August 25th, 2009 by Lauren McKay

Ever used the hashtag #SCRM (Social CRM) on Twitter? You can thank Brent Leary for that. He started the now-popular hash tag with hopes that it would trend up with social media Tweets like it has today. [UPDATED, 8/28/09, 11.39aET: Editors’ Note: At least a “h/t” worth of credit for the spread of the hashtag goes to Prem Kumar Aparanji of Cognizant Technology Solutions ( @prem_k on Twitter ), who helped popularize its use.]

Leary, the cofounder and partner of CRM Essentials, presented today at this week’s CRM Evolution conference in New York on the topic of social CRM. As I’m sure you know, much has changed on the CRM front thanks to the “Social Revolution.”

Consumers are socially empowered, but businesses aren’t at that same level (yet.)

Here’s how Leary shows they differ:

Traditional CRM Goals:

  • centralized customer data,
  • operational efficiency,
  • forecasting,
  • activity management, and
  • reporting.

Social Challenges:

  • finding time to turn searches into answers/solutions;
  • finding enough trusted information;
  • finding trusted vendors;
  • they don’t trust companies – they trust people at companies;
  • people don’t feel warm and fuzzy from a corporate Web site;
  • finding vendors who value them; and
  • creating opportunities for meaningful exchanges.

Leary presented the following stats on the Social Customer, by

  • By 2010, Generation Y will outnumber Baby Boomers. Ninety-six percent of them have joined a social network.
  • One out of eight couples married in the US last year met via social network
  • 34 percent of bloggers post opinions about products and brands
  • 25 percent of Americans in the past month said they watched a short video on their phone.

Leary said the social customer…

  • wants a personalized experience;
  • couldn’t care less if they are high-value or low-value customers; and
  • wants tools to manage their own experiences.

“They don’t care how you slide it,” Leary said. “They care about you treating them the way they want to to be treated.” Leary added that consumers want to do the managing — a point that was also made in this morning’s keynote speech by Jeffrey Rayport, founder of Marketspace, LLC. Chris Musico recently blogged about Rayport’s mention of customer managed relationships (CMR) in preference of CRM.

“In a couple of years, it will not CRM Evolution, but CMR Evolution,” Rayport said this morning. “I’ll argue that’s CMR, for customer managed relationships, as [consumers] are at the center of everything we do.”

Leary explained that consumers will increasingly be trying to manage their relationships with businesses because they’ve got all of these cool tools — blogs, social networks, forums, etc. — to do so.  “These people are rabid and they’re running with it,” Leary said.

Rabid, indeed. Within five short months, Facebook amassed 50 million additional members — taking its membership up to more than 250 million. Leary pointed out that for all other technologies, it has taken years to reach an adoption of 50 million. As you can, see however, that’s changing:

  • Radio: 38 years
  • Television: 13
  • Internet: 4 years
  • Ipod: 3 years
  • Facebook: Added 100 million users in less than 9 months
  • iPhone Apps: Hit 1 billion in 9 months

So what’s driving this social stuff, anyway? Leary’s response was four-prong:

  1. We have the tools.
  2. We have mobile devices.
  3. We have emotions.
  4. We have opinions and the desire to share them.

Leary recalled a hilarious and relevant pizza ordering story in which he faced a company catering to the changing consumer. When he went to order a pizza online from Dominos, Leary not only found a “Pizza Tracker” mechanism that informed him on the progress of his meal, but the site told him that the pizza was being baked by an employee by the name of Jessica. “This is what got me — ‘Jessica put in your order at 11:04.’,” Leary recalled. “I thought, ‘I want to meet Jessica.'” So when Leary went to pick up his pizza at his closest Dominos, he walked straight to the counter and inquired about Jessica. She came forward, introduced herself, and told Leary when he could find her working again. “That turned Dominos into a person for me,” he said.  “I now have a new found respect for Dominos because of Jessica.”

It’s the little things that matter, after all. Dominos was able to turn a usually ordinary experience (ordering a pizza) into something personalized and special. Leary said he wasn’t particularly fond or loyal to Dominos before his encounter with Jessica, but now he respects the brand. It’s amazing how just a little personalization can do that for a consumer. Read about Leary’s other socially empowered food experience with Popeyes Chicken here. And that story reminds me of my “cornbread experience” which you can read here.

Hit up Brent Leary’s Social CRM Blog for more tales of social goodness and be sure to check out his research on Barack Obama’s social media strategies at

This is a great example of listening to what people are saying. Too many big brands are using social media as a monologue rather than paying attention to what customers are saying.

Comment by Elizabeth Sealey - Customer Experience Consultant — — August 26, 2009 @ 8:01 am


I love how you have taken personal experiences and shown companies how they can engage with us their “Customer” in ways that allow us to feel connected.

You rock, but hen I been saying that for almost a year now, giggle!

Comment by Michele Price — — August 26, 2009 @ 10:04 pm

Most people think Twitter is a waist of time. They obviously just have never seen a great application like Dominos.

Comment by Nathan McKelvey — — August 31, 2009 @ 1:16 pm

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