SCRM, CRM, and the Disgruntled Customer

by francine Hardaway on August 20, 2010

Thanks, Jason, for writing your post questioning the meaning of Social CRM.   We really need to examine how much of this stuff is too much, even as the tools get better. As someone who was around for the beginning of sales force automation (SFA) and saw it balloon into CRM (managing the customer after the sale, and now morph again into following the customer on Twitter (SCRM), I am pretty much done with the concept.

As a customer, it is not as much fun to be managed as you brands seem to think it is. When every business asks you to "like" its Facebook page, brand loyalty becomes too much work. Maybe I am willing to like one specific brand with which I have a special relationship, like Starbucks (where I appear every day and they are unfailingly nice to me), but that's pretty much where it ends. All other brands get my loyalty and appreciation by my repeat purchases, and they get my repeat purchases by serving me well. And combining customer service with marketing does not work for me either.

And other than the occasional notice about a sale, that's really all I want from a brand, even from Apple. Here's what I don't want: birthday cards from my last car salesman, reminders from my dentist that I should call for an appointment, a newsletter from my vet, or an email every day from

Worse, or more egregious, is when CRM is used to interest me in more products, as in the customer survey I just got from American Express, who just last week had denied a purchase because they had changed their "no limit" policy but weren't willing to admit it. The Platinum Card I have paid $250 a year for over the last decade, which I keep for emergencies like the one I had last week, actually DOES have a limit, though it doesn't warn, advise, or in any way let you know that. Instead, the web site has a cute little interactive thingy that you fill in if you want to know how much you can spend.

But since I don't spend a lot of time interacting with their site because I pay my bills and thought I knew how their policies worked, I had no idea that "qualifying" thingy existed. An embarrassed person on the phone who called me to ask for $434 before he could "unblock" my card told me "things have changed."

Thank you. Things certainly have changed, including my willingness to pay extra for a card whose one benefit to me has vanished. Technically there may be no limit, but operationally there sure it. No amount of CRM or Social CRM will change that.

That's not to say I don't want brands to listen on social platforms. I fell in love with Frank Eliason for life when he monitored Twitter, found me without wireless, and offered to come immediately to my rescue. He did the same thing via Facebook when I wanted to talk to someone at Citi, where he now is employed. But he was listening, not marketing to me, in both instances.

Doc Searls has been working  at the Berkman Institute on an initiative called vendor relations management (VRM) which gives the customer the control. It gives customers the ability to control how they engage with brands. Apparently, it is almost ready to launch. I can't wait.

Francine Hardaway, Ph.D, Stealthmode Partners
GV: 816-WRITTEN (9748836)

Posted via email from Not Really Stealthmode

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

A. Prem Kumar August 21, 2010 at 4:07 pm

Hi Francine,nnMay be you will find a kindred soul in Mike Boysen who was dragged kicking & screaming from CRM :

Ed Loessi August 22, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Hi Francine,nnI like birthday surprises/cards (free drink) from Starbucks, I always need my dentist to remind me of an appointment, and there are several great newsletters from products that I have bought, which really help me expand my experience with the product. nnI make 100s of purchases where I have decided not to have relationships past the purchase so I have simply have not “liked”, signed up for or given permission for further contact. I suspect of course that there are many people who have given those permissions for activities with those same brands because they like them more or feel more passionate about those brands. I guess what I am saying is that across the board I at least feel that the ability to establish these relationships has been fantastic and I can control what I am receiving such that it’s never too much for me.nnThanks,nnEd

Terri Holley August 22, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Great post, Francine. I have to agree with you. Birthday cards are nice but I am not sure they do much to increase my affinity for your brand. Reminders – got that covered; I am pretty organized. Newsletters – sorry, but my attention reserves are on “E”. The most memorable and meaningful encounter I have had with a brand this year was the result of listening. I blogged about it a few months ago:nn luck with American Express! :)n

hardaway August 22, 2010 at 6:20 pm

At least after this post I will know if they are listening:-)

Roger Horn November 23, 2010 at 3:40 am

A good whitepaper on the subject can be read here

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: