By Barton Goldenberg
Here are five ways to that will help every organization address and hopefully overcome the inevitable Social CRM – related people issues that challenge every Social CRM initiative.
- Announce Social CRM Efforts Internally
The launch of a Social CRM initiative should be done with great pride and care. Many people in the organization will be curious to know about the initiative. Expect questions concerning: “Who has been selected to participate in the initiative and what were the selection criteria?”, “How long will the initiative last?”, “What will persons participating in the user group need to do?” and “Will my job change as a result of the initiative?”.
Carefully prepare answers to each of these questions since it is important to ensure the Social CRM initiative gets off to a healthy start and that questions get answered early on.
- Create a ‘Super-User’ Group
Businesses must ensure that a Project Manager – responsible for coordinating all aspects of Social CRM project design and implementation – is solidly behind the initiative. Additionally, there should be an ‘Executive Champion,’ which will be the highest ranking executive willing to promote the Social CRM initiative in the organization and prevent bureaucratic obstacles from getting in the way of success. The Social CRM initiative should also be supported by a group of Super-Users (front-line personnel from sales, marketing, and customer service functions) to represent the voice of the user. The Super-User group should include representative individuals who are leaders among the best in their respective job functions and have a strong knowledge of the business.
- Create a Meaningful Communications Program
Once the Social CRM initiative has been announced in the organization and the Project Manager and Super-User group has been selected, the next step is to set up a Communications Plan that focuses on communicating effectively on an on-going basis with all members of the Social CRM initiative. Open and constructive communications are paramount to keep the Executive Sponsor, Project Manager, Super-User group members, IT department and any consultants or vendors working on the project up to speed on what is transpiring when. The organization may want to ensure that customers are kept aware of the Social CRM initiative and how it will impact them.
An observation: It is not possible to over-communicate during a Social CRM initiative.
- Keep the Executive Sponsor(s) Actively Engaged
It is almost always the case that initial support from senior executives for the Social CRM project tends to be quite high. The key is to secure an Executive Sponsor early on and to be sure that he or she promotes the initiative to his/her executive colleagues. Once this ‘project champion’ is selected, request assistance from this individual on an as-needed basis. Help them to create a buzz about its importance an expected impact. Keep him or her briefed every month for at least the first six months of the project, and quarterly thereafter. Briefings should be confined to one page of written bullet points (include progress and setbacks). Try to follow up with face-to-face meetings at least every quarter to maintain on open discussion on progress and setbacks regarding the Social CRM initiative.
- Maintain a Long-Term View
Lastly, encourage all participants (users, sponsor, stakeholders, customers, etc.) to maintain a long-term view during the Social CRM project and to be prepared to survive the project’s growing pains. Overcoming a failure or two during project implementation often strengthens resolve and demonstrates to all that that the project has needed user commitment and committed resources. I have been involved in many Social CRM projects that have hit snags. Maintaining a long-term view will help diffuse and in most resolve most of these situations.
If the organization utilizes these five ways to address and hopefully overcome the inevitable people issues that challenge every Social CRM initiative, the chances for project success improve significantly. After all, people create Social CRM systems, and people use these systems. It is important to remain highly sensitive to the strengths and weaknesses of users and to work diplomatically within the boundaries set by these individuals.
In my next blog post, I will turn to the crucial ‘people’ component of effective Social CRM training.
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Barton 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.