Social CRM – Avoid the traps of non-structured data

All the rage at Salesforce.com these days is about “social“.   It should be – Chatter is a great tool, that can take tech-savy sales and operations teams to the next level.  But be careful before Social takes control of your day-to-day structured data.  In the end, users are smart, lazy, and are always looking for the easy-button.

For example, a recent customer of ours didn’t catch that most salesmen started using the Chatter “What are you working on” status change to post visit reports with their customers.  To them, it was far easier adding the details inside the comment box, instead of making  a traditional appointment.

30 days later, and the reporting dashboard was not telling the complete story.  The sales manager “read” all the appointments within the Chatter activity feeds and assumed they were making appointments inside Salesforce.com.  The report, however, didn’t reflect that.  Instead, they lost a month’s worth of metrics and accountability.  And salesmen had to go back and re-update their appointments from the previous month – quite a waste.

I think there are great reasons to roll out tools like Chatter.  Just make sure you have a strategy to train them on “when” they should be using Chatter, or more importantly, when they “shouldn’t”. And have an auditing plan to ensure users aren’t replacing structured tools with unstructured ones, especially if reporting and metrics are important to you.