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Paul Greenberg: Social CRM? Really? REALLY?


P&G may be the only company with a holistic social CRM strategy - yet it doesn't call it SCRM. Paul Greenberg explains what can be concluded from this.

1st Nov 2010

I recently had the opportunity to speak at the Capgemini EMEA 'Futures Forum' in London to about 100 customers of Capgemini’s. In the course of my discussion on what social CRM is, something occurred to me. The only company that I knew that had what I would call a holistic social CRM strategy – that was also reasonably complete – was likely to look at me with a totally blank stare if I asked them to tell me about their social CRM strategy. That would be Procter and Gamble.

Think about what P&G is doing.
1.  Customer communities - They are using their homegrown social networks such as Vocalpoint, a network of 600,000 mothers, who each have their own mom’s network of about 25 or more, to engage the moms in providing key customer feedback for products they are putting on the market. Each mom (theoretically) gets samples of the product that they give to their personal network in a natural environment, and then they get feedback. Benefits: customer engagement, marketing reach; product co-creation and feedback.
2.  Social marketing - Case in point is their antiperspirant, Secret Sparklebody Spray, which was expressly designed for teens. Back in 2005, they released the product in an entirely non-traditional way, by building social websites that engaged the targeted customer base – 13-15 year old girls. Within two months of the website launch, they had 12,000 registered members, a.k.a. customers-in-the-wings, who spent an average of 25 minutes per visit on the site. That led to an 0.1% market share for the entire antiperspirant market within five months of product launch – $84 million US. Benefits: Direct revenue benefit attributable to cost-effective social marketing campaigns and locations.
3.  Product co-creation - They have the Connect-and-Develop program which is a way for outsiders to both pitch new ideas to Procter and Gamble that might turn into products. Over 100 have successfully done that. Connect-and-Develop is also where P&G puts out its R&D issues that are then resolved by the community at large – in a major science and engineering crowdsourcing effort. Those who solve the problem are paid for their answers. Benefits: new product development and R&D problem solution at a fraction of the cost of an internal effort. Meeting KPI of 50% of all ideas coming from external sources by 2010.
4.  Customer-centered supply chain – Several of the supply chain KPIs are oriented to the customer’s experience with P&G. For example, one of their most important is called pricing from the shelf back. That means that you don’t define the price of a product from the cost of the materials plus margin of some sort. It means that you find out from your customers what they would pay for the product and then engineer or re-engineer the product so that it meets the customer’s numbers. 
5.  Customer experience – When he took over as CEO (he has since stepped down), A.G. Lafley made the following statement: "We have to create a great experience every time you touch the brand, and the design is a really big part of creating the experience and the emotion. We try to make a customer’s experience better, but better in her terms." In other words, the core for social CRM as well as CRM was, and is, the customer’s experience.
I could go on, but I think the case is made. This is basically a complete SCRM strategy and program with all components in place and yet, P&G doesn’t call it SCRM. 
And so what if they don’t? 
It actually doesn’t matter if social CRM gets the credit so to speak for the success of the customer engagement strategy that P&G performs. The point is that it is the right strategy for the right customer base and gets the right results for P&G.
In fact, what I think can be concluded about social CRM is that as we begin the drive into 2011, SCRM can probably be seen as both a program and an umbrella term for strategic elements/tactical efforts that can be identified and measured. 
What do I mean? Let’s take the second first.
SCRM the umbrella
While it is almost impossible to find a company executing a social CRM strategy holistically that goes by the name of SCRM, it is common to find companies implementing strategies and tactical efforts that are both part of social CRM and measurable. 
For example, the world-famed Comcast Twitter customer service channel is an SCRM effort. It is clearly customer-facing; it has measurable results when it comes to case identification and resolution and it uses a social channel for its medium of communication. All within the purview of SCRM. Is it called that? Not to my knowledge. Again, so what? Its an appropriate effort during a time when you have to engage the social customer.
Another example, Intuit is now training customer service representatives to go out to Twitter and Facebook and answer service questions proactively. They also are providing a new kind of CSR who is trained to not just handle the queue on the phone but to moderate in communities. SCRM for sure. 
These are customer service examples but we can see it in the use of widespread interdepartmental knowledge sharing and collaboration inside companies to improve the changes of sales opportunity success. We can see it with the use of social or interactive marketing rather than traditional marketing. We can see it by the capture and organisation of customer social data that is incorporated into what has been traditional transactional customer records. All of which is new and not something that would have been done seven years ago. 
In other words, the umbrella term for all these distinct and measurable strategies and programs is SCRM. Yet the companies doing it aren’t calling it that necessarily. 
SCRM the programme
For those of you who haven’t seen it, I’ve had a definition of social CRM which has gained reasonably wide acceptance in the enterprise world. It goes like this:
“Social 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 programmatic response to the customer’s ownership of the conversation."
Probably the most important part of that rather lengthy awkward definition is the last sentence. "It’s the company’s programmatic response to the customer’s ownership of the conversation."
What that means is that SCRM as a program can be defined by its elements – which are the practical pieces that you need to put a program together.
That would be something put in place for carrying out a customer engagement strategy. The components would be pieces like culture transformation, communications planning, business process analysis, voice of the customer elements, mission and vision statement development, and the creation of metrics and benchmarks, among others and in no particular order.  
It’s all focused on the idea that the customer has changed and the company has to deal with the changes in the customer. The expectations of that customer are different, who they trust is different, how they communicate is different and what constitutes success with that customer is different. A SCRM program by any name you care to call, encompasses these components and then some. The irony is that if you don’t do, your business will at some point materially suffer because the customer’s changes in behavior have already occurred and the changes are irrevocable. There is no looking back any longer.
So, call it whatever you want, recognise it as SCRM the program or the umbrella term, but regardless of what you call it, take the approach that Procter and Gamble takes – "We try to make the customer’s experience better – but better in her terms."
You can’t go wrong with that – no matter what the name.

CRM expert Paul Greenberg is author of CRM at the Speed of Light (4th Edition, October 2009) and president of The 56 Group. He is also managing partner/CCO of BPT Partners, executive vice president of the National CRM Association and co-chair of the Rutgers CRM Research Center.

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  

Replies (5)

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By wecandobiz
01st Nov 2010 11:06

Really interesting examples of companies utilising the channels of communication that the Social Web opens.

But to ask an obvious question, if they are not calling it Social CRM, what ARE they calling it?

I don't like the term Social CRM (or CRM for that matter, as who we communicate with aren't always customers; and we certainly don't "manage" them) but for any more an accurate term to work it needs to be widely used. 

I'd be interested to know whether the language is actually coming from the users, rather than the vendors who think they should be leading this!  If it is, what do they know contact engagement through social channels as within their organisations?

Ian Hendry


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By ConorERS
01st Nov 2010 16:55

Do you have any other examples of companies who come close to P&G from a B2B perspective?

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By [email protected]
01st Nov 2010 17:18

What about Harley Davidson?  They were probably the first.

The beating heart of Harley's CRM is not data or money but social intelligence; they use their information to better serve, retain and extend the customer relationship and create real advocates. I'm sure you've heard about the famous Harley Davidson Owners Group (HOG). In 14 years it went from 28people to 365,000 real advocates/members.  It was all about re-humanising the relationship between people in an enlightened way. The resulting efficiencies and insights greatly contributed to a healthy bottom line, but they were found in places other than the call centre or through direct marketing campaigns.

Marketeers are increasingly looking for a more ‘Social’ CRM approaches to help embrace developments like Community Engagement, Community Marketing, and Social Marketing. We call all this ’Enlightened CRM’ – it’s a new term to express how to create greater loyalty and productive relationships amongst brand communities

Historically we have seen many organisations approach CRM as a technology or marketing solution. However the enlightened see CRM differently. 99% of briefs refer to the “target audience” as an isolated, clearly definable, highly segmentable group waiting to receive and absorb our crafted messages – almost as if we could pinpoint them with 100% accuracy and reach them without wasting a dollar. I know that's not the case and so do you I’m sure.

"No human being is an island, so it's no longer useful to consider them as one"

An enlightened approach may mean there is less control over message delivery and there is still the challenge of ‘targetting’ the right people. however, it opens up a  new way of thinking that is qualitative and participatory, thus giving you an alternative method to recruit Connectors.  How well do you really know your customers? And how well do you understand the connections between the communities they influence AND are influenced by?

Milana Marketing

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By Glenn.Ross
08th Nov 2010 17:30

"Social CRM" is a term which, I think, was coined by Brent Leary. It's come into wide use in the blogosphere by, primarily consultants and those within organizations charged with CRM responsiblities who participate in online conversations around this topic. It is handy to use in the CRM-verse as nearly everyone who has spent time here knows what it means and because it doesn't require a lot of keystrokes.

We don't call it "social CRM" in my organization, we call it an "interactive and new media strategy" (way too many keystrokes for my way of thinking:-)  But that's because, the group working on it represents people from multiple departments and divisions and the title adds clarity.

I'd be willing to bet that, in those organizations where this concept has been adopted and where the initiative did not come from CRM'ers, it's called a social media strategy or something similar.

I'm amused by those who are surprised that it's not widely used outside of that. Perhaps you should spend less time talking to vendors and consultants and more time talking to us customers.-)



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By Intelestream Inc
17th Jan 2011 18:47

There does seem to be a trend creeping into the sCRM discussion, of any enterprise 2.0 technology or approach being lumped together under the sCRM banner. For this reason, the concept of sCRM is becoming more difficult to define over time, even if the processes and practicalities, which were a little vague a year ago, are rapidly taking shape and beginning to yield results.  You mention it not being important that sCRM doesn't get the credit, and that's fair. However, with the lack of authorship over the definition, there's always the danger of it getting the blame for poor products/services/approaches being billed as sCRM solutions by software vendors, much in the way that the reputation of traditional CRM (that's going back some...) suffered from poor integration by reckless vendors and naïve businesses.  That said, is there really anything that can be done to ensure that the sCRM label remains intact or is it just an occupational hazard linked to all buzz words/concepts? 

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