I had the privilege of speaking at the Attensity Engage conference on a Social CRM panel alongside Jeff Nolan (the VP of product marketing for Get Satisfaction), Carlos Diaz (the CEO of Bluekiwi) and Rick Fleischman (the senior director of CRM solution marketing at SAP). Big thanks to Maria and the entire Attensity team for having us. We covered a lot of interesting points during the panel so I will do my best to summarize them here.

What’s the Deal With Social CRM?

The general consensus -- SCRM has been turned into a buzzword, but this buzzword still has a lot of meaning.

Carlos from Bluekiwi was one of the people who expressed his frustration. As a software solution provider it takes time to build a product or feature set whereas it only takes a few minutes to write a blog post about SCRM. He makes a great point and I understand the frustration that vendors are going through.

Rick and Jeff both echoed that the important thing to focus on is being able to solve a business problem with the technology you provide and agreed that it’s much easier to call something SCRM than it is to actually BUILD something that is SCRM.

I was the only non-vendor on stage, and I expressed that as a strategy and management consultancy firm, Chess Media Group also goes through those same frustrations, especially since everyone is now saying they “do” Social CRM. So what is Social CRM really? The simplest way that I have found to describe it as follows:

The business problems that your organization is faced with are the same problems that existed yesterday, 1 year ago, and 5 years ago, and the same problems that you will be faced with in 5 years.Social CRM is a way of solving those business problems but in the context of how people’s behaviors, communication methods, and expectations have changed; meaning where customers shop, who they trust, where they hang out online, where they get product information, etc.

Social CRM, Becoming Relevant

One member of the audience asked which organizations are doing things right and at what point should an organization start working towards Social CRM? The consensus was that the sooner you start the better.

It's clear that any organization should want to make this investment while it is still on its way up, instead of deploying these things when your organization is on its way down.

Internal Collaboration

Discussions surrounding internal collaboration and adoption of these were also prevalent. The panelists all agreed on the need to focus on benefits that individuals receive from using these collaboration tools. One could approach an employee and say “we want you to start using X because it’s going to make the company more money” or one could say “if you use X your life will be easier, you will no longer need to spend time searching for information and your overall effectiveness and productivity will increase.” One way positions the benefit for the company; the other positions it as a benefit for the employee.

The follow up question, “how do we get everyone using these new tools?” had a unanimous answer, “you don’t.”

There will always be people within an organization who don’t want to use new tools, which is fine. However, what we start to see is that social pressures are able to turn non-adopters into adopters. Imagine sitting in a meeting where everyone around you is using a wiki to read through and type-up meeting notes. If you’re the one person in the room who is not willing to use the wiki, chances are you’re going to start if the rest of your team is using it.

Finding the Right Staff, Empowering the Social Organization

Rick quickly jumped on this one and summed up everything in one word -- passion.  Chances are that in every organization there is already somebody who is engaging customers on some social channels.

Perhaps someone in engineering a Facebook page, or maybe someone in the video department put up a Twitter account and is responding to customers. These are the passionate people who care, and these are the people that should be leading these social initiatives within your organization.

It’s important to find these people and then give them the tools and support they need to build out these initiatives. Simply forcing or assigning social to someone is not going to get you anywhere.

Overall the session turned out to be quite engaging and the attendees had a lot of interesting questions they brought up. Did you attend the event? What did you think?