Social CRM: Forgetting the Color of the Collar

As we move into 2012, it’s necessary to examine the shortcomings and challenges businesses faced when executing a social CRM (sCRM) program strategy. For social perfectionists, or those folks operating at the upper echelon of a socially proficient business ops campaigns, oftentimes the small details of the program design implementation are disregarded. Greater attention is inaccurately placed on the errors made by a select few highlighting their lack of social CRM acumen. The Twitter bloopers and Facebook mishaps reign in an unnatural delight, that while important to analyze, highlight a fruitless obsession with new media culpability and an idealized vision of proprietary ownership (no, Brian Solis and Chris Brogan do not own new media content because they were there first; they are beneficial minds that cleverly found a way to profit from intuitive entrepreneurial spirit of that space).

     While highlighting corporate mis-tweets provides a relevant learning curve to examine how businesses are trying to adopt sCRM in a new medium, it also showcases the social aristocracy whose daily verbiage and passionately sophisticated emotional repertoire have yet to fully trickle into mainstream social enterprise/sCRM engagement. No, (in the past) the major corporation who thought to put some poor girl behind the customer service Twitter page for said major corporation did not provide the same PR, legal, and creative writing tutorials it provided their spokespeople. Call centers are strict, legalese is complicated, add the two together and put them online; well, you’ve just created a labyrinth of interactive complications even the most skilled thinkers would struggle to navigate.
     At this point, there are no experts or gurus of sCRM (founders & creators, yes), only those pioneering a path of best fit grown out of good introductory timing and application. So while it appears we’ve entered a turning point in defining key note speakers and recommended readings, we’ve really only garnered a predominantly niche-specific group of over analytical social content debutantes. And perhaps we ought to foster that mentality and environment; however that such kaleidoscope of thinking is proving disastrous when fostered in the climate of social CRM review. Here’s why: right now, customer service engagement via social interaction channels, is in essence, a boutique service. It’s engineered to be as quickly gratifying as social engagement for personal use while also promoting a sense that the company is nimble by design and clean in operating functions (transparent). The underpinnings promote a space where responses must be creative, honest, agile, all while within the boundaries provided by the legal constructs of the company. And let’s be honest, how many colleagues or interviewees have you met in the last 30 days who seemed keenly attune to that communicative sense of urgency and importance? Faceless sCRM interactions cannot be handled in the traditional call center workspace. In 2012, we will see those teams of individuals diverge into a separate operating space reflective of the service they’re providing and promoting.  Boutique in nature, highly adaptable, and provided with almost limitless resources to proactively manage the unexpected. Interacting with fans and customers, and hopefully brand loyalists, is business as usual. It’s the hiring, assembling, operating, and building of a purely social team that is The End of Business as Usual. (embed link to Solis website).
     What does this all mean for businesses looking ahead to short term social media team growth as well as long term development, monitoring, and analyses of contracted listening & engagement platforms? Since some ambiguity rests heavily in WHAT should be measured, industry thought leaders and program managers grapple with the illustrious interplay between measuring and monitoring vs. execution. Startups battle with the HOW to integrate concurrent with the struggle longer standing companies have to establish metrics of success and growth. In a 4-part series, I’ll look at where examination and insightful critiques of existing initiatives fell short, what industry leaders should be looking at to build a stronger repertoire of meaningful analyses within their own teams, how program change procedures are needed for even the most basic social CRM teams, and best practice touch points to work from moving into 2012 that apply to both small and hugely intricate programs.
So, what’s new for 2012? Keep an eye on how sCRM engagement is analyzed, strategists in the social space are going to become acutely familiar with in-house processes and contractual relationship frameworks. The next 6 months will also prove volatile for marketing ad-space on both brand pages and general social accounts. Formatting, structure, and ‘verified’ account options will give companies a run for their money, or in this case social currency. Oh and let’s not forget: the need for the term ‘social’ will most likely be axed as the fusing of traditional 2-dimensional websites and social/interactive web pages gains a dominant foothold in the interwebbed world. 

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