Customer relationship management (CRM) is not and cannot really be social, since social means “of, relating to, or occupied with matters affecting human welfare” (definition taken from The Free Dictionary). In my opinion, CRM does not really affect human welfare, since it brings advantages only to its users and to the customers of the companies using it.
In this blog post, I will explain why CRM is not social and why social CRM (SCRM) is nothing more than CRM using social media tools.
Does Social Media Affect Human Welfare?
Yes, it does, and in many ways. Of course, different people have different views on the use of social media but I think it has a great impact on human welfare for the following reasons:
If used wisely, social media can bring huge benefits to its users and does not require important investments from them. It is true that all social media networks require registrations, therefore users need to provide personal information and free access usually comes with a price (either limited access or aggressive marketing campaigns). Despite these obvious disadvantages of social media, the advantages mentioned above make it a social phenomenon.
What Does SCRM Do?
If a CRM product integrates with social media tools, is it SCRM? What about tools that can be used to monitor blogs, social media Web sites, etc?
In my opinion, SCRM takes advantage of social media to make CRM more efficient. In other words, instead of taking the phone book and calling people to market your services, now you can search people on Facebook and Twitter, to see who might be interested in your products. Or, instead of using door-to-door sales people, you can send newsletters, e-mail blasts, etc. to thousands of people all at the same time.
Social media can also help you
• communicate with your existing or potential customers;
• market you products to a wider category of people; and
• address your customers’ need quickly and more efficiently.
Why CRM Cannot be Social?
Traditional CRM (both as a tool and strategy) is used in order to increase a company’s profits and to increase customer retention and satisfaction. This means that CRM addresses the needs of a very limited category of people, not to mention that it does not have the advantages of the social media described above.
Indeed, CRM is only accessible to users that work for a company buying the solution and their business partners (customers, suppliers, etc.). The freedom that users have to communicate, interact, and collaborate is often limited by denied access rights, depending on the importance the user has for the company offering access to its CRM solution. Finally, knowledge is usually available for employees and paying customers only.
Social Media Flavored CRM?
If we go back to the definition of “social”, it is obvious that CRM cannot be called “social” and SCRM is nothing more than social media flavored CRM. My impression is that SCRM is just a buzz word used to set some CRM products apart from their competitors, without being different from regular CRM.
In a future blog post, I will describe how I see a true social CRM, but in the mean time I welcome your comments.
I agree that “social CRM” is just a buzz word, and that any CRM could have social elements. However, I’m curious to see where things go in the future as both social networking and CRMs are still in the early stages of their evolution. Maybe one day there will be a truly social CRM product, but I think we’re a long ways off from that.
Thank you for a wonderful post with great statistics about the enabling nature of the internet.
You might be surprised to know that Social CRM is indeed defined to be helpful to the humanity, directly or indirectly. However, the message has been lost somewhere, distorted beyond recognition by some vendors as well as snakeoil sales men of Social Media now garbing the robes of a Social CRM guru.
Social CRM, has the uphill task of having to overcome the prejudice that has been built thanks to the company/product centric nature of the traditional CRM tools.
I tried to chalk out the ways in which Social CRM is different from CRM in a blog post, incidentally just yesterday. Though we are far from reaching the ideals of it, we are taking some baby steps nevertheless.
Suffice it to say that Social Media/Networks is just one channel thats being considered. You might want to read this manifesto that could mean a big shift in the way the term ’social’ is considered.
I would urge some caution to Companies who believe that Social media is a way to promote their business. it can only be a way of distilling a common message very efficiently, which promotes the concept of CRM. However the CRM systems can be tuned to individual sub groups of customers who want to be communicated in this way. The social media sites show no complexity and run the risk of blasting out a blunt message that will actually run contrary to the intended effect. Don’t get carried away by the buzz words, common sense marketing principles still apply !!
Philip, you’re missing an important aspect of Social Media when think of its use in tthe context of marketing. Whereas most traditional marketing is mass marketing, throwing mud in the hope that some of it sticks, merkating using social media enables you to listen for when prospective customers have a need and TARGET a response, conversaionally, which provides a solution. Forget broadcasting; social media can help you to listen through public streams and locate specific individuals who are actually asking for what it is you do.
Everybody wins, as companeis don’t waste time and effort trying to cover everyone in messages; and customers don;t get combarded with irrelevant messages.
I am not a fan of the term Social CRM either, but it fits with the Social Web — where the web becomes connected people, not just connected computers.
It might not actually need a name in itself, because within a few years pretty much all CRM systems will be connected to social networks anyway.
I have to agree with Ian - but not because I am a Social CRMer. Full disclosure, I support, write and talk about Social CRM a lot. There is certainly some buzz and hype, I admit, by the use of the word “Social”.
But it very hard to isolate the word in this, or almost any context. Can you compare the word “Social” when put in front of “worker” or “security” with “media” or “network” - no way. Anymore than with CRM. If we are going to pick on the word (which I have in my own posts), we need to go full out.
In the context of your breakdown of Social Media, while not purely wrong, one could easily replace “Social Media” with “The Internet”. There is no human welfare associate with uploading a YouTube video - there is freedom, of course. Everything you describe is about freedom, not Social Media.
The combination of Social (Networking and Media) with CRM makes people more efficient, not CRM more efficient. It is more than just Marketing and Sales, and all parts of the ecosystem have access to tremendous amount of information, whether or not that they are paying customers or not. That is the point, Social CRM enables the extension of the ecosystem beyond traditional CRM through media.
I enjoy differing opinions, and thanks for sharing your thoughts so others could share theirs as well
Interesting perspective - one that I don’t necessarily disagree with. However, I will suggest that this…
“Traditional CRM (both as a tool and strategy) is used in order to increase a company’s profits and to increase customer retention and satisfaction.”
…is not really a definition for strategic CRM. Strategic CRM, whether social or not (and in my opinion), is an initiative that drives cultural change from inside-out to outside-in. Or, makes a company customer-centric. This requires realignment of focus from products to customer groups and internal process must be realigned to support concepts that you don’t see in a command and control environment.
This is where the technology comes in, to support these workflows and processes. And ultimately, the goals of such an initiative aren’t “satisfaction”, the should be loyalty and advocacy that deliver improvements in “customer value” and ultimately shareholder value. These aren’t periodic accounting measures like increased revenues. That’s a meaningless goal in terms of strategic CRM.
And as for marketing, an good data driven marketer has understand customers better than any other part of an organization. Mass marketers are simply advertisers. Social can help the data driven relationship marketers, not by segmenting customers, but by (possibly) helping them understand why they see something in their data (see www.drillingdown.com for a real marketer). However, marketing is still a silo that must work in cross-functional, customer segmented teams throughout the entire customer lifecycle - which ultimately, we are trying to extend through a better experience and less relationship friction.
Mike B (@mikeboysen)
I think that I have to disagree here, CRM’s can be Social. If a business/team/individual can leverage Social tools like profiles, activity streams, forums, groups and document sharing within their CRM activities, and tie that into Salesforce to track all of that activity, then how can it not be Social CRM? It is the same thing that people do on Facebook everyday - the key is to bring the same tolls that people are used to leveraging in their personal life, into their professional career, and not to reinvent the wheel.
Now granted it was a very easy acronym to come up with, and is just another acronym, but I think that it makes sense.
Now on the other hand, I think that by adding Social in front of CRM, you initially create a perception that it is for a “younger generation” and people may immediately tend to look at it as a “passing fad” so to speak.
Mike P (@mikepascucci)
I think, since you remember the CRM fundamentals, social networks may be another channel to gather information for Operational , Collaborative and Analytical CRM modules from the “Traditiona” CRM lay out , as we all Know from Social networks and “Google feel” internet sites or pages we could gather information to integrate to a “traditional” CRM System . On the other hand the Philosophical part of CRM must change to incorporate Social Networks as a new way to generate “Fidelization” or as an aspect to considerate, if not someone else wil do it, and the fresh new competition will grow in this new scenario. R. Bogicevic
Thank you all for your comments! As promised, i will write a post on how i see a real social CRM. Please feel free to let me know how that would look like and if you think it already exists, what makes it social.
Ian, I think the bit I really always miss, is that most of my clients don’t post onto a social media site when they want something. Rarely happens in my world. So I use a proper CRM which is able to segment Clients - avoiding the mass marketing mud throwing technique you described, and allows proper and professional targeted messages to reach the Clients of choice at the seniority of contact level as well. Listening and filtering the operational level garbage that emanates from Social Media sites, I’ll leave to others - its probably a generational thing!! I still remain to be convinced that people actually form meaningful relationships using social media, that are really useful in proper business. I personally try to keep a distance between the inner me, and my professional me - what does everyone else think - business and social, does it really mix?
I think business and social do and have to mix! If you think about it, work and business take two thirds or our time every day, so we spend most of our lives interacting with work colleagues, customers, business partners, etc.
In conclusion, social cannot and should not be about friends, family, hobbies, etc. only. I also think that we cannot really differentiate between the philosophical definition of social and the pragmatic one.
Very interesting discussion and I agree with you.
I think the wave of social everything does force us to rethink what we know about strategy+process+techno+organization supporting product design, development, marketing,sales, distribution and support and reinvent everything. The quick way is to take what we have and color it so that it fits the new way of doing things. Such an approach leads quickly to buzzwords and adding features to existing technology to make it look trendy (and of course leapfrog the competition).
But, as you said, that’s not it and a bit short-sighted. I really like your point about social being about improving human welfare, or, community welfare (i.e: folks that share similar interests, passion..) and how to do it (freedom, equal participation..). Current CRM system aren’t design to achieve that for the reasons you highlighted. Adding social features doesn’t make them social. It’s just “CRM in social media”.
Also, to me the term social media is kind of misleading, I’d rather talk about the ’social platform’.
I see social CRM closer to ‘community management’ where a biz is just one piece of the puzzle that ultimately increase ‘community welfare’.
Btw, I took a stab at a similar debate on marketing in social media vs social media marketing (http://blog.ecairn.com/2009/03/12/social-media-marketing-versus-marketing-in-social-media/)
I agree with much of what you write here. From the beginning I felt, and argued for, the terms to be CRM using Social Extensions/Media, feeling that it was a better definition of what social media brings to the table.
However, Social CRM is the terminology folks have moved forward with. I suspect we will all be discussing CRM vs. Social CRM soon enough.
As John mentioned, I think this distinction is largely one of terminology. Gabriel’s definition of SCRM is fairly different from the one its practitioners use:
“SCRM takes advantage of social media to make CRM more efficient. In other words, instead of taking the phone book and calling people to market your services, now you can search people on Facebook and Twitter, to see who might be interested in your products. Or, instead of using door-to-door sales people, you can send newsletters, e-mail blasts, etc. to thousands of people all at the same time.”
To me, this sounds more like ad targeting than SCRM as most people talk about it.
The key point that’s missing in this definition is that the interaction discussed is one way — company-to-custoemr — whereas most SCRM practitioners think of customer-to-customer and customer-to-company interactions as being particularly important.
This is not to say, by the way, that SCRM will not enable better profiling and targeting for marketing purposes. I suspect that properly implemented SCRM programs with robust data collection will do precisely that. But I don’t think that’s the primary driver today.