Marshall Lager is the founder and managing principal of Third Idea Consulting, LLC.
We've hired Marshall to provide his perspective on the CRM industry,
Sage news, and the state of customer/company dialogue in general.
are starting to understand the value and importance of a social media
approach to CRM, if the calls I’ve been taking are any indication.
That’s good, but sometimes I feel that for some people, the terms we
use—social media, social CRM, Enterprise 2.0 and the rest—are just
words hung onto a concept, their meanings ignored.
While letting “social CRM” exist merely as shorthand for a broader concept—like Paul Greenberg’s excellent and tweetable definition,
“the company’s response to the customer’s control of the
conversation”—I prefer for the concept to remain grounded in the words
that describe it. In this case, the best definition of social itself is
or relating to human society, the interaction of the individual and the
group, or the welfare of human beings as members of society; tending to
form cooperative and interdependent relationships with others of one's
It’s great if your company is engaging its
customers and partners in conversation through its own social
networking tools. It’s beyond great, it’s necessary in most cases. But
there must be more. You’ve got to reach out beyond your own circle, and
start exchanging ideas with new people and organizations, ones in whom
you don’t already have a financial interest.
This is not to
say that you should abandon any current social efforts. Just make sure
you’re sticking your corporate nose into somebody else’s as well. I’m
not talking about corporate espionage—that’s bad. I mean participation
in timely and topical discussion groups (the Answers section of LinkedIn is an excellent example), attending Webinars, and just letting your people explore where their interest takes them.
our hunter/gatherer ancestors hadn’t been willing to meet other bands
of like-minded people, we would never have gotten beyond tribes and
clans, warring with one another for access to water, hunting grounds,
and abundant vegetation. (You could make a decent argument that we
still haven’t gotten beyond that, but I’m feeling generous to our
insane species today.) Communication with “the other” brought trade,
exchange of ideas, and the peace of mind that comes from knowing what
those guys in the next cave are up to.
It’s no different in
modern society. Looking for new ideas and new associates to share them
with is a major driver for the modern, socially-aware business. Does
your desire for partnership and creativity outweigh your fear of
competition? It should; competition is healthy. Social interaction
means business doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. Your competitors may
glean some ideas from you that they might otherwise not have, but you
will do the same. You will each innovate, raising the standard for all.
You will allow your entire industry to serve the customer better.
Take the next step. Get your company onto somebody else’s social network. It’s only natural.