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February 22, 2017

Usual, Great, and Future Leading Companies

By michaelpace on January 14, 2013

 

How Most Companies Sell & Add Value:

How Usual Companies work

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Great Companies Sell & Add Value:

How Great Companies Work

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Future Leading Companies Help, Add Value & Sell:

How Future Leading Companies Work

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Repeat

The Power of the Social Business – Why this is where your business needs to be

Social Media BingoBy michaelpace on September 26, 2012

If you have been consciously or unconsciously playing Buzzword Bingo around the office, the term social business has probably been at the center of your board.  “We need to be a Social Business.” Or “I went to an event recently where everyone was talking about Social Business.”  Or even “People say we need to become a Social Business or die.”  While I agree, social business will be the next big business innovation (see more here), you probably won’t die.  So what is Social Business and why is it important to your company, customer service, and the contact center?

I am a big fan of not reinventing the wheel.  My online friends over at SideraWorks have developed an excellent explanation of what is Social Business.

“Social Business is the creation of an organization that is optimized to benefit its entire ecosystem (customers, employees, owners, partners) by embedding collaboration, information sharing, and active engagement into its operations and culture. The result is a more responsive, adaptable, effective, and ultimately more successful company.”

Social Business is broader than social media; social media is just one of the tools of Social Business, just as your phone system is a tool of customer service.  As SideraWorks definition describes, Social Business is a way of working.  It can and should involve every level and department of your organization, your partners or vendors, your community, and your current and prospective customers.

Traditional work organizational models have siloed departments, working on their individual goals to hopefully achieve a greater sum for the sake of acquiring and retaining customers.  This model, generally, approaches internal and external customers as someone to talk at or to be spoken to.  People, whether internal to your organization or external, are tired of being spoken to.  For example, how do you feel when you see a corny commercial telling you to buy a diaper brands latest “innovation” in dry-lock protection?  Or how do you feel when a senior leader in your organization says there will be a process change without any understanding of why the old process is in place?  How many times have you worked with a partner or vendor and have an email chain when printed could circle the earth twice?

Social Business is inclusive, collaborative and open.  I believe people and relationships are every company’s most important and underutilized asset.  We now have the technological ability to act/work/socialize/create relationships like we do in “real life”.  By leveraging the relationships, new technology, and process, we can unleash the ultimate power – PEOPLE.  I love this quote from John Hagel III’s book The Power of Pull, “There are a lot more smarter people outside your organization, than inside it”.  It doesn’t mean your company or department doesn’t have smart people, it’s just there are so many smart people outside of your immediate perspective.  What if you could leverage the power of the people in your contact center, and their vast networks to achieve more and faster?

Typically a contact center is one of the largest departments within an organization.  Each one of those associates have a network outside and within your organization.  Why not start the revolution from within?  Your senior leaders are always looking for ways for the contact center to become a “profit center”.  What if you could aide in both top and bottom line revenue or cost avoidance?  Just one example is recruiting.  Traditional recruiting primarily uses websites to pull in attractive potential hires, and often scoops up high amounts of unqualified wastes of time.  A pull model, it’s like a the Death Star’s tractor beam sucking up everything from Millennium Falcons to space junk.  Social recruiting leverages the relationships of your associates to find potential hires matching your cultural fit.  And by having large numbers of separate people from separate departments, you also reach a more diversified candidate pool.

The benefits of a Social Business are almost countless, but just to name a few:

  • Individual personal associate development
  • Lower operational costs
  • Stronger interdepartmental collaboration
  • Faster innovation
  • Improved customer satisfaction and trust
  • Vision & culture sharing
  • Employee satisfaction
  • Brand reputation and awareness

Some great resources to learn more about Social Business:

SideraWorks – http://www.sideraworks.com/

The Community Roundtable – http://community-roundtable.com/

Edelman – http://www.edelman.com/

Are people talking about Social Business in your immediate circles? Senior Management?

If you are not, what is holding you back?

The week of October 8th, I will be speaking about this subject at the Contact Center Conference – Fall 2012 in Miami, FL.  Below is similar presentation given earlier in the year:

 

Strategy 2012: Random Acts of Connection

War Games movie - Random Acts of ConnectionBy michaelpace on January 19, 2012

At the beginning of every year, I sit down (usually at a cozy bar) and put my goals together for the coming year.  I have goals for my physical health, family, career, relationships, financial and self (things I want to do for me).  I crave structure with planning.  In both my work and personal life, I have learned that the best outcomes are derived when I develop strategies that include results (what I am going to do), process (how to do it) and relationships (with whom to include).  This is usually the most daunting part.   I took a breath and a sip, and was hit by a micro “A-ha” moment – Random Acts of Connection.

I first heard the phrase “Random Acts of Connection” at last year’s SXSWi during a panel hosted by friend, mentor and fellow community manager Jim Storer.  Loved it.  Random Acts of Connection is sort of Community Management 101; its the act of bringing together two or more people who have a similar interest or bringing people to data/information.  As I looked at my goals, I realized the primary strategy for me was to practice daily acts of random connection.  Every conversation you have is an opportunity for Random Acts of Connection.  Its easy to find places on Twitter and LinkedIn to make Random Acts of Connection; someone looking for help, job seekers to employers, like personalities, hobbyists, etc…

Why Random Acts of Connection:

  • Not much makes you feel better than helping others
  • Pooling collective smarts
  • Surprises are fun – “If you never did you should. These things are fun and fun is good.”
    ― Dr. Seuss
  • You never know when you will need help
  • Ever hear of paying it forward?
  • Karma

I truly believe if I practice daily acts of random connection, I will accomplish my BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goals).

Here are some Random Acts of Connection for you: (these not exhaustive lists by any means, but some people you may not know)

Social Customer Service Leaders – These folks know customer service, social and more than anything understand the constraints operational leaders deal with

Kate Nasser, Guy Stephens, Josh Sippola, Spoken Communications, Mary Bartels-Cook, Marcio Saito,  Richard Natoli, Greg Ortbach

Community Management – They get Random Acts of Connection

Rachel Happe, Jim Storer,  Mark Yolton, Mark Wallace, Dan Brostek, Claire Flanagan, Bill Johnston

Random – Just because

My soul brutha from a different mutha – Greg Levin (also a great writer and satirist)

Info on Marketing Technology – John Refford, Mike Schneider & Eric Leist (watch their show TechInterruption)

Social Business – David Armano & Edelman Digital

North East Contact Center connections – www.neccf.org

Customer Service Leadership – Larry Streeter

Social in Regulated Industries – Mike Langford, Jaime Punishill, Carissa O’Brien

Cocktails and Connections – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cocktails-Connections/128861043831324

My neighbor and a best friend – Jeanette Palmer

Think about practicing Random Acts of Connection and do it!  Do you have any Random Acts of Connection?  Do you practice?

Social Star Wars Saga Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

By michaelpace on November 10, 2011

Pre-prequel: With the recent release of the Star Wars saga on Blu-ray, I feel compelled to finally put together my official Social Star Wars Blog Saga. Enjoy all of you fantastic nerds.

Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Episode II: Attack of the Clones

I love what I do.  I [attempt to] thrill customers who choose “alternative” channels to receive their customer service or voice their opinions.  By alternative, I mean non-typical call center service; I lead Knowledge Management, Social and Community Support, and Process Management/Service Recovery teams.  I also have the good fortune to serve on the Board of Directors for the North East Contact Center Forum, and occasionally speak at conferences.   For the past 22 months, I have straddled the space between the Customer Service/Experience and the Social Business/Media worlds, and have had the opportunity to meet incredible people from both sides, but rarely do they meet in the middle.  Social “Media” is hot in the Call Center/Customer Service arena right now, but for the audience of this post (see above) I have some strong words for you:

Stop trying to operationalize Social Customer Service (for now)

Stop asking these questions:

–          What kind of SLA’s (Service Level Agreements) do we need?

–          How many people should we staff this with?

–          How can we calculate workforce management requirements?

–          How do I monitor quality?

–          How can tools (SCRM) answer the previous questions?

–          ETC…

If you are in the industry that provides these answers, stop answering the questions.

You cannot operationalize something you do not understand.  You may know how to swing a hammer, but that doesn’t make you a carpenter; it only makes you dangerous.   You need to understand the why and how of social business/media/tools before you get to the what.  Social business is very different than traditional linear business practices, there are multiple layers (called relationships).

Start asking these types of questions:

–          How can my team and I get involved in social business/media?

–          What communities or other conversation areas should we listen to and participate in?

–          Where are my customers talking now?  Where will they be?

–          What are some great resources for my team to find more information about this subject?

–          How do I conduct low-risk experiments?

–          How do I involve others departments in these initiatives?

–          ETC…

Once you understand the art of social business, you can start understanding the science (or start operationalizing your social presence).  Spend a couple months understanding the answers to the second set of questions.  You will know when you are ready, trust me, my “aha” moment hit me over the head like the hammer I was discussing earlier.  There are plenty of resources out there for help, build relationships with them, and you are always more than welcome to ping me.

So, what kind of questions do you find yourself asking (and answering) – Operational or Involvement related?

P.S. I do know operationalizing is not really a word, but you know what I mean.

P.S.S.  Great video for all leaders and readers on starting with Why from TED.

http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html

Revenge of the Sith - Social Star Wars

Social Star Wars Saga Episode II: Attack of the Clones

By michaelpace on November 9, 2011

Pre-prequel: With the recent release of the Star Wars saga on Blu-ray, I feel compelled to finally put together my official Social Star Wars Blog Saga. Enjoy all you fantastic nerds.

Episode I: The Phantom Menace

I was attending the social media track of conference, and went to the first social session of the day.  The session started with the Socialnomics’ Social Media Revolution Video (the first one) and continued with non-actionable generalities.  I went on pursuit of the speaker’s social network just to see how active or involved he was; no twitter handle!  Are you serious?  He then proceeded to use the word “twit” as in the action you do when you use twitter.  Thank goodness Apple was announcing the new iPhone right at that moment.  It didn’t get much better when the next session started with the United Breaks Guitars song and video. Let’s just say there are plenty of consultants or non-practitioners out there.  These clowns (clones) are one of two reasons why the social business space is moving slower than the technology.

The Clone we all know

Let’s start with the first set of clones referenced above.  Social is incredibly easy to get into, find information on and sound knowledgeable about to unfamiliar crowds.  These individuals understand the tactical use of social media tools, but rarely have an understanding how to actually integrate into business processes or moving to organizational goals.  .  Their Twitter and Facebook streams look like constant ads for some product or service. Since they are not using the tools daily, they rarely actually enter the social media bubble (people’s who lives have changed from social interactions and participate hourly/daily).  How to tell the Clone we all know:

  • Infrequent twitter use or used only to promote their organization’s “something”
  • Have less than ten social sites tied to them (beyond Twitter, Facebook & LinkedIn)
  • Talks in vague generalities about cookie cutter social steps
  • Never brings up business goals and objectives

The Clone that is US

Why do you think people talk about social media fatigue?  Or why do people chase shiny social objects (me included)?  I have a thought.  I entered in this social media bubble in November 2009, somewhat late for most in this space.  Because of my role, I drank from the firehouse of information.  I can honestly say within 4 months, if I heard one more person tell me that the first step of social media is to “Listen”, I was going to puke.  Some folks still claim that is the first step of using social media for business, but the example I am trying to show is people in the social media bubble keep talking about the same things to the same people in the same social bubble.  Another more recent example, I followed the Inbound Marketing Summit hashtag (#IMS11) as I was not able to attend.  I am glad I wasn’t able to, as all the tweets from session could have been copied from #IMS10 and probably #IMS09 and every other social media conference attended by the same social media folk.  Just to prove my point, go through your twitter stream or your Google Reader, and look at the blogs that are written.  Most are just copies and repurposing of things people in this bubble have heard a hundred times.

Shiny objects are great because it allows people to play or use something new.  The technology is moving faster than the thoughts on how to use and integrate.

It’s not social media fatigue, its social media laziness. 

I am not saying the people who work in social are lazy; they are some of the hardest working people I know.  The thought leadership is lazy.  Thought leadership in this space has been mostly relegated to marketing and technology focused individuals.  I think it just needs an infusion of diverse thinking, process managers, operations, human resources, executive leadership, etc…  I stated it before; I don’t think the next innovation of social business will come from marketing or technology, but from areas like Human Resources.  We need to expand our social bubble to include these other areas.  We need to branch out of social media conferences and attend industry specific or small business conferences.  When I attend a customer service conference, there may be ½ dozen of active socially networked individuals, but hundreds of people interested in the area.

I do have a belief that in 2012, the cream will rise to the top and more individuals will be focused on operationalizing social business.  We all have the opportunity to prepare for that time now.

May the force be with you, always.

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Star Wars Crawl Creator

Attack of the Clones - Social Star Wars

Social Star Wars Saga Episode I: The Phantom Menace

By michaelpace on November 7, 2011

Pre-prequel: With the recent release of the Star Wars saga on Blu-ray, I feel compelled to finally put together my official Social Star Wars Blog Saga. Enjoy all you fantastic nerds.

As I mentioned in my last video post, one of the most popular questions asked of me by customer service leaders and people interested in social business is “What’s the ROI (Return on Investment) you are seeing with social media for customer service?” I love that question.  Folks seem to need to know that answer to move from social paralysis to engagement.

When asked here’s my first reply, ”Have you figured out the ROI of your bathroom?” (not sure where I got that from, but would love to give credit one day).  I reply with that rhetorical response for two reasons

1.) it breaks their conditioning and makes them stop

2.) the answer to that question is the same as the previous

I will usually ask them if they know the ROI of their broader Customer Service Department; which again usually provides the same answer.  It is really no different than if your customers were calling you and you didn’t pick up the phone, except they are also telling everyone who follows their messages.  It is becoming a business necessity.  The primary goal of customer service is customer retention, avoiding their contacts will not serve your retention goals.  As for actionable advice I give to customer service leaders, I provide two thoughts.

Focus on ROO (Return on Objectives) not ROI

Social business practices are still in their infancy, focus should be balanced between broader business goals, your learning agenda and metrics.  I like the way Jason Falls explains it in his new book No Bullshit Social Media.  Look at how social media helps your broader business goals:

  • Enhance branding and awareness
  • Protect brand reputation
  • Enhance public relations
  • Build community
  • Enhance customer service (VOC and general service)
  • Facilitate research and development
  • Drive leads and sales

Your learning agenda should include:

  • How to scale this operation
  • Cross department interactions
  • What kind of people are right for this role
  • What is needed from a content management standpoint
  • What infrastructure is needed to support

If social media is about Engagement, measure Customer Lifetime Value

I am sure there are lots of ways to measure CLV, here’s how I do:

Acquisition: What was the cost of acquisition? Is this customer referring others?

Retention: You need to have them as a customer gain value (duh)

Average Spend/Time period: How much and often do they spend money with your business

Profitability: Is this customer costing you too much to keep or are they efficient for your business (uses self service and community platforms for service)

I understand many business leaders want to understand how much allocating resources to social customer service will cost them and what will they get in return.  If you need to create a business case, I would use all of the above information (both soft and hard numbers) to make your case.  But the best way you can make the case is find out what your customers are saying to and about you and tell the story of why you need to play here.

May the force be with you, always.

Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Star Wars Crawl Creator

Phantom Menace - Social Star Wars

 

Top 5 Reasons Why Customer Service is Avoiding the Social Media Wave

Waiting for the social wave

By michaelpace on August 19, 2011

Ok, show of hands (and be honest, I can see you through your webcam), does your company provide social customer service through your actual customer service department?

Or does Marketing handle it; or some other department or combo? During a webinar hosted by Jeremiah Owyang (a must follow) earlier this month, he stated that roughly in 70% of the cases, Marketing handles social media, including customer service inquiries. In my own experience speaking with customer service executives and at conferences, I estimate less than 10% of customer service departments handle support related inquires or comments. Why? Why are you not riding the Social Customer Service wave or are you waiting for the wave to crash into you?

Reason #1: Marketing owns and handles social

Background or Myth: Marketing should handle social media stuff because of possible public relation issues, social media is a marketing job, or it’s just always been that way.

Reality: Social media is a tool of social business, similar to your phone system being a tool for your customer service. You probably don’t own the phone system, and Marketing probably doesn’t need your permission to use the phone. If individuals are afraid of a public relations issue being created through social media, do they monitor all of your outgoing emails and chats? An email or a chat is equally “socialable” through their own technology or in combination with other social networks. Similar to email and chat technology channels, best practices, process and clear roles and responsibilities are needed to execute effectively. Your customer service team is best equipped to handle service inquiries and provide content that helps educate your customers. And anytime someone tells you it’s always been done that way, you know it’s time for a change.

Reason #2: If a tree falls in the woods, does it make a sound?

Background or Myth: You know there are millions of people on social sites like Facebook, but they are not talking about our brand or service (or at least we haven’t heard it).

Reality: If you are not listening, how can you know if someone is talking about or to you? Have you ever put your company name (or variations of) into Google Blog Search or into Twitter’s Search? There are tremendous amount of free tools to use to listen to understand if people are talking to you or about you. I prefer Hootsuite for Twitter and Google Alerts for everything else on the web. It’s now common place for people to express their opinions to their friends, family and followers on the web, and it will only become more common. Per Socialnomics, ½ of the world’s population is under 30, they do not know what life was like before the internet (think about it).

Reason #3: Not a valuable use of time or resources

Background or Myth: As compared to our other channels, social media related channels are such a small percentage of our overall volume.

Reality: The previous statement is both true and false. It is true for an actual physical count of tweets, Facebook posts, blogs commenting on your business, and LinkedIn discussions, but it does not accurately reflect the impact. For example, at Constant Contact (where I work), the average person tweeting positively or negatively about us has approximately 1300 followers. Over the course of 2010, there were almost 1,000,000 impressions of positive or negative commentary. Now not all of those impressions were influential, but even if a small portion (10% or 100,000) were influential, doesn’t it make sense for you to be a part of those conversations?

Reason #4: We are in a regulated industry; we could break laws by talking about personal accounts publicly

Background or Myth: In many industries, such as healthcare and financial services, public “discussion” of personal information can land your company in a heap of legal and compliance trouble. This statement is true, but there are reasons to still get engaged.

Reality: Probably the most valuable aspect of social customer service (at this point) is pure acknowledgement of being heard. If someone mentions you on the social web, you should still acknowledge their message and then offer to take it to a more secure channel. If you need to track even these minimal conversations, you can do it manually or if you have the scale, most CRMs now are available with social tools integrated into their workcase management. Regulated industries are typically complicated, which also makes them ripe for proactive outbound communications to your customers about your products and services. Blogs, branded communities, Twitter, Youtube and LinkedIn provide fantastic platforms for educational content that can be pulled from existing sources like your knowledge base or marketing materials.

Reason #5: Getting started is too overwhelming

Background or Myth: There is very limited data or information on how to get started in social customer service, let alone operationalizing it.

Reality: Yes, getting up and running in social customer service is a sizeable task, but like other large initiatives, if you break it down it can be less daunting. Below is my high level work breakdown structure:

  1. Get yourself involved in social media
  2. Know your business strategy/what are your objectives/guidelines More information on steps 1 & 2
  3. Listen to your customers
  4. Customer Conversation
    • Develop SLA’s
    • Know your brand (big difference in Tiffany & Co.’s & Zappos corporate voice)
    • Engage your customers
  5. Workflow, Catalog & Tracking
  6. Developing & delivering proactive contentSocial Wave

Customer service leaders have a choice, try to stand strong against the incoming wave, and hope it does not knock you over (or provide a competitive disadvantage), or pick up your board, paddle out and ride the wave. This trend may not have all the same tools at the end of the day, but the premise of social business will remain, and become more prevalent in our lives and the lives of our future customers.

To chat with a bunch of other smart people about the topic of social customer service, and getting started, join me, Brad Cleveland, Bob Furniss & Todd Hixon for a tweetchat presented by ICMI on Tuesday, 8/23 @ 6:30 pm CST – follow hashtag #CCDemo11 for up to date details and more information.

 

Wave Image Credit http://flickrhivemind.net/Tags/people,solitary/Interesting

Surfing image http://juice-up.blogspot.com/2010/11/surfing.html

Does Bon Jovi know Customer Service & Social Business?

By michaelpace on July 28, 2011Bon Jovi Boston                                          Bon Jovi pontificating after a blown speaker fuse during their Boston show in March – image via @chickswguitars

If you are like me, you probably do some of your best thinking in the shower or on your commute to work.  The other day, while doing a little commute dancing and jamming to Bad Medicine, the greatest 80’s song of all time, I had an epiphany for my Social Support team.  That specific idea needs to be fleshed out a bit more, but I also came to the realization that both in the shower and on my commute I am usually rocking out to some tunes.  Maybe I was smarter in the 80’s, or hair band music releases brain motivating endorphins, or maybe, even it’s the slightest possible chance, Bon Jovi’s music has subliminal hidden meaning for Customer Service and Social Business rockstars?   Ok, probably not, but if I am to be a true scientist of how to deliver superior Customer and Social Service, I will need to investigate this possibility.

 

Bad Medicine

On The Surface: This is uber quintessential cheesy 80’s hair band song, presumably about a woman’s love being like a drug.

Questionable Quote: Bon Jovi concert

I ain’t got a fever got a permanent disease
And it’ll take more than a doctor to prescribe a remedy
And I got lots of money but it isn’t what I need
Gonna take more than a shot to get this poison outta me
And I got all the symptoms, count ’em 1, 2, 3

Possible Deeper Meaning: All the money in the world sometimes cannot get a customer to the right person to handle their problem or poison.  So why not enable every representative of your organization the ability to help a customer?  Organizations that focus and exercise strong knowledge management practices/processes provide the tools for assistance regardless of where the call ends up.

I’ll Be There For You

On The Surface: Man treats incredible woman poorly, and is really regretful of his decisions.

Questionable Quote:Bon Jovi stage

I guess this time you’re really leaving
I heard your suitcase say goodbye
And as my broken heart lies bleeding
You say true love in suicide

You say you’re cried a thousand rivers
And now you’re swimming for the shore
You left me drowning in my tears
And you won’t save me anymore

Now I’m praying to God
You’ll give me one more chance, girl

I’ll be there for you
These five words I swear to you
When you breathe I want to be the air for you
I’ll be there for you

Possible Deeper Meaning: I think Jon may be talking about retention here, and isn’t that the primary goal of all Customer Service operations?  In particular, I believe he is talking about your service’s availability and its role in customer retention.  Do you have a good understanding when your customers are using your product or service?  Do you need 24/7/365 human support?  Should you outsource (domestically, near shore or offshore) to create flexibility and availability?  Do you have resources that your customers can access on demand, such as knowledge centers or FAQ’s, tutorials, videos, taped webinars, or branded / unbranded communities?  Are you there for your customers and are those 6 words you’ll swear you’ll do?

Just Older (a personal favorite)

On The Surface: About a man who is getting older, but still doesn’t consider himself old and useless.

Questionable Quote:Bon Jovi closeup

I like the bed I’m sleeping in 
It’s just like me, it’s broken in 
It’s not old – just older 
Like a favorite pair of torn blue jeans 
This skin I’m in it’s alright with me 
It’s not old – just older 

Possible Deeper Meaning: Jon and crew could relate to phone support.  Yes, it is our industry’s most familiar technology for customers to reach out to companies with issues, comments or questions.  While older, it is still the best way to create a bond between customers and companies.  Companies that monitor beyond compliance quality, and allow their phone representatives go “off script” or even (wait for it) let them be humans have the potential to really connect and build relationships with their customers.  Great conversations lead to relationships, and relationships lead to retention.  Yes, there are a lot of new and shiny ways to connect with your customers, but you phone support is still your relationship foundation.

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead

On The Surface: Rock band wants to live life to its fullest

Questionable Quote:Bon Jovi concert start

Until I’m six feet under 
I don’t need a bed 
Gonna live while I’m alive 
I’ll sleep when I’m dead 
Till they roll me over 
And lay my bones to rest 
Gonna live while I’m alive 
I’ll sleep when I’m dead 

Possible Deeper Meaning: Bon Jovi must also be his band’s Community and Social Media Customer Service Manager, because we all know these roles in organizations have minimum sleep qualifications.  In an informal poll (really informal), the average Community and Social Media Customer Service Manager sleeps 6.4 hours per week.  They are usually recognizable by their iPhone with Hootsuite running constantly, and tucked under their pillow.  Communities and social networks operate 24/7/365, and can operate in a self service manner, but all the best ones require consistent management.  And by consistent management, I do not meaning just monitoring.  Community and social business require content creation, curation and connection.  It is no wonder Jon just figures he’ll sleep when he is dead.

Livin’ on a Prayer

One the Surface: Fictional couple (Tommy & Gina) struggling make ends meet and maintain their relationship

Questionable Quote:Bon Jovi screen

There are no questionable quotes in this song, as it is the most fun song of all time (line in sand has been officially drawn).  Try not to sing this:

We gotta hold on ready or not
You live for the fight when it’s all that you’ve got
Whoa, we’re half way there
Whoa oh, livin’ on a prayer
Take my hand and we’ll make it I swear
Whoa oh, livin’ on a prayer

Possible Deeper Meaning: Bon Jovi clearly knows how hard it is to be a Customer Service and Social Business superstar.  This is just pure entertainment.  So if you are Community or Social Support Manager, take a few minutes and get your rock horns ready for some head banging.

In conclusion, apparently it is scientifically impossible to tell if Bon Jovi is subliminally singing about Customer Service and/or Social Business or not.  I suggest more research needs to be done in this area.  I may check to see if this scientific discovery can fit into the National Debt debate going on right now (should only be a few million for me to travel and follow the band).

If you have put up with me this far, thank you for letting me have a little fun and break away from the hardcore Customer Service, Social, Business Process Management & Leadership focus.  While there are things to be learned here, we all need to take a summer vacation from our norms sometimes.  Rock on Soul Brothers!

 

Images by @chickswguitars my partner in crime at Bon Jovi’s Boston 2011 show

For an amazing collection of pictures and videos from the Boston 2011 show created by @chickswguitars

 

 

Straight from the Unicorn’s Mouth

By michaelpace on July 11, 2011

Unicorn's mouth

“How do you guys do Social Media Customer Service and do it well?”

I might be paraphrasing, but that is probably the most common question that has been asked of me during the past 2 years at Customer Service and Call Center conferences.  In this post, I thought I would have my team at Constant Contact give their top tips to executing Social Media Customer Service and how to manage these team members.  So straight from the Unicorn’s Mouth*

Top Tips from Community Host & Social Support Associate Jarrad:

  1. Response Time – Customers on Social Networks are looking for answers fast, especially on Twitter. Minimize any delay in a response. We try to respond to any @ or general Constant Contact comment within 2-5 minutes.
  2. Keep the Customer Informed – If you are experiencing downtime or a problem, address it immediately. Be proactive and honest. This is a great way to build brand loyalty.
  3. Content – It is not all about reacting to customer issues.  You can help them before they even contact you.  Try to provide content that your customers want and are interested in reading or watching.  If you see an article that relates to your client base send it out to them
  4. Support – Not all answers can be solved by a simple tweet. There may be some back and forth, but try to solve the problem online rather than having them call in.
  5. Call The Customer – If an issue cannot be resolved online, don’t pass it off to your phone support. Make the call yourself and do as much as possible to resolve the incident at that moment.
  6. Research – If a customer has a blanket statement like, “I hate your company” see if you can find out what has prompted this tweet. Check their website or email address and see if you can locate the customer’s account. Find out the “Why” before responding.
  7. Ask for Feedback – If someone is considering canceling their account or stopping business with you, rather than leaving it alone, ask them for feedback. Not only does this show you value their opinion; it can also help retain customers.
  8. Personality – Try not to sound too robotic or stale when answering customers. Be social. Talk to them casually and personally and at the same time, keep it professional.
  9. Experiment – Social Media is still new and trying new ways to interact with your customers is important.  You never know what will work and what will not until you try it.
  10. Visibility – Be aware that everything you say on a Social Network has the potential of being seen by millions of people. Don’t respond to trolls and don’t post anything your company would be embarrassed by.
  11. Empathize – Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. (How would you like your favorite company or brand to address your concerns?)

Top Tips from Community Host & Social Support Associate Marissa

Acknowledge as soon as possible

  • You don’t need to have an answer readily available, but at least if you acknowledge you saw the tweet or post and you’re looking into it, people can be very appreciative.

Be empathetic

  • Try to put yourself in the shoes of the person you’re reaching out to. You may not agree with what they are saying or have ever been in the situation, but at least try to understand.

Don’t argue

  • If someone says something horrible about your company, don’t start a fight and tell them that they’re wrong. Something as simple as “Was there something I could help with?” can go a long way.  I even had a Blog Post written about it!

Curate content you know about

  • Don’t just tweet articles you haven’t read, make sure you can answer questions on them if need be.

Know your audience and your brand

  • Make sure the content you’re curating for them will provide value.  Don’t waste their precious time with useless noise.  Find information they can use, find entertaining or can learn from.
  • Different customer service brands have different voices, you need to know yours.  For instance, Zappos and Tiffany & Co. provide great service, but have very different voices.

Thank your followers

  • Whether someone re-tweets what you say or if someone gives you great content, tell them thanks.

Don’t be afraid to have conversations

  • Don’t just answer questions.  Start a conversation with those that ask questions.  You’ll be surprised what you may find out.  I was helping someone the other day and even though they weren’t local, they told me about a local restaurant to check out!

Top Tips for managing Jarrad and Marissa by Ros

  • Transitions between team members is critical. If you have multiple team members tweeting or managing social support, the customers shouldn’t be impacted by a shift change.
  • “Social Influence” is an indicator but not the goal. From the help side, your number of followers and retweets are not the primary metrics. Your Klout or influence is AN indicator not THE indicator. Socializing this with your internal team and executives is important.
  • Trust is key. As a manager, you must trust that your team’s intentions are good and support their risk taking.  Social Media is changing everyday and some mistakes will be made.  It is important for your team to know that you support them even if they stumble.
  • Hiring curious people is key. Social Media is fast moving and having people eager to learn is more important than having people who have all the answers.

 

*Unicorns are prettier than horses

Social Customer Service – A completely different animal (associate)?

By michaelpace on June 12, 2011

Social Customer Service Team

For the last 30 years, traditional customer service recruiting, training, core skills and performance management have not changed dramatically.   Service professionals and their management teams have been able to hone the delivery of customer needs through various channels.  But are the same attributes that make a great traditional customer service representative applicable for Social Customer Service?

Traditional customer channels & attributes:

Attributes of Social Customer Service

But are these the same attributes needed for superior social customer service?  Let’s look at responsibilities & qualifications of a social customer service representative.

Responsibilities:

  • Monitor social media outlets/networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs.) for customer service related inquiries, complaints, concerns
  • Organize customer service inquiries, concerns, and responses for record and reference track the types of questions that appear on social media outlets
  • Distribute and/or partner with various  internal resources to ensure social media generated issues are resolved and communicated
  • Partner with various internal (possibly external) resources to update customers on promotions, technical advancements, general content, issues or changes
  • Create, curate, and repurpose content to share with social communities
  • Facilitate the Voice of the Customer (Social Media) to various internal departments and individuals to enhance the customer experience and product strategy

Qualifications:

  • Excellent writing and phone skills
  • Strong grasp of the structure, purpose, and tone of social networks
  • Ability to think quickly, and formulate responses within a short turnaround time
  • Ability to communicate on social networks in a professional, yet personable, way
  • Basic understanding of Marketing practices
  • Ability to work cross functionally
  • Flexibility
  • Comfortable presenting organization’s values, positioning and persona potentially to the  entire social universe
  • Able to “Exercise Responsible Freedom

social customer service team attributes

I think we are dealing with a completely different animal.  So if we are dealing with something different, what should we consider changing?

  • New job titles/roles/descriptions
  • Recruiting – should it need to be socially sourced?
  • On-board training – inclusion of marketing, product, service, HR
  • Core skill development
  • Career progression paths
  • Performance Management
  • Continuous education models

Social Customer Service Team

Since this is such a new arena, all comments and thoughts are very much appreciated.