Open letter to companies planning on using Social CRM

If you have decided to use social customer relationship management (SCRM) to sell your products or services, you should be ready to adapt to what your customers consider SCRM to be, not vice versa.

As I mentioned in my post Social CRM is Dead, Long Live Social Media Flavored CRM, I see the “social” in SCRM as being related to human welfare and not only to social media. Therefore, SCRM should not only allow me to use social media when interacting with companies and brands, but it should also allow both companies and their customers (potential or existing) to have a positive impact on human welfare.

Here’s what I expect SCRM to do

It doesn’t really matter what companies think about SCRM and the best ways to put it into practice – what matters is that your customers (both internal, as in employees, and external) adopt it and use it.

If you’re planning on offering me SCRM, here’s what I expect it to do:

1. Give me the flexibility to use it anytime and anywhere I want to, the only constraint being internet access. This will make everyone with internet access a potential customer or fan of a brand—but also a critic. If a company wants me to take the risk of buying its products or services, it should also give me the freedom to know, share, and criticize.

2. Point 1 will not be effective unless there is free-of-charge access for basic needs, which means free access for everyone, with options to buy access to advanced functionality. You should let me browse information about your products and services, and contribute to discussions—and I’ll decide if I want to do business with you.

3. But when you do all this, please make sure that you keep me informed about how to manage my privacy. I know you need information about me and would like to call me from time to time or send me e-mails about you and your partners, but maybe I don’t want that, or maybe I only want to receive e-mails regarding specific products.

4. Offer me an open SaaS (software as a service) tool that will not only be accessible over the internet, but will also be flexible and customizable according to my specific needs. I don’t expect you to provide me with complex functionality, but let me add or rename a field or build a dashboard when I need it.

5. And since we’re not all working in the cloud (yet), let me integrate with office tools, on-premise applications, mobile devices, etc. Not to mention hosted, on demand, and SaaS software, plus apps and add-ons I create or buy. This can be done through application programming interfaces (APIs), platforms, customizations, etc.

6. Give me the tools to collaborate with others and encourage knowledge-sharing between different entities (company to customers, company to partners, customers to customers, etc.). I see collaboration as an ongoing process between you, me, other customers, your employees, and your partners. We are your universe.

7. Show me that you care about something other than your profits and my satisfaction: encourage green initiatives and sustainability, by sharing ideas and promoting people and organizations that contribute to the general welfare of all. Encourage co-opetition and fair trade, and demonstrate that you build your reputation on honest hard work.

As you can see, my definition of SCRM is: social media + CRM + common sense. I will be describing the points mentioned above in future blog posts, with examples of how I see each one of them put into practice.

What about the others?

The millions of other social customers out there may have different needs, and will therefore not necessarily agree with me. If you consider yourself a social customer, let me know what you think.

This series of blog posts is aimed at getting feedback from you all, so that companies and SCRM vendors can understand what we need and how they can deliver it. Let’s do it right, for once: start with the needs of the customer and build the tools and strategies around that, as opposed to traditional software, too often developed on a build-and-they-will-come principle.
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