Social CRM is better than flossing

A long time ago I helped develop what was at the time the cutting edge of CRM.  My gripe with traditional CRM systems, even the really big, fancy, expensive ones, was that they made you do double work.  Keep your contact details in one system and then remember to fill in all the details in another one.  Finish a meeting and then don’t forget to open up a different system, find the contact and write what happened.  It is too much like a visit to the dentist for me: yeah I know I should floss every day, it just never finds its way into my schedule!

So my CRM system made sure all the inputs where automatic.  Send an email through Outlook if you want but with the press of a button it gets attached to your contact’s activity record.  Incoming emails can even be tagged automatically based on rules.  They can even autogenerate actions like being considered a lead.  Same with phone calls or any other action.  The CRM is integrated with the ERP system so all products, knowledge base items, prices and customer or company information is in one single database.  Even setting up a meeting is better as it can link to a touch screen enabled monitor at your entrance or meeting room door.  “Enter your invitation number to enter” it says to the visitor.  When you finish your meeting and get back to your desk there is an open window showing that your guest left two minutes ago (he checked out using the same touch screen) and asking what happened at the meeting.  Like everything else in this CRM you can generate next actions easily from any item.

It was cool.  It still is cool and you can buy it as a finished product, complete with a web front end that seamlessly allows you to make any of this information available to the customers themselves as any self respecting company needs to do in 2010 in order to be transparent and online.

Enter sCRM.  Yet another acronym, but this one makes sense as it solves many new problems in one.  What it gives you is a way to very quickly “touch” many contacts.  Open up a project and see all the people involved in the decision.  It shows you how long since you “touched” them in some way.  A “touch” is a contact, but in this day and age it doesn’t have to be an email, phone call or visit.   It could be a comment on their status on LinkedIn or a discussion in a group.  You are in “touch” and in a way that is much more meaningful than calling up out of the blue.

In many ways, the “S”(social) in front of CRM is not necessary.  Customer Relationship Management is one acronym which will always be around as business and life itself will always be about our contacts, the people around us.  We can call it People Relationship Management or whatever else in the future but that is what it is about.  Who are my friends and what can I do for them?  So, if you haven’t tried out Flights, I thoroughly recommend it.  If there are other similar systems out there, I am not aware of them yet.  (Please tell me!)

You can use the free version of Flights (up to 5 objectives and a few other limitations) even for personal goals.  Heck, most people have turned to professional networking tools like Xing, Plaxo, Viadeo and LinkedIn in order to find a job in this climate, they might as well be a bit more systematic about it!

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