I am in the middle of six weeks of travel. To keep my spirits bubbly I remind myself that I’m not in a bivouac and my meals don’t come in tin cans. Some of you know what I mean. Visiting clients and observing their operations first-hand is the only way to stay relevant, truly. On-site is where the day to day quotidian meetings unfold, and you get to see the expressions on folks’ faces when you raise different issues. One of the best parts of the trip, which has taken me this time to New York, Boston, San Francisco and parts of Eastern Canada, has been to interact with the emerging Social Media teams. They stand out for a number of reasons: their age, their clothing, their manners of speech, and their incessant focus on their iPhones or Androids.
Ah: and their Ageism. One look at my grey hair (which has been gathering steam since I was 30) and they go right back to their Pinterest, mid-meeting. It’s the new-new age’s Chronocentrism: if you are over 30, and you don’t spend your day on Twitter, Facebook, tumblr and Pinterest – wow. Full disclosure: until November 2011 I didn’t know what Pinterest was, and, once I saw it thanks to one of our newer associates I thought: hmmmm, Galbraith’s Wist is back, with a twist. When I said that, I might as well have asked if they’d seen the content-suppression feature – the nopin HTML metatag. Geez, this guy thinks technology matters!!
It seems that no sooner do I scratch the surface of a social media project discussion and ask about integration with CRM apps and existing process flows that I get something like, “So, like, I don’t know what you are talking about, but I could get one of our IT people up here to join us.”
Yes, Virginia, CoTweet is quaint, but now what? How and when do we generate a case? How do we engineer a Social Customer Key? What is the escalation and gamification necessary to make the social media program come alive? What do we do to incent the ‘over-30s?’ How do we show the CFO that the project leads to quantifiable business benefit. Might as well label me BUZZKILL.
I know: social media as part of a holistic customer strategy is boring. In so many words you see the social media team looking down their noses at their IT sisters and brothers and the other lines of business. Most of us are just building new silos, but in the latest colours. And talking to some of the social media folks makes me feel trapped in a re-make of Harold and Maude. There is a great line in the film where Ruth Gordon says to the young and spoiled protege:
“You know, at one time I used to break into pet shops to liberate the canaries. But I decided that was an idea way before its time. Zoos are full, prisons are overflowing… Oh my! How the world still dearly loves a cage.”
And for all of the fabulous potential emerging from Social Media projects, we are still at risk of building sleek cages for our view of the customer. But some of you are knocking it out of the park, so there is hope.
Thanks to the dozens of clients who have let me into your busy lives to discuss what is working for you in CRM and Social today! I’ll see some of you (and at last count: a LOT of you) down in Orlando at the Customer360 Summit (http://bit.ly/gLhUKZ) in two weeks.