Social Software and Customer Relationship Management All Grown Up: Social, Business Software
Posted by Matt Rajkowski on March 28, 2009 4:00 PM EDT
After attending a moving presentation from Don Tapscott (of Wikinomics fame) at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston, almost two years ago, I felt encouraged about the work Concursive was doing with centralized tools for businesses. The CRM had the right features for sales force automation and document management, and managers were happy seeing daily roll-ups of opportunities and action planning. Don had convinced me that there needed to be more collaborative elements in the business process, "a paradigm shift."
At the time, we had two intriguing software modules that we could review and work with: team collaboration software and small business web site building, both already existing right in the CRM. Historically we thought, if the CRM could be the 24 hour-a-day salesperson, why not just put it out on the web? That way customers could learn about your company, request information and a salesperson could speedily reply. The trend had been to integrate your existing website with your CRM by capturing customer information directly into a CRM for routine followup. Not very engaging, but that does cover responding to your customer. It was time to shake things up.
So how do you "put your CRM" on the web? And how do you encourage salespeople to contribute? and what about intersections with other parts of the company? I'm not just talking about recording opportunities, orders, and fulfillment... but operational and support knowledge too. Shouldn't everyone be involved? Wouldn't everyone benefit?
Creating a naturally rewarding environment for your customers and your employees is the winning combination. When you look at some of the things that consumers like to do on the web: use Facebook to share information and photos with friends and colleagues, contribute blogs and videos to online services, and basically express their interests on a variety of social networking sites, it's clear they're ready and able to participate in various interesting communities.
There are several business related communities out there. Businesses have MySpace pages, Facebook groups, and Twitter accounts. Salesforce.com says your business needs to tap into those information sources to provide better customer service. I guess I agree, since actively responding to customer complaints and then following up with an FAQ on your own site will help other customers feel good and in the future other customers will find the FAQ from Google. Those are examples of pinpointing various conversations.
With Web 2.0 social networking on the rise, and Enterprise 2.0 collaboration taking hold, we figured the best course of action would be to create an exciting and resourceful destination for consumers looking for business information. A destination in which businesses participate with consumers in creating, maintaining, growing and supporting all sorts of products and services related information. The software would need built-in mechanisms for encouraging, rewarding, and trusting participants. For consumers, allow them to express their opinion, share ideas, and find information. For businesses, be able to respond to consumers, evaluate their ideas, and if the consumer agrees, notify them about special offers and product information.
Two years later, we arrive at ConcourseConnect. A community building platform that on the outside appeals to consumers, and on the inside is a full-fledged reputable CRM that any business can feel good about. In the spirit of social business software, feel free to share your opinion, contribute or evaluate other's ideas, or just plain take a look around and see if you find this whole social networks for businesses thing interesting.