evolution – a process in which something passes by degrees to a different stage, often to a more complex form. (various sources)
I recently revisited my own research completed a little over a year ago. I considered then the evolution of CRM to Social CRM. I was convinced at the time that CRM needed to become Social CRM in order for companies to succeed. My updated conclusion, depicted to the left, is that CRM does not need to evolve to Social CRM; CRM simply needs to evolve.
Customers are still customers but they are more social in an electronic and media kind of way. While some buying patterns and preferences have changed, that is only part of the story. The real changes are the way customers interact with you (before, during and after a purchase), your organization and their expectations regarding those interactions.
‘Where’ is about the Location and Context of Interactions
I thought it would be a good idea to highlight the Interaction portion of the diagram:
Interactions, how and where customers communicate with a business, are clearly more complex than they have been (and they will continue to become even more complex). Interactions have evolved in both the number of channels (where), as well as the expectations by customers that your organization knows when they have changed channels and what ‘happened’ on the other channel, they are not interested in repeating themselves. This is called channel shift, and increases the complexity on the systems side, tremendously.
Customers can and will communicate with you any which way they can, it all depends upon their context; where they are, what they are doing, what they need and when they need it. Customers were taught to use the phone, instructed on the finer points of an IVR and coerced into using email and web forms. Now it is their turn. They not only want to add more channels to the mix, they expect you to be aware of all the other channels and are quite tired of typing in their 14 digit code on a touch tone phone, only to repeat to the agent!
Customers will use multiple channels during a single ‘transaction’ – for example, they might receive an email about a new telcom package, research the package online, along with a new mobile phone, read reviews (online) before purchasing in store (in-person) then use help forums to discover new features. Finally, if there is a problem or issue, they will want to talk to someone – and bypass the IVR. Notice that while some of the examples and thoughts could be considered ‘social’ it is not about social, it is about customer needs and an organizations capability to meet and exceed the needs of the customer.