Regular readers of my blog might gasp in horror at the notion of putting software before vision and strategy. I’ve written a number of posts advocating the definition of a vision and strategy before enabling that with people, processes, technology… See “The Emperor’s new Social CRM clothes” or “How can we prevent a Social CRM bubble”. Both posts focus on the mistakes of the first generation of CRM – technology-centric, inside out, monolithic, lack of CRM vision or strategy… So why on earth did I recently recommend a client look at software before building their vision for Social CRM?
Recently I started working with a client on building their customer experience vision. Typically this involves understanding customer journeys from the customer’s perspective, in other words the steps that customers go through to fulfil their wants or needs. The customer experience is the sum of those journeys across all organisational boundaries and channels, including social channels. For example, a customer might want to find out more information about a product before making a purchase; to fulfil this need he or she might start by reading a blog about the product category, that might lead them to a company web site to check out a particular product, after that they might turn to social media to ask their friends what they think, or read impartial reviews. The customer journey stretches across both traditional CRM channels and social channels.
So back to my question – why did I suggest that the client I was working with start first with software? Understanding customer journeys from the customer’s perspective typically requires a number of inputs – data, surveys, feedback etc. Many organisations have internal data in abundance, for example, abandoned shopping baskets or complain volumes. They understand, from their perspective the issues that they think customer’s face, but they lack social insight. They don’t understand where their customers are talking about them, what they are complaining about or who’s influential. This is where social media monitoring and text analysis software can help. Tools like Radian6, Scoutlabs (now acquired by Lithium), Visible Technologies or Attensity can help to build greater insight into the social customer before embarking on a CRM / Social CRM program. Most of the tools available are software-as-a-service solutions that can be quickly deployed and most offer free trials or fast proof of concepts.
Ongoing, Social Media monitoring tools need to be built into a Social CRM platform / operating model along with the people / processes / skills / culture required to operate them effectively. But in the short term they can provide valuable insight into the customer experience from the customer’s perspective.
Laurence Buchanan leads CRM within Capgemini’s Technology Services business in the UK. Follow him on Twitter or connect on Linkedin. This post was first published on