The Future of Customer Relationships: Where is all this heading?

Shifts in technology and human behavior are rapidly changing customer’s expectations of companies. Things are moving so fast, that most executives are not only trying to catch up with the changes, but identify what some of the changes are. Understanding what those changes mean to each business is a more complicated matter altogether.

Ross Dawson brilliantly lays out his observations of the mega trends happening around us in the charts below.

Ross Dawson Map of the Decade

Ross Dawson Zeitgeist 2011

Two growing and intertwining concepts (influence and reputation) are rapidly gaining ground and creating controversy as to their accuracy, adaptability, and use. There is a growing gap between those who believe that these scores and algorithms are the key to priority and leverage, opening up the door for profitable arbitrage, and others that believe that this is the emergence of a new caste system based on false measurements.

Just today, Klout just released a plugin for Twitter that displays an “influence” score (see the screenshot below), but this type of technology and scoring is currently in its infancy, and still marginally beneficial in the context of real life. However, some large and well known organizations are already giving perks and preference to customers with a high klout score.

Twitter Klout Plugin

Dr. Michael Wu, Chief Scientist, of Lithium Technologies, has been doggedly trying to uncover the meaning of influence, its impact on relationships, and ultimately corporate profit structures. Target the influencers, and you can move the crowd. There are seemingly vast opportunities in understanding and leveraging influencers within networked communities.

Influencer Network Graph

But, in reality, the influence/reputation conundrum is just one small movement in a massive tectonic shift happening that is disrupting geopolitical structures (Egypt, Bahrain, etc.), macro-economic theories and assumptions (the financial meltdown and the current response(s), human behavior, and corporate sustainability.

In late 2009, in one the most popular posts ever on customer focused portal, CustomerThink, Graham Hill outlined 15 tenets in his “Manifesto for Social Business


No1. From Individual Customers… to Networks of Customers

No2. From Customer Needs, Wants & Expectations… to Customer Jobs-to-be-Done

No3. From Company Value-in-Exchange… to Customer Value-in-Use

No4. From Delivering Value to Customers… to Co-Creating Value with Customers

No5. From Marketing, Sales & Service Touchpoints… to the End-to-End Customer Experience

No6. From One-Size-Fits-All Products… to a Long-Tail of Mass-Customised Solutions

No7. From Competing on Products, Price or Service… to Competing over Multi-sided Platforms

No8. From Company Push… to Sensing and Responding in Real-Time to Customers

No9. From Technology, Processes & Culture… to Complementary Capabilities and Micro-Foundations

No10. From Made by Companies for Customers… to Made By Customers for Each Other

No11. From On-premise Applications… to On-demand Solutions from the Cloud

No12. From Stand-alone Companies… to an Ecosystem of Networked Partners

No13. From Hierarchical Command & Control… to Collaborative Hybrid Organisations

No14. From Customer Strategy… to a Portfolio of Emergent Customer Options

No15. From Customer Lifetime Value… to Customer Network Value

Add to these, the fast growing mobile, always connected individuals, and you have the making of a perfect storm, for those who understand where things are headed.

Join the Conversation

On Wednesday, February 23, 2011 at 1 pm PST / 4 pm EST, please listen in to a conversation as some of the world’s brightest minds will evaluate and debate where we’re heading, project how multiple trajectories might collide, and what your organization should be preparing for now.

I’ll be participating in a roundtable, hosted by Focus.com featuring experts Ross Dawson, Dr. Graham Hill, Dr. Michael Wu, and analyst and futurist Denis Pombriant as we explore topics such as:

1) Influence and Reputation: How forward thinking companies will leverage these new measurements to attract and keep customers
2) Co-Creation: What it is and why it’s next in the evolution of customer centricity
3) The Impact of rapidly maturing mobile and collaborative technologies on organizations, their customers, and society as a whole

Here’s the call-in information – I hope you have the chance to join us:

Toll-free Dial-In Number: (866) 951-1151
International Dial-In Number: (201) 590-2255
Conference # : 4999006

International Toll Free Numbers
United States +1 (866) 951-1151
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Australia +61 1800886154
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The Ultimate Social CRM Resource Guide – 1st Edition

Yesterday morning at Gartner’s CRM conference, it was said that Social CRM will be a $1 Billion market by 2011. (That’s right around the corner folks).

All of a sudden, there is a lot of noise in the marketplace about Social CRM. In a sure sign that Social CRM is racing towards the mainstream, Chris Brogan even recently named Social CRM as one of the three hottest trends to look for in 2010.

Below are the best resources to get you up to speed on Social CRM as quickly as possible, and capture first mover advantage in your market niche.

Number One:
Start Here: The Author of the “CRM Bible”, Paul Greenberg, recently authored what will soon be known as the “Social CRM Bible” in his 4th edition of CRM at the Speed of Light. Spending $20 and a bit of time in this treasure will go a long way towards helping your organization embrace the opportunities emerging now and in the future.


CRM at the Speed of Light - 4th Edition

Want to know who Paul reads and listens to? Check out his recent blog post on “Social CRM: The Conversation” on ZDNet – “Following on More than Friday: The Ones who teach me”

Number Two:
This one is a must read and there is plenty to chew on and ponder how these changes will effect your business. Graham Hill’s – A Manifesto for Social Business outlines 15 key mega-themes of changes happening to the corporate landscape and how businesses must evolve. Take note. This is almost too much insight for just one blog post and triggered some great back channel discussion between many of us several months ago.

Number Three:
A great list of conversations and posts from the Social CRM Accidental Community who have been actively participating in the seminal discussions of Social CRM “industry” for the past 18+ months. This list has been largely curated by Prem Kumar Apraranji. This is a great resource list in and of itself.

Number Four:
Mitch Lieberman, Jacob Morgan, and Connie Chan did a nice job on their recent white paper, Chess Media Group’s “Guide to Understanding Social CRM”, which speaks about the evolution of CRM to Social CRM, and how corporations should look to adjust their business model(s) to engage with the Social Customer.

Guide to Understanding Social CRM

Number Five:
Jeremiah Owyang and Ray Wang of the Altimeter Group did a fantastic job bringing structure to a fragmented conversation and laying the framework for assessing where the market opportunities are now, and where they’ll be as we journey forward. Use this document to frame your conversations about leveraging Social CRM tools in your organization. Where will you start, and what are the greatest opportunities for your organization now and in the future?

Number Six:
Ready to start looking at vendors? Jim Berkowitz has assembled a comprehensive list of Social CRM vendors broken down by their specialty. Start your vendor research here.

Best Damn Social CRM List Ever

I have a thought or two, too!

If you are interested in reading some of my musings, click here for some of my articles on the topic of Social CRM

Join the Social CRM conversation


Want to join the real time conversation as it happens?

Here are a few ways to participate:

1. On Twitter

Follow the #scrm hashtag.

Looking for a list of people to follow on Twitter? Here are a few places to look.

2. Social CRM Pioneers Group
Get involved in the Social CRM Pioneers discussion group

3. Share your thoughts below or send me a private note

Have some other suggestions for the list? Please feel free to add them below.

Oh, and if you found value in this post, don’t forget to tell your friends!