My wish for 2010: Consolidating Strategies

Esteban Kolsky wrote a very good post titled The Three Realities of SCRM Right Now. I think he makes some very good observations and projections for 2010. Apart from those I like best the sentiment of the post: being pragmatic and realistic about what the (near) future will bring.

The post also made me think: on one specific trend: (SCRM) Market Consolidation. My thoughts are not about the trend itself. I think Esteban is right here. My thought is about consolidation of (Customer centric) strategies.

Definitions and Debates

We have Customer Experience (Management), (Social) Customer Relationship Management, Managed Customer Relations, Social Relationship Management, Social Business Strategy and many alike. Most of these have the Customer’s interests at the core of their definitions and approaches. There are also numerous debates going on about these definitions, the approaches, what comes first etcetera etcetera…Some, from the outside, may even look like people’s lives depend on having these discussion. I am probably guilty myself there too.

Reality Check

I think (wishful thinking maybe ;-) that in 2010 we will begin to see a growing awareness that all these strategies do not contradict. It is never one solution nor one strategy that makes a company successful and growing beyond its competitors reach or even completely redefining markets. It is, as it’s always been (#realitycheck), multiple strategies and tactics that, in the right combination, for that specific company in that specific market place and with (most importantly) that specific group of Customers with that specific set of desired outcomes, that will make the difference, for that specific company. This is also why companies like Apple, Nike, Zappos and alike are being discussed as best practices in different functional areas from marketing to sales, to service, to HR, to Business Process Management and what have you.

Be Unique, with small or capital “S”

Despite the discussion tending towards a general construct, I for one think that all strategies, known by their acronyms, should not merge into one big Social Customer Experience Business Relationship Strategy or framework. For me it just doesn’t make sense to think in terms of “either – or”. It also doesn’t make sense to discuss it from a “one-size-fits-all” perspective.

In 2010 we should and will discover (new) companies that have combined or are combining elements of all these different strategies into their own unique mix, their own Customized Strategy, with a small or capital “S”. Being successful is not about being the same, or even similar. It is about being unique.

In 2010 it is our job to seek, describe and help these new best practices get real. Not for others to copy, but to serve as inspiration to create their unique mix of strategies, to find their own unique voices in this already crowded marketplace of commonalities (and acronyms ;-).

For 2010 I wish all the Customer Centric strategies to consolidate, on a company level. I wish us to have hundreds or even thousands of Customized strategies to explore and learn from.

I’m looking forward to 2010. Are you?

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19 thoughts on “My wish for 2010: Consolidating Strategies

  1. Pingback: futurechat — Blog — 2010 - Predictions, Trends and Expectations

  2. Hello Wim,

    One of the reasons to “invent” new Strategies is to show that they are different than the “old” ones and to get attention.

    Let’s be honest, you get much more attention being a SCRM-expert than being a CRM-expert. (Social is hot, CRM is about expensive system implementations).

    When a strategie evolves we give it a new name, because we are vain and because we want to make it clear that we have new insights.

    It is not about the best strategy but it is about how we service our customers in a particular situation. Some companies will go social and be successful , some companies will be successful being product-orientated. It all depends on the customer base, the product, and the brand.

    So it will be about the choices we make and the brand we want to be.

    And every set of choices made will be a strategy in itself, some with a unique name and some wille just be the “zappos” or “Wim Rampen” way :-)

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    • Hi Ludo,

      Apart from this being a spot-on view on why we-do-what-we-do, you nailed the theme of my posts in less words and probably better explained than I did..

      Great that you joined the discussion here! Keep coming back.

      Wim

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  3. Hi Wim,

    Thanks for your post. And I have a couple of thoughts.

    The first relates to unique practices. On one hand, I want to agree that each company should find its own best practices. It’s a dandy way to differentiate themselves from the competition.

    On the other hand, having every company reinvent the wheel is a waste of resources.

    IMHO, the answer is to build off a general set of best practices that are adapted as needed to suite individual company needs.

    Was that your intention? If so, then we’re in lock-step.

    Second, I’m on board with Esteban regarding the a combination of a guiding overall customer strategy supported by underlying sub-strategies. The larger the company, the more likely this will be to occur.

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    • Hi Kathy,

      We’re aligned (sorry if I disappoint you ;-).

      On top of that I think business strategies will not only differ because co’s adjust best practices. This is also true because any co will adopt a unique set/combination of practices. A set that best fits its need to meet its meta-objectives..

      Do you agree? Are we aligned?

      Wim
      p.s. your return to this “platform” is highly appreciated! THX

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  4. Wim,

    I am one of those that believe that a single-strategy must exist and will work. Heck, I even started a research firm to prove it does.

    The only point that I think must be emphasized, rather two, is that a single-strategy does not mean the end-of-life-for-all-others. Second point: it is a guiding light for all other strategies to come.

    A mega-strategy for Customer Strategies will have sub-strategies, which in turn will have sub-strategies and so on. The goal is not to have only one strategy tell you what to do across the organization, rather to have a meta-vision for the company within the industry, within the environment in which it operates, etc. that deals with the customer.

    Then, as accounting, shipping, SCM, ERP, geographic locations, specific sub-functions of sales, etc. need to craft their own strategies they have guidance, a template, and a specific objective to aim for. Then you won’t have “great service, but confusing pricing” or similar problems.

    I know your wish will come true soon, and I am hoping that 2010 is the launch year for Customer Strategy as a meta-strategy movement within the organization.

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    • Thx Esteban,

      Any company needs to have a Meta-strategy and Meta-objectives. Both will be very company specific. And I agree with you it should be about Customers.

      I’m completely with you that I also hope that 2010 is the launch year for Customer Strategy as a meta strategy movement within organizations.

      Thx again for stopping by, reading & commenting. And for Inspiring through your own post of course. You need to write more!

      Wim

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  5. Hey Wim –

    Sorry I have been quiet as of late – or – your welcome that I have been quiet as of late.

    A valuable post, as always. My concern is similar to what I responded to Esteban, as well as similar to Graham’s – I believe that ‘Best Practices’ are a really really big wish. From my perspective, I do not not think this is possible until the defined strategy has been in place for ‘a while’ . That said, I do believe that we will be able to create a framework (you have given us a kick-start) to create a strategy. Call it the ‘prequel’.

    It will be up to individual companies to adapt their own best practices (really the only ones that work), to discover, refine and implement a ‘Social’ strategy.

    This may be semantics, maybe we are in agreement – but I do not think we can multiple strategies, rather multiple objectives, as defined by a single strategy – within a company, everyone needs to be looking at the same horizon – navigating towards the same destination.

    Like

    • Hi Mitch.. always happy to hear from you!

      First of all let me say that Strategies exist to meet the objectives a company has set (or has been set for, worst case). There should be a clear C-level overview of objectives as well as a clear C-level view on the major Strategies to make those happen. I think the C-level at least needs to answer the Who-What-How question.

      The way a company answers these, will depend on their objectives, their understanding of Customers, Their needs etc etc.. As a result of answering these questions you will have a business strategy that’s unique to a company.

      Take a look further down the comment by Ludo Raedts. His final sentence is basically what I’m saying..

      Wim

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  6. liked the thought of your post.

    interestingly, the uniqueness is to connect with the customer to provide tangible value or happiness by removing silos internally and partnering externally.

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    • Syamant,

      I hear (eh..read..) you saying “interestingly”. Should we say “sadly”?

      Thx for commenting & glad you liked the thought of the post.

      That’s exactly what it is.. a thought. And now it’s a discussion too, with & between all you great people taking time to engage here. THANK YOU ALL!

      Wim

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  7. Wim –

    Great post and a wonderful dream (?) for 2010. I agree with your premise that, basically, all of these various acronyms thrown around have tremendous underlying similarities and wouldn’t it be great to 1) recognize this and 2) understand that they are all descriptions of business stratgies and that 3) that there is not (or may not be) a one size fits all approach.

    This is a dream I hope comes true.

    I think the hard road will be dealing with basic human nature – to simplify, encapsulate, manage, get your head around something, etc….
    From the business side (side I’m on), we want to have something to 1) point to (I want THAT) and 2) something to rally around (We are getting/have THAT). From the vendor side, they would like to market to us that they have THAT!

    Without an acronym, life gets too hard. We need your dream – to synthesize these so that it works for both the reality of the complexity of what we are trying to do and the reality that there is no one size fits all solution AND the human nature need for a simple acronym (the perception of a solution for the complexity – the THAT!)

    Love your dream

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    • Thx Scott! for sharing the dream.

      I know we need acronyms to simplify. I’m not against those, not at all. But we should not walk away from complexity. We should embrace it actually, because that’s what makes life fun… I think I wrote it somewhere before. To master complexity one needs to structure. I try to structure complexity by frameworks, models and even blogposts. Never fails.

      Thx for an (instructive btw :-) comment, and joining the discussion again. It’s highly appreciated!

      Wim

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  8. Wim,

    Being unique means you won’t find industry best practices encapsulated into front office application software — yet vendors will continue to try. God forbid they call their software a ‘strategy’ :)

    Let’s hope the majority of folks out there understand that this go around.

    Mike

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  9. Hi Wim

    Interesting post.

    The current situation with many different theories of social business competing for hegemony is typical of the early growth phase of any new idea. No-one really knows what really works so many people try different stuff out to see what works for them. Over time the experiments establish a body of shared experience and common skills, and business academics catch-up with a body of robust knowledge. But debates still go on about one facet or another of the now established idea.

    Sounds familiar? It should. It follows the growth and establishment of both CRM and more recently of CEM. Bot are pretty well established but there is still significant debate about certain aspects of both. Is CRM about technology, strategy or customers? Is CEM about brands, service or customers? Etc.

    Why should Social Business be any different?

    The debate, discussion and experimentation is a good thing. It is part of the way we adapt to changes thrust upon us from outside.

    Graham Hill
    Customer-centric Innovator
    @grahamhill

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    • Thx Graham,

      I agree completely with what you say. We learn by debating & experimenting, discussing approaches, successes etc.

      You know I’ve posted my Social CRM Strategy Framework statement a few months ago, which I recently revised slightly in my previous post (you can find it in the middle of the deck). I probably wouldn’t write it any different when writing a framework-statement for Social Business Strategy, Social CEM strategy etc.

      For me any strategy (at high level) still is about answering the who-what-how questions. Any company will need to do for itself and will come up with a tailored strategy to its situation. All due to the fact that circumstances differ per company. Not only outside circumstances, but internal circumstances too.

      In the end I now believe there are no CRM, SCRM, SB, SRM, CEM etc strategies.. There are only business strategies, in fact as many as their are businesses. The best performing companies will likely not just have adopted one of the practices such as (S)CRM or CEM. They have adopted elements of some or all of the practices to tailor a strategy that helps them getting their job and their Customers job done.. We need to understand better how they all interact and complement each-other.

      I think we should prevent ourselves from trying to find evidence for things we believe in, but not know (yet). We should try to find successful businesses and understand their strategies, as well as their internal and external circumstances better.

      Maybe we need to prevent ourselves from approaching this all inside-out (Social CRM, Business, CEM etc first) and adopt what we preach: look at it from the outside in.. and of course we need to, and certainly will, discuss our findings and our explanations. This is how we learn. I would not have it any other way.

      Thx for commenting! & let me know what you think..

      Wim

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