Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Social CRM; let’s not dilute the term to death

As the domain name for this blog indicates I have thought about the possibilities for Social Media + CRM for quite a long time now; and nobody is more pleased than I am about the fact that “Social CRM” has finally come to be a mainstream term.. however, the fact is that “mainstream term” does not necessarily imply a well understood or agreed upon term; the last couple months I have come across stated or implied definitions of Social CRM that make me react in ways that range from excitement to amusement to disgust. Because of that I have decided to write this post to express my opinion of what Social CRM is; here it goes..

Let’s go back to square one: Paul Greenberg (in my opinion the utmost authority on CRM in the US; and a passionate advocate of the development of Social CRM) recently published a “Stake in the Ground” post on Social CRM; here I quote a few snippets from it:

  • “For the company to succeed… they can only provide what the customer needs to satisfy that part of the customer’s personal agenda that is associated with their enterprise... That means products, services, tools and experiences that allow the customer that satisfying interaction.”
  • “We’ve moved from the transaction to the interaction with customers, though we haven’t eliminated the transaction - or the data associated with it.”
  • “SCRM also changes the nature of what kind of customer is optimal for you... your objective should be to create advocates..”
  • “How you measure customer value changes when you’re thinking about SCRM... Rather than just Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) - which reflects the direct financial value of a customer to a company over the life of his relationship… think about Customer Referral Value (CRV) which measures how valuable influential customers are when they tell others about your company..”
Now let’s take a couple aspects (to keep it brief) of the traditional CRM definition; I am using the one that can be found at Search CRM that says that CRM is about (among many other things):
  • “Helping an enterprise to enable its marketing departments to identify and target their best customers, manage marketing campaigns and generate quality leads for the sales team”
  • “Allowing the formation of individualized relationships with customers, with the aim of improving customer satisfaction and maximizing profits; identifying the most profitable customers and providing them the highest level of service.”
So let’s mix & extract some of the core points of the concepts above:
  • Social CRM implies experiences that enable the customer to achieve their personal objectives, and allow the enterprise to advance their business objectives.
  • Social CRM relies on data; this now includes the interaction; not only between the enterprise and the customer, but also among customers (and with partners).
  • Value for the enterprise has become multi dimensional; direct transactions continue to be part of it but now it also encompasses indirect influence, co-creation, support deflection, etc.
  • Because of the two bullets above “identifying the most valuable customers” and “forming relationships with the aim to improve customer satisfaction and advancing business objectives” now takes on multiple dimensions; it now encompasses customer service, product development, sales, marketing, customer loyalty and many more.
Social CRM then means, within the scope of what was proposed above, the systems and business processes / strategies that allow enterprises, customers (and partners that may be part of the value ecosystem) to establish, guide, operate, track, identify, act on, react to the inter relationships that enable all of the multiple dimensions of value that were listed above.

What do you think?
Filiberto Selvas


Esteban Kolsky said...


I hope that none of my recent posts were the ones that disgusted you.

I think I agree with almost everything you say, but I am not sure if we are agreeing on what Social CRM really is. To me is two things: 1) adding social channels to CRM, 2) representing the customer interactions in the social business strategy.

I think, but my reading could be wrong, that we are in agreement -- are we?


Anonymous said...


In my opinion the value of social media and CRM is clear and I am hoping that people clearly understand that value.
I continue to write about this intersection because it's important and will add real value for the entire marketplace in terms of engagement and profits.
Okay, I am also clearly on record as being against the term and feel that ther term is so overhyped as to be useless. I won't argue this as I've stated my case multiple times and am moving on. The name is what the name is, right, or wrong.
Keep up the great writing, keep challenging us all.

John Moore

Filiberto Selvas said...

Thank you for your comments.

Esteban: no; none of your posts have caused a negative reaction on me; the mail culprit (unnamed)stated in a demo that their systems implemented Social CRM because they allowed to capture comments about key bloggers being tracked..

I think the key point to be or not in the same page is your #2 and how comprehensive an extensive it is; clearly (as you state in #1) adding social channels to CRM will allow to capture and act on the social data; but it is the business processes and strategies we define on the how we will use that data, when we will use it, to what end do we want to use it that will really define if Social CRM makes a difference or not.

John: I do believe the term is getting over hyped and twisted to make it mean whatever is convenient to the speaker; which is why I choose to write this post;I think if we agree on the value and what it will take to realize it we are on the safe side :)

Dr. Harish Kotadia said...


Social CRM is the business strategy of engaging customers through Social Media with goal of building trust and brand loyalty.

This is much more than keeping record of transactions as is the case with "traditional" CRM.

It puts back "R" in CRM or should I say CMR - Customer Managed Relationship.

Anonymous said...


I'm sorry not having read one of your posts before, because as it seems you have some good views and a nice readable writing style that like. From a value of Social CRM perspective I'm on the same page as you are.

In short: great post and I'm with Esteban when I say I hope it was not one of my posts on the "definition" topic that disgusted you ;-)

Last but not least: the real problem I have is that we are all writing for the same or a very similar audience.. the one that already has a well-rounded view on what Social CRM and its (potential) value is..

How do we reach the others? Preferably before the "body snatchers" get to them ;-) Easy: By having more, much more, people, like you, writing what the true value of Social CRM is, regardless of details that can make a huge difference to "us" and regardless of it being named Social CRM, Social Business Strategy, Social "XYZ" or what have you.

Wim Rampen

Anonymous said...


I agree with the comments about SCRM being overhyped right now.

Ultimately the same discussion is going on on every single area and function of a business regarding the Internet and Social Media is it not? Which leads to the confirmation of what you say: It is not about what tools or data is used but how you integrate Social Media in every aspect of your business strategy and complement your overall plan with it.

I'm no guru, just learning about social media and CRM but I do think that you can have all the data and monitoring tools and channels but without direction or real understanding there is no Social CRM, Mkt, sale or anything.

The term "Social" anything is bound to dissapear, ultimately every business function will have to have its "Social";"E-";"Net"; component thus rendering the differentiation useless. IMHO

Unknown said...

I don't think anything's overhyped yet. All of the discussion is but a reflection of a marketplace looking for meaning and definition. For example, what is now social media was once called User-generated content, then WOM - word of mouth. What we need to see next is client take up and successful business implementation of this extended medium.

Filiberto Selvas said...

Wow! Great conversation! way more valuable than my original post.

Dr. Harish Kotadia: in my opinion CRM was always about the "R"; things just got a little lost in most implementations. I do like the concepts of CMR (or VRM), but in this post I was really focusing on the Enterprise perspective of what this is and how to make it a reality.

Wim Rampen: I feel bad now about that portion of the post; was not meant to consternate anyone in particular. Noe; none of yours posts :) Agree with you that different voices with different wordings can help get the message through; one of the many reasons why UGC is so useful.

@gawed Agree with your point; I cringe every time a company goes about anything technology first; it is about business (and personal) objectives, and then about the strategies, tactics and technology that can make that happen.

Ted Morris: I wish I could agree with you; but I see many that are clearly trying to hijack the term and imprint meaning on it, instead of participating in the process of finding its meaning.

Thank you all; I am also no expert nor the owner of the secret sauce.. but I truly enjoy this exchange.

Brent Leary said...


Thank you for writing this post. Thanks to everyone who contributed their thoughts in the comment section.

There's really nothing more I can add. I agree with you. Paul Greenberg and I had fun with this a few months back, which I think was one of the things that led up to his "stake in the ground" post, which I TOTALLY stand behind!

The thing is we'll never get 100% agreement on what social crm is, what its definition should be, and if it even exists. That's ok, because we never really had consensus for what crm is and what it means. Because it means different things to different organizations, so nothing has changed there really.

One thing we do know that's changed is how we communicate. It's not just the tools that allow us to reach more people in a more meaningful way. It's also the message these tools are carrying that has to change, if we want to really connect with those we wish to do business with.

Nothing fails faster (and moves further) on Facebook, Twitter and other social sites than a company pushing out a jacked-up piece of marketing dreck that was written before the social era - let's call it the BS era for short.

I think it's pretty obvious that social media has impacted every part of our lives, so it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that it has to impact how we engage customers and prospects. It's not just about the tools. the tools are different, but the words we say and the way we say them have to be different. The way we listen has to be different. And so does our approach to CRM - it just has to be more social.

Thanks again for this post Filbreto, and for letting me share a few thoughts.

Filiberto Selvas said...


Thanks for your comment; you make a few great points and I want to highlight one of them to make sure it is not missed by others:

"It's not just the tools that allow us to reach more people in a more meaningful way. It's also the message these tools are carrying that has to change"

Indeed; that is what I wanted to remark by quoting the first bullet above from Paul's post; in this new world companies will succeed by truly intending to help their customers "succeed"; good news is that the definition of customer success is ample and flexible and can range from entertainment to health and from instant / ephemeral to delayed / long lasting.


Anonymous said...


Just a remark on your last comment: 'in this new world companies will succeed by truly intending to help their customers "succeed" '. I would go one step farther, which is to not only help the customer succeed but also help the (brand) communities succeed by engaging these and facilitating peer-to-peer engagement in them. They're having the conversations with or without us, so let's be the bartenders in the place where they hang out and socialize :).

It won't be only about "enabling the customer to achieve their personal objectives", but also meeting and accompanying the community. I think that building KPIs on top of this notion (such as Community Health, Word-of-Mouth, Sentiment...) can potentially be good indicators in addition to KPIs concerning customer personal needs...but here I diverge.

The term Social CRM is just a vehicle for our thoughts, I agree with Wim about getting more people on board and that we plan our journey and start driving :)