Social CRM: Overhyped Fad or Transformational Solution

Last month, I wrote  “Unleashing the Value of Social CRM: Where to Find the Biggest Return”.

Towards the end of the article, I posed this question: “Which functional area do you think will be able to leverage Social Media and Social CRM the most, and provide the greatest impact to the profitability of an organization?”

The comments section and some referring posts provide some great discussion from some of the greatest minds in the world of CRM including Graham Hill, Natalie Petouhoff, Brent Leary, Esteban Kolsky, and a host of other minds much smarter than mine.

In the end, I walked away with the following conclusion: We collectively don’t know yet. Social Media and Social CRM are still in their relative infancy in delivering solid, proven value. However, there seems to be the strongest argument (and early data from companies like Helpstream, and Lithium) from those in customer service and support functions, and I can’t really argue with them.

In my closing blog comment, the last question I ended with was: “How do you justify the investment – time and money- in Social Media? Where do we have the greatest chance of success (profitability) starting out?”

Yesterday, Bill Band of Forrester Research asked a similar (and very important) question on Twitter: “CRM Evolution Conf. all about social phenom. But, my data shows less than 10% of companies have customer communities now. Too much hype?”

This, undoubtedly sprung from his recent research shared in his recent blog post: “The Extended CRM Application Ecosystem: Value, Risk and the Future of Social CRM”.

Band draws the following conclusions in his article:

“While “Social CRM” solutions have captured the imagination of decision-makers at many organizations, it is the tried-and-true technologies that offer the most certain return on investment.”

“The business value of social solutions is yet to be proven. Interest in “Social CRM” solutions is growing rapidly. But, mainstream companies are watching for evidence of success by the early adopters. Although enterprise feedback solutions, customer community platforms, and customer forums are viewed positively by the respondents in our survey, none of these three are considered “critical” to success. Therefore at this time, business value discounted for uncertainty is low.”

Many, at this point, recognize the potential for using Social Media to transform customer relationships, but the uncertainty factor still weighs heavily.

A study by Russell Herder and Ethos Business Law titled “Embracing the Opportunities: Averting the Risks” found that Social media  can be critical to company growth and sustainability.

  • 81% believe social media can enhance relationships with customers/clients
  • 81% agree it can build brand reputation
  • 69% feel such networking can be valuable in recruitment
  • 64% see it as a customer service tool
  • 46% think it can be used to enhance employee morale

However, 51% percent of these executives fear social media could be detrimental to employee productivity, while 49% assert that using social media could damage company reputation.

Much of senior management’s direct experience with social media appears to be reactive versus proactive, concludes the report. 72% of executives say that they, personally, visit social media sites at least weekly:

  • 52% to read what customers may be saying about their company
  • 47% to routinely monitor a competitors’ use of social networking
  • 36% to see what their employees are sharing
  • 25% check the background of a prospective employee

There clearly needs to be much more education. That’s where those of us who regularly interact on Twitter following the #scrm hashtag come in.

Society is making a giant transitional shift because of Social Media. This “change” transcends the conversation of Social CRM and even business as a whole. The world is changing, and rapidly. For some staggering statistics that will make your brain spin, watch the video below:

For the enterprise and business community, things  are still really just beginning. Early adopters will (and some already have) capture the first mover advantage. However, they will also face the obvious risks of venturing into this new frontier first. InfusionSoft has literally saved millions by adopting a Social CRM strategy.

David Alston, Radian6’s VP of marketing and community said in a recent PR week interview:

“We are just scratching the surface in terms of how social media will transform the (PR) agency and the enterprise. The nature of social media – its accessibility, transparency, and its ability to build relationships – is challenging the processes and structures within companies, many that have become too rigid and siloed to react to the new Web 2.0-empowered consumer. I believe we are where CRM was 10 years ago.”

Change is upon us. The question is not whether Social Media and Social CRM will become an important strategy/tool/channel for your organization, but rather, when?

So what should you do now?

1. Learn as much as possible related to Social Media and Social CRM

2. Talk with your best customers, and most importantly, LISTEN

  • What are they doing with Social Media?
  • What do they wish you did better as an organization?
  • What can you do to improve your value offering to them?

3. Begin to experiment with  Social Media for your business

  • Blogs
  • Wikis
  • Twitter
  • Community Platforms and Forums
  • Social Networking (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.)
  • Social Media Monitoring

Perhaps best-selling author and Founder of the The Altimeter Group Charlene Li said it best:

“Mistakes in social media are inevitable – after all, you’re building relationships and what relationship is perfect?”

CRM Magazine Announces 2009 CRM Market Awards (Social CRM gaining ground)

This morning, CRM Magazine released their 2009 CRM Market Awards to be announced at the CRM Evolution Conference.

Somewhat surprising recipients appear in the area of Rising Stars include Google, Facebook, Lithium Technologies, and Visible Technologies – internet and social media platforms. In addition to traditional CRM leaders Marc Benioff and Anthony Lye, more social and traditional media stars showed up in the Influentials category including Chris Brogan, Guy Kawasaki, Tony Hsieh, Tim O’Reilly, Jeremiah Owyang, and Ross Mayfield.

One key takeaway for me is this high profile validation of the rapidly merging worlds of Social Media and CRM – recently officially named Social CRM.  Please join the conversation on Twitter by using the #scrm hashtag.

CRM Magazine Announces Winners of 2009 CRM Market Awards

Companies, Customers, and Industry Visionaries Honored for Successes in the CRM Marketplace over the Previous 12 Months

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–CRM magazine, the industry’s leading publication, announced the winners of its 2009 CRM Market Awards here today, in conjunction with the magazine’s CRM Evolution 2009 conference.

With its eighth annual CRM Market Awards, CRM magazine honors the vendors, consultants, and end-user companies that focus on customer relationships and the customer experience through the sophisticated integration of people, processes, and technologies. In each of 10 categories, the magazine named one Market Winner, denoting the highest score compared to its peers. Each category also produced four Market Leader awards and “One to Watch.”

“To stay competitive in a challenging economy, companies must come up with innovative ways to improve their customer relationship efforts. This is exactly what the recipients of the 2009 CRM Market Awards have done,” said David Myron, CRM magazine’s editorial director. “Congratulations to this year’s award recipients for their achievements over the last year. May their CRM efforts continue to succeed.”

Recipients were determined through an extensive three-month process and a proprietary rating formula that involves industry analysts, financial and corporate information, product and functionality assessments, and scores reflecting customer satisfaction.

* Enterprise Suite CRM — Winner: Salesforce.com
Leaders: Microsoft, Oracle, RightNow Technologies, SAP
One to Watch: NetSuite
* Midmarket Suite CRM — Winner: Salesforce.com
Leaders: Microsoft, Oracle, RightNow Technologies, Sage
One to Watch: NetSuite
* Small-Business Suite CRM — Winner: Salesforce.com
Leaders: Maximizer Software, NetSuite, Sage, Zoho
One to Watch: SugarCRM
* Sales Force Automation — Winner: Salesforce.com
Leaders: Microsoft, Oracle, RightNow Technologies, SAP
One to Watch: NetSuite


* Incentive Management
— Winner: Xactly
Leaders: Callidus Software, Merced Systems, Synygy, Varicent Software
One to Watch: Makana Solutions
* Marketing Solutions — Winner: SAS Institute
Leaders: Alterian, Eloqua, Silverpop, Unica
One to Watch: Marketo
* Business Intelligence — Winner: IBM’s Cognos Software
Leaders: Information Builders, Oracle, SAP BusinessObjects, SAS Institute
One to Watch: Microsoft
* Data Quality — Winner: SAS Institute’s DataFlux
Leaders: IBM Information Integration Solutions, Informatica, SAP, Trillium Software (Harte-Hanks)
One to Watch: Pitney Bowes Business Insight
* Open-Source CRM — Winner: SugarCRM
Leaders: Compiere, Concursive, SplendidCRM, xTuple
One to Watch: vTiger
* Consultancies — Winner: Deloitte
Leaders: Accenture, Capgemini, Hitachi Consulting, IBM Global Business Services
Ones to Watch: Appirio and Bluewolf

Eight members of the CRM community were named by the magazine as 2009 Influential Leaders: Marc Benioff, cofounder, chairman, and chief executive officer at Salesforce.com; Chris Brogan, president of New Media Labs and social media thought leader; Tony Hsieh, chief executive officer at online-retailing trailblazer Zappos.com; Guy Kawasaki, author and cofounder of aggregation site Alltop; Anthony Lye, senior vice president for CRM at Oracle; Ross Mayfield, chairman, president, and cofounder at collaboration specialist Socialtext; Tim O’Reilly, founder and chief executive officer at publisher and event producer O’Reilly Media; and Jeremiah Owyang, a senior analyst at Forrester Research.

The magazine also named six Rising Stars for the year, including nontraditional CRM players such as social networking behemoth Facebook and search-engine giant Google; information-from-the-cloud upstarts InsideView and Jigsaw; Lithium Technologies, a community-platform provider; and Visible Technologies, which offers brand monitoring and social media analysis.

Lastly, the magazine named four customer implementations as winners of its CRM Elite Award: ISS Belgium, for a large-scale Microsoft Dynamics CRM rollout; NBC Universal, for a sales and marketing effort using Salesforce.com; ShipServ, for its holistic use of Marketo, Salesforce.com, and social media; and Wrigleyville Sports, for its NetSuite e-commerce success.

The 2009 CRM Market Awards are being presented at the CRM Evolution 2009 conference at the Marriott Marquis in New York (http://www.destinationCRM.com/evolution). An expanded version of the results have been published in the September 2009 issue of CRM magazine—available in print and, as of September 1, 2009, in digital NXTBook format (http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/crmmedia/crm0909/index.php) and online at http://www.destinationCRM.com.

About CRM magazine

CRM magazine is the leading publication of the customer relationship management industry, covering sales, marketing, customer service, and strategy. The magazine also administers and hosts the annual CRM Evolution conference. Each of these properties is designed to serve customer-centric business initiatives, and leaders who recognize CRM as a key strategy for creating enhanced customer value in any industry. For more information about the magazine, its editorial calendar, or CRM in general, please visit us on the Web at http://www.destinationCRM.com, or on Twitter at @CRM (http://twitter.com/CRM) and @destinationCRM (http://twitter.com/destinationCRM). The destinationCRM Web site (which is updated daily) and the monthly magazine are properties of CRM Media, a division of Information Today, Inc.

Paul Greenberg, Brent Leary, and Bill Band discuss Social CRM with 1to1 Media

If you have the time, the videos below provide a great chance to listen to 3 industry experts discuss Social CRM.