Social CRM is "the" hot topic these days with experts popping up everywhere. Last year, I joined in the "let's try and define it" debate but I've moved on from that. I'm now convinced that simpler is better and agree with my friend and true social CRM expert Paul Greenberg that SCRM is really about having a conversation with your customers when, where and how the customer chooses.

Social business is about changing culture, NOT about new technology (and that goes for SCRM as well). Don't get me wrong, I love new technology, and certainly there are many new products that do or could help facilitate social business and SCRM. The problem though, is that I'm starting to see SCRM talked about like it's some new module of the CRM system, you know, an add on module that magically makes your company's customer strategy social. 

For example, I had a request from a client last week for a market sizing and forecast for SCRM...  Huh?

CRM is a customer strategy and many companies have chosen to use SW and technology as a part of that strategy. SCRM just extends that customer strategy in a few ways.

Let's look at that idea a little:

What: The social web created multiple new ways for people to connect, communicate and build relationships.

How: Social tools like blogs, photo and video sharing, etc. that create social media; social platforms and apps that facilitate building social networks; social apps that open up new communication channels like micro-blogging, social platforms that facilitate the creation of communities that can use all of the previously listed methods of social interaction and the ability to carry the conversation anywhere on line that the customer chooses.

Why: Customer behavior has changed because of the social web. The availability of information has increased dramatically and the places customers look for information, support and advice have moved away from the company and it's own web presence. The social customer is just as likely to ask for help from their trusted network on Twitter or Facebook as at the company support portal. This means you, as a social company have to open up to these new communication channels and connect them to your older CRM systems and processes. Simply put, join the conversation.

None of this replaces the need for a CRM solution and customer strategy. It's simply an extension of strategy to change the way you engage with the social customer. Engaging your customers and building an "experience" for those customers will increase loyalty and involvement with your brand. It also open up new ways to increase customer satisfaction by delivering products that the customer wants, marketing in ways that meet customer expectations and preferences, and delivering support when, where and how they choose. By doing this you acknowledge that the customer owns their relationship with you and that you are willing to work to be relevant.