Last night, BatchBlue Onboarding Specialist Stephanie Sweeney and I made the drive up to Boston to attend the Rock Stars of Social CRM event, hosted by Radian6 and Chris Brogan. They had a lot of fun with the Rock Star theme, complete with colored stage lights, concert tees and even a full-blown Rock Band set-up for audience members to rock out with after the panel.
The panelists included were Frank Eliason (Comcast), Paul Greenberg (Author of CRM at the Speed of Light), Michael Thomas (National President, CRM Association), and our favorite CRM go-to guy, Brent Leary (Co-author of Barack 2.0 and Co-founder of CRM Essentials).
Because we consider BatchBook to be a social CRM (slide via Brent Leary), I was curious to hear what the folks at the cutting edge had to say. I was especially impressed with Frank Eliason’s inclusion on the panel, since he represents a company that is actually out there doing all this stuff. While I always appreciate the bird’s eye view from consultants and experts, I have to agree with Doug Haslam of Shift Communications‘ assertion that he’s getting a bit impatient with social media.
After the panel, Doug and I had a brief conversation where I wondered if, when email entered the picture ten years or so ago, there were endless conferences and seminars and articles written about how email (a communication tool in the same way that social media is a communication tool) was going to fundamentally change the business world.
Admittedly, email did change the way companies interacted with their customers – I was in the customer service department at Amazon.com in 1997 and I witnessed it happening first-hand. Customers found it insane that we didn’t take phone orders; that Amazon was an Internet only company. At the time, we were too busy answering customer emails to talk about email as a tool.
That experience definitely influenced BatchBlue’s commitment to providing excellent service. One thing BatchBlue does using social media is host a weekly Twitter chat called SBBUZZ, where small business owners can talk about the issues (largely focused on social media and other technologies) that are most important to them. What’s nice about this event is that a real community of folks has developed there. Each week, there’s an opportunity for folks to share what’s working, what’s not, what kind of issues people are having, even just to swap funny stories about what happened over the course of the past week as they deal with running and growing their businesses.
If Social CRM is all about the customer, I guess what I’m missing at these big, “rock star” events is more of a presence from other small business owners who are in the trenches, actually using these tools to build their customer relationships every day. There are plenty of Rock Stars out there, talking to each other on SBBUZZ and similar social media places. And my favorite Rock Star, Stephanie, was sitting right next to me. She in every way embodies customer service and building customer relationships done right. I’d wear her concert tee any day.
Image: Chris Penn a.k.a. Financial Aid Podcast via flickr