In the “social” chapter in my new book, I was honored to have Paul Greenberg talk about the social customer and the fact that he/she increasingly “controls the conversation”. He succinctly talked about “customer referral value” versus “customer lifetime value”.
I also included examples of how Avon, Starbucks, P&G and PepsiCo are leveraging social networks for new revenue sources.
Having said that, I recently read two sobering blogs.
Here’s my take:
a) We need more positive SCRM stories
Seems like everyone has heard of David Carroll’s guitar incident with United Airlines. And Kevin Smith and Southwest. And Ann Minch and Bank of America. In each case the corporation comes out looking sloppy at best, evil at worst. And we expect them to embrace this customer? We need way more positive corporate examples of SRCM than we have today because the negative ones are giving the social customer a whiny image in many corporate halls.
b) The barrier for the “social” moniker for vendors is too low
Every startup has social in their business plans, and plenty of legacy ERP, CRM, collaboration tech companies are spray painting the social color on their products. Jeremiah Oywang calls it the Cambrian era in the evolution of social CRM – species appearing at rapid speed. Add to a) and we have too many immature vendors chasing a cynical customer base.
c) Social Channels = Buzz, Traditional Channels = Bulk
Time for social CRM fans to get realistic. For a long time. the bulk of revenues for most industries, even as they adopt social CRM, will come from brick and mortar stores and bag carrying sales forces. Let me give you a personal example. As I wrote recently I have leveraged social computing, communities and crowds in 10 aspects of my book process – from content creation to editing to marketing. Yet, 80% of my initial book sales are coming from traditional bulk sales from case studies in book and speaking opportunities. Those channels order in chunks of 20, 50, 500 – the social customer in 1-2 units. And get this - my publisher reports those bulk sales to nobody. In industry after industry that is how business works. Is that a failure for social CRM? Not at all. But, let’s not forget traditional channels generate majority of sales but have no correlation to Twitter follower counts or blog page views and other metrics we covet in social world.
d) We need to show some “tough love” to the social customer
We have been sending confusing messages to the social customer for years. We have told them “We want your “attention”, not your money.” “You are entitled to free – someone else will pay us for your eyeballs.” “We need to “engage” you.” Time for some straight talk. Hey, social customer, if you want to be truly influential, start “spending more money”. Conversations are fine, but commerce pays the bills.