A learning journey to a social CRM framework

11th Oct 2010

Esteban Kolsky provides an overview of his updated company roadmap for social CRM. What does it mean for your business?

Ever since I released the Roadmap for SCRM, I have been keeping busy with two things: improving it, and extending it.
I have exposed it to plenty of people since, both in real life projects as well as in theory and discussions. We talked about how to put strategies in place, and how to make specific decisions to each of the elements in there (channels, communities, purposes, objectives, etc.), where does one work better than the others, how it applies to each business function, and many more things. One thing is for sure, although the roadmap (and its sister – the vendor roadmap) was good and fairly complete – it just could not make it through a few rounds of one-on-one with reality.
All is good, though. All those battles gave me the opportunity to extend it, to take it a few steps further and to improve it. And I am ready to begin to deploy it.
Of course, I won’t be able to cover it all in this article – after all, it was six parts in the earlier model – but I can introduce the changes we found in here, and will continue to present the new model in the next few months.
First, the strategy.
While I did suggest before that doing a strategy was a simple matter of choosing a community, channel, purpose, and business function and then putting it all together – I have come across different models and implementations that changed my mind slightly. As it applies to the four components (they are still the same), here are the major changes:
1.       As for the business functions, social CRM is nothing without deep integration into enterprise processes. Focus on the simple CRM functions (service, sales and marketing) fails (usually quickly) at deployment – in the same manner that lack of integration with back-office and other systems did for CRM. You have to look at extending CRM functions into other business processes and make that part of the strategy. You have to aim for social business – using social CRM as a method to get there.
2.       On the second layer, business rules, this is where my original model was not so clear as to what was to be included in there. It turns out it was the right approach, as this is the layer where each organisation will change the most. Believe it or not, not everyone has business rules, metrics, data flows, feedback models, and measurement initiatives in place before moving to social CRM. Thus my suggestion of making sure they are all aligned often fell on deaf ears. What I did discover, though, was that the measurement initiatives was the piece that needed more work and deeper understanding – so do a lot of work on which metrics to select, and how to relate them to KPIs. That is the secret to success.
3.       The channels layer was interesting as this was the layer that got most people confused. I talked of an integrated but separate channel strategy, as I had introduced in the customer interaction hub, where all decisions were centralised and made in a common place, then used across all channels equally. While this is still feasible and possible, the problem was much deeper – understanding of the different social channels and their use and purpose. How and when to chose Twitter versus Facebook, what is the purpose and benefit of each, how to take the data from those channels and bring it back to CRM and use it, how to prioritise, and – probably the most important one – how to prove value for each channel added (notice I did not say ROI – there is no ROI on bringing up new channels – more on that later). There are very clear differences, and proof of value, that is emerging.
4.       The community layer – my favourite one to preach on. What is a community? This has been discussed ad-nausea in the last few months, but it is a great discussion. Are communities only online? Can offline communities be part of social CRM? How do you distinguish between communities? How can you leverage the work done in a community across the others? These questions led to create a decision matrix that can help an organisation easily chose the best community type for their deployment – well, at least easily enter into a battle to justify which community to choose. 
These changes to the company's roadmap also caused me to consider changes to the vendor roadmap – although not quite as many. Most interesting of them all? The actionable layer unit (ALU) I introduced in the previous model has expanded in its power – almost like a criminal mastermind intent in taking over the world (I have visions of Pinky and the Brain at this point – but I digress).
As it turns out, I discovered while working with all these vendors moving towards social CRM, this is a very complicated piece to develop or create. I would almost say impossible, but don't want to discourage anyone. I have been in this position before, though, when I introduced the customer interaction hub.
The work I ended up doing back then was very helpful this time around as well.
As reality meets plan, which is the point of failure for any plan, it turns out that no vendor is likely to create an actionable layer unit. I did say that when I introduced it – but left the challenge hanging. I have now discovered the major fault in it: the pieces necessary to make it work cannot be brought all together to work as one. It is not an issue of technology; it is an issue of viability. 
Even if a vendor were to create an ALU, to an organisation it would mean that they would need to either replace or integrate so many components in their architecture that it would most certainly merit perpetual hate from IT and the architecture group (provided it was approved, which it wouldn't be). Further, as we tested the model with a few of the larger organisations in the world, we discovered that the needs of the ALU for openness and integration went against their deeper, most cherished rules for data management, governance, compliance, and other very sensitive areas.
So, what does this mean to these organisations? That they cannot deploy social CRM?
Nope, it simply means that social CRM is not going to be done as an all-in-one, single-vendor product that will deploy out of a box, nor will it be a deployment where the consultant will be able to tell you how to do it as they did it before.
Social CRM will only succeed if an organisation takes on its deployment slowly, growing over time, making decisions as they go along, and keeping focused on their goals to get there. It is going to be a long journey to get any organisation to social CRM, one fraught with complex decisions and negotiations (both internally and with vendors) along the way.
As a side note (shameless plug), I will be using this framework and all the details that go with it at the Social CRM Certification we are conducting with Paul Greenberg and Bruce Culbert on 4 and 5 November in London. More details can be found here.
Esteban Kolsky is the founder of ThinkJar where he works with vendors to create go-to market strategies for customer service and CRM and with end-users leveraging his results-driven, dynamic customer experience management methodology to earn and retain loyal customers. Previously he was a well-known Gartner analyst and created a strategic consulting practice at eVergance. Esteban also regularly blogs at CRM intelligence & strategy
Marketers in the UK and elsewhere in EU can learn more about the power of Social CRM (SCRM) and its impact on marketing, sales and service by attending the first ever SCRM Summit in London hosted by Capgemini and BPT Partners on 4 and 5 November, and sponsored by Oracle, Pegasystems, Sword Ciboodle and SASThe SCRM Summit features the research and work of Paul Greenberg, world renowned CRM analyst and author. More information and early registration opportunities can be found at  

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By Intelestream Inc
14th Oct 2010 22:02

A major trend that is very evident and will continue to increase is the use of social media to attract leads and potential customers. Tools such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) put the customer in the center of daily operations and allow for a 360 degree view of the client. SocialCRM is a way to combine traditional front office processes (such as email marketing, lead qualification, forecasting, opportunity management, etc.) with social marketing avenues like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.   As long as you have a well implemented SocialCRM system in place, you will be able to track all the data points and key performance indicators that are meaningful to you and your organization.  For example, you can track Lead Source (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Hoovers, etc.) and run reports on which social media avenues are producing the most qualified leads.  Additionally, you can measure what SocialCRM efforts are producing the most opportunities and gauge close ratios.  Everything can be measured once you have the system in place, users trained, and data categorized properly. Further reading can be done by visiting

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By Esteban Kolsky
22nd Oct 2010 14:09

 What you propose sounds a lot like a solution provided by a vendor (maybe you?) to a problem that does not exist.

Social CRM is far broader than that, it is not about selling (that view that makes CRM for selling only is what got us in trouble with it -- it was supposed to be just SFA) only.

What has changed radically is the attitude of the customer, not the company yet.  The company needs to adapt to the new reality - customers buy, they are not sold.  Managing the sales process is going to be obsolete, marketing and service are going to become the new leading forces for the organization.  It is about giving the customer what they need, and getting something in exchange - not getting and giving as little as possible (as has been the case until now).

There is far more to the world than selling, but that is something you will discover in the next few years.

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