Above Image: Readers of this blog asked for coverage in Social CRM, Mobile Social Networks, and Community Platforms. This is in alignment with my goals for 2010.
First of all, thanks to those who responded to the 2009 Web Strategy survey, the results were telling. One of the questions that I asked was about areas of focus, I’m pleased to hear that the direction readers want me to focus is in alignment with where I’m headed. It’s important to have goals, (even my personal goals to live in Hawaii 30 days a yearlike Operation Bluewater) and I’m happy to share my focus for the coming year.
Here’s my baseline topics that I’ve been blogging about, and helping clients through advisory and research, I’ve been doing this since I ran the social program at Hitachi, back in 2006, over four years ago.
Organizational Social Readiness: 80% of a companies success is getting their organization ready through the right roles, processes, policies, measurement, only 20% should be on tools. I’ll continue to talk about organizational readiness.
Social Strategy: This also ties into social marketing strategy, which should be focused first on socialgraphics (how your customers use these tools) and business goals –not reacting to the latest technology.
Vendor and Technology Review: I’ll continue to cover the social networking space, like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, as well as enterprise systems like Community Platforms like Jive, Lithium, Telligent, Awareness, Mzinga, Pluck, Eos, Salesforce Chatter.
I make it a point in my career to always be uncomfortable: trying new things, looking at the upcoming changes and taking risks, I hope that by continuing to blog what I learn, we can grow together. The areas of increased focus for this year are:
Social CRM: An organization’s response to the fleeting customer in the social space, and how companies must provide a holistic experience to customers by creating processes, integrating new channels, and responding to customers in near-real time. Why this space? Most companies don’t know they need it, but as customers increase their social behavior, tacking, managing, and responding will become increasingly difficult. I’ve already blogged some of my findings, read all the posts tagged ‘social crm’.
Location based and Mobile Marketing: I place to distinct separations between these topics, although they are intrinsically tied. I’m placing bets on the increased marketing context that’s available by triangulating information through mobile and location devices. Similarly, I’ll continue to look at applications that extend to mobile devices –a natural extension to the social web. I’ve never put a lot of effort into the immature mobile space, but the adoption of these mini-computers are taking off, the space is slowly moving out of diapers and into adolescence. Read all my posts tagged ‘mobile’.
Now back to you: What topics and focuses will you have during this coming year? What areas of education are you planning to bolster up on? What will you practice and deliver? Wishing you a very successful 2010!
Social CRM: A Growing Segment
Yesterday’s post on Social CRM vendors not walking-the-talk raised awareness of this nascent space. However, not everyone was thrilled with the effort, as CTO John Moore gave us an A for effort but a C- for results, and Kim Kobza, the CEO of Neigborhood America (they were an early adopter) left a comment on John’s post suggesting we missed the mark (also, SAP ‘s passionate team strongly represents). Although we stand by our scoring, both John and Kim are right, our evaluation yesterday was only on a small subset of the industry, but a manageable starting ground, as we continue to unearth the variety of players.
Tracking the Market with an ‘Industry Index’
For a few years ago, I’ve created what I call my posts called the Industry Index (see all) lists to track companies in any particular vertical, it helps me, vendors, and buyers to track the space. I expect this space to rapidly increase in size as social channels will be bolted onto CRM vendors, and many brand monitoring and community platforms are adding workflow, triage, and tracking capabilities. The purpose of this list is to quickly capture the vendors participating in this space, and to acknowledge those that were not on yesterday’s review, I expect there to be many more vendors who leave a comment, which we can quickly add to this list.
We owe it to the market to try to include as many as possible, although it’s going to be very difficult as this space quickly grows. So first, let’s try to put some scope around this space with a definition.
Social CRM Definition
We prefer Paul Greenberg’s definition of Social CRM, which he summarizes as:
“CRM is a philosophy & a business strategy, supported by a technology platform, business rules, workflow, processes & social characteristics, designed to engage the customer in a collaborative conversation in order to provide mutually beneficial value in a trusted & transparent business environment. It’s the company’s response to the customer’s ownership of the conversation.” (also read his 2009 review of this space on ZDnet)
It’s a broad definition, but the key criteria he lists out are enough for me to go on.
List of Companies Providing Social CRM Offerings: (34 vendors total)
Traditional CRM Vendors offering Social Integration (11 vendors)
- ACT!: This barely fits the scope of social crm, but ACT! allows a single individual to manage multiple types of information, including social, however if this product was extended across an enterprise, it fits the quota.
- BatchBlue: While not a ‘traditional’ CRM like many of the others listed below, has traditional sales automation features, but also connect with existing social graph data, think social aggregation of contact lists. After watching the demo, it looks like you have to manually enter feeds of contacts, rather than auto-finding data from social graphs by scraping.
- Buzzient: Offers a CRM platform that provides social media analytics that can be used for web marketing, customer tracking, or reporting. They have partnerships with Salesforce, Oracle, and SugarCRM.
- Microsoft Dynamics: Offers Accelerators (here and here) that “Allows business professionals to monitor and analyze customers’ conversations on social networking sites, and as a result, provides real-time status updates about their products and services” (thanks Menno, who writes on the topic) They are also partnered with Neighborhood America
- NetSuite: Offers social CRM with a partnership with InsideView and has Twitter integration (submitted by Paul Greenberg)
- Oracle Siebel Social CRM: Promises the ability to provide insights based on the buying behaviors of similar customers, as well as shared content to be used between sales teams.
- RightNow CRM: Offers several features in their suite such as Support Communities, Innovation Communities, Cloud Monitoring, and Social Experience Design. Rightnow recently acquired Hivelive an enterprise community platform.
- Salesforce: Offers acces to Social Networking like Facebook and Twitter. Salesforce, like SAP is importing the Twitter “firehose” feed, and has offered social features like Q&A, and social networking like Chatter, and has lightweight LinkedIn integration.
- SAP CRM: Imports the Twitter firehose feed, and
- Sugar CRM: Offers “SugarCRM Cloud Connectors connect via Web Services to leading third-party data service providers such as Hoover’s, JigSaw and LinkedIn”
- We Can Do Biz: Offers traditional CRM features (although their website is a bit difficult to navigate) for SMB, and has a unique Twitter scraping feature that filters down by some level of geography and organizes records in the database. I had a briefing with them on Feb 2010. Added Feb 2010.
Community Platforms Offering Social CRM (5)
- Jive Software: Community Engagement, offers data integration from Radian6, encouraging management of the discussion.
- Leverage Software: I recall that Leverage offers built in integration with Salesforce, but I was unable to find it on their site.
- Lithium Technologies offers the Social CRM Suite offering features such as Community Applications, Reputation Engine, Actionable Analytics, CRM Connectivity, and Social Web Connectivity.
- Neighborhood America: Has had a partnership with Microsoft Dynamics, read press release, (they were early on in March 2009) and commentary from Paul Greenberg on ZDNet.
- Concourse: Offers a variety of integration modules to a variety of apps, including a CRM module that’s prebuilt. (via pjk54)
Brand Monitoring Offering Social CRM (4)
Social Media/Twitter Clients (2)
Social Customer Experience (4)
- CrowdEngineering: Helps to match experts to customer problems, by using a recommendation engine and skill resource set engine.
- Fuze Digital Solutions: Provides a broad and modular multi-channel customer care solution using a community knowledge base as its foundation.
- Helpstream: Offers tools that allow customers to submit questions to each other, with integration into SalesForce in addition to community driven knowledge centers. see video.
- Parature: Offers chat-like features for support reps to interact with customers, then measures sentiment.
- Get Satisfaction: Is an off-domain (all the support is done on their site –not yours) community that now offers premium features that offer ability to manage discussions.
Sales 2.0/Social Graph Aggregation (6)
- Flowtown: Allows marketers to prioritize targets to contact by a variety of influence scores, and their social graph. It then offers targeted email marketing based on those two criteria.
- Gist: Offers a way to track the social behaviors of your customers and prioritize.
- InsideView: Offers some unique offerings that mine a business social graph to provide alerts as a plugin to traditional CRM systems, Watch this lengthy demo.
- Roving Group: Offers a product called ‘Roving Contacts’ that aggregates the social graphs and contact information from your address book.
- SocioToo: Not the typical corporate enterprise company, this Dutch company offers a search page (and no real corporate site –by intent) that mines social graph data in public.
- Xobni: This cleverly named (opposite of inbox) Outlook plugin scrapes your social graph and most frequently emailed contacts improving email utility. This barely falls within the scope of social crm, but if the data was able to export to other systems, it could start to apply.
CRM Applications and Plugins (2)
- Appirio: Offers the ability for companies to create applications on Facebook which then marry data back to Salesforce, called Cloud Connectors.
- SocialCRMTools: Offers integration with Salesforce that imports, monitors, and manages Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. (via John Perez)
Social Networks and Others
- Twitter: Has made motions they plan to offer premium services to brands, that would offer verified accounts, then management-like features. The specifics are still unknown, as they sort out their business model. They have partnered with Google and Bing.
- Google has announced real time search integration, and Bing has shown some early integrations. While far fetched we should not completely rule them out as eventually building a dashboard for brands to manage their namesakes, advertising, and website analytics, or Google alerts. Historically, they generate money off content created by publishers, so this actually falls in line with ‘organizing the world’s information”.
- Feb 12,2010: Added WeCanDo.biz after a briefing, and Alterian.
Not on this list? Leave a comment, with justification why you fit in Paul’s definition with a link to your site explaining more, I’ll take a look and add to it, please be patient while I review. Also, if you want to brief Ray and myself, please read and submit to this briefing form.
Update: Business Partner Ray Wang and I have created a more detailed matrix of this space for our clients.
I first posted this on the Destination CRM blog, thanks to Josh Weinberger @kitson. Update: The below is a partial view of the industry, do see this larger index of Social CRM vendors.
Surveying the Social CRM Industry
Business partner Ray Wang (focused on enterprise strategy) and myself (customer strategy) of the Altimeter Group is undergoing a major project for a client in the nascent Social CRM arena. We’re surveying the landscape to learn about a variety of vendors in the space, their capabilities and deployments. A small portion of our survey is to see who’s eating their own dog food, and truly demonstrating they understand the ‘social’ aspect of social crm and living it.
Companies Who Sell Social Products Should Demonstrate Credibility By Living It
While critics may be quick to dismiss the mere inclusions of a blog or community to a product landing page, the message goes much deeper. Social CRM isn’t just about bolting on a new plugin to your system like a new air foil on your minivan but instead a new way of doing business. The promise of social crm says that companies are truly listening to their customers wherever they are, responding, anticipating, and making the commitment to improve products and services. Vendors that are assisting brands with this promise to the market need to demonstrate they fully understand the ramifications of social crm –not just a keyword checklist of the buzzword du jour.
Criteria: How We Graded the Social CRM Vendors
There are four major areas of grading, from very tactical ability to 1) Simple sharing of social content from the corporate product page 2) Surfacing a developer or business community, and a look inside of the discussions in each community, with bonus points for integration with product page. 3) Thought leadership with relevant blogs on the subject, and a gauge of their level of interaction and any twitter accounts they may have. 4) A subjective look at the overall page experience in the context of a company that’s offering a ‘social experience’.
Findings: Overall, Social CRM Vendors Aren’t Walking the Talk
We’ve decided to make our findings public, at least for this part of our client deliverable to see how different vendors that are in the Social CRM space are walking the talk.
||Sharing Features on Product Page (out of 1 point)
||Community and Integration (out of 1 point)
||Thought Leadership: Blogs, Twitter (out of 1 point)
||Overall Social Experience (out of 1 point)
||Final Score (out of 4 points)
|Jive (Community Platform)
|Oracle/Siebel Social CRM
|Lithium (Community Platform)*
To pass, companies need to receive greater than a .5 in each category for a total score of 2.0 plus making Lithium the only vendor to pass.
For details, see the data, and our justifications on this Google Sheet.
Highlights From Study
The product pages are devoid of true social interaction, and none of them actually surface discussions about how the market is even talking about them. Marketing machine Salesforce demonstrated they aren’t engaging in a social experience on their own product pages and SAP and Microsoft’s typical enterprise looking design stayed consistent with ‘boring’ social experiences. Although Oracle’s bland web experience looks like it’s designed for the media-phobes, there is links to community and thought leadership blogs. Despite the overall meager findings, there were a few social hopefuls such as Lithium (Altimeter client*) who integrated social throughout the experience followed by RightNow Technologies who demonstrated thought leadership through executive blogs. Honorable mention to Jive engaging online video that captures the spirit of the Social CRM movement. We know that soon every webpage will be social, even if you don’t choose for it to be, so companies should enable features that allow websites to have conversations. Social CRM vendors that want to demonstrate to the market they are experts at this space should gear up to demonstrate they’ve the ability to do as they preach –as for now, it doesn’t show.
*Altimeter Client. At the Altimeter Group we practice open leadership (also the topic of Charlene’s upcoming book) and disclose our relationships with clients, given their permission. We hope you will trust us more if we do.
I was briefed as an analyst by Adam Nash, LinkedIn’s Vice President, Search & Platform Products to learn about today’s announcement around opening their network as a platform.
Announcement: Access LinkedIn Data From Other Locations Using The LinkedIn Platform
Starting today, developers worldwide can integrate LinkedIn into their business applications and Web sites. They’ve announced that OAuth os now available at Developer.linkedin.com. Like Facebook Connect, this means that any website or any web application can allow users to login from their LinkedIn account on a third party site, and even publish information back to their LinkedIn profile and network from that third party site.
What It Means To Business:
Connect the Affluent, Educated, and Active Community To Your Site
The stats are obvious, they have a network of 52mm (a sixth of the size of Facebook’s 300mm+) engaged individuals that represent decision makers and those that aspire to be upwardly mobile in their career, view the stats page to learn more. In fact, over 51% earn more than $100k+ a year, and 23% earn more than $150K+ annually. Over 77% of community members have a college degree, making this an educated bunch, yet It’s not just about quality of community, their is an apparent degree of site activity, LinkedIn’s site rivals that of Forbes, and even the WSJ.com, according to Compete.
Your Business Applications And Website Should Never Be “Alone”
If your company is in B2B or trying to reach business professionals, chances are you have an application for them to use. Now, as you launch them, you can quickly integrate with the LinkedIn platform, this way personal data is already populated. This also goes for your corporate website, provide your users the ability to see which one of their LinkedIn contacts has been there, and encourage them to interact with your site and trigger messages back to their LinkedIn news page –fostering word of mouth.
LinkedIn Data To Be Pervasive
CIOs must wake up and realize the value of social networks, even last week, LinkedIn announced a partnership with Microsoft Oulook, extending it’s profile information to legacy email systems. Data will get pre-populated, meaning your contacts can be viewable within the context of your existing emails, empowering you to know more about who you’re meeting even though you’ve never met. We should expect in the future that existing Intranet networks will connect their LDAP to the LinkedIn profile.
And yes, if you haven’t noticed yet, the speed on innovation on the social web is increasing at a rapid pace, things are happening faster than ever. To get a good sense of the evolution of LinkedIn, I’ve created this matrix which shows it’s evolution and some predictions of where things are to head.
Web Strategy Matrix: Evolution of LinkedIn
|Destination Social Network
||LinkedIn is a destination social network, users to there, login and only communicate within the confines of the domain.
||Since it’s inception in 2003, this is how it’s been.
||Allows third parties to build applications that sit on the LI domain and interact much like Facebook’s Platform
||In Oct 2008, A small hand-selected group of companies like Box were allowed to do this, it’s not currently rolled out to others.
||Third party websites can allow users to login using LinkedIn identity, see which friends are also present, then spread information back to LinkedIn.com.
||This is today’s announcement, Nov 2009
|Personalized Experiences on Third Party Sites
||Third party websites can provide personalized content to first time users by recognizing their LinkedIn profile.
||Prediction: Mid 2010
||LinkedIn partners with SalesForce, SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, to allow data in LinkedIn to quickly be exported to CRM systems. As customers have queries or support issues, the CRM systems will trigger notifications to brand managers.
||Prediction: Late 2010
||Using mobile devices, users can quickly hold a device up a cell phone in front of a peer to see their LinkedIn data –without even having a conversation.
At the Altimeter Group, I cover Customer Strategy, which encompasses not only marketing, but also support, expect our discussion to grow as social technologies impact the whole enterprise.
The Social Support movement is afoot (see opportunities), and more companies will be connecting existing marketing and support systems with the social web. Many companies, like Comcast, Wells Fargo, Intel, BestBuy, JetBLue are responding to customers and in some cases, supporting them in near real time.
The challenge is that these teams are unable to scale, even a support team of ten full time folks at Comcast will have a hard time responding to all customers in all social channels. As a result, expect companies to resort to scalable ways to respond to customers, such as:
The Four Social Support Strategies
1) Do Nothing: Use Legacy Support Channels
Some companies will not respond to customers, it’s not in their culture, exposes them to risk, have specific legal or federal restrictions in place, or simply don’t get this space. In this case, these companies may only choose to support customers in their formal forms of support in 1800 numbers or on the official company websites
2) Employee Based Support: Employees Respond to Customers
Many companies are assigning people in their support or product teams to respond to customers in the social web. The more conservative the company, the less people are officially able to support. Take for example financial services company Wells Fargo has a handful of “Social Concierges” that tweet on the @Ask_WellsFargo account, they set expectations around hours of service (insert banker’s hours joke here) and not to disclose account information. On the flip side, Best Buy encourages their thousands and thousands of “Blue Shirt” employees to respond using a Twitter CMS system that response from the official @Twelpforce account.
3) Peer Based Support: Customer to Customer Other companies will approach this by encouraging their top customers to respond on their behalf. By creating online communities where customers can self-support each other using Q&A features like Salesforce “Answers”, or my Lithium’s unique Twitter alerting system that encourages advocates to respond to prospects. (Lithium is an Altimeter Group client). It’s not just on branded communities, many companies encourage support from third party sites such as Get Satisfaction, who centralizes support for all products.
4) Automated Social Support: Computer Generated Tweets
Social CRM systems are going to be intelligent, in fact, they’ll start to incorporate bot-like features you can find in web-based chat support, or the logic from interactive voice systems (IVR), and respond to customers. Support and product teams can already tweet from some CRM interfaces, so attaching an intelligence module will be the next step –it could even come from existing employee Twitter handles.
Web Strategy Matrix: The Four Social Support Strategies
|Rely on Legacy Systems
||This keeps customers in the right process and funnel that the company is used to. Secondly, it doesn’t reinforce that customers should yell at their friends to get help from a company
||Missed opportunities: Angry customers could revolt starting a Groundswell, or leave an opportunity for competitors to swoop in and take dissatisfied customers.
|Employee to Customer
||Provides a personal touch to help and assist customers, builds relations and trust
||For large companies, this is not scalable, and will result in companies prioritizing responses to the most authoritative or most urgent. If rolled out to support in all social avenues, it can be costly. Lastly, it teaches customers to yell at their friends to get support.
|Peer Based Support
||Companies can reduce costs by having customers self-support each other. Collectively, customers may often know more about the company’s products than the actual product team.
||Unfortunately, not all questions may get answered in a timely way, or answered correctly by staff who may have the inside details. Also, content in knowledge bases, wikis, forums, and Q&A features are often unstructured, messy, and hard to navigate.
|Automated Social Support
||Companies can quickly scale by responding to customers faster, and more accurately, using automated responses.
||Some customers may feel cheated if they find out they are talking to a bot, and it may be more difficult to build that personal relationship.
As Social Customers Become More Empowered, Organizations Must Have A Listening Strategy
As we approach 2010 planning companies need a strategy around listening. Sadly, most companies, and their agency partners don’t know why to listen or how. As a result, they must identify which stage of listening they are at, and then set a goal on which stage they see to aspire in 2010. I originally published this matrix for client workshops and a keynote presentation on developing listening and advocacy programs, and I’m going to continue to share more and blow-out each of my slides.
Web Strategy Matrix: The Eight Stages Of Listening
|1) No objective at all
||Organization has a listening program but has no goals, nor uses the information for anything resourceful
||Simple alerting tools, like Google Alerts and feedreaders will suffice.
||At the basic level, simple self-awareness. Yet without any action from the data, this is useless.
|2) Tracking of brand mentions
||Like traditional “clip reports” of media relations, companies now track mentions in the social space. Despite tracking there is no guidance on what to do next.
||Listening platform with report capability based on brand or product keywords. Radian 6, Visible Technologies, Techrigy/Alterian, Buzzmetrics and Cymfony, Dow Jones are providers.
||Improved self-awareness to track volume of information, yet unable to track depth, and tonality of conversations. As a result, not a full understanding of opportunities.
|3) Identifying market risks and opportunities
||This proactive process involves seeking out discussions online that may result in identifying flare-ups, or possible prospect opportunities.
||In addition to a listening platform staff must actively seek out discussions and signal to internal teams. Alerting tools, and listening platforms are required.
||Organization can reduce risk of flare ups before they become mainstream, identify prospects and poach unhappy competitors customers.
|4) Improving campaign efficiency
||Rather than just measure a marketing effort after it’s occurred, using tools to gauge during in-flight behavior yields real-time marketing efficiency.
||Dedicated resource to manage reactions, activity, and sentiment to a marketing effort, and the resources to make course corrections nearly real-time. Traditional web analytics tools like Omniture, Webtrends and Google Analytics are common.
||Campaigns can be more effective, as hot spots are bolstered, and dead spots are diminished.
|5) Measuring customer satisfaction
||In addition to customer satisfaction scores,organizations can measure real-time sentiment as customers interact. Sysomos and Backtype have focus areas into this space.
||Customer experience professionals will have to extend their scope to the social web, using a listening platform and sentiment analysis. Insight platforms like Communispace and Passenger offer online focus groups solutions.
||Brands can now measure impacts of real time satisfaction or frustration during the actual phases of customer interaction. Then identify areas of improvement during customer lifecycle
|6) Responding to customer inquiry
||This proactive response finds customers where they are (fish where fish are) in order to answer questions. Example: Comcastcares account on Twitter asks customers if they need help –then may respond.
||An active customer advocacy team that’s empowered, training, and ready to make real-time responses nearly around the clock.
||Customers will fill a greater sense of satisfaction, yet this teaches customers to ‘yell in public’ to get a response.
|7) Better understand customers
||Evolving the classic market research function, brands can improve their customer profiles and personas by adding social information to them.
||Social CRM systems are quickly emerging that tie together a customer record and their online behavior, locations, and preferences. Salesforce, SAP, both have partnerships with Twitter to synch data
||The opportunity to not only serve customers in their natural mediums, but to offer them a richer experience regardless of their customer touchpoints.
|8. Being proactive and anticipating customers
||Minority Report: This most sophisticated form actually anticipates what customers will say or do before they’ve done it. By looking at previous patterns of historical data, companies can put in place the right resources to guide prospects and customers.
||An advanced customer database, with a predictive application put in place, as well as a proactive team to reach out to customers before an incident has happened. Haven’t seen any such application yet.
||Identifying prospects and engaging them before competitors can yield a larger marketing funnel, or reducing customer frustration as problems are fixed before they happen.
Exercise: Self-Assess Culture, Roles, Process, Data, and Tools
Use this matrix to initiate a discussion within your company on which stage you’re at, then put a plan in place to grow to the next level. Do note, depending on size and complexity of the organization, different groups may be in more than one phase. First, identify the characteristics your company currently has, then define which phase you’re in:
- Does the organization have the right culture setup that’s ready to listen?
- Is the organization prepared to react to customer opinions? how about in real time?
- Are the processes in place to triage information to the right teams? How about during a real-time crises on a Saturday morning?
- Are the right roles in place to listen? Are proactive marketing and support teams trained, empowered, and ready to respond?
- Is there a single repository of customer information or is it currently fragmented around the enterprise
- Lastly, what technology platforms are in place to facilitate this strategy? ? Hint: choose this last –not first.
For Dialog: Which Stage Are Companies At?
Curious to hear your professional opinions, what stage do most companies think they’re at? In reality, what stage are they truly acting at?
Please translate into other languages, I’ll be happy to link back to you
Thanks to the team at Foreplay, a digital agency, making the slides available in English.
Update: I polled my microblogging network on which brands have supported them on Twitter, see which brands have ‘taught’ their customers to yell at their friends.
Recently, I started teaching puppy Rumba tricks beyond the basic sit and stay, I even made a video. How do I do it? I show him the move, then praise and reward him once it’s done. Repeat, over and over. Although customers aren’t dogs, (save for Purina and Dogster), we’re slowly training our customers that if they want better customer support, that they should say it loudly and in public –thereby influencing their friends.
[As companies accelerate their social support efforts, responding to customers in public reinforces the behavior of complaining to everyone they know]
An Increase In Companies Providing Social Support
The most notable example is ComcastCares who is more responsive to customers using Twitter than on the phone. Secondly, the recent customer service flareup reported by popular blogger Dooce forced the Whirlpool to respond to her when she wasn’t satisfied with support from the call center. BestBuy launched Twelpforce, a way for its thousands of employees to answer questions from anyone that has a problem. Want more examples? See these recent examples for B2C and B2B.
Three Opportunities For Companies To Evolve Customer Support
This isn’t just about rise of social tools, in fact, customers have had bad experiences before. The difference? Their voices were just limited to those they could tell in physical proximity. Rather than think of this as a threat, companies should see this as three distinct opportunities:
- Fix the root issues, beyond the customer vocalizations. Looking deeper, this isn’t about social technologies, it’s really an indicator that the support systems within these companies are deficient. In many cases, customers try the standard support effort, hit a wall, then seek other avenues for self-venting, help, or just sheer observations of their frustrations.
- Transform your support processes and go where customers are.Companies should continue to support customers on the mediums that they’re using (like social sites and soon mobile), as they are unlikely to change their existing behavior of being social and telling friends about their life and work experiences. Expect companies to grapple with outsourced crowdsupport in GetSatisfaction, UserVoice, Facebook Groups, Yahoo Answers, and community bulletin boards.
- Evolve your support systems to connect with the modern marketplace. Expect a rash of social CRM features, companies and solutions to appear that connect existing call systems, knowledge boards, and customer databases with the public web –closing the gap that was once the firewall.
In the end, there will be hundreds of companies that won’t care what customers think, or have their margins squeezed to tightly they can’t afford to innovate and may suffer the fate of any organism that doesn’t evolve in a changing environment. This is an easy fix: their competitors will listen in, and poach their unsatisfied customers.
Update: Jennifer Leggio extends the conversation, and sees the same trend
Left Image: Companies can monitor and manage the discussions in their marketplace, screenshot of Jive Market Engagement
This post was collaboratively written on a wiki with my colleague R “Ray” Wang who focuses on enterprise strategies such as CRM. My focus is on customer strategy which encompasses social technologies. Together, we’re covering convergence of the emerging and incumbent technology systems, he’s cross-posted on his own blog.
Summary: Jive Offers Brand Monitoring Using Radian6 –Empowering Companies To Quickly Respond
Jive Software made an announcement that they’re now incorporating listening service Radian 6 into their community platform suite, they dub it Jive Market Engagement. This gives internal teams that manage brands, topics, or influencers to discuss, manage, and assign tasks to follow up with real world –and real-time market events. An example? A company selling headache relief medicine can quickly be alerted to conversations with mommy bloggers in the social sphere, discuss in an internal, private community powered by Jive, then decide on how to quickly take action before it escalates.
Currently, companies are doing this in a mish-mash of manual efforts using scraped together RSS feeds, Google alerts, and Twitter clients. The benefits of this partnership? Companies can now become more organized around the real-time web, develop a process to quickly respond and therefore be more reactive to customers. Yet, despite the automation upside to brand and customer management, this causes yet another disparate pool of customer data that IT departments will have to splice together –potentially giving customers a fragmented view. Companies should nod to this latest trend of social business software converging with existing company systems and develop an information strategy.
Macro market forces foster new trends in adoption and risk:
Despite this announcement, there are greater trends at play that impact both business and IT side, be aware that:
Diverse systems converging, resulting in greater speed but more complexity
The push to improve customer intimacy, move to a proactive customer experience, and convergence of Web 2.0 with enterprise class social business apps, drives new models and solutions. We’re tracking this living breathing reef and see social software, CRM, brand monitoring, email, and mobile quickly converging.
More “CRM” features being deployed, without involving the CIO
Jive’s offering is really a customer relationship module in disguise, yet because of the web based offering, marketing can implement this psudo-CRM solution without involving IT. We continue to see technology adopted from business units -often at the frustration of not getting on the IT roadmap during budget tightening times.
Greater exposure to risk, as more siloed customer information fragments enterprise systems
Being responsive to customers is ideal, but in the long run, it’s not truly effective if you can’t integrate it with your sales, service, or marketing systems. In the end, fragmenting customer data will result in disjointed user experiences for customers as separate departments will have disparate data for each customer.
Jeremiah (business side) and Ray (IT side) come from completely two different worlds’ speaking two different languages. Yet they both know that these new technologies are going to force IT and Marketing to quickly come together. Expect to see more joint-blog posts merging these two groups together, because customers don’t care what department you’re in –they just want their problems solved.
Ray’s Take: For the CIO
Expect a proliferation of social media monitoring solutions to emerge with a tie back to CRM, eCommerce, project based solutions, and collaboration software. Disparate sources will create fractured customer experiences. Single 360 degree view must be assembled and reassembled.
- Find tools to aggregate these new channels and sources. Consider how these new social business software platfrms will integrate back into data warehouses or customer interaction histories.
- Focus on data integration skill sets as process, data,meta data across hybrid deployment models. Data integration and master data management will play a role here.
Jeremiah’s Take, For the CMO
Marketers should continue to be responsive to the real-time web, but quickly develop processes that involve other customer touchpoints such as support, service, and product development into the mix
- Don’t limit your responses to the corporate communication team and brand monitoring team –cascade this information quickly. While the discussions that will be had in Jive’s community platform will help to aid the customer triage problem, be sure to tie the process and data back to other customer facing teams. Remember, customers don’t care which department you are in.
- Use imported social data to create topic based aggregations. Looking forward, use the data that brand monitoring companies are unearthing and turn your product pages into trusted aggregations of conversations –not just static product pitches. Learn how future webpages will be more like collections of customer conversations.
The Altimeter Group is a strategy consulting firm focused on providing companies with a pragmatic approach to emerging technologies. Note: Ray had a minor changes and links added, which I’ve updated since original post.
Above: Pictures from Salesforce’s event
This post was co-written on a wiki with R “Ray” Wang, Partner and Colleague at Altimeter Group
Salesforce launches a new set of social apps that make CRM connected to the social web. So what does it mean?
Salesforce’s Twitter integration and application launch helps brands monitor what’s being said. Yet despite the fanfare, the application lacks a pre-determined way to identify the profiles of Twitter profiles and primary keys within the CRM database. Secondly, the system doesn’t provide a default setting to prioritize the influence (such as more followers) vs a profile with few followers –limiting the ability for brands to prioritize their support offerings.
Salesforce’s “Answers” product is a threat to community platforms that offer support-heavy features. Vendors like Lithium (although a SF partner) Jive, Telligent, Awareness, and Mzinga are impacted. Brands that have a strong SalesForce implementation will first look to their CRM vendor for social support offerings –reducing the pipeline for community platform new comers.
The newly minted “Knowledge” product, which harvests the IP from customer service reps, and customers themselves is also a direct threat to wiki creators such as SocialText, Atlasian. Those vendors should quickly bolster their marketing efforts to demonstrate how they are differentiated. Client server based contact center products will face increased competition as business users choose to move to platforms that deliver provide greater social aspects tied to user generated content.
Despite Salesforce’s technical announcement, this doesn’t mean success for their customers. Technology is only 20% of any enterprise change, the other 80% is culture, process, roles, and strategy change –key requirements that Salesforce is not equipped to provide. As a result, don’t expect customers that don’t have the right program in place to take advantage of these technology offerings –instead expect vendors with a heavy professional service offering to empower a company to truly embrace customers in the social web.
Overall, Salesforce is above and beyond other CRM vendors in terms of connecting to the social web. Yet despite their ability to connect with new channels, they lack a full solution to empower brands to make the cultural changes within their orginiazations. Expect other CRM vendors such as Oracle’s Social CRM offerings and Microsoft Dynamics CRM to do a “me too” in coming months as others jump on the social CRM bandwagon.
For the CIO: R “Ray” Take: The coming wave of social CRM initiatives and cloud based service solutions require CIO’s to rethink about their overall apps strategies to support hybrid deployment options. Rapid proliferation of SaaS solutions inside the organization requires strong CIO leadership in coordinating data, business process, and metadata integration strategies. Moreover, now will be the time to begin master data management activities that will support social CRM initiatives and resolve profile identification and entity resolution issues. Take control now or lose control forever.
For the CMO: Jeremiah’s Take: Marketing has spread beyond awareness and lead generation –support IS marketing. Yet to be successful, your internal processes must quickly meld PR and support to provide a seamless experience to the customer. Be proactive, not reactive: Use brand monitoring technologies to head off issues before they volcano into PR disasters.
One of the key findings from the very popular report The Future of the Social Web (which has been translated into over a dozen languages by the community) is that identity technologies like Facebook Connect, OpenID, as well as existing identities will soon colonize the web, making every webpage a social experience –even if they don’t choose to participate.
[Soon, every product page and webpage will be a social experience –even if brands don’t choose to participate]
Although the identity space is still in it’s adolescence, many of the vendors agree on the direction to head, but not exactly how to get there. Secondly, there’s many different groups coming together from Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and the third party OpenID foundation that are trying to make their specific requirements work with each other.
Once the different parties representing the identity systems agree on the specifics and start to implement we’ll still need to see a transport method that will allow these identities to appear on any webpage:
How Every Page Could Be a Social Experience
• Connective APIs. Expect to at the highest level technologies like Facebook Connect and OpenStack to allow third party sites to connect with websites –without users having to give up their login credentials or personal information –essentially bypassing the annoying registration page.
• Social inlays and overlays. At the next level, expect social networks to create ‘overlay’ experiences so their social experience will traverse every webpage. If you currently click on a link within Facebook to a third party site it will open inside the Facebook experience. We also see this with Digg, with it’s “Digg Bar” experience.
• Browsers to add social functionality. Expect every browser to provide a social experience. Finally, at the next level, expect pervasive technologies like browsers to start to become social. Expect Google’s Chrome to allow your Gmail contacts to share their experiences on every webpage and product you visit. In fact, startups like GetGlue are already experimenting with aggregating reviews from a person’s network using Firefox plugins.
• Birth of the Social Inbox. In the most radical future, content will start to appear on a new type of aggregation webpage that resembles both email and newspages. I’m watching vendors like Friendfeed to aggregate public and some private data, expect Facebook and Google Wave to present unique new experiences we’ve not seen yet. As people interact socially with others on the internet, expect social networks to aggregate the colonization creating a new type of ‘Social Inbox’ (more on that soon). Expect to see Microsoft Live, Yahoo Mail, Gmail/Google Wave start to merge with social networks, birthing a new type of communication and collaboration platform. Why does this matter? because fragments of the corporate websites will be aggregated into these platforms, in a social context.
[As a result, people will lean on the opinions and experiences of their trusted network –diminishing traditional marketing efforts]
Key Impact: A Shift to Customer Opinion Over Corporate Messaging
More importantly, this means that your customers will be able to rely on their immediate friends and trusted network to make decisions –not just nameless customer reviews like on Amazon from folks you don’t know. This means they will also start to rely more on each other for reviews –not the marketing created by brands. This also applies to the real world –not just online, as people can access digital devices on mobile social networks to find out which stores, restaurants and activities their trusted network prefers.
Power continues to shift to the participants, and away from irrelevant corporate websites.
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Trends: Impacts Of The Era of Social Colonization –Every Webpage to be Social http://bit.ly/aAJ9c by @jowyang