In 1969, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross introduced the “Five Stages of Grief” in her book, On Death and Dying. These five stages can be summed up as denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. When applied to disruptive technology adoption by organizations, the “Five Stages” framework provides clear insight in anticipating how likely an organization is ready to embrace change. Recent conversations with line of business operations managers about Social CRM identify both lack of awareness and high levels of internal resistance towards adoption. In a recent phone and in-person survey of 31 front office operations owners (i.e. sales executives, support executives, and COO’s) about their attitudes on Social CRM, 67.7% (i.e. 21/31) expressed denial, 16.1% (i.e. 5/31) felt anger, and 9.6% (i.e. 3/31) experienced bargaining, 3.2% (i.e. 1/31) encountered depression, and 3.2% (i.e. 1/31) achieved acceptance (see Figure 1).
Figure 1. Most Front Office Executives Live In Denial About SCRM
The Bottom Line For Buyers (Users) – The Kübler-Ross Model Provides Techniques To Expedite The Internal Acceptance Of SCRM
The five stages of SCRM adoption describes each phase, discusses the typical reactions, and addresses how to move forward. Organizations can expect stakeholders to progress through the phases at their own pace. Expect organizations to fall between a 10 month to 21 month range. However, proponents can accelerate the process through both qualitative understanding and quantitative support. Here are the five stages:
- Stage 1: Denial (Average duration 3 to 6 months). Many executives will put up defenses and excuses when initially broached about the need for SCRM. They may have a point should no quantitative data exist or may feel as strongly as my fellow Enterprise Advocate, Dennis Howlett does about SCRM. Typical responses include,”Social CRM is just another XLA fad”; “None of our customers will ever use this stuff, just look at how much we invested in CRM”; “Is there really any return in these social things?”
Approach: Proponents should share adoption trends based on SCRM Use Case #F1 – Social Customer Insights. If the analytical data provides the quantitative support on social media trends, then expect both a heightened awareness of the market realities and a rapid progression towards the second phase. In many consumer and classic B2C industries, the data will show that some significant population group is having a conversation in a social channel. The next set of questions to answer, “Can they be influenced and will they buy?” Now, if the data shows that customers, for example in classic B2B industries such as aircraft maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO), have barely adopted any social tools, then it will make sense to wait till social media adoption has hit a critical mass.
- Stage 2: Anger (Average duration 1 to 3 months). As data flows in about where customers are having conversations about an organization’s product, the individual recognizes that denial can not continue. “Outside” conversations happening without the supervision of the firm will most likely enrage the management team. Executives will often ask, “Can these customers really do this without us?”; “Why doesn’t our existing efforts have the same effect?”; “Do we have to deal with another channel?”; “How come we have to waste all this time on SCRM”; “Who’s fault is this?”
Approach: At this point, stakeholders will express their rage at anyone and anything they can. Proponents should let the individuals vent their frustration. From there, help the stakeholders visualize a time table and project plan to support the SCRM project. Show them how to engage and influence the customer. Let them know they no longer control the conversation.
- Stage 3: Bargaining (Average duration 3 to 6 months). Despite all logical arguments, stakeholders will begin to rationalize the situation. Excuses to postpone taking action balance out the recognition of the urgency to adopt SCRM. Quotes from the survey include, “None of our competitors are doing this, why should we?” “If we can hold out for a few more years, we’ll be okay and the market will be stable”; “Can we just do one part and not the rest?”
Approach: Begin the discussion on what impact could occur due to inaction. Highlight the elements of a successful approach and the dependencies. Layout the holistic point of view. Encourage outside advisors to provide an alternative but independent point of view…