Ranting about SFSV: Social CRM – Putting Customers First

The last night session on Social CRM left me very disappointed. The debate on whether SCRM is shiny, new dawn of new, social Enterprise or a infamous lipstick on the pig have been raging for a while. Until I’ve heard the comments and answers of the last night panel members (with honorable exclusion of Mint.com), I was very hopeful for the first. Not anymore.

CRM was certainly a very profitable business for a couple of decades now, and yet most people talk about it as a failure. I have written about the fact that CRM has never failed as a technology, but as a strategy, implementation, adoption, and as the result in delivering promised ROI.  At the heart of it CRM promised Customer Relationship Management, but delivered customer relationship Management – efficiencies and cost cutting without effective execution of better Customer Experience. We tried to manage Customers, not to manage our relationships with the Customers.

So, what have we learned here? Judging by the communications and attitudes of the last night panelists (again excluding the Mint) – not much. New and improved SCRM would help Enterprise to manage PR risks, to corral Customers into company controlled forums, capture more personal information and otherwise continue on the same path of exploitive relationship management.

The fine metaphor of the bridge between the Social and The Enterprise morphed into the image of the gated community without a lot of transparency or accountability.

@jowyang asked me afterwards if a company can make money engaging in more balanced, fair, respectful relations with their customers. In my opinion it is the only way to build a truly great, profitable company with a focus on long term ROI growth, look at Zappos.

Social CRM – Putting Customers First – what does it even mean?  Healthy relationship has to be equitable and “social” means that even in relatively free market society customers have a choice to have relationship with less abusive partners. The first law of Social is Authenticity and when a company starts to invest into quality of Customer Experience, with or without technology to support it, and then I’ll start buying into Social CRM. Please stop putting Customer first and concentrate instead on Customer Experience.

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