In recent past innovations came from technology resulting in better products, produced at lower costs with more features. The best companies used market research as a bases for their understanding of the new features (they have thought of themselves) that should be added to the products. Traditional marketing and distribution methodologies were used to push (in a mass-communicative way) the products onto the marketplace. For a long time this worked well, until..
Companies came along that developed a methodology to understand what jobs customers where trying to do and how their products failed to fulfill all desired customer outcomes. These companies focused innovations at meeting the unmet desired outcomes (that matter most to customers), instead of pushing features they thought were cool. Around the same time CRM came into play, and mass-marketing switched to direct marketing. Some started a loyalty program for their customers and others for distributors. CRM made it possible to better understand who our customers are, but
CRM did not help us better understand what customer desired outcomes where left unmet: CRM did not help us understand better what our customers need to be successfull at the jobs they are trying to achieve.
Nowadays, companies that understand products are there to fulfill a service (from the Customers perspective), focus on innovations that meet the unmet needs of Customers better, through a better understanding of the jobs customers want to achieve. And
Whilst the entire (operational and CRM parts of the) company is still focusing on understanding CRM and BPM, the innovation teams focus on understanding customer jobs and ways to fulfill them through so-called “open-innovation” projects.
“Open innovation” is all about engagement of partners and customers in the process of innovation.
When I take a step back, taking the above into consideration, I believe it have been Customers and the Innovation teams that are, by far, ahead of any other “traditional” departments in general and traditional CRM departments in specific. Ahead, when it comes to engaging in conversations aimed to co-create more value on the desired (yet unmet) Customer outcomes. Why? That is the destination of Innovation, it is their quest for the holy grail. Engagement is part of their Customer Centric DNA. The most successful innovation teams engage and innovate where it matters most: the customer experience at the use/consumption of the product or service.
Do you, reading all the above, think that Social CRM or Social Media should be owned by the Innovation department? Do you believe that they should lead the Social CRM troops in developing new and innovative ways to engage with customers aimed at improving the customer experience?
I think I built quite a good and plausible case for it, like others have built cases for customer services as leading Social CRM department. Some did not make a choice and make plausible cases for it to be the department that has the best fit or position from an engagement perspective or the department that is best able to use it. Others defend it should be a more holistic or strategics approach, since it is about the customer experience across multiple touchpoints, all of which are managed by a different department. Some even dare to look ahead and think about who will lead in the future.
My take: All plausible cases, with lots of good arguments, but what is the value added to Social CRM?
The great part of Social CRM is that it now enables the CRM part of the company not only to understand WHO their customers are, but also understand better WHAT they need (to achieve the desired outcomes at the jobs they are trying to do) through listening, interacting and engaging with Customers. A great opportunity (with some threats attached as always) that we are bound to miss out on if we continue to discuss who might lead, or who will lead / benefit most in the future, for a long time. This discussion has the potential of the “definition” discussion all over again. Let’s bring all our energy together to focus on increasing our understanding of how Social CRM can add more value to the co-creation of value with our Customers. We need it and we need it fast. We’re in a crisis. The sooner we know how to use it to the mutual benefit of customers and companies, the earlier we will be implementing it.
I won’t say “let’s put a stake in the ground”, but I hope you agree that we should draw the line of the “lead Social CRM” discussion here..
What do you think?