The Slow Path to SCRM

In 1991 Siebel introduced the concept of a CRM Suite.  The first complete version came along shortly after, and the first successful, complete implementations were around 1995-1996.

In November of 2007 Oracle, Siebel, and Microsoft announced their first “Social CRM”-aware products, and it was only earlier this year that Paul Greenberg set a working definition for Social CRM.

Did you really think we would have successful implementations by now?

The reality is that SCRM is still a couple of years away.  As deafening as the hype is, we have only recently began to understand what it is that we are trying to build.  Communities existed for some time, but they are just a portion of SCRM.  Feedback Management also existed for quite some time, but, again, also just a small piece of SCRM.  The path to SCRM is going to be as slow as the original CRM  — so what should you do right now?

Three actions to ensure your SCRM success in a couple of years.

1. Education. Social CRM is the company’s response to the client becoming social.  The biggest challenge to its adoption is to make sure that everyone in the organization understands that.  The generational shift we are experiencing takes some years to work through;  generation Y won’t immediately seize control of the world and change the business model.  It will take 5-10 years to become a reality.  Educate executives, employees, and partners in what it means to become social.

2. Piloting. A few years into the CRM “revolution”, after seeing the first failures, we realized that CRM cannot be implemented as a technology, nor can it be done all at once.  The changes that the organization needed to make to their systems, databases, and processes were too large to take on all at once.  The concept of “piece-meal” deployment and leveraging pilots for CRM should be applied to SCRM.  Deploy a couple of communities.  Test what you can do with Twitter, Facebook and other social networks.  Don’t believe the doom-sayers: your company won’t collapse if you get it wrong the first time.

3. Planning. Launching any one tool or technology and expect it to solve the “SCRM Problem” is naive at best.  Organizations that want to succeed at SCRM must develop a strategy to get there.  Determine your reasons for adopting SCRM (as I often tell my six-year-old, “because” is not a valid reason).  Determine the metrics for success. Plan the slow implementation, the education and training, the changes in systems and processes.  Worked for CRM – eventually.

As Prem Kumar wrote in his blog last week, the road to SCRM is long and you have to make sure there are no weak bridges on the way.

What do you think? Am i missing something? Are you already working in your slow path to SCRM? How it is going?

15 Replies to “The Slow Path to SCRM”

    1. Thanks John,

      I am hoping that we can stay away from calling SCRM a technology at all. There are technologies involved, maybe, but just as with CRM – some solutions may be deployed without technology.

      The two factors affecting the evolution of SCRM right now are the economy and the ignorance of what it is. Trying to focus on what I can influence.


  1. Great post Esteban. I would like to add from my own experience to the education topic.

    As I have shared elsewhere before, we have internal blogs, forums & wiki based communities within our organization that has 65K+ employees spread across the globe. We have had them for the past three years.

    The youngsters (especially the 2-3 years of experience) and the very top (CXOs, some VPs) are the ones who use these technologies very effectively. The middle management folks are very reticent & reluctant. Very few people from this band took to these social technologies (including yours truly).

    However there is an increasing uptake from this crucial segment of the organization in the recent past. could be because of the noise being generated within the organization by the enthusiastic youngsters or could be because they are being goaded by the big bosses or may be because there is an increasing noise about social technologies in the mainstream media & some few stray instances where the customers are making some cautious inquiries.

    Whatever they be, I believe that this segment is not yet ready at large, however we are well ahead on the path.

    This is allowing us to experiment within the organization before we can advice our customers or venture into the open world. This is education by doing. This is also a glacial cultural change in the organization. Slow yet sure & very landscape changing – permanent.

    And thanks a lot for referencing me again Esteban! Let this not become a habit! 😉 (Personally I don’t mind! 😀 )
    .-= Prem Kumar´s last blog ..All roads lead to Social CRM; But "Hanoz Dilli Dur Ast"? =-.


    1. Prem,

      This is what I like about you — always contributing with high-value. That is the type of information that we need to get out more often so people can understand what it is that needs to be learned.

      I think that we have to go beyond the hype (both good “it automatically improves your life” and bad “it can never happen”) at this point. As you say, just a few cautious inquiries right now, you don’t want to scare them off. It reminds me of those car dealerships here in the US where as soon as you step into the lot a salesperson comes up to you and starts telling you how good their cars are, how you need something right away, and he has the best deal — even before you had a chance to tell them what you are looking for.

      That is the current state of SCRM hype right now. We don’t even care what the requirements are, we want to sell it so bad we will make outrageous promises.

      Thanks for the interesting comment, and for posting. I get a lot of inspiration from your posts.


  2. Esteban,

    Fitting that we posted related topics on the same day. At the end of my post I requested a map, I think you presented a good start to that map.

    There are some areas where I think we should be cautious:

    1 – With respect to some of the social media channels, once you are in, you are in. While you may consider it ‘Pilot’ the customers may not. Just a word of caution. The best piloting is the listening type.

    2 – The planning of Social CRM is one that I hope to be tackling over the upcoming weeks. I believe that companies Enterprise 2.0 architecture needs to be slightly ahead from a maturity perspective than CRM, if Social CRM is going to work. Social CRM requires a new level of internal mobilization of people, process and knowledge.



    1. Mitch,

      The map is something I have been trying to develop for some time now. In my spare time, of course. Graham asked for the same last week and I am trying to get it done – but this is not something that can happen in a short time. Back in the old days of CRM we had the same problem in the market and being able to show the map to CRM was very useful for education. I dug it out the other day to take a look and surprisingly about 80% (OK, maybe there was no surprise) of it is about the same as where we are in the market today. Working on the updates…

      I am going to take some exception to your point 1. Channels for SCRM (whether social or not) are not as strict. It is all about managing the customer’s expectations. For example, in the very old days Southwest Airlines experimented with email (through the short time they were trying it they made sure to tell people they were experimenting with it, figuring out how to better use it). Once they decided they were not ready for it, they announced in their web site (and via agents in the call center) that they would not offer email because they could not guarantee the same service level via email that they could via other channels. Customers never said a word about them not offering email even though their competitors did offer it. By the time they figured it out, and began to offer it, customers gladly used it. Managing expectations is more important than just being there.

      I like the idea of listening as a pilot. Would like to make sure that the listened message is acted on (this is the approach that RightNow Technologies has used for their “Twitter Channel” – listen and act — usually escalate).

      That is a great point you make on E2.0 and CRM and I totally concur. If the basic infrastructure is not there, then SCRM has no chance of leveraging it. I still believe that education is the most important part of E2.0 and SCRM. The diversity in the workforce (as Prem points out above) makes it hard to implement a radical new model of work without the proper education. Starting at the top has been known to work before – but maybe we need to start in the middle this time as Prem proposes.

      That is going to be the most interesting part of this evolution – how to bring along three generations into the model of one.

      Thanks for a great comment.


  3. Esteban,

    re, “Did you really think we would have successful implementations by now?”

    i think the answer to that is dependent on what goals companies for themselves as part of the implementation.

    if we expect to see companies who have turned themselves inside out and now are run on a ‘scrm’ philisophy; we are many million miles away from seeing that. that goal may never happen. (i dont think the 360 degree view boasted of by traditional CRM was ever achieved)

    however if companies set piecemeal goals of having a social front end in the first year, analytics the second year etc, then we probably will see/are seeing, successful implementations already.

    my question: very simply how different will a company that has implemented wall to wall SCRM be from its current avatar?
    .-= yadu tekale´s last blog ..More on CRM v SCRM =-.


    1. Yadu,

      I think that we are not seeing eye-to-eye at this time. I don’t think that you will ever see a company turn inside-out for SCRM (maybe for E2.0). Nor do I think that they should.

      I had an interesting exchange in Twitter (a couple actually in the last few weeks that were the same) where people keep saying that CRM was a big failure, or it never really succeeded, or it can never succeed because the 360-degree view of the customer was not achieved. I don’t agree with that.

      Even companies that set out to “do CRM” without a strategy or clear set of goals received benefits from just implementing the software (which is the way we all see failure in CRM these days). There are companies that just by having customer contact history are years ahead of where they were – but still have not achieved the view of CRM wholesomeness that is the 360-view.

      We have to be careful to create a very strict, hyped-up version of SCRM as we did with CRM or we will scare people away. The truth is that there are as many difference versions of SCRM as there are companies since each other will have their own response to their clients’ demands and their own needs. There is no model of SCRM that will apply to every company equally – that much we learned from CRM. There are basic principles that will apply (be social, listen, act, inform, iterate) to everyone — but not a model.

      You are, in my opinion, closer to reality when you suggest a piece-meal approach. That we know it works.

      As for your question, I am going to have to say that you will never see a company implement “wall-to-wall SCRM”. Since SCRM is an add-on to your CRM implementation, and CRM is just a small portion of the organization there is not such a thing as wall-to-wall CRM or SCRM. You can become social, turn your enterprise into E2.0 (as Mitch suggested), and become more aware of your customers. Still, you probably won’t see from the outside a total revolution in the organization. It will become better at knowing its customers and delivering against their needs — but they will still be making products (or providing services) as they did before.

      SCRM (and CRM) is just a way to assist organizations in being social with their customers — but there is not a single-truth on how to do that.

      Thanks for an interesting post.


  4. Esteban,

    “warning- very long reply”

    in fact we both are very much on the same page, para, line and full stop.

    when i say the 360 degree view was never achieved, by definition the 360 view was a stupid slogan that was more feel good than tangible. 20 years on i still dont know what a 360 degree view means – that despite being a CRM implementor myself.

    the people i talk to about CRM failures bring this 360 view as an illustration.CRM gives additional insight to customers, it does NOT give total insight to customers. (nothing does)

    yes, just by implementing a standardised system, companies got much more transparency in their operations and i am a dedicated champion of crm and erp. i am totally with you on this.

    “The truth is that there are as many difference versions of SCRM as there are companies since each other will have their own response to their clients’ demands and their own needs.”

    this comment of yours encapsulates my discomfort with an attempt to have one definintion of what SCRM means; whether vendors are delivering SCRM or not, whether customers have implemented SCRM when all they have implemented discussion groups.

    rather than having one definition, in my view we should be educating vendors,customers and stakeholders on the myriad versions and possibilities of SCRM.

    SCRM is a supermarket. SCRM is not Henry Ford’s ” any colour as long as its black”.

    re the second half of your reply, great points. saves me from writing the long piece i had in mind. the wall to wall bit was more to elicit a response ;-).

    in my opinion, business/companies do not radically change. they change incrementally, and if at all there is radical change it comes rarely in their life span (the GE case study discussed could be one such instance of radical change).

    business/companies should NOT radically change every now and then because essentially businesses are based on reliability, predictability and consistency.

    imho even with pervasive SCRM implementation in a company, a 80/20 rule will still apply wrt business change; 80% of the company will still continue to work the way it has worked pre SCRM, 20% of the company will change.

    and lastly, if we who debate SCRM can be considered to be enlightened ones (excluding me) and still cannot come to an agreement on the right label, is it any wonder that companies find it difficult to understand yet alone implement SCRM!


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: