Social Dynamx is aptly named if not aptly spelled. A company that has enormous potential, that, like so many other companies that we see emerging in this space, are going to be dependent on a few things that they need to do to become a powerhouse.
Social Dynamx is a company that started out on the right foot. Incorporated in 2011 but launched in April 2012, they came into this world with $3 million in seed funding, and 24 employees, and unlike many small companies, an experienced enterprise level management team, led by CEO Mike Betzer, former President of Convergys and stints as VP at Siebel and Oracle. For them, this was a particularly smart move because their focus, as we will see going forward, is very large enterprises, so a team that knows how to deal with them has both the practical knowledge and inspires confidence in customers.
Since this is a CRM(ish) contest, we’ll start with a quote we particularly liked: “We are trying to work with CRM not be CRM.”
Social Dynamx’s idea, like many of the companies in this competition is that social is here to stay. They are right about that. Where they begin to distinguish themselves is in their focus on very large enterprises with mature customers and mature systems. That does narrow their target markets a bit but still places them squarely in a lucrative arena that is being entered by some of the biggest boys on the block, like Oracle and salesforce.com, only without the exclusive focus.
Their messaging, like all messaging of all companies, is a bit self-aggrandizing and thus shifts away from some of the realities of the traditional channels – which are that they are here to stay also. However, what they say when it comes to social customer care is spot on. They recognize that social is a channel that will continue to evolve but is now moving to the mainstream; that there is a growing group of customers that will use social channels for customer service and that self-service communities are becoming increasingly viable options when it comes to a service channel. Check √ to all of that.
They also, very wisely, focus around what they called in the demo, a “purpose-built” SaaS application that effectively supports the service agent in relatively complex very large social care environments. We like that they are clear on what and why and for whom they are building their applications.
What is impressive about their application is that it is actually simple for the agent to use. Figure 1 is the Agent Desktop. What you can see is that all the social data that the agent needs with a well organized aggregation of assigned cases on the upper left; available cases for assignment on the lower left; activity around an existing case in the center; social profile information on the upper right; and available knowledge bases on the lower right. All you need to handle a socially derived trouble ticket.
Figure 1 – The Agent Desktop
But the other nice part of this is that it doesn’t stop with the ease of use for the agent. It rolls over to the Supervisor and the Manager too. As you can see in Figure 2, the Supervisor’s screen is markedly different and also as valuable as the agents screen was. The Manager’s screen is equally valuable. Role based done the way it is supposed to be.
Figure 2 – The Supervisor’s Desktop
But it’s the team capabilities that shine. It is easy to create a desktop view that not only exposes the activity streams (conversations) around the case that those who are permitted to share can see, but also the due dates, the influencers that are associated with the case including the relative influence that is part of the case and the metrics that are or need to be associated with the case.
This is an app done right. It is outcomes and roles based; it is purpose-built – meaning has a highly specific reason for its existence and features/functions/services are aimed to that reason. It is easy to use and handles the social customer’s activity just right.
Therein lies one of the problems that needs to be addressed. Their data, dashboards, activity streams, customer profiles, are strictly social – and based only on social interactions. With social interactions they do an unparalleled job. However, they have no part of any of the thousands of interactions that are done through traditional channels – and, given that humans are complex creatures and likely to use the channels we feel we have to accomplish something, traditional channels can’t be ignored if you’re focused around the customer.
All of this would be resolvable with the right integrations with CRM systems that would provide a strong multichannel portfolio.
You would think that with a statement “We aren’t try to be CRM; we are trying to work with it” that integrations with those CRM systems would be a natural extension. Yet, let’s just say, that while we can’t say, what’s what, because of confidentiality, while there are some integrations in progress, they don’t seem to fully understand how important the integrations are for them.
That said, there is some social integration. Because the product integrates with Radian6, they are able to allow companies to filter conversations that need to be managed via SocialDynamx. They are able to integrate with community platforms, too. So that when a company needs to deflect a conversation to the community to avoid passing the conversation to the call center, they can do that. This helps in engaging the community and in avoiding call center costs. So, here the value of the integration they do have becomes immediately obvious
Social Dynamx nailed social customer care – to the level that the big boys can learn from them. They are as good as or even better than companies that have been around for many more years than they have. They do what they do remarkably well. But there are market exigencies that demand that they integrate tightly with the existing CRM systems and other customer care systems that address the more traditional customer service channels. Integration, for example, between them and KANA/Ciboodle (especially the Ciboodle side of the house) could be a major success. But we think that, while they recognize this intellectually, and its recognized in their messaging to some extent, they aren’t nearly aggressive enough in their approach to the integrations.
This is a company that can be great. But to do that, they need to get moving. We suspect, given the deep experience of their management, that they will do just that.
Reviewed by CRM Idol 2012 Primary Judges