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How Social Media Impacts Customer Experience (and Vice Versa!)

Dan Gingiss, who presented this talk on social customer service at The Social Shake-Up this year, currently co-hosts a podcast with Dan Moriarty on Social Media Today called “Focus on Customer Service” – listen to the first episode here.

The air conditioning was icy, but the atmosphere in the conference room was warm and congenial as Dan Gingiss delivered his excellent presentation on “How Social Media Impacts Customer Experience (and Vice Versa!)” at the Social Shake-Up on June 10, in Atlanta. As Head of Digital Customer Experience and Social Care at Discover, Dan was uniquely qualified to speak about how social and customer care can come together seamlessly to provide concrete value for brands and consumers alike.

Dan began his talk with a primer on what comprises customer experience. “It includes every single interaction your customer has with you in every channel,” he explained, both offline and online. Because CX builds loyalty and increases profitability for companies, it’s important to the bottom line to provide care that exceeds customer expectations.

Dan had a number of fantastic examples of how companies can go above and beyond, from a restaurant trashcan that makes disposal easier for diners to a creative, funny hold song on Uberconference that entertains callers while they wait for others to join them. Discover mails a $5 Starbucks gift card to new members, with a hashtag, #DiscoverJoy, that people can use when posting photos of their java treats to social media. It’s a great, natural way to turn customers into brand ambassadors.

We also saw some beautiful examples of social care, including impressive on-brand Twitter profiles for Hyatt and KLM, the latter of which goes the extra mile by updating – every five minutes! – the estimated wait-time for a response from customer service:

klm twitter profile

Other highlights showed how responsive Discover is online – not only to customers, but also to people who initially don’t have any relationship with the company at all. For instance, when one person reached out to Discover on Twitter to comment on too-frequent mailings, a quick and friendly response from a representative impressed him enough to convert him into a new customer. And of course, because this all took place on social media, it was an interaction that was highly visible to the public. A great reminder that “customer service is the new marketing,” as Dan put it.

But there are certain things that need to be in place before a brand can expect to dive into social care and succeed. First of all, make sure your product itself is good. “Social media exacerbates everything,” Dan explained. “If you have a crappy product, people are going to talk on social media about how crappy it is. Fix the product first.”

Secondly, “you have to have a culture of service in place to begin with.” Discover, for instance, has long placed a priority on traditional customer care by placing all its call centers in America. A focus on customer care within the company meant that translating that focus through the new lens of social care wasn’t a big leap.

And last but not least: “You have to have a relentless focus on the customer.” Understanding your customers and making sure you exceed their every expectation is key to success.

Brands should also keep in mind how social media is different from offline customer service channels. “It’s public, always on, searchable, sharable, permanent. It also requires that brands talk with people instead of at them,” Dan said. “Social shifts power from the brand to the consumer, and it’s increasingly becoming a huge piece of the customer experience puzzle.”

Remember, too, to give social CX agents the same power that traditional agents have. “Don’t empower social agents more just because it’s a public channel,” Dan cautioned. “It will be a waste of your time, because customers who don’t get what they want on one channel will just go to another.”

In closing, Dan reminded everyone that a brand’s actions on social, for both marketing and service, are playing an increasingly larger role in the overall public perception of the brand. Customer experience is more important than ever, because “it can all end up on social media,” Dan said. “We have to be ready for social to be a channel of first resort for customers.”

For more examples of companies who are doing social care right, be sure to check out Dan’s podcast with his colleague Dan Moriarty, “Focus on Customer Service.” You can nominate a brand to be featured by tweeting a suggestion using the hashtag #FOCS.

customer service /   shutterstock

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