Sunday, 21 March 2010

A business framework for CRM & Social CRM

There seems to be common agreement within the Social CRM community that the time for debating definitions of Social CRM is over. Most people have accepted Paul Greenberg's stake in the ground post and have now moved on. Turning definitions into action is the next challenge.

As such, this post is work in progress. It doesn't aim to move the needle forward on the academic thinking on Social CRM, but it does reflect recent client presentations I have given on the subject, that have moved clients forward. Having got definitions out of the way, I've found that clients have responded well to this business framework for CRM and Social CRM as a tool to help them visualise the different components of CRM and SCRM, how they work together and where they should focus their attentions, before looking at tools.

The framework below is simple. It's meant to be. I've used variations of it for the last 10 years to facilitate CRM discussions between different stakeholders (e.g. business and IT) and ensure they are on the same page. Social CRM has allowed me to add in a missing layer encompassing a customer's social interactions and experiences. Let me try and explain the model layer by layer (right click and open in new tab to see a larger version).

Customer Strategy layer - This is the starting layer. Both CRM and SCRM need to be strategy-led and people / process / technology-enabled. This layer begins with the key mind-set shift from "Inside-Out" to "Outside-in". If you haven't made this step-change, do not pass go. Social CRM simply won’t work.

Customer to Customer layer - this next layer of the model starts with the customer's desired outcomes and their value creation process to achieve those outcomes. Often the first step that a customer might take in achieving their aims is to ask other customers. The customer-to customer layer refers to the social aspect of customer value creation e.g. customer's reading product reviews, contributing to forum discussions, writing blogs, joining Facebook groups etc. To paraphrase Paul Greenberg, this is the new "customer control of the conversation". See my post on "outsource your marketing, sales and service to your customers" or "Customer to Customer and the legend of Kachiwachi".

Customer Experience layer - the customer experience is the sum of customer outcomes from the customer’s perspective of both social interactions and formal, company-"owned" channels.

Operational CRM Channels layer - traditional multi-channel CRM, supporting the range of company-owned channels of communication and customer interaction. CRM remains a foundation and key building-block for Social CRM.

People & Ecosystem layer - perhaps the key layer in the model. While your competitors are focussing on tools; do something different and focus on people. They probably have a bigger impact on customers than any tool you can buy. See my post on "Software doesn’t build relationships; people do"

Lean & Agile processes layer - this layer of the model relates to all customer-facing business processes. I've simplified to "marketing, sales, fulfilment and service" as that seems to capture the complete customer lifecycle. I make no distinction between company-owned processes and out-sourced processes as customers don't!

BI, Sentiment & Social Listening layer - to some extent BI is the handle that turns the wheel, driving constant measurement and refinement of the customer strategy.

The Altimeter Group have done a terrific job of putting a framework around Social CRM tools. See their paper on “The 18 use cases of Social CRM: The new rules of relationship management”. This comprehensive report and framework allows organisations to get a clear picture of tools available to enable Social CRM.

What I plan to move onto next are the other foundational enablers to the framework e.g. MDM, SOA etc, along with the delivery approaches to successful transformation e.g. Lean, Agile. See my post on “Lean thinking in CRM and SCRM”.

As stated this is very much work in progress, if you have any constructive builds I’d certainly welcome them.


  1. I like this model. And for me the best models are simple. Why make it complicated?

    "CRM remains a foundation and key building-block for Social CRM."

    For me Social CRM falls within the realm of CRM. And I have done many CRM projects (from the IT side), and I have to admit that many companies even lack a clear CRM strategy. Without that, they have no chance of 'going Social'. The only 'Social' will be implementing some tooling (only technology, no strategy, governance, people and process).

    Yesterday I read an article which is interesting:

    For the model, I would not change anything on this level. More interesting would be to dive a level deeper at each layer. For example, how to 'connect' internal BI data with external BI data, etc.

  2. Hi Laurence,

    Good post & good writing.. I like the model you presented a lot.. it somehow resembles my own Social CRM / Value co-creation measurement framework.. You can check it out here:

    One or two remarks from my side:

    The model put heavy emphasis on Social Media in the value creation process. I do think though that most value is created in using the product or service by Customers itself.. Of course Customers may (and will!) share their experiences with their (ever expanding and connected) communities, this is not the "locus" or place where most value is created (unless you are twitter/facebook etc)..

    I therefor believe it is important not only to take the traditional and new touch points (channels) into the framework, but also the product or service itself..

    Personally I would extend the "sentiment & social listening" all the way through to the channels. The contact center is a very good place to start collecting Customer and front-line staff feedback..

    My time is up.. need to go. Good post & let me know what you think..

    Wim Rampen
    @wimrampen on Twitter

  3. Hello,
    Thanks for such informative post on CRM and SCRM.
    Call center.

  4. Parick - many thanks for your comment! You may be interested in Prem Kumar's post on "why the need to add "social" to the term "CRM"?

    I agree - you can certainly dive a level deeper. I'm now looking at the building blocks behind the model e.g. MDM,BPM.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.


  5. Wim - thanks for your insightful comments! I've modified the framework to incorporate your builds (original is still on Customer Think; version 1.1 is now in this post!).

    I completely agree that the customer's value creation process spans traditional and social channels so I've modified the framework to put the customer in the centre of the experience.

    Also - I've extended sentiment analysis to the operational CRM layer. You're right - there's a lot you can learn about customer sentiment from these channels.

    Thanks for taking the time and I've Tweeted your measurement framework - it looks very complimentary.


  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. Thanks for the valuable information about CRM and SCRM. The way of explaining about framework using images is awesome and it is very easy to understand.

  8. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful concept! It's nice to see an actual framework on how social CRM works. Our office has its own IT consulting service which deals with the technicalities of CRM, yet its nice to know how this really works and applies in our business. We get feedback, customer care and new clients through social CRM. This is just a jump start to great costumer-company relationship.


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The Customer Revolution Blog by Laurence Buchanan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
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