Before the holiday break we started off with a high level introduction to social CRM. If you haven’t read that post please do so. Today I want to address the topic of automation. CRM stands for customer RELATIONSHIP management so does automation really belong in CRM? Does it kill the whole relationship aspect of CRM? Brands have a lot of customers online that are having relevant conversations that these brand should be a part of. However, it becomes more and more difficult for brands to become a part of every single relevant conversation on the web. So what does a brand do? Can we rely on people working for a company to respond to every relevant conversation? How scalable is that solution in the long run? I pulled the image below from the blog of ScorpfromHell who also has an interesting discussion on social CRM automation. Take a good look at the image below.
The image is from PeopleBrowsr and shows a type of social CRM automation on Twitter. Notice that when users mention a particular set of keywords they are automatically sent a message from Coke. Does this type of automation destroy the relationship? One of the things I talked about a while ago was the notion that we are eventually going to get to more companies/brands on twitter (and other social networks) then actual users. Let’s say that we get most of the airlines on twitter to engage in the conversation. What happens when people start having a discussion about which airline to fly? They are going to get bombarded with twitter messages from various airlines stating why the user should fly on their airline. Companies such as Best Buy and Zappos have a large portion of their staff on social networks, what’s going to happen when lots of companies have most of their staff members interacting with people on social networks? When we talk about making businesses truly social we oftentimes say we want to have “everyone” using social networks to communicate with customers…do we? How would you structure something like this?
Look at this from an automation standpoint. If I’m looking to purchase a laptop and Dell, Toshiba, Acer, Mac, HP, Compaq, Sony, Lenovo, Samsung, and Asus are all automating their social CRM to respond to instances of “buy computer,” “computer shopping,” or something else of that sort; then I’m essentially going to get automated messages from all of these manufacturers.
Brent Leary a CRM industry analyst says:
“In social CRM, automation is how you create content and distribute it as simply and consistently as possible. If you automate content creation and distribution, you should be able to join some really good conversations.”
I was actually going to provide a breakdown for some ways that Social CRM can be handled but just came across Jermiah Owyang’s post which sums everything up quite nicely. Check out the handy table he created below:
Personally I think there has to be some automation in the social CRM process. This makes it more efficient for the company to scale their efforts and hopefully engage with their customers. The challenge is going to be for brand to not make their customers feel like they are talking to an automated machine. This is where the actual structural components of social CRM are going to come into play. Once the automated system identifies the type of relationship it will be able to connect the two humans together. I’m exploring the organizational and process structure of social CRM with Esteban Kolsky and we should have some interesting ideas on this soon.
I definitely don’t have all the answers, but what do you think? Should Social CRM be automated? Why or why not?