This morning’s news on TechCrunch that social software provider Lithium Technologies acquired customer care application Social Dynamx points not only to further consolidation, but also to the fact that customer service operations might be the quiet battle ax that is serving to reshape an industry reeling from mixed messages.
Here, the video of Rob Tarkoff, President and CEO of Lithium, discussing the acquisition:
Lithium Technologies is a provider of platforms and tools for companies to create their own self-service customer communities. I’ve met and spoken with Lithium several times, and the company is responsible for running the pipes for the support forums for over 400 companies, including some of the largest consumer electronics and wireless providers in the world. Lithium counts Best Buy and AT&T among its clients, and calls such communities ‘brand nations.’
Pretty impressive, especially when you think of the hundreds of thousands of questions that get answered by unpaid moderators or evangelists who willfully join the communities to help. The efficiency and cost savings are immeasurable.
Social CRM might then actually become a reality.
Discussions about social CRM generally revolve around ‘socializing’ an existing CRM database for large B2B companies that seek to glean insights on their customer and prospects via social media conversations. Rarely do consumer-focused companies come out and herald their social CRM success.
Many social media experts, including myself, agree that there is a general disagreement about what social CRM even means for most companies, and as with most technology deployments, what level of customization or localization is needed so that it makes sense within the existing analytics frameworks that help senior management understand more about customers.
I’ve not yet demo’d Social Dynamx, but Lithium will no doubt seamlessly integrate the service into its current offerings.
Lithium bought social media monitoring vendor Scout Labs in May 2010 and added it to its arsenal.
Lithium says the combined offering with Social Dynamx will be available immediately as Lithium Social Web. The product, according to Lithium, improves agent productivity more than 25 percent.
I’d love to hear from customer care operations — in-house or outsourced — that have truly socialized themselves. I’m also curious if agent training and knowledge has expanded, given this additional capability.
However, it can only be a good thing for the consumer who ‘tweets in’ or ‘posts in’ a comment to a company: faster service, better recordkeeping and tracking, and higher efficiency.