I was over at Wim Rapen’s blog the other day reading his post
Social CRM – What Relationships Should You Care For, And Why? His premise is that the way we look at Social CRM today puts companies very much in the center of the relationship with the customer. I think he has a valid point but what I thought was truly insightful was his emphasis on the way knowledge flows through a customer’s network.  He suggests  (for companies, at least) the emphasis should be less about managing the relationship and more about the flow of knowledge of information.

Looking at Social CRM from that perspective certainly turns the equation on its head a bit as the focus shifts to providing information to the customer and less about “likes”.   I don’t claim to know what Social CRM solution perspective is most effective; I think depending on the outcomes an organization is looking to achieve, their approach may vary considerably across industries. But I think it’s an interesting point to consider – using knowledge and expertise as the foundation for an engagement.

From this perspective, where I see organization most likely to succeed is based on their ability to aggregate and filter conversations for common problems and solutions from across social media platforms. They can then build a repository of tried and tested, accurate methods for solving problems, optimizing products or identifying resources for more information. I think they can almost provide the “certified answer” to customer’s question; the answer may not have originated with them but by  identifying, crediting and disseminating solutions that work is a chance for an organization to engage beyond standard outreach campaigns to both the consumer having the issue and the consumer providing the solution. Then not only are they providing access to verified solutions by becoming a participant in the discussion but they are nurturing the relationship ties within this particular group. There may also be an opportunity for them to provide added information (video tutorials, white papers) that extend the customer’s understanding beyond the needed solution.

Understanding your audience segment, including author information, can help organizations not only track the customer expressing a problem but also the customer expressing the solution. Ideally, the next step is ensuring the right message gets to the right customer – “here’s your solution” to one  and the “Thank you for your help. Interested in our beta project?” to the other.

It is an interesting idea because as Wim suggests it is “not the interaction or relationship, but the actual knowledge or outcome of the interaction that is of value to your Customer”.