The Roadmap to SCRM – Part 2.1 of 5

First part is available here for your review.

This was supposed to be part 2.0 but an exchange in the comments section to part one convinced me that I was assuming a lot of things were known when in reality they may not be known.  So, instead of 2.0 this is part 2.1 where we discuss the three elements in the model I could not discuss at length in part 1: actionable insights, experiences, and the pivot point.  Part 2.2 will be tomorrow-ish, where we talk more about what functions are necessary, strategies, and methodologies for that.  Yes, heavy stuff but will try to make it look like fun.

OK, so there are three critical elements in the SCRM implementation model that I discussed yesterday that need more details.  Here is the model so you can see them again:

Slide1Let’s talk first about the Social Business Pivot Point.  This is the hand-off (in both directions) between Enterprise 2.0 implementations and SCRM implementations.  This is also the critical point where you decide whether a business is a social business or not.  Why?  Good question, three things need to happen here for the business to reflect it is social:

  • The pivot point must ensure that the entire process occurs; that the feedback from the customer does indeed get acted on and that those actions result in better experiences back to the customer.  Customers care about the experiences – whether in the form or better products, improved services, or more personalized interfaces.  This is why this pivot point is there, acting as a “Listening Post” that marries performance and efficiency from internal operations with effectiveness and “satisfaction” from client-facing operations.  If you cannot correlate the metrics from both sides to make sure you are on track to deliver against expectations, you are going in the wrong direction.  We are going to cover the metrics more in a future installment, but for now you have to remember that measuring only one side of this picture is not going to work, nor will it measuring both sides and not correlating them.
  • The pivot point ensures that the social business is about more than just listening to customers.  Look at this other picture to get a better idea of that.
Figure 2 - the Social Business Pivot Point in Action
Figure 2 – the Social Business Pivot Point in Action

What you see here is the social business in action using the pivot point as the real hand-off between the SCRM functions and the rest of the enterprise.  If it makes you feel better, you can add an S in front of the three systems in the back, but that does not change a thing: you still need the pivot point to make sure that all feedback and data collected by SCRM is spread throughout the systems in the enterprise to reach the intended destination where it can be acted on.  These three systems, examples really, are not meant to replace Enterprise 2.0 but are rather an example of the specific functions that a SCRM implementation will affect within the organization. Feedback about the length of time it takes the organization to process a refund payment (for example) would be used to improve the ERP financial functions.  Feedback about quality of raw materials can be used to improve SCM and so forth.

  • The pivot point ensures that a corporation remains customer-centric not only on talk, but on action.  Letting the customers know that their feedback begets an actionable insight that is later put in practice by a specific part of the organizations, and seeing the loop being closed by a better or new experience is the quintessential implementation of feedback management.  If an organization is committed to becoming a social business sufficiently to do that, then you can almost ensure that they are customer-centric.

Last two critical elements talk about the paths that information takes from the customer into the organization (feedback becomes actionable insights) and back out to the customer (end-to-end processes support experiences).  Lets talk about the information coming in first.

I have said many times before that SCRM is about adding social channels to a CRM implementation, and still think that is true.  However, the main difference is that these channels produce unstructured data.  In contrast with a telephone call to a call center where all the data is structured and fits in specific places (or is forever ignored in “wrap-up notes”), a social channel statement could be addressed to someone other than the corporation, use language that may not be well defined by the organization, and produce feedback that is always unstructured.  The true work for organizations embracing SCRM is not monitoring social media channels (there are plenty of tools that allow you to do that) but actually feeding that information into analytical tools that will:

  1. understand what is being said,
  2. analyze it for relevance and content,
  3. classify it,
  4. aggregate it to form actionable insights (more than one person must express a problem for it to be a problem; two is a pattern, and three is a trend), and
  5. feed it back through the pivot point into the corporation for it to be handled

This is a little bit more complicated that I make it sound and that you can imagine.  Monitoring and collecting data is the easy part, but using the text analytics tools that are necessary to draw the meaning and content out of unstructured data requires a heavy investment of resources (not just money, it is not that expensive) and time to make sure that good data goes in and good results is inferred and deducted from the analysis.  Alas, without this investment there is no point in collecting the data.  Humans don’t scale to the point they can read all comments and act on them, nor do computers auto-magically understand what is being said.  Text analytics is a critical tool of this model.

Tired yet?  On to the final part: building or improving the experiences.

I am not going to go into a deep discussion of co-creation, systems thinking, design thinking and / or the different methods to accomplish this.  I have my own methodology for this, some like it some don’t – works for me and the people that used it in the past.  Really does not matter how you address the issue of building customer experiences – feel free to debate merits and problems for each method in the comments below (sorry, I am not going to engage in the discussion of one being better than the other – I love all my kids equally).

However, and here is the key,  you need to make sure that you have the ability to deploy and support those experiences.

What does that mean?  Your business needs to be setup in such a way that is easy to change processes and make modifications to the way it works. Most organizations are setup in such a way that any change requires committees, political fights, complicated approval processes and virtually no executive support.  If that is you, then no matter how much you talk about being customer-centric, you ain’t.  I realize this is not ground-breaking as saying “here is the best way to do customer experiences” – but this is one the most critical parts of adopting SCRM.  If you cannot walk the talk when it comes to closing the loop (implementing the actionable insights you gathered before) don’t bother going there.

Remember the old adage, throwing technology at a bad process simply transforms it into a very fast, bad process.

OK, part 2.1 is done.  Tomorrow (maybe tonight) part 2.2. – a little bit more detail on the specific functions you have to embrace to embrace SCRM and how to make them work with the rest of the enterprise.

What do you think so far? I think that the pivot point as a listening post is an interesting take on the model (then again, I wrote it) – don’t you? Would you add or change something?

Updated: Added link to next section for easy reading Part 2.2 – SCRM Business Functions

23 Replies to “The Roadmap to SCRM – Part 2.1 of 5”

  1. “Your business needs to be setup in such a way that is easy to change processes and make modifications to the way it works.”

    Thank you for touching upon the need to be agile/flexible/adaptable/open to change/etc! Whether sCRM or ANY NBT or best-practice framework or methodology we’ll sooner or later run into some degree of change resistance when we take theory off the whiteboard and try to make it actually happen. That you stressed the centrality of this to success speaks to the “real world”.

    Re the Pivot Point:

    So, the PP is ultimately responsible for the entire Feedback lifecycle, so to speak? It’s depicted as a “point” but is really part of a closed-loop(ideally)? It’s an end-to-end idea and not just a “suggestion box”(or sSuggestionBox) — not just the entry/starting-point into the loop itself? Reminds me of the Total Call Ownership concept in the Service Desk or Call Center(“Owning the Problem”) though on a fuller scale and scope.

    What represents the PP in a “real” company? Would it be a specific business unit/function(eg Call Center)? or is it a “distributed” responsibility across units since ultimate closure would likely require cooperation/collaboration from cross-functional groups? Just wondering how this idea of a PP would look(be implemented/organized) in real life.

    Great stuff, as always, Esteban. And we’re only on Part 2!

    Seattle, WA


    1. Russ,

      1) welcome back
      2) The pivot point got the most comments so far, and it is understandable. I am going to try to expand on that a little bit here. This is a graphical representation of the core of SCRM success. What that means is that there is not pre-defined solution, package, software, or process for it. It will change across all organizations, and it is going to be mostly an application, a group or committee, or a process that will make sure that the information flows completely open and free on both directions as needed. That means that if you do analytics as part of the SCRM setup (as you should), then the results of your analysis will go into the appropriate area on the other side. As you can imagine, when you have the actionable insights that are the result of analytics, you will follow specific rules and integration points (maybe) or pointers to services that can accept the insight. So, the pivot point may (in early phases) be even a person that will make sure that the insight is captured, delivered to the appropriate place, and worked on. On the way back it will make sure that the new process or revised procedure is delivered to the end-user.

      I think that the best way to look at this, as you say, is that is is a distributed responsibility between groups, systems, and processes – at least at the beginning and until you realize how to optimize it. I hope it goes without saying that it will be different for each implementation.

      Thanks for reading the nice comments.



  2. Another good post Esteban. I like the way this is evolving.

    One thing about the pivot point I am not clear on, and I admit it might be the graphic. It would seem there are actually multiple pivot points depending on the business process that is involved. If its customer service, then there is a unique handoff that might involve parsing information flows in a specific way. If its marketing, it might be another unique handoff. You get the point.

    Also, I think your point on handling unstructured data is right. Implementing tools to handle this is challenging as we all know. I wonder if the best way to handle this issue is how the data is parsed and flowed within a business. And how well the systems involved actually make the data actionable. As you know Helpstream just introduced a social marketing feature in its SCRM solution that helps make this data actionable, and greatly reduces the human bottleneck that simple Twitter, Facebook and Google feeds create.

    I think your last point on addressing internal business processes is well put. This has been at the center of the E2.0 adoption discussions that have been ongoing of late. However, when you integrate SCRM with existing business processes, such as those already built on top of CRM, you go a long way of addressing these adoption issues. As you know, the Helpstream SCRM solution has a very robust business process engine that enables this, and delivers a very fast time to value for customers. This does not mean that customers do not have to address new social business processes, but it certainly helps them get going.



    1. Bill,

      Thanks for the comment and the question. I just put more details on what the PP is on the answer to Russ (above), but you are absolutely right. There is no predefined magical black-box that becomes the PP. I learned that lesson while deploying the Customer Interaction Hub. It is likely to be a hand-off for data and “supervised” by specific rules. In the case of your Social Marketing implementation, I would say that the transfer of data from you guys to the data-warehouse to augment the scoring of the lead could be seen as a pivot point – but it would require some rules (I cannot recall if you have that) as opposed to just be a data-flow. it would also have to ensure that relevant information (process change or procedure to execute next) comes back with the return data flow.

      I will let the marketing comment on the robustness of Helpstream slide for today :).

      Thanks for reading and for the comment!


  3. Hi Esteban,

    I would add that your pivot point should also analyse internal interactions as well, in order to dynamically identify the profiles that can best act upon the actionable insights and for example constitute response communities. You could also use the pivot point to identify internal deficiencies and analyse those to guide your organisational change.

    Your pivot point can be the “clé de voûte” or even “raison d’être” Enterprise 2.0 implementation.

    Looking forward to parts 3,4 and 5!

    .-= Mark Tamis´s last blog ..On Social CRM Options =-.


    1. Interesting… I was thinking about the same name “raison d’etre” (but for SCRM) when I was writing the post. It actually works in both directions – and that is what is key to make SCRM and E2.0 work as a single element to help the business become social.

      Thanks for letting me know I am not that crazy!


  4. Esteban, excellent post. I live how this is evolving. One point that we need to consider is the “culture part”. Companies need to share and collaborate: Intellectual Property, know-how, internal knowledge bases, etc.

    The social business pivot point has a major dependency – the changes of the company culture to change and to transform to a social company – like you said – The pivot point ensures that a corporation remains customer-centric not only on talk, but on action.
    .-= Jesus Hoyos´s last blog ..Nuestras observaciones – Oracle Open World 2008 #oow09 – Conversaciones de CRM =-.


    1. Jesus,

      Absolutely! that is a very good point… I don’t think I am addressing that as part of the initial set of writings I was thinking of doing, but I am going to consider it as a follow-up. Culture changes and Change Management are essential for this to work — I just assume everyone knows that 🙂

      Thanks for reading and a great comment!


  5. Esteban,

    I have not been able to comment on your current series. But I have gone through them all. Not able to fault you, but there are some stuff that require some assimilation from my end. Like your pivot point.

    I understand about the handing off b/w externally focused social CRM & internally focused Enterprise 2.0 (BTW, McAfee considered E2.0 to be both int & ext, its only us from the #scrm AC that consider it as ext). But am unable to understand how is it a pivot? The dumb guy I am, I need your help in grasping some concepts. So please bear with me & teach me. 🙂

    Pardon my English, but I assumed that a pivot point metaphor is used to denote that something turns stuff around that point. As in makes it topsy-turvy or inside-out.

    I see your “pivot point” as a gateway or a “portal”. Not a web portal, but a portal as used in science fiction, an entrance that that connects two distant location that are separated by time or space. Think stargate or wormhole.

    For me, what your wormhole does is connect two “socially” separated facets of the business & enables bringing “in” the customer &/or community into the “business processes”.

    It allows businesses to control which of the external conversations get imbibed into the business processes (either as triggers or as inputs/feedback to existing work objects) or which of the internal informations in the business processes can be sent out into the wild as either a response or to elicit response from external world.

    I do not also get how this is a “Clé de voûte” (which google tells me is a keystone) or a “Raison d’être”.

    Pardon me if am combobulating but right now am not thinking clearly either. 😦

    Prem 🙂
    .-= Prem Kumar´s last blog ..All roads lead to Social CRM; But "Hanoz Dilli Dur Ast"? =-.


    1. Prem,

      Pivot Point is just an analogy – may even be the wrong words chosen – but the idea is to have a central place that ensures that the hand-off happens. Also, on the E2.0 stuff, you are getting caught up on the pivot point as being a division between inside and outside of the enterprise – which is not the case. let me explain the whole concept in more detail.

      SCRM works within the organization, not outside, and is focused on customer-facing activities. E2.0 are, very briefly, collaboration tools, methods, and implementations between workers in the organization – but we are still inside the organization. if there is any “division” between the inside and outside worlds is between the bottom layer and the one above it in SCRM – but that is not even the case. The pivot point is a essential “thing” that makes sure that the feedback collected and analyzed into actionable insights gets to the right place or person, and that the processes implemented get transformed into an experience (you say that right in your last before paragraph). this thing could be a group, person, automated set of rules, or something else totally – as long as ti works as expected (experiences are delivered to customers, actionable insights are delivered to the intended business stakeholder). It could be a magic-guessing monkey dressed in black tie for all I care… or a pig with lipstick and a dress named sally — the pivot point is a joint that ensures balance, flow, and data distribution. it is not a wormhole or portal, is a theoretical construct put in place to make sure that things execute as expected when expected.

      there are different people that think differently of it -and that is just fine 🙂 i don’t claim to hold the ultimate truth to the world, just a vision of my own. everyone is welcome to point to me where i am wrong, with substance, and i’d be glad to change it. (this does not mean you said that, but got other messages along the way on this as well).

      bottom line: the pivot point is where the social business happens, and where is monitored – the model for it is still being developed until someone implements it and workd since otherwise we are just talking theories.

      Thanks for a good comment.


  6. Hi Esteban,

    Been busy the past week and just caught up with this. You say a lot of the same things I tend to say (adages); me just being a good ole CRM consultant. I’m looking forward to the metrics discussion because I have opinions on that 🙂

    Here’s my initial thought on the pivot point and the diagram. The pivot point, as I believe you alluded to, requires human intervention. In other words, there is a requirement to invest in resources to scour the data and make sense of it, then to hand it off through the pivot point. Maybe that’s simplistic on my part.

    I will be interested to see how those investments look for “social” businesses and whether you purposefully made the pivot point look like a “choke” point in your diagram. Not only will a business have to be adaptable, businesses will have to find ways to reduce friction in the pivot point, or make it bigger, or whatever.

    Maybe the picture put too many of the wrong thoughts in my head.
    .-= Mike Boysen´s last blog ..CRM Sales Professional Needed =-.


    1. Mike,

      The fact that you confess to having opinions is comparable to confessing to witchcraft in the 16th century… just kidding. i would not expect otherwise.

      I did not mean for the pivot point to become a “choke” point (although i see your point, will think about changing it again). I am surprised that the little orange dot caused so much controversy. It is simple a checkpoint to ensure that everything happens. Should I call it CheckPoint Charlie?

      I am working on a different model, expanding this one to make it easier to evolve through… when that is ready we an talk about the choke point — the new one is a porous membrane 🙂

      Thanks for the read.


  7. Interesting musings as always Esteban.

    A couple of thoughts for your perusal:

    The pivot point seems to be more of a metaphor than a reality, despite how compelling it looks on the diagrams. The unfortunate reality is that there really is no single chokepoint for organizations to use in controlling feedback or social interaction. As a matter of fact, Social can make it that much harder because when done well it worms the customer even more deeply into your organization so that they’re already past any choke points. Social is diffuse, unfocused, spur of the moment, and often very disorganized.

    It’s extremely unclear, therefore, what the pivot point actually is or can be. The nearest thing I can see is that it is some sort of decision-making junction where the organization decides to act on feedback, which causes communication in both directions. Don’t these decisions have to be exceptions, though, to rise to the level of pivot point? Isn’t a well crafted Social (or conventional CRM) strategy to sufficiently empower customer engagers that they don’t need these kinds of decisions most of the time? If pivot points are triggered too often, this may even be a signal that there is not sufficient empowerment, and that we’re still living the Command and Control origins of CRM.

    Because of these thoughts, I have to emphasize the very uneven nature of the pivot point. There are many many pivot points in a constantly changing fabric as customers push and pull for what they need and the organization struggles to reconcile those needs against their own agendas.

    Point 2:

    This model is excellent for Feedback, but there are many other processes associated with SCRM. For example, we hope the requirement for feedback induced course corrections is not continuous. We would like to get some things right for the customer or if nothing else to be able to execute the lessons of prior feedback!

    A healthy level of Social Business Process within an organization will accomplish a lot aside from feedback just in terms of engaging with customers for other purposes. For those all-too-brief spans when we’re actually doing something right for our customers, this will be the majority of what goes on socially.

    Hence we should be discussing all sorts of other Social Business Processes besides Feedback, though Feedback hovers in the background waiting to swoop in and grab any valuable insights that may be available.


    .-= Bob Warfield´s last blog ..Social CRM Strategies for Sales =-.


  8. Hi Esteban,

    Great SCRM solution definition. Nice and meaty.

    I like the way you diagram out an SCRM solution but tend to agree with Prem labeling. Calling the PP a gateway is more apropo for me.

    That said, I saw the the PP as being like a railroad switch. In the railways, trains pass over it and then are guided to the right track to continue their journey.
    All the social data comes in through the PP and then gets directed to the right applications used to manage internal business processes.

    You make an excellent point that the true value of SCRM is to gather actionable intelligence from an unstructured environment. That’s a key point to help stimulate companies to adopt technologies as they develop their social business strategies.

    One other modification I’d make is to have a similar “internal social SCRM triangle.” Employees are a valuable resource and social media tools are just as effective when used solely for private, internal discussions.
    .-= Kathy Herrmann´s last blog ..Talking around the town – Friday, 10/23/09 =-.


    1. Kathy,

      thanks for a great comment. I am going to take deeper on the pivot point at another point in time, did not think it was going to be a problem. I like the railroad switch analogy, probably a better description that what I did.

      As for the other modification – all internal triangles rely on communities as the bottom layer same as the SCRM layer. there is not outside or in in this chart, it is just customer-facing and internal-operations – but they all operate similarly.

      I am focusing my research for next year on communities and analytics, will explain more why later… but i see those two areas as uber-critical for success in the next 2-3 years. by far.

      thanks for the read and the comment


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