CRM and Social Media: The Rules Still Apply

October 27, 2009
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Viggo MortensenLast year a large brokerage firm engaged Baseline to review its customer strategy and build a CRM program plan. The firm’s customer service and marketing departments had collaborated on a CRM vision and now needed a tactical roadmap for moving forward. That roadmap would include things like an information strategy, new tool acquisition, and a plan for social media.

I love engagements that meld our experience with CRM delivery, customer data deployment, key technology recommendations, and building roadmaps. When the client signed the statement of work, I felt particularly happy, like I’d come home to discover Viggo Mortensen singing in my shower. Here was a project I could sink my teeth into.

We recognized the warning signs almost immediately. A long and random wish-list of new functions. Disproportionate energy around technology acquisition. Disagreements about outcomes. IT circling the wagons while pushing its enterprise app vendor’s CRM suite. It was just like the old days, only with a lot more talk about Twitter.

It’s almost as if this company—where everyone admitted that, when it came to technology, “we have one of everything”—hadn’t heard of the sins exposed in the heyday



Viggo MortensenLast year a large brokerage firm engaged Baseline to review its customer strategy and build a CRM program plan. The firm’s customer service and marketing departments had collaborated on a CRM vision and now needed a tactical roadmap for moving forward. That roadmap would include things like an information strategy, new tool acquisition, and a plan for social media.

I love engagements that meld our experience with CRM delivery, customer data deployment, key technology recommendations, and building roadmaps. When the client signed the statement of work, I felt particularly happy, like I’d come home to discover Viggo Mortensen singing in my shower. Here was a project I could sink my teeth into.

We recognized the warning signs almost immediately. A long and random wish-list of new functions. Disproportionate energy around technology acquisition. Disagreements about outcomes. IT circling the wagons while pushing its enterprise app vendor’s CRM suite. It was just like the old days, only with a lot more talk about Twitter.

It’s almost as if this company—where everyone admitted that, when it came to technology, “we have one of everything”—hadn’t heard of the sins exposed in the heyday of customer-focus. It was as if they’d forgotten all the lessons learned, namely:

  • Define your requirements before investing in technology
  • Articulate end-state goals—and be sure they’re customer-focused
  • Be willing to change business processes and job roles to accommodate new customer-centric practices
  • Define customer value tiers—and focus on conversion
  • Measure both hard and soft ROI
  • Create a feedback mechanism to let the voice of the customer drive improvements

Traditionally, blame for many of the classic CRM failures has landed squarely in IT’s lap. But this time IT was off the hook. The business hadn’t been clear about the desired outcomes of its new customer-focused vision, never mind how it wanted to leverage social media to help deliver it. All the lofty mission statements in the world won’t get customers to return to your store or exalt your service on their Facebook pages.

We went back to executives in marketing and customer service and asked them to answer the following questions:

  1. Can we agree on our “desired outcomes” for improving the customer experience?
  2. When customers who participate in our social communities share more information about themselves and, how will we use this new-found information? How will we avoid misusing it?
  3. What existing capabilities and technologies can we leverage to deliver this new vision? What investments do we need to make?
  4. Can we anticipate the organizational impact of these new changes? Are we willing to support them?

Once we collected their answers, we brought executives together and had them discuss each others’ responses. It was clear that while the business wanted to participate in CRM, they expected IT and line workers to actually execute. We helped them understand that their ongoing involvement—and the need to enlist their peers in the Sales, IT, and e-Business organizations—was necessary for customer acquisition and retention.

Yes, it was more complex than they thought it would be. But ultimately they got a comprehensive roadmap for deploying CRM, including a robust plan for incrementally-delivered social media capabilities. And I must admit that when we delivered the roadmap to executives, I felt newly happy. Like Viggo had just asked for the soap.
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