Following my earlier post “Broken Social Scene – Social BPM and Social CRM” two bits of “social” news caught my eye this week. First of all this post by Tammy Erikson in the Harvard Business Review discusses the difficulties business leaders are having realizing the benefits of adopting social technologies within their organizations.
The second is the news that a number of retailers are shutting their storefronts on Facebook due to a lack of interest.
The social media stampede is on but it appears many organisations are getting trampled because of a failure to understand what social really is. So what is social?
- Social is about conversations, taken to a hyper level. The vast majority of social conversations are public and on a one to many level. Most organizations don’t have the critical mass to support a vibrant internal social network.
- Social isn’t about the applications. Social is a human trait. It’s the human need to converse and engage with one another on topics of common interest. Social Media applications merely amplify or extend the reach of these conversations. No matter how many social applications you deploy within the organization they’ll wither unless there is something of common interest to discuss.
- Social networks grow organically. You aren’t mandated to join Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. As an individual you make the personal decision to engage with others. This presents a problem for organisations deploying enterprise social applications or adding social to CRM or BPM suites. You can’t tell your employees to “become social”.
- Social engagement is peer to peer. This contrasts with the hierarchical structure within organisations which again presents problems for enterprise social or CRM and BPM applications. How social can you become if you know your boss is monitoring you?
In common with process improvement activities successful enterprise social solutions will require cultural change and a willingness at the organization level to do things differently. Without cultural change if you build it they won’t come.
1. CRM is Business Focused
The customer relationship has three stakeholders, the Customer, the Organization and the Employee. CRM however has an business centric view of the customer relationship delivering tactical benefits to the organization in the form of better management of sales processes and customer information. CRM views customers in an abstract way identifying customers as a lead, a deal or an incident (link) but not as an individual. When combined with CRM, Case Management applications allow organisations to meet the needs of all three stakeholders; the employee through increased empowerment, the business through reduced costs in handling both predictable and unpredictable processes and the customer through and improved case handling by service representatives and better personal data integration.
2. Customers Are Unpredictable
CRM applications assume that customers are predictable and that customer centric business processes are linear and can be delivered using straight through processing (STP). Customers are unpredictable (thankfully). When it comes to customer processes CRM attempts to shoehorn customers into a fixed script driven processes that are inadequate when an unpredictable customer request is received. Customer processes must be able to handle exceptions and unpredictable requests. CRM is fine for handling low to medium volume, predictable customer requests but unlike Case Management CRM doesn’t handle the unpredictable.
3. Employees Must Be Empowered
Successful customer service organizations empower their employees. Customer service organisations can empower representatives by providing them with a 360 view of their customer e.g. purchase history, account/issue status, preferences, lifetime value, upsell opportunities etc. in order to make the right decision on behalf of the customer and the organization. Empowerment also means allowing employees to choose alternative paths towards handling customer issues maximizing the opportunity for resolving customer enquiries at the first point of contact. Case Management empowers employees, allowing them to choose alternate process steps for resolving customer issues and supports their decision making by integrating multiple data sources (CRM, ECM, ERP etc.) and presenting data context at the right place and at the right time in the process.
Just like when Homer designed a new car for his brother that included shag carpeting, three horns and bubble domes, BPM and CRM applications are in danger of trying to become all things to all men.