Customers, Not Vendors, Need to Steer Social Business Design

John Moore

Many people refer to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) as Social Customer Relationship Management (SCRM). While I prefer to refer to it as Social Business Design, it is the same thing. It is the framework within which companies and customers build stronger relationships and increase the value of the relationship to both parties. This is a framework of processes and tools, such as Social Support Communities, which result in reduced operational costs to support customers, enabling your power users to become strong advocates and support consultants for your company.

I attribute the term "Social Business Design" to David Armano of the Dachus Group. Their complete definition can be found on their site. My definition, which is similar to David's, is simply "Social Business Design (SBD) is a framework for incorporating social solutions (the combination of strategies and tools) into your overall business strategy. SBD is focused on people first, processes second, tools third."

Call centers must understand both Social Business Design and Social Support Communities as they plan for the future of the call center.

I will avoid opening up the discussion on nomenclature but let’s just note that I feel Customer Relationship Management (CRM) (the combination of tools and processes) has been, in large part, a failure. While no single group is without guilt, I do feel that the three major participants in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) have all dropped the ball, not any one in particular:

  • Vendors. For developing products that attempt to be one size fits all solutions with too many features and are too hard to use.
  • Consultants. For sometimes, not always, leading with products over strategic approaches.
  • Customers. For too often failing to clearly articulate the goals behind deploying Customer Relationship Management (CRM), the measurements of success, and actively engaging in the project.

OK, now that I’ve blamed everyone, including myself (as I have played all three roles), how do we move in a better direction? Customers, deploying a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system will not make you a better business. While it would be nice it is not that simple. You must have clear, achievable goals, a strategy to succeed, and be willing to hire the right people, implement the right processes, and count on a little luck too. Customers must become very active participants in setting the direction that Social Business Design, and Social Business Tools such as SSC, take.

Here is what I will do as part of the problem, in hopes of becoming part of the solution:

  • I am asking the "Social Customer Relationship Management (SCRM)" vendors to help form an industry-wide council on how to overcome the failures of the success. It is ridiculous to think that 10 years from now we will still be looking at 50 percent failure rates for six- and seven-figure deployments. That the vendors that participate bring in key consulting organizations and a mix of customers to help define and drive the solutions. In fact, I want these customers, not the vendors, to set the direction. They understand their businesses better than any of us ever will.
    • For my part, since I am the loudest voice in the wilderness calling for an end to this thing that has been named "Social Customer Relationship Management (SCRM)," I am going to define my checklist of what qualifies a product for any social business tool category. The minimum requirements to pass the John Test. This will be far from perfect and will need all of your active participation.

OK, some of you will suggest I am dreaming when I am writing about this kind of change. However, we can either share in a dream of a more successful future or we can continue to accept the status quo. For me, I’ll take dreaming over the prospect of watching millions of dollars continue to be flushed down the toilet of failed Customer Relationship Management (CRM) roll-outs.

Will you join me?

First published on Call Center IQ.