Social CRM: Achieving the Right Mix of Process, People and Technology

Social CRM: Achieving the Right Mix of Process, People and Technology

By Barton Goldenberg

An effective Social CRM implementation requires a critical mix of three key components: people, processes and technology.  This mix must be adjusted throughout the initiative to ensure sustainable success. Inadequately addressing any one component can result in program failure.

Of the three, the ‘people’ component can present the greatest challenge given the sensitivity of users to change. Users who do not understand the point of required changes or who are not given adequate preparation and training will understandably be slow to adapt. Gaining user support early on and maintaining it throughout the project is essential to the ultimate success of any Social CRM initiative.

The ‘process’ component of Social CRM can be delicate, because inappropriate use of automation will only speed up errant processes.  While many organizations have well-established customer-facing business processes, Social CRM will almost certainly require adjustments.

All too often, the ‘technology’ component of a Social CRM initiative is given disproportionate emphasis, sometimes to the detriment of the overall project. Ultimate success or failure is determined by user adoption. But when IT departments “own” the implementation, the end-user experience can take a back seat to technical considerations.

The people, process and technology mix changes throughout the initiative, so proactively ensuring that the mix stays right throughout all phases is critical to success. To determine Social CRM business requirements, a structured process is needed to ensure that the user requirements are properly understood.  Most of this will involve people issues, namely working with potential users to think through their existing and future needs, and helping to manage expectations. Technology plays a minor role at best in determining business requirements.

Yet, when the organization is ready to begin integrating Social Media information with their legacy CRM systems, technology becomes critical.  Selection of an appropriate technology platform and use of the right middleware toolsets will directly impact the success of the integration. Overall, technology drives this activity.

When customizing Social CRM software, all three components come into play. People are critical for ultimately judging how well the customizations meet their needs, as well as evaluating workflow impacts and the overall user-friendliness of the system.  Process is important for driving workflow development.  Technology is critical for how the application looks, feels and functions.

In our experience, a mix of 50% people, 30% process and 20% technology is the overall formula for a successful Social CRM implementation.  Companies achieve success by putting customer-facing processes in order, then motivating personnel to buy into the newly-automated processes, then finally by applying the right technology in support of these enhanced processes. By getting and keeping this mix right, they steer their way to Social CRM success.

In my next post, I will discuss the process component of a Social CRM implementation in greater detail.

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The Definitive Guide to Social CRMBarton Goldenberg, is the founder and president of ISM Inc., customer-centric strategists/implementers serving best-in-class organizations globally. As a CRM leader for 30 years, he was among the first three inductees in the CRM Hall of Fame. Recognized as a leading “customer-focused” author, his latest book, The Definitive Guide to Social CRM, is hailed as the roadmap for Social CRM success. Barton is a popular speaker on “maximizing customer relationships to gain market insights, customers and profits”. He is a long-term columnist for CRM Magazine and speaker for CRMevolution and frequently quoted in the media.