Master Interviews 4 – Ed Thompson of Gartner on Social CRM

Master Interviews: 1 – Frank Eliason (@comcastcares) talks about justifying SCRM
Master Interviews: 2 – Marshall Lager (@Lager) talks about the Future of SCRM
Master Interviews: 3 – Bob Warfield @BobWarfield) talks about the World of SCRM

In case you don’t know Ed Thompson, he is the Gartner analyst doing research, writing, and presenting on Customer Experience Management.  We wrote a book (well, a long research note) on how to do Customer Experience Management that was one of the most read notes.  He is also one of the few people in the world who can deliver a 45 minutes presentation in almost two hours – and still get  a perfect score.

I asked him his perspective on where SCRM is today, where is going tomorrow, and how to get there.

1. How do you see Social CRM and Customer Experience Management meshing?

Interesting question. I see CRM as having broader goals (eg acquire more customers or cross-sell upsell, or CSAT) and narrower roles (sales, marketing, CSS) than CEM. Social CRM I see as more customer centric than analytical or operational CRM so closer to helping CEM than other forms of CRM projects. Social CRM is key in setting expectations, collecting feedback (community EFM) and in some cases delivering such as customer service with Lithium. So I guess I would say its more aligned with CEM than other forms of CRM projects and technologies.

2. You are exposed to some of the largest organizations in the world and assisting them with their CRM and CEM implementations, are they getting on board the social network integration?

No. Most are wary and most are being very careful as they can see many downsides. In particular many are stuck on how to handle the governance and rules for employees. They know they can’t stop it but if your employee bad mouth’s the company what’s your policy? Some are caught up in discussions with unions, other with regulatory bodies like the FDA and others with their lawyers. So even if the intention is there, the operational aspects have not been ironed out. There are some who are moving ahead aggressively and gaining from it like P&G but the majority are moving ahead tentatively.

3. Is it very different to deploy Social Networks and Communities as new channels for your CEM initiatives?

I view social networks in three types: those inside your org looking at the outside world, those you host as a supplier and those that are independent and in which you can take part like Facebook. Each has a different role in terms of improving the customer experience. The first two are seeing technologies already delivering well with more to come – and are easier to sanction and prove the business case. The independent social networks are being monitored so the org can respond and used for testing of new ideas and products but everyone can see that they have not yet been fully harnessed but equally if you make the wrong move it may be very damaging for the reputation of the firm.

4. Can you share with us two or three of the best practices you recommend your clients embarking on this journey?

A) focus on internal social networks, hosted communities before messing up your image/brand/reputation on independent social networks. Instead experiment with the independent social networks and monitor them closely.

B) accept that the customer does not want to have to come to you, they want you to come to them – that may be on their desktop, phone, email, portal, social network – but only when you have permission. Building your own better website that personalizes better and better will be necessary but not sufficient, you’ll need to fit in with the customer’s environment in order to be trusted

5. What is your vision for Social CRM and CEM in three, five, and ten years?

I’ll look out 10 years. Social CRM will move from 0.1% of CRM application spending to 10% of all spending by then. Still not anywhere near as big as traditional SFA, Campaign Mgmt, Customer Service but vastly bigger spending than today. I don’t think it will be revolution but it will be a big change from today. Personally I think 2020-2030 will see the bigger transformation of CRM applications and processes.

10 Replies to “Master Interviews 4 – Ed Thompson of Gartner on Social CRM”

  1. Fascinating insight on doing internal, then hosted, then external communities. I would agree, the biggest potential for brand damage is in the external communities (Facebook, Twitter, et al) because you have the least familiarity, control, and loyalty working for you there.

    BTW, it’s always awkward to know how to refer to those different types of community. I wonder when the #scrm community will get around to really hashing through that terminology?


    .-= Bob Warfield´s last blog ..The Experience Portfolio: Thinking about Customer Experience Strategy =-.


    1. Thanks for the comment. I have been wondering something similar, following John F Moore’s naming of external support communities as SSC.

      Do we need to differentiate between communities by extending different names to them? Me says no…

      Anyone else?


  2. The problem with referring to communities by their function is that it really flies in the space of the Social CRM spirit. The function is dicated by the company, but its the customer that is in control of the conversation. Even the companies use these communities for all sorts of disparate functions.

    A great many Helpstream customers are doing all sorts of marketing functions in their communities, for example. A healthy Social CRM community should be attracting a lot more than just customers, and delivering a lot more than just customer service.

    Given that Social CRM is all about the audience being in control, that’s why I like the dimension defined by the audience better than the dimension defined by corporate function. Internal communities have one audience. Hosted communities a little bit different audience, but one still very identifiable. Completely independent external communities (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, et al) are still another kettle of fish.

    Each one potentially has different audiences, functions, strategies, and tools. Just as interesting are the interfaces between each, and a well thought out Social CRM strategy will cover all of those bases.


    .-= Bob Warfield´s last blog ..The Experience Portfolio: Thinking about Customer Experience Strategy =-.


    1. Bob,

      I was just having a similar conversation with a friend of mine in the industry who is trying to figure out how to distinguish internal and external and B2C and B2B communities and social networks.

      My position is that you don’t label communities different because of where they sit or which market they serve, rather make sure that all people participating know and understand the purpose of the community and the reason for being there. In other words, you can call them Carlota or Mary or Service Support Community and if the people in it don’t care to participate it makes no difference. He said that this clients are telling him that the term and the concept the have of communities is far different. Their sales people, for example, don’t want to use them because they don’t understand what a community can offer them. Their B2B clients are not interested because they see them as support only.

      Problem we have, I think, is not that we call them something different or not — rather than we don’t differentiate them and emphasize purpose or reason.

      If we could focus on that – how to differentiate them and how to attract the people, then we have something interesting going. And I don’t think the name will make a difference (although I still want to give them long German names for fun).



  3. While I have nothing but respect for the opinions that have been expressed I must say that I disagree. Esteban, this comment of yours is part of the reason why I disagree:

    “He said that this clients are telling him that the term and the concept the have of communities is far different. Their sales people, for example, don’t want to use them because they don’t understand what a community can offer them. Their B2B clients are not interested because they see them as support only.”

    The purpose for each community type, and the way user’s will expect to interact, are vastly different. Yes, it is true that upselling can occur in support situations and you could therefore argue that “sales are happening”, but it is not efficient and erodes, albeit slowly, the trust factor in the community.

    Bob, I would love to hear specific examples of customers using SSC for non-support purposes, either with, or without, HelpStream. Could you share examples or point at any papers you might have in place?

    SSC is one building block of what Social CRM could become. To my knowledge it is also the only building block that is gaining traction to date.

    For readers that have not reviewed my related post, I wanted to point it out here:

    I hope the “self-promotion” is okay given the post should add additional value to your readers.


    .-= John Moore´s last blog ..Hypocritical or Ignorant…. You be the judge =-.


    1. if it is valuable, and it is, then it is not self-promotion… just adds to the conversation.

      i think you and i agree on the main idea: each community should have a purpose and a reason, and that is it. you cannot mix what one community does: if it is support, it is not for sales, and so on. at least i think that is what i said and you said.

      the point you disagree comes from a colleague of mine who focuses on sales and marketing. and it is a serious problem of the potential users getting communities confused as to what they can do. he said they should be given different labels so sales could see something other than a support community. i don’t think that is the case, but am open to more comments. from my perspective, a community is a community is a community and the purpose if what distinguishes them (actually, the users are – but they are attracted by the purpose– so it is kinda like a meta-distinguisher then…)


  4. Hi Esteban,

    I’ve been playingwith the idea of dynamics “Response Communities” for internal communities. This is where your idea of Enterprise Feedback Management comes in and adds the “what to do with it”-part of monitoring, data mining and analysis. It could be a Marketing Community that needs to set the record straight on unjustified competitor claims (cf. Salesforce this week), or other cross-functional communities to deal with product defects (cf exploding iPhones in France), in terms of doing something and making it known.

    The reasoning behind implementing Response Communities is to have them focus on a purpose and smartsource the response through collaboration. They could also provide a mechanism to include PR Agencies, Partners and Suppliers where appropriate (EFM could be a tool to decide this). You could also image doing internal Social Profiling to determine the constitution of people that will be in the best prosition to formulate the appropriate response.
    .-= Mark Tamis´s last blog ..The Paradigm Shift is in the People, Social CRM is a Response to it =-.


    1. I definitely like the concept, and I think it addresses the issue i was addressing of whether or not to rename the different communities based on function and location (i.e. internal vs external).

      I am, however, not sure whether we should have different names for them — isn’t the purpose and reason for existence of the community (when well documented and explained to users) sufficient to indicate what it does and where it lives?

      That is the issue I am still wondering….


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