Certainty is only known to the extent that we can define uncertainty

What is John talking about this time?  Truth be told, the combination of a pounding headache and a stimulating conversation with Michael Wu, the Principal Scientist of Analytics at Lithium Technologies Inc., led me to this title.  You’ll have to let me know if it works or not.

I was chatting with Michael as part of a video series with Lithium where Michael and I discuss community analytics, the videos will come out soon and, as we share them, I’ll add more of my thoughts with you.  However, one of my personal takeaways is that our own certainties, our beliefs, can only be fully understand when we take the time to dig into the alternate viewpoints, the uncertainties, that we have on any given topic.

Still reading?  I am impressed, thought I might lose you with that last paragraph. :-)   Why is this important?

For the longest time we have all put our stake in the ground around Paul Greenberg’s final definition of Social CRM.  You should read it as it is a real gem with many layers of knowledge wrapped around it.  He offers us this simple definition which I have hesitated to disagree with:

“CRM is a philosophy & a business strategy, supported by a technology platform, business rules, workflow, processes & social characteristics, designed to engage the customer in a collaborative conversation in order to provide mutually beneficial value in a trusted & transparent business environment. It’s the company’s response to the customer’s ownership of the conversation.”

My certainty of the correctness of this definition, my belief that it is right, that it is complete, has, for the most part, been unexplored.  Paul is a true genius in this space and I will never know even a small amount of what he does. However, my uncertainty has remained, and has now turned into disagreement, that the customer owns the conversation.

Still reading?  Wow….  Okay.  I will say this now…  The customer does not ALWAYS own the conversation.  In fact, there are times the customer does not want to have a conversation.  It is possible I need a new term, however, consider the following:

  • There are several local super markets in my area.  One, sometimes two, will see my business.  Left to myself I will never interact with any of the other stores and do not honestly want to…  Can these businesses benefit from taking control and beginning a conversation with me?  Absolutely. They must own this conversation and bring it to my front door.
  • My father in-law recently had issues with his Comcast service. To get it resolved I did take ownership, in some ways, with Comcast, and brought the conversation to them via phone, via twitter.  Due to the fact that I am persistent, the issue was quickly resolved through the help of @ComcastBonnie on Twitter.  I did not, however, own the conversation.  Bonnie and I jointly owned it, each to differing degrees, each at different times.

Customer engagement is complex problem and you must recognize that there is a time when the customer leads, a time when the company leads, a time when either side must seek out the other to begin a conversation, and, a time when no conversation at all is needed.  The right mix will vary over time, across geographies, and across types of businesses.  Be smart, do not cede the conversation entirely to your customers.  If you do cede control you may just find you no longer have a business at all.


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Filed under: Random thoughts Tagged: CRM, Social Strategies
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