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How to Harness Social networking to Damage Customer Relations

by Michael Maoz  |  June 10, 2009  |  6 Comments

In the ancient myth of Daedalus and Icarus, the father and son try to escape Crete with the secret of the labyrinth, but need to avoid travel by land and sea because king Minos controls both. So they decide to build wings and take to the air and fly. It all looks beautiful from so high up, and it looks like they will both make it, when Icarus (the son) ignores his father’s advice and flies too high. His wings are destroyed and he plummets to earth.

Enough of the mythology – who needs it when you can observe the equivalent played out in CRM projects. The cool new thing, as yet untarnished and still so full of promise, is social networking. Fixing the processes on the existing channels has been really hard. As we’ve added more and more channels, figuring out how the customer is experiencing our enterprises, and understanding their intentions and expectations have turned out to be tough. It has been difficult to agree on a system of record or to agree on what constitutes the master customer data that must be available to the enterprise and to the customer. A lot of businesses have pulled back on these customer-centric projects. But now these same businesses are pushing forward into social networking. New people are in charge – often times from marketing.

It is great to see the innovation that social networking is opening up. At the same time, we are already beginning to see confusion regarding the expected business benefit of such endeavors. How do they contribute to business value? How do they boost sales or trim costs or create loyalty? What are the metrics we are trying to improve, and who is in charge of collecting and analyzing the data? Who is responsible for driving process change in sales and marketing and logistics? How many resources need to be dedicated?

Social networking has the huge benefit of requiring practically no IT budget, allowing lines of business to skirt IT and engage in fast, interative projects. The negative side is that the learnings may not find support in the business software that guides conformance to standards and consistency of sales process, service process, or marketing process.

Once an initial facility with social networking is achieved by marketing, it becomes time to reach across departments to work collaboratively with sales, service and IT to improve business processes, or the result ends up being a new set of frustrations that damage customer relationships.

Category: crm  customer-centric-web  innovation-and-customer-experience  social-crm  

Michael Maoz
VP Distinguished Analyst
13 years at Gartner
26 years IT industry

Michael Maoz is a research vice president and distinguished analyst in Gartner Research. His research focuses on CRM and customer-centric Web strategies. Mr. Maoz is the research leader for both the customer service and support strategies area and customer-centric Web… Read Full Bio

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  4. Jim Graham says:

    I trust in the diligence and industrious nature of CRM practitioners and peddlers to muck up social media just as they have mucked up every other channel or customer CRM touches. Just give them time; they aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed, after all…

  5. Nice blog.A+ work done. i really appreciate it. i kept it as a bookmark. thanks.

  6. I agree with what you have said. Social networking can damange customer relationships and can provide a space for negative and possible damaging comments, but at the end of the day, if it is executed properly and with care it can be like winning the lottery and the ROI may yes, be difficult to measure, but will be there.

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