Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What's the bedrock to your Social CRM Strategy?


Perhaps it is taken for granted, but Esteban Kolsky's recent article on The SCRM Roadmap, is missing the requirement for a Social Media Participation Policy for employees. No matter where you are on his SCRM pyramid such a policy is vital. The first thing it does is give an employee permission to use their own initiative and participate in customer conversations.

Experts
There are few better experts on your products or services than your employees. Apple Inc. makes a point of highlighting these Geniuses and puts them to work in customer facing roles. With the advent of Social Networking, your experts do not need to have such a specific role, but can still be recognised for their contribution in making their company great.

Permission to talk
Your company doesn't really have to have more of a strategy than permission to get started on becoming a social business. Moreover, a simple, publicly available guideline affords employees some protection from pressure to discuss or comment on topics that are not appropriate.

Guidelines
It can be made clear that while all company employees are welcome to participate in Social Media, it is expected that all who participates in online commentary understand and follow some simple but important guidelines. This really is irrespective of medium (video, blogs, twitter, etc) and could also be applied to more traditional communication mediums such as the press. However, I'll stick to the internet based communication channels for now. These rules might sound strict and contain a bit of legal-sounding jargon. Some of the rules may be intuitive and considered basic common sense. However, please keep in mind that the overall goal is simple: to participate online in a respectful, relevant way that protects the company's reputation.

A great list of sample policies from existing organisations, some of which are written with industry specific rules, is available at Social Media Governance. It is well worth a read. The following is a guide highlighting some of the dos and don’ts covered in most of these policies.

DO:

  • Protect confidential information.
  • Respect copyrights.
  • Be credible, transparent and identify yourself as an employee.
  • Be in a position to offer comment from a point of clear knowledge of the subject matter.
  • Avoid jargon by writing in simple terms.
  • Use caution. While not all company employees are official spokespeople, please use caution in your comments as reporters and analysts may report on anything included in your online postings. Also, once online, the comments are cached, distributed quickly and available effectively forever.
  • Secure approval. If you are an official spokesperson for the company, you must submit each posting to for review / approval before posting. If you are not a spokesperson, you will need to check with the company to determine if your blog and postings need to be approved.
  • Make it clear that your views are your own and do not necessarily reflect the views of your employer.
DON’T:
  • Comment on merger and acquisition activity.
  • Discuss future product offerings, including upgrades, or new releases.
  • Make growth predictions of any kind.
  • Break out revenue by specific product or country.
  • Use any inflammatory language or discredit others’ views.
  • Provide headcount numbers for any country, region, group or department.
  • Discuss customers that are not currently referenceable to the press.
  • Provide the number of customers for a specific product area.
  • Speak for the company.
  • Lie.
Even if your not sure what a Social CRM strategy is all about and your current strategy is that you have no strategy, a policy providing guidelines to employees on the use of Social Media is an excellent platform enabling employees and customers to engage in dialogue about your products and services. That's the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

1 comment:

Esteban Kolsky said...

Peter,

We are talking miles apart.

My post talks about a top level discussion regarding the organization implementing SCRM.

Strategically speaking, conversations at the levels where you need the support to embrace SCRM as an organization are far removed from the policy details.

The SM policy, as I said in my blog, is part of the rules layer (second from the top) and it is not a stand-alone document. It is deeply intertwined with metrics, business rules, segmentation and other rules that apply to a business working with customers.

An SM policy cannot be a stand-alone document - even at the beginning. You can have some steadfast rules to manage the level of exposure as an organization, but setting a policy before you even know which channels or what objectives you will use is preposterous - is basically what the armed forces did by banning use of SM without knowing why or how to replace it (and look how well it turned out for them).

There is much more to a SM policy than DOs and DON'Ts, There has to be a reason for them, and a escalation method, and a way to bypass them for specific cases that fall outside of the rules, etc. In other words, social channels are no different (or should not be any different from the perspective of management and users) than other channels. There are rules and regulations regarding use of call center channels (i.e. phone), contact center channels (email and chat primarily) and in-person interactions.

Why would SM be different?

Very interesting post, thanks for the ping to mine -- much appreciated. Should cover the use of SM policies in my series around Friday or early next week -- will ping you when it is out.

Thanks
Esteban