A hot topic of debate among customer management and business process thought leaders right now is ascertaining the business value of "social CRM." Social technologies are proliferating rapidly and three-quarters of US online adults now use social technologies in some form. Cutting through all the hype, my clients are challenged to make hard decisions about the level of investment they should make in Social Computing technologies like blogs, wikis, forums, customer feedback tools, social networking sites, and customer community platforms. And they want to know how these new capabilities should be, and can be, integrated with their transactional CRM systems.
We have just published a summary of our research and define the seven steps to success for strategizing, selecting, and deploying social CRM solutions:
Initiate social CRM experiments immediately. Define a near-term opportunity to apply social CRM ideas to a customer-facing challenge at your company. Build some practical experience that will break out of your of old mindsets. Refine your strategies later as new insights emerge. For example, 10 years ago, Electronic Arts recognized that could not cope with the anticipated tenfold increase in customer support inquiries as the result of launching large-scale online multiplayer games. No commercial solutions were available to help at the time, so Electronic Arts began experimenting and developing its own solutions. Trying new ideas and discarding the old, EA actively worked to gain hands-on experience by actively participating in the virtual worlds of its social game players.
Most people know Intel as a provider of microprocessor for large manufacturers like Apple, Dell and HP. A large portion of their business is driven by the elaborate network of customers - resellers, partners, etc.. from around the globe. To remain innovative Intel must enroll, engage, and entertain the most brilliant minds to continue to push the boundaries of technology. They realized the ability to collect and harness the power of that collective wisdom would be best served by social media.
The Old Way Of Doing Business. In the past they had used traditional focus groups, where engineers, scientists and business people would gather from around the globe and spend a week or so together, creating new possibilities. What they found was that ,in addition to the expense of flying people from all over the globe, while the conversations were great -- they were more difficult to keep ongoing conversations as the same level of creativity and intensity. Once back at home, the everyday work/home life catches up with everyone. And they clearly saw the need and desire of the collective wisdom to be in more continuous conversations.
Intel decided to use social media as a platform to look at key business factors and sustain these conversations on a continuing basis. Intel engaged key customers in open discussion about how to improve their customer experience. First they found a need for customer's to be able to contact Intel quickly and securely to discuss product or process issues or ideas. And second, Intel found that the customers wanted the ability to engage with each other without involvement from Intel. Of course, privacy and security were of the utmost importance!
Intel began by evaluating the customer experiences, its methods of being in communication with its customers and its ability to target and engage customers and maximize effective, relevant, just-in-time communications.