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Social CRM and Business Design

With the engagement process (covered in Engagement on the Social Web) more carefully defined as it applies to social interactions (participation, friending, collaboration, and similar activities) the logical next step is to put these activities together to drive business processes. Simply, given a sequence of activities that lead to collaboration in the process involving customers along with the business (and its employees)  a big part of the business benefit in adopting social technology is putting customer and employee collaboration to work.

Social CRM: A Social Extension of CRM

The previous chapter covered engagement in the context of social technology and social interaction. Engagement in social business terminology versus advertising and marketing arises out of collaboration and the active realization of shared interest. Social CRM and Business Design Two mothers facing the same cold and flu outbreak at school are very likely to compare notes through an online forum, or as part of a conversation in a discussion space like Blogher’s The Juice that was referenced in Chapter 3, “Building a Social Business.

When I was a kid, parents of school-age children would sometimes deliberately send healthy younger kids over to a sick child’s home in order to catch chickenpox. Pox parties, as they were called, served to inoculate before the days of actual vaccines. (The thinking is that it is much better to catch chickenpox as a child rather than to catch it as an adult.) Rather than parties, parents now use social media forums, for example, to compare notes on vaccine programs, cold remedies, and general health and nutrition with regard to their families.

The Wrong Way to Control a Conversation

Coincident with the rise of customer-driven ratings and reviews, a second practice that may affect you as a consumer and of which you may not be aware some businesses are now attempting to curtail the customer’s right to post a review! It works like this: Buried somewhere in a service contract is a clause aimed at controlling bad reviews: by signing the contract, one may also be agreeing not to post negative reviews! For example, a physician’s office may use a standard office agreement that might include a clause like this: As a patient of this office, I agree not to talk publicly about my treatment.

A clause like the one cited above sounds innocuous: Why would anyone talk publicly beyond a verbal conversation with a friend or family member about a private office visit? But in the context of ratings and reviews, it’s obvious where this leads: Post a negative review, and the result may be a lawsuit claiming breach of contract. This is the wrong way to control negative conversations.

The Elements of Social CRM

Referring again and the general ascension in engagement as a business moves from listening to collaborating, if the approach taken to Social CRM is a new way to collect customer data and then use that (only) to push a sales message, the result will be at best sub-optimal. At worst, it will be an outright failure in the same way that using social media sites to push a marketing message is less effective or downright harmful when compared with directly participating in social activities, alongside and in support of customers. Social CRM is different from traditional CRM, and social is a big part of that difference.

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