Parature (not a client, in case you are keeping track of who is and who isn’t) introduced this morning a new product: Parature for Facebook. It is the first in a line of products they say are going to be introduced in the next few months where they port their customer service solution to Social Networks – in this case, the Facebook Social Network. Using this product companies can put their existing knowledge base on Facebook, conduct customer-service Chats, and let customers create and manage support tickets via the FBML-based solution. In addition, systems administrators can manage the product via a FBML interface, and can even manage tickets via it if they are so inclined (not sure why they would, but it’s there). See this next picture to get an idea of the interface:
There is not much (well, some admin actually) existing Parature customers must do to use this product. Non Parature customers will need to implement Parature Customer Service first, then they can leverage it on Facebook. Here is what results would look like:
The key aspect here is that you don’t need to do integration, migration, or support two different solutions (silos, if you may). A single solution presented over two different interfaces is a much better solution. Being able to leverage existing rules, knowledge, workflows, integration, and all other channels via Facebook makes it easier to deploy.
I saw the product, and it is quite well done. Works the same way as in a regular web site, but it uses the Facebook look-and-feel. Organizations that decide to do Customer Service over Facebook Like Pages (can we go back to Fan Pages, please?) benefit from having more than just a wall and a messaging interface to carry out those functions (standard Facebook offers). I have not had the chance to talk to anyone who implemented it – yet, but expect to do so soon. Finally, here is the admin console (before the analysis begins):
Now the gloating.
Back in the good old days before we embarked in a race to define Social CRM I said in a post relating the nascent SCRM to the failed e-CRM of yesteryears:
The prospects of having a “new” hot technology skewed the decision to launch e-CRM
Eerie, similarities ensue… The point is that Social CRM is an extension to CRM, and that smart companies will actually take their existing CRM strategies and implementations and adapt them to the Social channels they want to use. Thusly, a company wanting to do customer service over Twitter would have to create an entire sub-strategy for that (Mission, Vision, Goals, Objectives, Step-by-Step planning, etc.) that extends their Customer Service and CRM strategies. In other words, it is not about rushing to just “do something” over the new social channels, rather “do the right thing if it makes sense” over the Social Channels.
Yes, before you attack me, there are new “things” that Social CRM brings, but they are things like getting to know your customer better, understanding their needs and wants, embracing them in c0-creation, reducing the barriers to proper service — all things we were promised in 1991 when Siebel CRM was first introduced (and ever since, continues to be so).
What Parature introduced today is one technology step in that direction. You want to do Customer Service over Facebook? Make sure it makes sense for your organization, that you have the right people, and you have the processes to do it right — then look at what they have and see if does what you want it to do. Fits? Then, by all means — they are the first vendor to introduce business functions inside of Facebook (until someone proves me wrong in the comments below), and I am dying to see what happens with it.
As for the gloating, well — will try to remain humble…Disclaimer: Parature did not pay me for this, nor do I expect them to become a client because of this write-up. Wish it was that simple. I am presenting at their user conference today and was offered a pass to the conference (I believe there is a charge for that) and I am hoping to score a lunch out of it — but they made no promises (actually, they don’t know that yet). However, you already know I am not that cheap of a date, takes more than one meal and a conference pass. These are my impressions and opinions, feel free to argue them. Social CRM is just CRM with Social Channels (and, since this is in a legally-required disclaimer, it is now a legal opinion — so there, I just made it law by precedence). Please do your own due diligence before taking anyone’s opinion at face value.