The places where customer processes most need the influence of the ‘crowd’ or community are the places where they are utilized least. Banking and health insurance and government are areas where massive disconnects occur between institution and the end consumer of the services. So what if you have to ask around about the impact of ocean current on a kayak? How does that compare to medical forms and coverage versus out of coverage and efficacy of treatments? But the combination of regulatory issues, compliance, privacy and lack of incentive conspire to hamper innovation.
There are hundreds of terrific examples of Wiki tools and shared knowledge bases used to energize many processes in marketing and customer service and tech support. But there are two corrolaries in all of the success stories: the first is that they require just as much planning, care, feeding and investment as initiatives of similar scope ten years ago, and the second is that practically none of the social experiments is tightly integrated with CRM systems that update a customer record, or influence the treatment of the customer who has posted a blog or sent a Tweet or posted to Facebook. That means there is no process, no consistency, and no improvement.
Don’t be fooled by “Social” vendors that say that they have ‘solutions.’ They have bolt on widgets, and that is fine for now, but not sufficient. The heavy lifting of integrating the output of these initiatives into CRM systems where they can merge with existing customer records is only infrequently occuring today.
The reality in the enterprise is that “Social” is the debutante everyone wants to take to the ball, while so many initiatives (like process consistency, in-line decision support for service agents, and web analytics) take a back seat. It is time to move these social projects a bit away from the marketing departement and ad agencies, and get them closer to the core of the business. Then we will get some better process work going and a bit more synergy.