Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Strategies for Smooth Social CRM Implementation, Part 1

The most important strategic imperative for a successful social CRM implementation is an organizational culture and structure that is aligned with Customer 2.0. The social customer has evolved into a more mature, demanding, informed, willing and value-adding business partner who seeks a long-term association with the brand or enterprise. The traditional CRM approaches are no longer acceptable.

Customers' buying behaviors and businesses' engagement models are shifting. Traditional is out, next-gen is in. Today it is the customer who influences and forces the evolution of business models. Cloud-based Internet peer networks drive the buying decisions for large segments of customers. Enterprises will inevitably need to adopt mobility and social media platforms to keep up with the next generation.
Today's consumers already have globally visible footprints in terms of their opinions, feedback, and perceptions of various brands. Collective sentiments developing on social networks and in peer communities are influencing consumer choices and buying behavior. Social media platforms will be the next-generation battleground of brand and customer loyalty.

The importance of Customer 2.0
Is your organization ready to do business with "Customer 2.0"? Social CRM gives you a real-time sense of customer preferences and opinions. Social CRM helps you listen to relevant social media conversations so that you can take proactive steps to create untapped business opportunities.
With Social CRM, you can leverage your customer's trusted peer network to create widespread positive brand perceptions and generate new leads. You can engage customers in conversations through social media networks to provide a more personalized experience. Finally, you can make the consumer your partner in product co-creation for win-win outcomes.
Many conversations on this theme have grabbed the attention of those at the C-level. Across the globe, consumers are hooked on social networking. The way they interact with brands is changing. The way they make buying decisions is changing. Consumers have moved beyond consuming information -- now they share experiences, knowledge and activities on new platforms. Hence, it has become critical for organizations to interact in a way that is more relevant and appealing to them.

How Organizations Are dealing With Customer 2.0

Different industry segments have reached different levels of adoption and maturity of their social media for CRM functions. Business-to-Customer (B2C) businesses seem to be on a steeper trajectory when compared to Business to Business (B2B) firms. Most of the early adopters of social CRM are consumer packaged goods, telecom, high tech, manufacturing and services industries. However, all industries leverage social media for their marketing, sales and service functions at varied levels, based on the customer behavior and sales cycle.
Banks and financial services have been relatively moderate in their adoption rate of social CRM, restricting its usage primarily to listening, analyzing and meeting customer needs apart from customer support. Issues such as data privacy, user authentication and sensitivity of bank information, coupled with regulatory stringency, make social CRM an initiative that needs to be implemented with forethought and strategic vision.
A snapshot of key activities of the leading banks and FIs in the social CRM space:

Community (Peer networking) Customer Service Marketing Campaigns Customer Education
Wells Fargo Virtual world The Wachovia unit uses twitter Dedicated blog posts for different loan offerings/virtual world/twitter
American Express dedicated forums using Twitter
Intuit communities/forums Blog posts/communities
Scotia Bank communities/forums using Twitter
Fidelity You Tube videos Using Twitter
Charles Schwab communities/forums Using Twitter

Figure 1 highlights the range of social CRM activities that financial services organizations are currently undertaking. Communities, microblogs and other social media essentially act as another communication channel with the customer, where socially enabled marketing, sales and customer service processes are executed to generate lasting business and customer value. In general, the activities performed in the social media space can be mapped to the traditional CRM pillars.
Marketing: Brand-related references from communities and other content management sites (like YouTube) are converted into specific customer experiences/campaigns. Microblogging sites (Twitter, etc.) are also used for launching campaigns
Sales: Before making a purchase, today's consumers often seek the opinions of like-minded peers and experts on discussion forums and consider product reviews/ratings/tags. Such social conversations can lead to sales.
Service: Microblogging sites replace the traditional phone/IVR channel to make an instant connection with the customer to address an issue even before it becomes a problem.

Social CRM: Strategy or Tool?

The marketplace is abuzz with debate over whether social CRM is primarily a strategic concept or just a tool to be implemented. In fact, it is a balanced amalgamation of business insights realized by astute IT implementation.
It is also a strategy and an art from the perspective that Social CRM
  • is still an emerging area where thought leadership, frameworks and models are in a nascent stage;
  • requires clear foresight in terms of goal setting and expectations;
  • requires judgment and realistic assessment of an organization's readiness to adopt and adapt to the new media;
  • requires deep analysis of the nuances and uniqueness of social customer behavior; and
  • forces adaptation to cater to the emerging and diverse needs, traits, responses, demands and attitudes of the social customer.

Social CRM Strategic Imperatives

The most important strategic imperative for a successful social CRM implementation is an organizational culture and structure that is aligned with Customer 2.0. The social customer has evolved into a more mature, demanding, informed, willing and value-adding business partner who seeks a long-term association with the brand or enterprise.
The traditional CRM approaches of enterprise-driven marketing efforts, aggressive sales pitches, or less-than-satisfactory customer support are no longer acceptable. In fact, it has been shown time and again that such approaches can often publicly backfire in the new social world.
Mckinsey's 7-S framework can be leveraged to prepare an organization for the social CRM bandwagon:

McKinsey's 7-S framework and Social CRM Strategic Imperatives
Marketing : Sentiment Analysis, Customer-driven Brand Building, Elicit Customer Insights from social conversations,
Sales: Relationship oriented selling , Network-led prospecting, Word of Mouth referrals and Predictive Analytics for Cross/Up-sell
Customer Support: Pro-actively addressing customer complaints, minimizing product issues, deftly handling irate customer, prioritizing service request resolution based on potential impact

  • Deep-dive research on organization's Social Customer behavior, Competitor analysis on Social Media , SWOT Analysis and Business Need to leverage social Media
  • Cross-leverage Social Media / CRM initiatives with Offline efforts
  • Establish strong business case with ROI model
  • Implement social CRM projects in pilot mode, reap benefits and broaden reach and scale
Streamline: Re-align the front-office to be more agile with clear focus on prompt response to customer

Boundary-less: Flatten walls between business functions to enable faster discussions and decisions


  • Multi-channel Consolidation
  • Predictive Analytics
  • Social listening , Social Analytics and Social Intelligence
Collaborate, Co-create and Communicate with Partners , Suppliers, Employees and Customers
Genuinely customer centric empowered by sophisticated tools providing deep social customer insight and a 360 view of customer touch points across channels (social media, phone, web or offline)
Shared Values

  • Customer centricity
  • Pro-active issue resolution
  • Community ownership as against siloed approach toward corporate brand building
  • Transparency and Fairness in all transactions across customer touch points 
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