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Welcome to my CRM software and sCRM blog.
This online forum and dialogue shares the experiences, lessons, learning and insight about the real world uses of Social CRM (sCRM) and traditional Customer Relationship Management software (CRM) applications.






Social Service or Social PR?

Social Service Channels Must Accompany Existing Service Channels

Social customer service is a fascinating field that is in its infancy. For example, you have probably heard about companies using social listening tools to monitor Twitter and other social networks, and respond with fixes to customer problems quickly. You have probably heard about customer communities, where peers talk about products openly, and about the idea of companies partnering in these communities. And you have probably heard about the idea of taking customer feedback from an increased number of sources, such as direct contact from customers, blogs, Tweets, Facebook pages and the like, and using it to fine-tune customer service processes.

Add to these examples the increasing demands of customers to communicate with companies through the channels they want to use – the telephone has been augmented with e-mail and chat – and the result is a faster-evolving customer service landscape that's requiring companies to create strategies on the fly.

That's a big task, which is why we're at the stage we're at now, says Brent Leary, founder of consultancy CRM Essentials. "It's not really social service yet, but public relations under the guise of social service," he notes. "The classic case is the consumer who's tried to get help through traditional channels, who's called his account executive with whom he's had a one-to-one relationship, and then gets frustrated and posts on Twitter about it. Suddenly in 30 minutes he has a response."

While that's great for the squeaky wheels, it's less than ideal for most customers. The fact that a Tweet receives a superior response over what is supposed to be the service channels the company has designed and implemented for such issues indicates that those business processes are broken and need to be fixed. Applying a social CRM band-aid to a terminally-ill set of service processes is not going to get the job done.

You can see this concept in action with Frank Eliason, the director of digital care at Comcast. Frank and his social team are all over social media, responding to complaints on all manner of social media. However, Comcast still lingers at the bottom in surveys of customer satisfaction, because as hard and as well as Frank's team does to reach customers who have taken complaints to social media, they don't yet represent a significant percentage of the company's customers. The remainder of those customers are subject to the company's broken service processes.

As Brent said, "the technology is ahead of the culture" in most businesses. The winning businesses will be the ones who adjust their corporate cultures to the culture of the emerging social customers, and I'm convinced that much of that adjustment will involve a complete overhaul of service processes. Indeed, one of the hallmarks of a social service organization will be its ability to change its processes flexibly in response to the desires of customers.

That will be a much deeper change than can be accomplished by just monitoring Twitter.

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