This great question was posed by Jason Breed’s #socialmedia and moderated by Social Marketer Aaron Strout. The post raised some very good and specific questions, but the comments got me really thinking. Particularly this one from Paul Greenberg:
The social CRM strategy needs to be consistently based on the best means to engage the customer, rather than just manage them. But it doesn’t mean DON’T manage the processes and data. It means use them differently to help you deal with this newly empowered customer.
I always had a problem with interpreting CrM as managing customers, as opposed to managing relationships (cRM), but in practice a lot of strategies were built on that unfortunate approach and Paul is right on the money again, as he usually is. Attempts to utilize existing (legacy) business processes to manage social customer engagements will be ineffective and uneconomical.
A more fundamental change may come from re-evaluating the reasons for engaging the customer – companies have always wanted to market to and to sell to, which both represent a push engagement model, more effectively and to service (push/pull engagement) more efficiently. These are already being explored by a number of vendors and companies, with varying degrees of success.
The evolution of the customer’s role in a Social Media context also offers an opportunity to engage customers as co-creators of value in product or service development and management processes on a larger and more meaningful scale than traditional Market Research and Competitive Intelligence practices. There are a number of vendors offering tools for “listening” to Social Media, but I would like to learn more about methodologies, best practices and business processes, that show real returns on “hearing” what is said.