Sunday, 18 July 2010
In my last post I dove into Social CRM tools and what they do, or enable companies to do. It didn't strike me until later that there actually is a real danger in executing Social CRM: it destroys relationships we currently are used to - in our company.
In old fashioned database design, relationships are very important. The Employee table has a relation with the Salary table, of course. But does the Salary table have a relation with the Employee table? Technically, Yes - Functionally, No
The Employee table has a one-to-one relationship with the Salary table: every single employee has exactly one salary (even if it's zero). This is denoted as 1:1
Organisation-wise, an employee has a relation with a manager. 1:1 from the employee's point of view, but of course the manager has more employees than just one (in most organisations), so that is a one-to-many relationship really from the manager point of view; 1:M - from the employee point of view it's a many-to-one relationship; M:1
Last but not least, an employee has work to do. Let's call that tasks, and you'll see that the Task table has a one-to-many relation with the Employee table; one task will be executed by many employees. On the other hand, the Employee table has a one-to-many relation with the Task table: one employee usually has more than one task assigned, even when the Task status is "completed". So, employees have a many-to-many relation with tasks, or M:M
You'll probably see where I'm going with this: the introduction of social media in a company blows the entire company wide open, leveling all the thresholds. The usual single entrances (Marketing, Sales, Support, etcetera) are surpassed and the many people out there meet the many people in there simply as it is. From the usual one-to-many relationship of a company towards their customers, social media will turn it into a many-to-many relationship
Back to the database model. Many-to-many relationships can't exist without an intermediary table that simply links two one-to-many relations, thus enabling the many-to-many relation
In a company where everyone uses social media to engage with the customer, where is that intermediate (table)? Or in other words, who manages all that? How do you prevent a tweet from a customer being handled by someone from Support and someone from Marketing at the same time? How do you prevent a customer from getting more than one message from your company? Worse, how do you prevent contradicting messages?
Oh noes! Social media isn't going to introduce yet another management layer, is it? I thought it was going to decimate enterprises and hivemind organisations! Or at least, I was wishing it. Hoping. Thinking.
Well, there has to be something like tweet assignment, user assignment, customer assignment, and history of company-communication towards a given customer. Call it workflow, BPM, you could even compare it with Supply Chain Event Management. Someone has to assign customer outcries to company carers, but that should be doable with a few smart algorithms. And if the customer is bounced back by a department for the third time or so, he should be picked up by the sag wagon
And if your company is opting for the extra management layer to handle all that added traffic: get out of there!