Right now I’m in the middle of a series that’ll take a hard-nosed, realistic look at how Enterprise 2.0 will impact organizations, not from the ivory tower perspective of a fresh start, whole cloth implementation, but from an attach-the-wheels-while-you’re-landing viewpoint—which is where most folks are with E2.0.
In this spirit, in these posts I’m looking at E2.0 from the other way around, from the point of view of existing domains/functions and how E2.0 might catalyze change in them rather than from a best practices, formally perfect E2.0 perspective that assumes that these disciplines have to keep up with the E2.0 wave.
In the first two posts, I looked at advanced (or adaptive) case management (ACM) and enterprise content management (ECM). Today I’m going to turn to a domain that’s already well on its way to being E2.0: customer relationship management (CRM).
Unlike ACM and ECM, there’s already a thriving sub-discipline devoted to what happens when you apply E2.0 to SCM: social customer relationship management (SCRM). I don’t want to rehash what’s out there, because there’s lots of great content on the subject.
However, a lot of what’s out there seems technology focused, i.e., how to use a dedicated SCRM tool in your business. As those of you who are regulars here might expect, I want to look at SCRM a bit more broadly, to consider how technology plus operational changes plus new strategy all impact how E2.0 and traditional CRM can work together to help organizations transform their customer service function.
I often run across organizations that have a robust and active SM footprint, but do little to nothing with their SM program beyond connecting with customers as part of their marketing and communication functions.
Given this, one of the biggest opportunity areas for E2.0 in terms of CRM is integrating external social media (SM) content with processes and information behind the corporate firewall.
Think about it: SM channels hold a staggering amount of consumer- and market-generated information about a company’s products and services. To only use these channels for outbound communication, or for inbound communications limited to marketing, is a wasted opportunity.
Product development, customer service, sales, account management, supply chain, human resources—all of these functions can benefit significantly from access to the kind of information about a company’s products and services found (essentially for free) through SM channels. In the past, they’ve historically paid handsomely for this information from companies that go out and collect it through market research, focus group testing, and so on.
The vast majority of organizations are looking for collaboration capabilities when they get involved in SCRM, i.e., using SCRM tools to allow sales, customer service, account reps, and others involved in the customer lifecycle to collaborate and work together more effectively than they can using current tools (such as email, shared drives, hard drives, and phones).
Where E2.0 can help is in allowing organizations to enable this kind of collaboration in a more agile way, rather than having to go all in on an enterprise tool to do it. The wide availability of SaaS offerings in the collaboration space makes it very likely that, at least as a proof of concept, an organization could get up and running on collaborative CRM with very little time or money invested up front.
And enterprise collaboration vendors are building more hooks into enterprise software, like SharePoint, Salesforce.com, or PeopleSoft every day. So there’s a good chance that an organization could stitch together a “good enough” SCRM application from their old-fashioned CRM system plus some newer-fangled SaaS tools.
Finally, something you don’t hear much about in terms of SCRM, but something that’s poised to be a huge opportunity area across all domains: mobility.
Mobile’s promise is not only in terms of hardware and software capabilities, although certainly the rapid evolution of devices has been breathtaking; mobile’s also a game changer in terms of its contribution to cultural and marketplace factors (the virtualization of the workforce, the rise of global organizations, and the evolution of highly-distributed partner/supplier networks).
In terms of SCRM specifically, mobility biggest impact will be on the division between front office and back office (or between home office and field reps). Right now, there are logistical hurdles to having efficient, integrated operations across these categories.
But by leveraging newer mobile technologies (smart phones rather than BlackBerries, tablets rather than PCs), organizations will be able to achieve new levels of immediacy serving their customers, and the existing operational distinctions between front office and back office, home office and field reps will recede to the background.
The final word
So much for my take on how E2.0 can be brought to bear on E1.0 CRM to yield the benefits of SCRM. While I kick around ideas for the next post, I’d love to hear from you all out there: thoughts on my take on SCRM? Have your own views on the matter? Or maybe you’re at an organization right now that’s struggling with these issues? Jump in, and let’s get the conversation started!
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This post and comment(s) reflect the personal perspectives of community members, and not necessarily those of their employers or of AIIM International