A Brief History of SCRM

Paul Greenberg put the stake in the ground by defining SCRM and said that we needed to grow if from there.

I agree.  And it is in that spirit that I want to introduce this post.  A little bit longer that most of my posts, but a way to start the conversation on what does SCRM look like once implemented.

A Brief History of CRM

In the first few generations of CRM we saw the basic three pillars (sales, marketing, and customer service), a common data model (probably the best innovation CRM provided to organizations), and common integration points to the existing systems in the organization: ERP, legacy, databases — even partner applications in occasions (look ma, no VAN!).  The following picture is a basic representation of what CRM 1.0 looks like.

These implementations collected data across all functions in the front office, store it in a central location and use it.  That data was all operational: who did what when, for how long, and what were the results.  The promise of a “holistic customer representation” or “360 view of the customer” did not materialize since we were missing the most important item in the equation: what the customer wanted when they came to see us, why did they need that, and what was the result of the interaction.  In other words, we had the content but we were missing the context and intent of those interactions.

Later we began to add “components” that complimented what we were missing.  Created analytical CRM by adding analytics engines to it.  Began to measure customer satisfaction via surveys and inserted that value into the customer records (not always).  Became proactive by trying to get what we needed to make good decisions: context and intent.  Products were enhanced, better integration added, and more powerful CRM solutions released.

CRM 2.0 was born, but not necessarily an improvement in the search for perfect customer knowledge.  Despite collecting the information, and in some cases integrating it with the existing data, we could not mesh all the data, all the insights, and all the processes together.  All our actions were reactive, and the customer was not directly involved as part of the decision-making: it was still company-centric in reality albeit the label of customer-centricity.

We began to include the customers perspective and we evolved more by adding EFM engines, predictive analytics (sales, marketing, and customer service), proactive customer service.  We wanted to improve the relationship and get to work better with customers as we moved into CRM 3.0.  There were some improvements in relationships – but the vast majority of the information we needed was still out of reach.  Over 90% of customer feedback is in unstructured feedback: blogs, social networks, private conversations, chat and IM, emails and the like.  Not being able to tap this data was limiting as to how much an organization could learn about their customers.

There were early attempts to explore this new world.  Collaborative Customer Service (communities and forums), blog-trolling software with speech and tech analytics, different methods for feedback event beyond surveys (e.g. focus groups for customer service) were all attempts to collect and leverage this information.  Some of them worked great, some of them not so much.  Alas, the basic infrastructure for leveraging the information collected was still missing.

A Brief History of Social CRM (SCRM)

Enter the Groundswell revolution and the advent of Social Media into the enterprise.  Organizations start to listen to customers.  They acknowledge there is a lot of data about their business but don’t know how to find it or tap into it.  We feel empowered by what we are discovering — but we still don’t have a framework to take advantage of this!  The tools give some guidelines and insights as to how to proceed, but nothing really in the sense of strategy or what to do with it.

We are entering CRM 4.0 (amazing how Paul Greenberg’s book is also coming on version 4.0 — coincidence? I think not) and we need some guidance.

See the chart below for my proposed framework for SCRM:

A few things you will notice in this chart.

  1. There is nothing new to add here – everything you already have (if you have been following the evolution I described above) is still there.  Few things you may need to add if you have not been following along, communities, EFM, integration with the cloud.  How much and how? It will vary by your organization’s architecture and needs.
  2. There are two layers of business rules as they apply to social interactions.  One tells the organization how to approach each channel, the other what to do with the data collected.  If you had a CIH (Customer Interaction Hub (**)) implementation you would not need these (actually, if you had a CIH we would be having a very different conversation since that model already included most of what you need to make SCRM work).  What is the CIH?  It is a framework that I created that describes how to bring new channels into the organization and leverage them across the enterprise.  Email me about it, we can setup some time to talk or I can send you some slides.
  3. Communities come at you from two different fronts: customer communities and partner communities.  The new model for Enterprise 2.0 calls for many-to-many relationships between communities, this is simply preparing SCRM to be a part of E2.0.
  4. The cloud becomes a key component of your architecture.  You can ask anyone who heard me before, I had forever maintained that organizations would not adopt hosted-CRM, SaaS, or whatever label you want to put on it without secure data transfers.  Using SaaS solutions isolated from the rest of the enterprise is not a solution, is creating another problem.  Thanks to the cloud (and we are not there yet, I know) we see a glimmer of hope in the near future to actually use SaaS solutions seamlessly integrated into the legacy and back-office systems.
  5. Feedback Management becomes the fourth pillar for CRM.  This is the quintessential integration that makes CRM work in a social environment.  Most of what we capture from the communities must be considered feedback.  The limited operational data we obtain can be easily separated by the business rules and stored in the appropriate places.

A (Very) Brief History of Customer Experience

There is one more thing to talk about: the link between SCRM and Customer Experience.  I believe this is where we will see the biggest improvement to organizations adopting SCRM.

Traditional Customer Experience Management relied on three components to do what it does: feedback management, business process management, and CRM .  As we move forward into SCRM these components will change – as will the function of CE.  See this next chart for a better idea of this change:

There are two things to note here.  First, the number of components and simpler complexity of the architecture .  By converting feedback management into the fourth pillar of CRM and taking some of the interactions between components as internal functions of SCRM the model has fewer “moving parts”.  This is good from the point of view of implementing simpler solutions and initiatives for customer experience.

The second item to note is that Customer Experience Management has morphed into Social Customer Engagement.  As customers discover how to converse with vendors better, and how to work directly within the “grid”, the term management is being replaced by the term engagement.  In addition, we see more and more customers gravitate towards communities of one type or another – and while we continue to deal with customers one-on-one, we cannot ignore the influence they receive and the trust they place in it.

More on this shift in Customer Experience in future posts.  Just wanted to introduce the concept.

Finally, an acknowledgment.  As I was shopping these slides and concepts around I got to talk to Prem Kumar (@prem_k in the #scrm Twitter community).  While exchanging ideas and concepts, he pointed me to his slideshare presentation on SCRM.  He has a lot of the same concepts with more detail and more technically inclined.  Unfortunately I had not see it before, or I would not have done the work I did.

I encourage you to take a look at his presentation (below) for a better idea of how SCRM will grow.


OK, I am done now.  Let’s open the floodgates of criticism and praise.

What do you think?  What did I miss?  What didn’t i miss?  Any way you would do it better or different?  Please let me know.  Leave me a comment and tell me what you think is needed to move this to the next level – or what are we going to continue to support as we move forward.

(**) This is a link to Gartner Research.  You must be a client to access it, or you can pay for it if you think it is outstanding.

29 Replies to “A Brief History of SCRM”

  1. Thx Esteban! You did not only ruin my writing evening, you even helped me improve the writing I was doing through this post. But that’s not what I came here for.

    I like your historical overview and like your proposed framework for SCRM, although I think the graphical view needs improvement. All the lines make it look extremely complex.

    From that perspective I like the CEM vs (S)CE framework better, but…

    Maybe it is me, but I have a “problem” with letting go of the “experience” in exchange for “engagement”. You actually say that you are replacing “management” for “engagement”, but it doesn’t feel (or look) that way.

    I do agree that the socially networked era changes the rules of engagement and will have significant impact on the Customer Experience. I, though, believe that Experiences are what makes Customers “tick”. Engagements with the company that provides the product or services they (may) buy will just add to the experiences a person can have with the company. They may be for the better or the worse but that’s basically it, from the Customer’s perspective that is.

    Engaging in conversations must play a bigger role in a Company’s strategy for it allows companies to better understand Customer’s needs, yet it will not replace the importance of all the experiences that make the brand in the mind of Customers.

    Or to ask it in another way: engagement might be extremely important for companies, yet how important will it be for Customers in relation to the other experiences they have with the product or service?

    That’s it. Thx again (and off I go gentle into that good night, for now 😉


    1. Wim,

      Thanks for the thoughtful comments. My master plan has worked, mu-ha-ha-ha (or however you write an evil laughter).

      To me SCRM is nothing but a vehicle to a different level of experience. heck, the entire social media is no more than a set of channels that will change the experience from management to engage. of course, that was just the teaser for the post next week (if i can get the slides done on time) — which was my master plan… to keep you coming back 🙂

      If you think that engagement is a one-way method for companies to benefit, then you must read some more about the coming generational shift that Gen-Y is enabling. not only here, but worldwide. times are-a-changing, fast, and we need to adapt to them. the concept of engagement, when done well, is not about letting the customer come to us and talk to us,it is about changing the platform, methods, and techniques to create conversations. and to have both parties benefit from those conversations. it is not about whether or not we will have communities (we will) but about how we can integrate our company better within those communities to push for common goals.

      in short, the experience is not the act of taking or giving to the company, the experience is about the community growing together. does it sound reasonable?


  2. Esteban, this is a great read! good stuff! Take a look at this ppt I gave in Mexico City… look at slide 17… just replace CRM 2.0 with Social CRM on this slide…a sort of represent the topics in your post and some of the tweets regarding #scrm.

    I think I am in sync with your approach.


  3. Esteban, I do have an issue with “engagement” and “management” of customers and/or their experiences. Perhaps I am taking it out of the context. I see very many customers who are quite happy to engage other customers or potential customers within vendor independent communities, but very same people would not engage with the company sponsored framework. The reasons are many and they can be described from an ethnographic perspective. I only bring it into this discussion to underscore that as it is very valuable to learn, analyze and study CE, the company can only manage the data and processes around it, but not attempt to directly engage or manage customer experience.


    1. So,

      On one hand I am glad to be starting the next conversation (engagement vs management, CEM vs SCE), on the other hand I am limited as to what I can say since I am not done with the thinking process on how to address those. Yes, I know what and how I want to say it — but am not sure yet of how to express it. Yes, it is very convoluted in there…

      I know what you are saying, and there is a degree of reason to that. The problem I see is that the models you are describing are how we do it today — not how it is going to be done in the near future when it comes to engagement. I think, and I already type this somewhere else tonight, that we are underestimating the monumental shift that is coming on the generation-handover.

      I will address the issues of experience vs engagement vs community vs ????

      Thanks for Reading


  4. Esteban,

    Thanks for a very interesting post, provides some thoughtful insights into how SCRM would look like once implemented. Sharing a few thoughts though as I read it:

    I think the depiction of CRM 1.0 and its movement or morphing into SCRM is great, but the proposed SCRM framework has me slightly confused. SCRM is an extension of CRM, and not a replacement per @pgreenbe – and I thoroughly agree. But the depicted framework is somehow making the plain, simple, lovable CRM 1.0 very heavily complex – where everything is governed by Social Business Rules. I do realize the power of social media and the new rules it introduces, but would those be all-permeable and impact each and every relationship, always? I don’t think so. Its an extension and not a replacement, right?

    Also, I feel depicting the Customer(c) and Community(m) separate is a great thought, but somewhere both these will meet to co-create and/or impact each other in the SCRM world, and that would be an important aspect for the framework to depict I think.

    Anyways, frankly its not that simple a framework to understand by reading an article which you’ve tried your best to keep ‘Brief’, as looking at a slide could convey differing connotations – possibly we should hear you explain it or read a more detailed/refined version as it comes (me getting greedy here!)

    The inclusion of Feedback management is awesome, I guess I’m repeating your tweet, but this definitely has been an area demanding attention and what better a place than you’ve depicted. Also liked to concept of ‘Social Customer engagement’, would love to hear more on that in your next post as you’ve indicated.

    thanks for another thought provoking read!


    Sid Mishra


    1. Sid,

      The heave emphasis on social rules is for the purpose of highlighting them in this chart. Those business rules already exist for different channels and different transactions in CRM, this would only augment the existing database of rules. Same with the customer and community.

      Wim also said something about the lines, which are only for illustration purposes. I guess I tried to make it too simple to read and mucked it up in the process. Will work on a fixed version soon.

      I am going to work on a complete presenation using Prezi (thanks Prem for the introduction to it) and will see if it is more clear. me thinks it will be.

      Thanks for reading.


  5. Estoban,
    A great effort and I appreciate it. I’m not sure whether CEM should be replaced by SCE (or can). Firstly, you are great about thoughtful definitions so what is the meaning behind Social Customer Engagement? Contextually, how does it differ from CEM (not visually in your diagram). Maybe if I understand that, other areas will become clearer.
    I’d love to find any evidence that customers want this kind of interaction and I don’t mean a few Tweets or occasional rants and blog postings.
    How does something “morph” in your diagram? Is it additional technology that facilitates the interactions(or cloud computing) and where is it all mashing up at the back end? Where are employees encountering this data and how do you think they will use it? Who makes meaning of all of the disparate data points? Are we successfully and elegantly automating ethnography?


    1. Barbara,

      I thought when I wanted to include that slide that it was going to be not sufficient for astute people looking into CE.

      You prove me right.

      I am working on that for next week, CE, and also a presentation that will further this post. blogs are supposed to be short and interesting so I was trying to oversimplify (as Sid said above), but I am now on the hook for more.

      Will deliver as planned…


  6. I definitely like your inclusion of feedback management as the “fourth pillar of CRM” and I like your schematic for CEM. Do you have a CEM-specific slide (CEM as it is today) that I could use in presentations (citing you, of course)? I look forward to seeing your promised CEM post!


  7. Esteban,

    Good historical summary and thanks for stimulating the SCRM discussion.

    I generally agree with your point of a need for Social Customer Engagement but have a potential point of disagreement with you. Or perhaps I misunderstand part of your SCE model.

    While it’s important for companies to engage customers in social media, many customers will still want and need the one-to-one interaction for specific situations.

    Thus, any customer model implemented by a company will continue to need the traditional elements of CRM as well the social aspects. That is the big value of Social CRM. It gives companies a model that incorporates the traditional value of CRM with the social community aspects so companies can continue to engage customers one-to-one while layering in the one-to-many, and many-to-many dynamics.


    1. Kathy,

      I did not do a good job of explaining that. That is next week’s work on this blog.

      I am sensing that once it is explained better, with more cute pictures, we can probably get closer to agreeing. Still, a fairly different way to approaching relationships with customers, so it may still be too out there.

      I am only agreeing with you 1/3, as in the next 3 out of 10 years. As a ten year outlook, CRM is no longer an issue, same as SCRM, and new engagement platforms will rule the enterprise.

      Trust me, I only miss my forecasts in the short range – anything over 5 years I am pretty good 🙂



  8. Esteban –

    Love the historical framework and the linear, left-brain side of me applauds the work.

    The right brain or gut or whatever you call it feels there is something left out. To me, collaboration or engagement and transparency/trust implies a customer centric viewpoint. A true customer centric viewpoint requires a cultural evolution within an organization (evolutionary in the darwinian sense of survival of the fittest) – an acceptance and relinguishment of control. This, I think, is one of the biggest barriers to SCRM or CE. My fear is that a process-oriented team, in a company centric organization, could follow your framework without any concept of the ramifications of should an adoption.

    Just a thought, and I look forward to the evolution of this discussion.


  9. Esteban – this is an excellent post, it is highly informative and well written. I know it put things into a complete picture for me that I did not have before, which is very helpful.




  10. Esteban,

    Very, very good post. As we try to figure out where this thing is heading, it is always important to jump back and take a look at where we’ve been to gain a sense of context.

    I am not sure that I fully agree with the new #scrm framework, but it is certainly farther than I’ve gotten on my own. I look forward to further discussion and refinement of the model.

    Thanks for consistently sharing your thoughts and wisdom. Well done.

    Best regards,



    1. As I said at the end of the post, this is my opinion and I am sure that many will no agree (Bob Warfield from Helpstream thinks I am almost there – he proposes the customer as the fourth pillar but I am having lots of trouble with that one. Mulling it through though).

      Thanks for reading, and will definitely make it better over the next few months. Got some good suggestions already… now if we could only make that 42 hour day happen 🙂

      Thanks for Reading


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