Gartner Blog Network


Social CRM as provocative disruption.

by Michael Maoz  |  May 11, 2010  |  10 Comments

Count the number of rules engines on the market today. I’ll grace them with an acronym, BRE, for business rules engines. We have a BRE to govern the distribution of calls into a call center, and another to model back office processes. Another governs the customer-facing interactions (capture a lead, make an offer, request a piece of information). Still others reside in Event Monitors and are fired off when a state is changed like employment, age, retirement, price floor hit, fraud detected. And let us not forget content composition and distribution. There’s a BRE for that, too.

Now into the midst of it come Social CRM systems, in their proto-stages, like amino acids scraped from the Murchison meteorite, with only the simplest of BREs embed in their infant structures.  How will an interesting interaction captured in a social media monitoring system from a customer be associated with the account or contact record? And if it is not, then how have we improved our institutional knowledge and understanding of the customer? Will the Social CRM BRE evolve and contain logic that will pass key information to a marketing system, or customer service system, or business intelligence system? Will it fire off a request to create a case and an outbound message to the customer, contingent on the appropriate permissions?

And if the Social CRM BRE does evolve and does perform these tasks, how will the handoffs be made? How will they communicate with other BREs resident in other interaction systems?

We are really in our first throws of knowledge with Social CRM and Social Media systems, and I am enjoying seeing one or two companies out there that have begun to give this some thought.

What have you seen?

Category: crm  customer-centric-web  innovation-and-customer-experience  leadership  social-crm  social-networking  social-software  

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


Thoughts on Social CRM as provocative disruption.


  1. Michael,

    Great thoughts, I am right there with you. It is easy to say that Social CRM is only part technology and the other parts are people, process and culture. I do believe we are well on our way however, the key problem is if you have a rules engine, you need to define the rules first. There is part of the problem – so much of this is new, that to try and codify the rules may or may not work. But, we certainly need to try!

    The second part, training – I could think of a series of rules that would need to be in place, but when the ‘event’ is routed, what and how the person should respond on the other end needs some thought a well.

    Thought provoking post, thanks.

    Mitch

  2. Mark Tamis says:

    Michael,

    The problem with a BRE is that they lack the flexibility to adapt to evolving situations – or bringing about the desired outcome for the customer in favour of meeting the internal needs of the company to push the customer tthough a pre-determined ‘solution path’.

    Ensuring a great Customer Experience sometimes means short-circuiting the rules to get the issue resolved – there is nothing worse for a customer to be sent from one department to another, with each department saying they cannot do anything because it is not part of the procedure.

    Social CRM systems should have rules, but like a river that encounters a rock, have the agility to flow around it. In the first instance this may be working on alternative ‘routes’ or having a mediator that can ‘escalate’ the issue to get the job done.

  3. Good points indeed and the one thing that many solutions are pitching but not addressing is a key component that primes the BRE. That would be sentiment and it involves the biggest piece of the people, process and technology components of CRM which is people.
    To date social media monitoring can only pick up a general piece of the sentiment puzzle. It takes people to use the tools of the monitoring to quickly take it from the fire hose, to garden hose down to the straw.
    If the foundational CRM strategy is in place the Social component can be introduced utilizing web analytics that track behavior and social media monitoring to listen as well as track that behavior.
    Radian6 has integration with salesforce.com so that if a prospect or customer has been identified by their behavior or conversation a lead or case process can be invoked by relating it to a lead or contact in the salesforce.com database or quickly added. The addition or related act can kick off CRM processes currently implemented.
    Now, again it still takes a keen eye for sentiment to “make sense of the noise” and know when and how to engage.
    What I have been working on for several months is utilizing all of the above in an outsource/managed service solution that provides experienced Social Media Monitoring Analysts to use their experience and social media monitoring tools like Radian6 to listen, learn and engage on behalf of its customers. By understanding the rules of engagement coupled with the understanding of sentiment subsequent patterns can be revealed and further integrated in a Social CRM strategy.
    The company is http://www.socialstrategy1.com/

  4. Mark Evans says:

    The rules for social CRM systems will emerge and evolve as the social CRM market gains more traction. Right now, we’re still in the nascent stage as CRM companies embrace social media, and social media companies embrace CRM. The rules may be different than what people expect but that’s the nature of the beast given it’s a new market.

    Mark

    Mark Evans
    Director of Communications
    Sysomos Inc.

  5. Good points indeed and the one thing that many solutions are pitching but not addressing is a key component that primes the BRE. That would be sentiment and it involves the biggest piece of the people, process and technology components of CRM which is people.

    To date social media monitoring can only pick up a general piece of the sentiment puzzle. It takes people to use the tools of the monitoring to quickly take it from the fire hose, to garden hose down to the straw.

    If the foundational CRM strategy is in place the Social component can be introduced utilizing web analytics that track behavior and social media monitoring to listen as well as track that behavior.
    Radian6 has integration with salesforce.com so that if a prospect or customer has been identified by their behavior or conversation a lead or case process can be invoked by relating it to a lead or contact in the salesforce.com database or quickly added. The addition or related act can kick off CRM processes currently implemented.

    Now, again it still takes a keen eye for sentiment to “make sense of the noise” and know when and how to engage.
    What I have been working on for several months is utilizing all of the above in an outsource/managed service solution that provides experienced Social Media Monitoring Analysts to use their experience and social media monitoring tools like Radian6 to listen, learn and engage on behalf of its customers. By understanding the rules of engagement coupled with the understanding of sentiment subsequent patterns can be revealed and further integrated in a Social CRM strategy.

  6. It is great to have processes and workflows in place, but heavy automation can never fully replace the human element. Technology is the launch pad and aggregator of the conversation, but engagement comes from adding social back into the mix and stop triaging response to being proactive with humans on the front lines. We are still discovering how we can connect all the dots.

    Michael — love the metaphor of fire hose, garden hose, straw!

    Lauren Vargas
    Community Manager at Radian6
    @VargasL

  7. […] Evento de #140mexico – 25 de mayo #smcmx – JesusHoyos.com Posterous 2 Tweets Social CRM as provocative disruption. 2 Tweets Data Rock Stars: The Rolling Forecasts – OCDQ – Obsessive-Compulsive […]

  8. Great post ind thought provoking indeed. I very much like Mitch’s statement “Social CRM is only part technology and the other parts are people, process and culture”. Mark Tamis said it in a different way – but indicates the same concern: “Social CRM systems should have rules, but like a river that encounters a rock, have the agility to flow around it.” and Mark Evans: “The rules may be different than what people expect”. I renamed my blog and call it “End of Automation”. I think what people express here is a reflection of the concern of all customers: We don;t want to be processed by a rule – we want to be treated as individuals.

    As one of the young Social CRM vendors – in an infant stage – we actually do use a rules engine but it’s so primitive that we won’t call it one. One thing we did based on 9 month experience (I know it’s nothing) is to create a simple objectives work flow that can be defined by the user or group of users for every single situation. We call it Flights!. Like a “real” flight it has a starting point, a destination and a route a group of people are jointly following to get to the destination. Repeatability? Yes and no. Repeatability contains that notion of automation and manufactured relationships. I see the challenge and the opportunity for the agile sales teams to be new and different and compelling all the time – not automated. Yet the overarching goal is to be so unique that the customer feels that unique approach and knows it is a unique treatment – not a manufactured process.

    Now the most surprising effect we noticed – we get actually more done and more success with being unique and customer every time than following predefined roles.

    Axel
    http://xeesm.com/AxelS

  9. Too many of the rules engine architectures in the past dictated the end to end process. This always fails in large enterprise or complex B2B relationship selling. New rules models take more of a hub and spoke approach, down to the individual preferences. Take Yodlee as an example, its running in the background provided hub integration services, but end point configuration/rule setting is set up by the end user. Other publishing models like dlrt.it are attempting the same thing with social media (write content once in a single location/tools, but self design the rule triggers for the multiple end points).

    One good thing is that that all the emerging business rule architectures are being built with the realization that its an ecosystem first and needs to be “handshake friendly”. Prior iterations assumed self-contained ERP everything environment. It will still take time for these ERP customers to untangle the legacy rules layered in over the years however.

    Sean



Comments are closed

Comments or opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors only, and do not necessarily represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management. Readers may copy and redistribute blog postings on other blogs, or otherwise for private, non-commercial or journalistic purposes, with attribution to Gartner. This content may not be used for any other purposes in any other formats or media. The content on this blog is provided on an "as-is" basis. Gartner shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the content or use of this blog.