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From social CRM to social business to just "business"

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about the need for new thought leadership in the social CRM space. I wasn’t trying to pick a fight but I do feel strongly that it’s a legitimate issue to discuss. Reason being, I talk to many people on the enterprise side of the business i.e. clients, friends on Twitter and colleagues that I used to work with at HP and Intel; and the consensus is that while there is a lot of good theory being shared by super smart people, nothing is quite actionable.

It’s very easy to talk about technology, big data, CRM platforms, cloud computing and all that good stuff. But I believe that its time to peel back the onion and start digging a little deeper.

Here are some key questions we should start to explore broken down by the familiar People, Process & Technology:

(1) People: Who is responsible internally to execute and plan a social CRM program? Is it support, a community manager, marketing and sales? What if an agency is managing a brand’s social channels? How does that work? What kind of reporting is needed to determine success? Who is responsible for analytics? How do you navigate within an organization that is plagued with organizational silos (hate that word, but they still do exist)? What are the best practices to achieve buy in from other departments i.e. support, IT, operations, etc.?

What’s in it for these groups to a) participate b) invest budget into a social CRM program c) invest time and resources supporting cross functional teams and d) hire the right staff to do the job. Who owns the customer experience? Is an owner even needed? How do you get “buy in” from executive management? More importantly, how do get executive management to begin to change their behaviors instead of just talking about it?

(2) Process: What kind of processes are needed to create and manage workflow? How do I create a customer support decision tree? What about sales? Is there an opportunity to leverage social CRM best practices for sales reps? If so, what’s the process for them to get involved? Should there be a training program? If so, what does the curriculum entail? What about crisis management? Whose responsibility is it to create, manage and execute a crisis management protocol when the time arises? Who is responsible for gathering all the data, analyzing it, and then extracting actionable data insights for the organization? And more importantly, what is the process to ensure that those insights are executed in order to close the loop? How do we scale our marketing tech stack?

(3) Technology: There are many different vendors in the space, what’s the best technology

for monitoring the conversation? What about engagement (yes, engagement is important to social CRM)? Is one, integrated tool more effective or are multiple tools okay to get the job done? What are best practices for integrating the traditional CRM platform with today’s tools? What about a real time command center? Is that important and how does that work? Is that an operation that needs to be manned 24/7? What about IT? Should they be involved in this process? Who should pay for all this technology?

These are many questions that I hear from clients and people in the space. Not just the decision makers but the folks on the front lines who are managing and engaging in customer relationships day in and day out, usually community managers. And by the way, many of these community managers are jumping head first into these issues – learning, sometimes making mistakes, adjusting their approach, etc. They are engaging, yes engaging; creating workflows, managing vendors and working with traditional CRM systems, managing analytics and more importantly many of them are drivers of change in the organization.

Perhaps its time to move beyond social CRM as a topic or phrase.

And as I think more about it, all of the questions above latter up to something much bigger – something more than just customer experience, technology, CRM and community. It really is the shift and transformation to a social business. Even in this podcast hosted by social CRM expert Brent Leary along with Paul Greenberg and Esteban Kolsky, he refers to social business to frame the conversation. And, it’s probably not a coincidence that the Social Business Strategy Summit is featuring mostly speakers from the CRM space. I am certain we will see a lot more of this in the future.

It’s no argument that social CRM is ONE component of the customer & technology ecosystem. It’s ONE piece of the puzzle that organizations need to put together in order to change the way they communicate and engage with employees, partners, customers and even the media. It’s just ONE attribute and proficiency needed to help companies evolve into a social organization. Perhaps its time we move beyond social CRM and focus on the bigger picture.

And much like social media was in the early days when it was an after thought in most marketing organizations, research and experience proves that it’s now an integral part of most marketing budgets, initiatives and strategic imperatives.

I believe the same will happen with social business. Social business initiatives will soon be generally accepted business practices like Six Sigma, GAAP, ISO 9000, BPM, TQM, etc. It’s just a matter of time.

What do you think? Is this blasphemy?