When businesses talk about Social CRM, those discussions often devolve to a discussion of technology -- which is completely understandable. There’s no one turn-key Social CRM application out there, so a truly complete Social CRM solution is going to involve several technology components -- CRM, social measurement and monitoring tools, sales enablement applications and the integration needed to make them all work together.

But if there’s one common hazard that lays CRM efforts low, it’s the inclination to view it as an IT issue. Selecting the right tools is not an IT effort -- at least not initially. It needs to be based around business needs first, with the IT department acting as a partner to ensure that the solutions that meet the business needs satisfy the technology, financial and compliance needs of the business as well as possible.

From there, however, CRM lives and dies on the behavior of the people who use it. If there’s executive support for it, if it’s evangelized internally, if the reasons for its use are effectively explained, and if the early wins scored through its use are broadcast through the entire organization to help encourage future wins, there’s a good chance CRM will take root. The philosophy of CRM is crucial for the technology of CRM to succeed.

Social CRM Requires a Commitment to Becoming a Social Business

The same goes for Social CRM -- but the need for the right philosophy is even more important. Social CRM is really an additional layer on top of the CRM foundation. It requires that commitment to CRM -- but it also requires a commitment to becoming a social business, one that embraces the revolution in communications and the shift in the control of the conversation from the business to the customer.

The degree to which businesses can be qualified as “social businesses” is debatable, and like anything social, it varies according the work style of the people involved. But here’s the reality: You can’t possibly be good at social CRM without being a social business to a corresponding degree. Maintain a pre-social era business style internally while attempting to deal with customers in a fully social way will leave you with enormous gaps in understanding that will expose themselves to your customers.

Example: Customer Service Request

For example, a customer service request you receive via social media needs to be dealt with as rapidly as any other service request. That means there has to be a process for handing off these requests from the people charged with monitoring social media (usually marketing, sometimes service) and the people in the organization who can directly help the customer. In the pre-social era, those people may not have been thought of as “customer-facing employees.” Guess what? Everyone who has an impact on your customers is now likely at some point to interact with employees if you’re a social business.