Company wide holistic understanding and reorganization of business processes as a result – that’s the core.

The report

Owyang’s and Wang’s first statement is not very surprising. Companies have a hard time to keep up with social.

  • Monitoring customer voices is one thing, anticipating the user’s will across a company is a beast of its own
  • Companies need tools not more staff to keep up with it
  • Customers don’t care what department you’re in they just want their problem fixed

That is why they do put understanding of user behaviour into the center of their report, not the actual brand-user conversation. To cut a long story short – listening and understanding as part of an overarching social business framework is Owyang’s and Wang’s short cut to organizations which please their customer’s (future) needs instead of delivering funny ads/apps in the first place.

To support this claim they have compared 18 different use cases. All of them rely heavily on Groundswell’s first law of listening before acting.

The result? A landscape (call it overview) of tools built to understand (not talk to) the customer in the first place. And a map to describe market demand and tech maturity of it. Don’t read it as a completely new approach to CRM, read it as a good overview of what could be done – organization-wide…with a clear tool focus.

My point

Call it Social Business Design, call it SCRM – in its purest form, it’s a shift in thinking—less about media and more about tapping the benefits of being a social business in a purposeful way (that’s David Armano speaking, not me). ‘Social Media’s’ key challenge was always the word Media. Everyone knows the world has changed. Everyone know the customer has (add more buzzwords & idioms here)… But in fact only few have understood the real value of listening closely and designing a business strategy – not a communication strategy – which is built around real value, not communication in the first place.

Take the ‘Hyundai Think Tank‘. An ugly brand community, designed to find answers on how to sell cars in a climate of crisis. They set up a community and used it as a focus group to do research and create new financing models for the brand. A massive success. In fact this is far more than communication and far more than ‘just’ monitoring. It adds a specific objective to a task brands do not usually feel comfortable with – listening and reacting. And the key benefit of Wang’s/Owyang’s report is to come up with a toolesque framework through which we can focus on a world of market research with clear and obvious benefits if your company can leave its traditional silo-mindset behind.

Groundswell is right. Social is not primarily about Facebook Fan Pages. It’s about embracing autonomous users and make use of what they do and say. It’s about value. Nothing more, nothing less.

What do you make out of it? Is it too abstract? Does it offer a good overview? Or is their approach not understandable at all? I am happy to reading your comments.