The topic of Social CRM – what it is, how it differs from Web 2.0, how to get stated etc – remains a hot topic (see here and here and here). Yet, from my viewpoint, there has been a lot less discussion about one of the core mechanisms that puts the “Social” in Social CRM: Collective Intelligence (CI).
defined by McKinsey in their excellent 2007 survey on Internet Technology,
“Collective Intelligence refers to any system that attempts to tap the expertise of a group rather than an individual to make decisions.”
has its roots in Crowd Sourcing and the Wisdom of Crowds idea. But I’d also argue that Collective
Intelligence goes back further to Knowledge Management and early forms of AI –
with a social twist of course. In fact
if you look at the rest of McKinsey’s definition, the firm adds that “Technologies
that contribute to collective intelligence include collaborative publishing and
a common database for sharing knowledge.”
Sounds like KM to me!
So what does this mean for Social CRM? First, at the most general level Social CRM proposes a new model for engaging, interacting with, and delivering service to customers. In a way, the vision of Social CRM turns traditional customer support models “inside out” as:
- Everyone (not just reps or account managers) is a contributor as well as a user,
- User-generated content like blogs, tagging and mash-ups becomes a primary source of new solutions, reviews and insight vs. content written in-house by support or marketing,
- Processes are profile and context-driven vs. contact driven in traditional CRM,
- Service becomes the new marketing – and communities spread the word about good/bad experiences, and
- Companies focus on customer experience vs. (solely) the cost of service.
When you lay out these key aspects of Social CRM, it’s clear that there needs to be a focus on how to best handle the increasing volumes of user-generated content, interactions and other artifacts produced by Social CRM – and the Social Web in general. At the same time, Social CRM at the point of delivery needs to provide personal, relevant information/answers/solutions to drive adoption. This is where the Wisdom of Crowds and Collective Intelligence come into the equation:
Like early self-service adoption, the key here is making Social CRM user-centric, relevant and convenient for end users, as well as economical for the business. THIS to me is what is missing in a lot of the Social CRM discourse: how to get users to use it, and businesses to make money from it!
My latest White Paper developed with Baynote, a pioneer in social search and applying Collective Intelligence in online retail, media and support, has a much deeper discussion of this topic, along with a historical perspective on balancing content quantity vs. customer experience and how to get started with CI in support environments. You can download a copy here (requires short registration). I think it turned out pretty well.
I am also starting an effort to look at various Social KM use cases and how support organizations can’t neglect KM and online support best practices when scaling their customer communities. And I’ve been busy with beta customers and launch plans for Offerpop, our social marketing apps start-up, so I’ve been gathering lots of great use cases and success stories for the marketing side of Social CRM as well. And will be able to share more in the weeks ahead.
So LOTS to talk about and share real soon. I look forward to hearing your thoughts, feedback and ideas!