So, you think Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a big-city sort of concept? You'd be disabused of that notion by Mitch Lieberman, who regularly sees CRM ideas in action around his home northwestern Vermont.
"Being authentic is as simple as someone giving you the time to do so," says Lieberman, the vice president of strategic marketing for Sword Ciboodle. His home town of Williston has less than 8700 residents, but it has plenty of mom-and-pop stores, and the transactions he witnesses there help inform his take on CRM. He often uses the examples of the one-on-one relationships customers and businesses have in Williston to illustrate the challenge of CRM: how do you take that sort of relationship and use technology to make it scale?
Like many CRM thought leaders, his path to becoming an influencer took many unexpected turns. After graduating with a degree in electrical engineering, he became indoctrinated in medical services equipment. After getting an up-close view of the hospital environment, he was inspired to study and teach physiology and biophysics. "That taught me logical thinking and how to approach research and how to take complexity and communicate it in a way that people could understand," he says.
After three years immersed in academic medical work, he saw the emergence of the World-Wide Web and went to work for a software company that designed, built and deployed billing systems for telecommunications carriers. "After some time there, I joined a team charged with building a customer-facing application, where telecom customers could see their bill online, change plans and open trouble tickets - circa 1995," he says. "The CRM bug bit and I was on my way."
It was while working for SugarCRM that he began to emerge as an important voice around social CRM – although he likes to characterize the technology slightly differently.
"I am being more cautious about the term 'social CRM' and focusing more on 'CRM in the age of Social,' he says. "In order for Social CRM to really evolve people cannot think of it as something totally different – it is just a bit of course correction."
The very semantics of the terminology help confuse people and cause anxiety, he says. "The word itself, 'Social,' is one of the key problems. While that may sound silly, it is truth – the word scares people. It is like walking into a room of kids and saying "I need to give everyone a shot" — panic ensues. If I had just said 'vaccine,' then by the time I did it, everyone would have realized that it was not as painful as they thought it would be, and it was actually needed."
So, he advises, be active in discovering the right way for your business to introduce and pursue social business and social CRM—but be aware that it's a discovery process for everyone. "Right now, I get the sense that people are looking for a solution to a problem which they do not completely understand," he says. "I can say that because I feel as though I am ahead by a bit, but I do not completely understand it, either – true empathy. Anyone who suggests they completely understand the problem and can prescribe the solution worries me."
About Mitch Lieberman
Mitch a technology leader and mentor, who spends his time bridging the gap between business and technology to drive business value from technological advances. He maintains a particularly strong focus on customer experiences, next generation CRM and the more recent intersection of Social Media, Enterprise 2.0 and CRM, or "Social CRM". Mitch is a process driven implementor, building solutions that make sense, taking into consideration people, process and technology, in that order. Since January 2011, Mitch has been the VP Marketing Strategy for Sword Ciboodle, a publisher of process-managed CRM software for contact centers, and in charge of product positioning and messaging, along with innovating customer service. He also works with customer, analyst, and partner engagement programs.
Mitch Lieberman is a thought leader when it comes to both traditional CRM and Social CRM—plain and simple. He is knowledgeable and insightful, able to deal with the practical present and ascertain the cutting-edge future. He is a trusted partner with a proven track record; he knows how to make things work."
~ Paul Greenberg