It’s been awhile since I’ve written here, but this topic seems to be something that I just can’t stop reading about, or thinking about. I lurk on a list called Project VRM or Vendor Relationship Management, and came across this post. I wish I would have done something similar a few years back (stake in the ground), but perhaps now the timing is better. Are consumers/customers ready to embrace “Social CRM”? I’m not sure, but the conversations seems to be getter better, and I find myself nodding my head more as I read.

As Paul Greenberg has put his stake in the ground – I too will also put my stake in the ground. I don’t want to talk about it anymore, I want to do something about it. I want to use it. I want to leverage it so that corporations don’t think they “own” their customer base anymore, but realize that they must be subservient to us, or suffer the consequences.

Paul calls it Social CRM, and defines it as:

“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.”

Great definition, I like it, but what now? I want to do business with a business that values my input, my interaction with that business. By interaction, I’m not talking about my wallet either. I want a business to pay attention to me, and that means that they have to do something for me. Adapt to how I want I want the service provided to me.

The threat of “Treat me with service or I’ll go elsewhere” doesn’t hold water anymore. In business today, if you piss off a consumer/customer, so what? There are plenty of us. Try tearing up your bank card in front of the service desk and see what that does for you! Do you think that would get them worried?

So what can we (the consumers/customers of the world) can do about it? We have to get organized, in some way fashion or form. We have to find a way to support each other, and come and help others when and where we can. Ever been ripped off by a contractor? What have you done about it? Ever been treated poorly by a business? What have you done about it?

Here is one story: Debtor’s Revolt

In my world, consumers/customers of like mind are able to aggregate, and move forward directly with the organization involved. For example – ever notice how gas prices seems to rise and fall across all suppliers? What would happen if consumers/customers would organize ourselves to boycott a single supplier? Imagine having sales drop to zero? What would the company do?
In the case of Bank of America, image if all card holders showed up at their local branches, and simply cut their cards on mass. What would they do? Impossible you say? So were Flashmobs, but we (the public) are showing that this too is possible, and can be very effective. Right now it’s for entertainment, but soon it will be used to easily organize and focus these energies against a common cause.
So if this works – how can we make it work where we are organized not when it occurs, but before it occurs? We have to think of an overall system that we each participate in, and use that system to help get us organized before the event occurs. Then, when it occurs, the feedback happens quickly.

This is proof of what can happen when an organization is given some direct publicity to how they are behaving. This only works however when the badly behaving business perceives that the news exposure is damaging to their overall consumer/customer base. If this occurs too often however, the news organizations will no longer report it – and the power will be lost.

In my world the fear of that occurring, would have a positive effect on how businesses do behave on a day by day basis. Right now it’s like getting your hand caught in the cookie jar – the mentality is that getting caught will never happen to me so just go ahead and do it. Raise those interest rates and see if somebody squeals….

So how can we do it? How can we be prepared and actively participate in a system that allows us to do this. What reward systems have to be in place to make this happen?

That’s a big bite – as big as the internet in my opinion. But then again, we did that too… More to come, I got to get back to work…..