Salesforce came to New York this week for its annual winter meeting with customers. The company had two goals: test new ideas, and gather customer input. The event was held at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel for a relatively small group -- less than 1,000 -- rather than at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, which can accommodate the maintenance facilities for a squadron of F18s. Intimacy, it was hoped, would drive better discussions. Salesforce has been beating the social CRM drum pretty hard for the last two years. So right on schedule, Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff decided to reshuffle the deck
Yesterday, comedian Steve Coogan (“Tropic Thunder,” “The Other Guys,” “24-Hour Party People” and many other things) was a guest on the National Public Radio show “Fresh Air.” At the end of the interview he was asked if it was true that comedians were really sad, insecure people when they weren’t “on.”
Of course, he denied that he was, but he also backtracked a bit. “You need to have hangups and neuroses to be creative,” he said. “If you’re just in a state of nirvana, you’re not going to be very interesting or funny.”
As I was thinking about social CRM and the channels social businesses need to monitor in order for it to work, Coogan’s observation kept rattling around in the back of my head – in an oblique way, it also applies to the people who run social CRM efforts, up to and including the executives who champion these programs.
It’s not that these people are sad and neurotic – in most cases, you’re good at relationships in order to be good at CRM, and sad and neurotic people usually don’t fit that criterion. It’s the other part – the “being in a state of nirvana” that Coogan mentioned. In these cases, I think it’s the state of contentment. Contentment is a nice feeling, but it’s also the equivalent of kryptonite to a lot of business initiatives, including social CRM. The minute you allow contentment to take over is the minute you stop evaluating, evolving and innovating.
Here’s what that will look like with social CRM: you have all the channels your customers use covered, and you’re drawing actionable data from them. Mission accomplished, right?
Well, no. It’s never mission accomplished. CRM is always a work in progress – if not from a technology vantage point, then from the point of view of the people and the processes. If you become content with your social CRM effort, you’re going to miss the fact that your customers have evolved, found a new social media channel, adopted a new set of terminology for their problems, and have made you irrelevant to their conversations.
You have to be constantly vigilant about understanding your customers’ behavior – studying this was why CRM came about in the first place, and it’s even more critical in the social CRM era
Striving to get social CRM right is admirable, but even if you knock it out of the park you should shift from happiness back to insecurity very quickly. Just as you can’t afford to let conversations sit unattended, you can’t afford to allow the mix of channels you engage customers to remain static. And, since technology can’t make those mix decisions, it’s up to the people managing that mix to avoid complacency.
So how do you do that? Do you schedule regular reviews of social channel usage? Do you get daily reports from a monitoring tool? Do you check in with your customers to do a periodic social media usage review? All of the above? Or something else?
Having a process is the best way to pay attention to this over the long haul. It’s really easy to assume you know what you’re doing if you’re doing it successfully, at least to the best of your knowledge. A process of shaking up these assumptions periodically will be more effective than your good intentions. And it’s probably healthier from a mental standpoint, too – you’ll be doing the smart thing not because you’re sad, neurotic or insecure, you’ll be doing it because it’s what will make your social efforts more successful.