Saturday, March 22, 2014

A blast from the Social CRM past

I found myself picking up Paul Greenberg's CRM At The Speed of Light last week - just the five-plus years after the fourth and final edition came out.

Paul's approach to CRM (and particularly the shift in orientation from company-empowering to customer-empowering models) aligns very well with the 'Art of Making Partners of Customers' approach delivered by The 10 Principles of Open Business.

So I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised to find a section by social customer champion Chris Carfi AND his reference to my own example of trying to put the customer in the driving seat (literally) through what I called a small experiment in vrm (Vendor Relationship Management).

I was buying a Toyota Yaris for my wife and tried to switch marketing/search roles with the vendors. I marketed to them that I wanted a vendor (via blogposts and tweets). They were given the role of searcher (usually the one we customers take up). For the details read both my blog post from March 2008 - and Chris's own take on it.

Any half decent social monitoring connected to any decent CRM would have delivered any number of wannabe vendors to me. But they didn't come.

When I was reminded of all this by reading Paul's book, I tweeted to Chris. He was blown away that the example is now six years old. Frankly, so am I. Because the gaps it revealed in the capability and philosophical will to serve the needs of the customer are still as wide today in too many companies.

I've worked with many companies since then to help them close their own gaps - by designing processes for the discovery of real time needs (through openly published conversation) and delivery against them, in developing systems to ensure the work and the data flow to the right places, in generating the desire to change required of a customer-led (rather than self-serving or even customer-centric) approach across the business. Yet still it is not the norm.

We still have that Yaris. It's been a great car - and continues to be. But at some point soon we'll change it. I wonder if at that point I can repeat my experiment and get a better result?

The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?