In the past few days there has been quite some fuss about Social CRM, to which my post did contribute a bit I guess. As always, tweets were exchanged as a result and there was some destruction but also a lot of construction
First, some disclosure: as an Enterprise Integration Architect and a linguist I believe in natural diversity and detest the idea of one-size-fits-all. The only one-size-fits-all is real, physical death - and even that gets dealt in tailormade portions.
So, to be honest, I see Listening Platforms as a good tool to turn CRM into Social CRM if only there were Speaking Platforms as well. In fact, I think Listening Platforms could turn Anything into Social Anything. So, it's from this perspective that I am writing this blog post
Second, I overstretched on this post. It cost me over a full day of research, downloading and trying software, viewing demos, chatting to people, asking around. I definitely got out of my comfort zone here. Over 1,000 words in one blog post - consider yourself warned. Anyway:
There are two parts to be highlighted: one of them is the Social Customer, and the other is Social CRM tools. After all it's the magical Social Customer that ought to press for Social CRM tools, right?
A marvellous presentation on the Social Customer is this:
Attensity and Chess Media Group
Apparently the Social Customer is a woman, or I've clearly missed a point. Or both. But I love the presentation for consistently showing that customers just want to be taken seriously, trusted, and treated like humans. I feel bad for the marketing boys reading that who are used to direct mail and other mass-marketing shattergun approaches
- What does the Social Customer want? Creativity, innovation, collaboration, to be valued
- What does the Social Customer give? Improved product, better advertising, great WOM
- How can you please the Social Customer? Listen, be supportive, converse meaningfully
- How can you displease the Social Customer? Broadcast, empty promises, spam
Now let's have a look at the tools present for Social CRM: Jive, Lithium and Nimble. Nimble didn't make Gartner's MQ but then again it's not been released, although you can join the private beta
Lithium is providing you with various applications for your customers to use. Blogs, Forums, Chat, even a Tribal Knowledge base. I was baffled to read this. You need to deploy communitites and software in order to honeypot your users? Read slide 12 guys: meet her where she is
What do I deem important for connecting to the ubiquitous Social Customer? Being able to connect with everything just like she herself does. What does Lithium offer?
The Lithium platform offers a number of connections to the social web (Facebook, Twitter), CRM systems, web analytics, and more.CRM systems named are Salesforce.com and RightNow technologies, but that's all there's to it - and there is a 2-page PDF on Salesforce.com. I took the tour on the Twitter Community and that gives a good insight. Basically the communities are used for retrieving or asking information given a certain tweet, and then responding. There is some handy interaction too, no bending over backwards
User assignment is missing: right now if you're a user, you could get 2 or more different answers to one and the same tweet from one and the same corporate account!
There's no way you can pull in a user's Bio or last few tweets or do a quick scan, or get their influence or mood, or anything else that would add value on top of Twitter. Heck there's not even a nice GUI to do a Twitter Search: command line is the way to go
I would qualify this as a Social Customer Support / Service. You also have to register to be able to join the community, and OAuth is not supported, it is all extremely proprietary.
In this way, Lithium will only add a thin functional layer between the Web, Facebook and Twitter on the one side, and a (if any) CRM system on the other. Although according to the PDF, only some part of Salesforce.com seems to be supported...
When I visited Jive's products page and their solutions page, all I got in Firefox was a blank page. Made me feel 10 years younger which somehow flattered me, but I had to use Internet Explorer to get some results. Jive is clearly sending a very bad message there given the fact that Firefox is the most used browser since January 2009. Still, I let Jive know and they are probably still mulling on it
Update July 16th 15:00 CET: Turns out I was wrong-ish. The issue occurs every now and then, with any page it seems. I just got very (un)lucky clicking Products and then Solutions and getting two blank pages in a row. Here's a screenshotThe demos at Jive are sexy, impressive and video you can just read without sound (love that) - although there's no control about. But they excel in showing how the internal organisation works together via one and the same platform, albeit that it shows influencer website trends, collect conversation topic clouds, buzz, etcetera. It's unclear whether that "simply gets there" or is posted by employees, however.
However, they approach the world inside-out, like Lithium does:
No need to chase people, content, or conversations across countless forums, blogs, or wikis. Now, people can gravitate around the topics they care about and use whatever ways they want to socialize -- widgets abound for popular content, new members, popular discussions and much more. Stay in the know via email, RSS, dashboards, and moreListen up people, that is simply impossible. One size fits all doesn't exist. The Social Customer is everywhere, ubiquitous, and you have to meet her where she is.
Yes I understand that's a bit of a difficult journey to undertake but you don't have to, feel free to stay right at home. But don't expect the entire world to come by your house just to complain or gossip about you.
Jive makes a
Nimble is in beta, but I had a very long chat with Nimble-founder Jon Ferrara - so all I can say is based on that. Nimble doesn't offer any integration with an existing CRM application or vendor, Nimble is meant to be the CRM.
On the other hand, it supports integration to almost any (social) network out there of which Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are a few. It offers integration with a.o. Gmail as well, all neatly integrated into one and the same presentation layer.
Conversations, emails, appointments, everything is shown for one and the same user of whom profile settings are automatically retrieved. It's an Integration dream, really. The same look and feel regardless of the underlying network, with bars and buttons changing depending on the network, but you could put any user on this even if they don't know how to spell Social Media
One of the great functionalities is what I call Sticky-Noting: people can even comment to an appointment in your agenda - very handy if you're having that important meeting with that one person you'd like to have more background on...
I said it on Twitter: what I saw is simply mindblowing from a Social Media point of view. Network influence, Stars, just about anything that "values" a contact can be easily added.
And it's the exact right attitude: outside-in thinking, not inside-out. Nimble drags in the customer or business contact no matter where he or she is, combining networks and profiles. This is going to be the Social CRM tool of the decade, easy.
If I were Nimble I'd also sell or freemium a dressed-down version for use with (social) networks - I'd love to use it myself to keep track of the same contacts I now approach via all these different channels
- This is my first and last attempt at doing a new market tool comparison, at least free-of-charge that is
- The Social Customer has to enter Lithium's and Jive's portals but they will find her regardless, as long as she is on Facebook or Twitter. Nimble pretty much functions like Sauron's eye and even then offers plug-ins for various blog platforms so they are easily Nimble-ised
- I'm missing the integration to the existing CRM systems but that's what all three share - maybe I'm just an old-fashioned guy, but then again none of the old-fashioned ones is open or stable enough to allow for long-lasting integration. CRM is a volatile market by default, I guess
But, we were here to care for the Social Customer. How will she fare? What do you think?