- About Dan Gingiss
- Episode Summary
- Social media lets customers talk back
- Marketers were not prepared for social
- Customer expectations + emotions = a willingness to share
- There’s no such thing as an offline experience
- Social media is the best market research
- Social media evolution
- Are companies ready for social to lead the CX experience?
- Crisis preparation is important
- Identify the trolls
- It’s all about listening
- All customer interactions matter
- Full Transcript
About Dan Gingiss
Dan is a marketing and customer experience executive who has consistently focused on delighting customers. He is also a keynote speaker, author and podcaster. His career has spanned multiple disciplines including marketing, customer experience, social media, and customer service. Previously, Dan has held leadership roles at several major brands, including McDonald’s, Humana, and Discover. Find him on Twitter at @dgingiss.
Connect with the speakers
Connect with Dan Gingiss on or learn more about him on his website dangingiss.com
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Social media lets customers talk back
Social media is the first marketing channel where people can talk back. You can’t talk back to a billboard, and you can’t talk back to a Super Bowl TV ad. From a servicing perspective, social is the world’s most public customer service channel because most customer service in history has been one-to-one. You used to have to chat with one other person via phone or email, and now all of a sudden, social provides this one-to-many servicing, which is a new thing for a lot of companies.
Social media started off as a channel of last resort. First you tried calling, but there was a two hour hold time. Then you emailed and they never got back to you. Finally, you decide to go to social. Over time, particularly for the companies that do social care really well, customers figured out that social is a great channel of first resort because it’s faster and easier. You can tweet at a company, then go about your day and not have to sit there and wait for a response. It’s a highly efficient and convenient channel for customers, all the more reason for them to use it. But a lot of companies are afraid of social because the first thing they heard was negativity.
Marketers were not prepared for social
It’s a marketer’s responsibility to understand what their marketing drives, in terms of response. If social is the first channel where people can talk back, most of the time, they’re talking back to marketing. If you’re scrolling through your Facebook or Twitter feed and you’re interrupted by marketing from a company you know, it’s an interruption that often reminds people that they have a problem or question about that company. It’s a potent trigger, but marketers weren’t ready for that. They expected that putting a new offer out or talking about a new product would make everybody respond and love it, and talk about how great the company and their products are. What actually happened is that people responded and said, “You know, the other day I had this problem in your store”, which came as a nasty surprise. But it makes sense – social gave customers a voice they simply didn’t have in the past.
Customer expectations + emotions = a willingness to share
When companies exceed customer expectations, they make their customers really happy. A lot of people are willing to share that positive moment because they don’t often have many positive moments with companies – at least, not ones that stick out as being remarkable or extraordinary. So when a customer does have one, they want to tell their friends about it. When companies only meet expectations, there’s no reason to share it; who wants to share an experience that’s just okay, adequate or satisfactory? When companies miss expectations, they make customers sad, or worse, they make them angry. Unfortunately, there’s a very high propensity to share on social media when that happens.
Companies have to figure out how to remove pain points so there are fewer opportunities to complain. More importantly, they need to discover how to create positive, remarkable experiences so they get the ‘lovers’ to be louder than the ‘haters’. They can’t get rid of the haters – they’re always going to be there. But they can generate lovers who are going to be loud about their product or service in a positive way that lessens the effect of the people who are always going to be negative.
There’s no such thing as an offline experience
Think about things that used to be considered offline. An airplane is a good example. You’d sit in an airplane, put on your headphones, nobody would bother you, and you’d read your book or you listen to your music – you were offline. Now we get viral videos of guys being dragged off an airplane, because the airplane isn’t really offline anymore. It can be online.
Companies have to understand that every piece of their experience, the physical part and the digital part can eventually come online to social media. They have to approach those experiences as if they’re going to be public tomorrow. They need to identify if it’s something they would want somebody to tweet about or post on their Facebook page. If not, they’d better fix it.
The flip side is the Instagram-worthy moments many people try to create. Companies are now figuring out that they can purposely create experiences that are social-worthy and get people to talk positively about the company, and change the overall sentiment of the conversation.
Social media is the best market research
There’s no better place on the planet to do market research than in social media because people there are talking in a very genuine way. They’re not answering surveys or sitting in focus groups in contrived research areas. It’s like observing wild animals in their natural habitat. You can really find out what people like about your company and what they don’t. Many companies have come up with new product ideas just by listening to what people are saying in social media. The opportunities to learn and then to engage customers are incredibly valuable. When a customer has a big company responding to them, they feel much more strongly about their loyalty to that company.
Social media evolution
The millennial generation that completely embraced social media was the first to have a genuine desire to have relationships with companies. There was a belief that ‘the companies I do business with are a reflection of me’. Pre-social, customers might have talked to a single customer service agent or maybe met somebody who worked there, but now companies have their own brand voice and personalities in social media, and customers can interact with them.
The other way that social media has evolved is in B2B and B2C. When you’re looking for a new company to do business with, what do you do? You go online and see what people say about it. You go to ratings and review sites, and often you go to social media because that’s what gives you the best sense of a brand’s personality. If you look at a Twitter or Facebook feed and a company has customers talking to them who are being ignored, that’s not necessarily a company that you want to do business with. But when you see a company that appreciates its customers and engages with them, that’s part of the buying decision.
Are companies ready for social media to lead the CX experience?
Because of social media, companies have had to encourage much tighter interaction between their marketing and customer service people. What they’re finding is that sometimes social takes the place of other customer service channels. People are calling less or emailing last because they’re going to social. But social has also added to the total volume; there are a lot of people that wouldn’t have called in and wouldn’t have used another channel.
For example, think about people who compliment brands on social. Talk to any call center agent and they’ll tell you, no one calls in just to say, “Hey, you guys are doing a really great job.” But customers do go to social and say, “Hey, I just had this great experience with this brand.” It’s critical that companies engage with those people, because they’re their biggest fans. If they ignore the people who are complimenting them, they’re losing an opportunity to make a brand advocate absolutely loyal forever. That’s difficult for a contact center, because there’s a much greater cost involved.
Companies are still figuring social out. They’re realizing that it’s an important channel, and should be on par with phone and email in level of importance. Not responding to people on social is like letting the phone ring off the hook, and they have to allocate resources accordingly.
Crisis preparation is important
Companies must have a really good crisis communications plan in place that responds quickly, and is proactive instead of reactive. Social customer service agents have to have PR skills, and be ready for anything. They have to be trained on how to react in certain situations; there are times when you need to call management, times when you need to call PR, even times when you need to call the police. Companies also must have a management tree in place so agents can escalate the situation quickly if something gets out of hand.
Identify the trolls
When it comes to receiving complaints from customers on social, the first step is to identify whether it’s a legitimate complaint. There’s a difference between somebody saying, “Look, I’m having a problem, or this is broken,” versus somebody saying, “You guys suck.” The second one is not an actual complaint, and those people are just trolls. Companies can ignore, delete or block them.
The good thing is there’s modern tech that can analyze words and sentiments and raise the important, legitimate claims to the top. Companies then need to try to group complaints so they can identify recurring issues and the social media team can get those complaints to the people who can fix them. This reduces customer service expense, because agents won’t have to keep answering the same question over and over again.
It’s all about listening
Companies should not be afraid of complaints. People who complain do it because they care, and they want you to fix the problem. If they didn’t care, they’d go to a competitor. Detractors can actually become advocates because of a great response they got on social media. For bigger companies, listening absolutely requires technology. They need to have a machine sifting through, getting rid of spam, identifying keywords that are important, looking for references to the company when they’re not tagged, and looking for references to competitors or the industry.
All customer interactions matter
When it comes to CX, every single interaction matters. Whether it’s online or offline, in print or digital, everything is a reflection of your brand. When a British company called A Sauce identified a spelling error on their own product packaging, they tweeted a photo of it and called it a “limited edition.” They got 15,000 likes thanks to the brilliant concept of taking a mistake and making it remarkable. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but all companies do have to consider that every piece of the customer experience is important.
Transcript:[00:06] Mary Drumond: You’re listening to Voices of Customer Experience. I’m your host, Mary Drumond, and on this podcast we shine the spotlight on individuals who are making a difference in customer experience. We also proudly bring you the very best of customer experience, behavior economics, data analytics and design. Make sure to subscribe or follow us on social for updates. Voices of Customer Experience is brought to you by Worthix. Discover your worth at worthix.com. [00:35] MD: Our last guest of the season is Dan Gingiss. Dan is a marketing and customer experience executive who is consistently focused on delighting customers. He is also a keynote speaker, author, and podcaster. His career has spanned multiple disciplines including marketing, customer experience, social media, and customer service. He is currently Vice President of Marketing at Persado, an AI powered marketing language startup. Previously, he held leadership roles at several major brands including McDonald’s, Humana, and Discover. He also cohosts The Experience This Show podcast with Joey Coleman. Dan, it’s such a pleasure having you on. Thanks for coming.
[01:14] Dan Gingiss: What’s going on? How you doing? Thank you so much for having me guys.
[01:17] MD: Thanks for being on here today. Excited about this podcast and Co hosting with me again today is James Conrad. Hey James. [01:23] James Conrad: Hey Mary. Great to be here. [01:26] MD: So, Dan, before we get started, you know, for the benefit of our listeners and those who don’t know about the work you do, can you just give us a quick introduction?
[01:34] DG: Absolutely. I’m a 20 year marketer that started in direct mail and has evolved over time into all the digital channels including and specifically social media, and what I found out about social media when I first experience it was that it was the first marketing channel where people could talk back and I found that absolutely fascinating. You can’t talk back to a billboard, you can’t talk back to a super bowl TV ad. And so that’s really what got me super interested in social and then eventually into the servicing component of social and the customer experience overall and how social has impacted customer experience, which I think it has in a tremendous way. So by day I am still a marketer, and by night I host a podcast and blog and all these other things that I enjoy doing.
[02:29] MD: That’s interesting. You said that social media talks back. Not only does it talk back, but it talks back in front of an audience for the world to see. Right? Which puts an even bigger spotlight on it.
[02:39] DG: Absolutely. And from a servicing perspective, it is what I like to call the world’s most public customer service channel because most customer service in history has been one to one, right? You telephone chat, email has been one to one and now all of a sudden you have this one to many servicing, which is again a new thing for a lot of companies and pretty interesting to look at because it does change the game quite a bit.
[03:05] MD: Yeah and also, I don’t know, I might be getting sidetracked here, but I think that because of the way it started off where companies weren’t prepared for it, they got so much negative press or negative reviews that there was a huge focus on companies to just fix anything that comes out on social. And consumers learned that. So the first thing they do before anything else is just air their dirty laundry on social media. Am I right?
[03:32] DG: Yeah, I mean I would say that social media started off as a channel of last resort. So this was, I called and there was a two hour hold time or I emailed and they never got back to me. Now I’m really mad. So I’m going to go to social. And what did happen is over time, particularly the companies that are doing social care really well, customers have figured out that social is a great channel of first resort because it’s faster, it’s easier. You can tweet at a company and then go about your day and not have to sit there and wait for a response to come back later and check it. So it is a really efficient, and frankly convenient channel for customers. And I think that’s one of the reasons they went there. But you’re also right that a lot of companies we’re afraid of social because the first thing they heard was negativity.
[04:23] DG: And one of the reasons why I kind of entered the fray of social care, even as a marketer, was that I believed that it was marketer’s responsibility to understand what their marketing drove in terms of response. So if this is the first channel that people can talk back, most of the time they’re talking back to marketing, right? And so if you think about you’re scrolling through your Facebook feed or your twitter feed and you’re interrupted by marketing from a company that you know, maybe you follow or maybe it’s a paid ad, you know, it’s an interruption and that interruption often reminds people that they have a problem or that they had a question or something about that company. It’s like it’s a trigger. And so marketers were totally not ready for that. They expected that, well, if we put this new offer out there, we talk about our new product, everybody’s going to respond and they’re going to love it and they’re going to talk about our company and how great our products are. And what happened is people responded and they said, actually, you know, the other day I had this problem in your store.
[05:33] DG: That was definitely a nasty surprise. But I think it makes sense because social gave customers a voice that they really didn’t have in the past.
[05:42] MD: Not only that, I think there’s so many marketing campaigns that went totally south because either they didn’t understand their demographic properly or they didn’t expect that reaction. You know, you have, for instance, the, you know, the Pepsi campaign a couple of years ago that went horribly wrong and we see it all the times were social media reacts so negatively to marketing in general. And it’s kind of a make or break, isn’t it?
[06:07] DG: Yeah. I mean, I do think that there is a lot of overreaction on social. And you know, one of the things that we try to do on our podcast is we talk about really only positive experiences when we can. We don’t call out companies that screwed up because there’s enough people that are doing that right. there. When a company screws up, everybody knows and everybody piles on and it becomes case studies and people talk about it and keynotes and all this stuff. And so we really try to focus on the positive experiences because my view is that the more positive experiences that companies can provide for their customers, it gives them positive fodder to talk about in social media rather than negative fodder. So one of the formulas that I developed for my book and don’t worry for those, that assumed there would be no math on this podcast.
[06:59] DG: This is not a mathematical equation of any sort. Is that customer expectations plus emotions equals a willingness to share. So let me peel that back for you. So when companies exceed customer expectations, they make customers really happy. And what I think people, miss is a lot of people are very, very willing to share that positive moment because we don’t have very many positive moments with companies, at least not ones that stick out to us as being remarkable or extraordinary. So when we have one, we want to tell our friends about it. Now, when companies only meet our expectations, there’s no reason to share it because who wants to share an okay or adequate or satisfactory experience? Obviously when companies miss expectations, they make customers sad or worse. They make them angry. Unfortunately there’s a very high propensity to share in social media when that happens.
[07:54] DG: So my advice is is that companies have to figure out, one, how do you remove the pain points so that there are fewer opportunities to complain, but more importantly is how do you create positive, remarkable experiences so that as we used to say, when I worked at McDonald’s, we get the lovers to be louder than the haters because you can’t get rid of the haters. They’re always going to be there, but you can put a whole lot of lovers out there who are going to be loud about your product or service in a positive way that that lessens the effect of the people that are always going to be negative.
[08:28] JC: Interesting. Yeah. It’s fascinating to watch sort of what’s developed and social over over the years and how it sort of evolved and how it’s used now. I mean my kids nowadays, they watch YouTube, and I don’t think they’ll ever watch regular television anymore. It’s just YouTube is where they, they, you know, they get entertained and, and it’s incredible. So the way that it’s evolving and what the next generation is going to bring in, how they’ll interact with companies and how they’ll get information and engage becomes really interesting. And this is also what I wanted to talk to you about a social customer experience and customer care because in marketing there’s been this movement around Omni channel and it’s probably an old term now, probably 10 years old or so where companies look at marketing as sort of this Omni channel like everywhere, every touch point across the customer journey. And I wanted you to sort of build on what we’ve been talking about around social and what you’ve seen in the social space and what different elements social brings to customer experience. And you sort of said earlier there isn’t an experience anymore that’s offline because things can go online, you know, seconds later and be discussed, but what are the biggest differences that you’ve seen in social that companies should be thinking about that are critically important and how it’s evolving and some of the sort of best practices?
[09:56] DG: Well, it’s a great question. I mean I think for a while companies didn’t know what to do with social. They didn’t know how to measure social and the people who were running social media marketing teams kind of took advantage of that. And they said, well, we’re different. We’re a different marketing channel. You need to measure as differently, you know, likes and favorites and followers and all these vanity metrics. Okay. Again, as a marketer, I didn’t really. I still don’t feel that social media marketing is, is that much different from email marketing or website marketing or direct mail marketing. You still have to segment. You still have to identify the right person in the right place and the right time. And then, you know, what I do in my day job is we help you find the right message. So in that sense it’s just like any other channel, but this other part about how customers can talk back and they expect to be engaged with.
[10:48] DG: That’s the piece that I think makes it a really, really interesting channel. And the other thing is that it’s a two way in a sense that other marketing channels aren’t. So you mentioned before, I’m a believer that, there’s no such thing as an offline experience. Things that we used to consider to be offline. Think about an airplane, you know, it used to be that you’d sit in an airplane and put on your headphones, nobody bother you, and you read your book or you listen to your music and you were offline. Now we get viral videos of guys being dragged off an airplane because the airplane isn’t really offline anymore. It can be online. And so companies have to understand that every piece of their experience, the physical part and the digital part can eventually come online to social media. And they have to approach those experiences as if it’s going to be public tomorrow.
[11:40] DG: And I think when you do that, you start to identify, hey, is this something that I really would want somebody to tweet about or post on their Facebook page? No. Well, then we better fix it. Likewise, the flip side is, is you hear, you know, you hear a lot of people talk about Instagram worthy, uh, you know, photos or Instagram worthy moments, right? Is that companies are now figuring out that they can purposely create experiences that are social worthy, which I think is really smart because again, as you get to this idea of let’s get people to be talking positively about us, and change the sentiment, the overall sentiment of the conversation. Those are some of the things that you have to do. So I think the last part is this engagement part. I think marketers started off being afraid of it, but to me it always seemed like an opportunity.
[12:30] DG: If you think about what marketers are supposed to be doing, you know, we’re supposed to start with market research. Well, there’s no better place, I think, on the planet to do market research than in social media because you have people talking in a very genuine way. They’re not answering surveys, they’re not sitting in focus groups in these contrived research areas. It’s like observing wild animals in their habitat. Right? So you know, you can really find out what do people like about your company, what do people not like? I’ve interviewed a number of companies that have come up with new product ideas just by listening to what people are saying in social media. There’s so much opportunity to learn and then to engage because there’s some value there. There is social value to a customer when a, when a company that they know and love engages with them, right? When you get a big company that responds to you, little old you, you feel great about it and you feel much more strongly about your loyalty to that company.
[13:32] MD: Voices of Customer Experience is brought to you by Worthix. If you’re interested in customer experience, behavior economics or data science, follow Worthix on social media or subscribe to our blog for the best content on the web.
[13:50] JC: Have you seen an evolution over the years? Around the willingness of customers interact with companies and how they’re engaging? I can remember in the very beginning, I have been at this 25 years now. When social first started, it was, I remember the first questions was do people even want to have a relationship and communicate with brands online? and there was sort of this baby steps into it right in the beginning. And it, it’s evolved since then. But what are some of the biggest evolutions that you’ve seen, you know, even from your time at McDonald’s or so all the way through to the work you’re doing now around the openness of customers, interact with brands and vice versa?
[14:34] DG: Well, I don’t, I mean, I don’t want to be stereotypical here, but I actually think that the millennials had a lot to do with this. Because I think the millennial generation was the first one really did have a genuine desire to have a relationship with companies. I think there was some badge to it. I think there was belief that the companies I do business with are a reflection of me, and so I think there was this desire that, and it happened to coincide with social media. I don’t think that was coincidental because this is also the first generation that have the ability to have a relationship with companies. Right. I mean, if you think back to pre-social, how did you have a quote on quote relationship with accompany you? I mean, you might have talked to a single customer service agent or you might have met somebody who worked there, but now you’ve got, you know, companies that have their own sort of brand voice and personalities in social media and you’re able to interact with them and they ask questions, you give answers, you ask questions, they give answers, they post a poll, you vote.
[15:43] DG:So there’s this back and forth that didn’t use to exist and you know, to me it’s this desire first of all to have a relationship, but it also says a lot about what it’s like to do business with a company like that. And so the other thing that’s changed is if you think about B2B, B2C, whatever, when we’re looking for a new company to do business with, what do we do? We go online and we go see what people say about it. We go to ratings and review sites and often we go to social media because that gives you the best sense of that brand’s personality. If you go look at a Twitter feed or a Facebook feed of a company and they’ve got customers talking to them and the company is ignoring them, that’s not necessarily a company that you want to do business with. Right? But when you see a company that appreciates its customers and engages with them,et Cetera, that’s part of the buying decision is this a company that I am okay wearing a badge for and having it be a reflection of me? Is this a company I want to be related to, and that I think has absolutely been a pretty big change.
[16:59] MD: That’s actually interesting. I’ve got a point to bring up regarding that. You said that social media can or may even become the first resort for a lot of people looking for customer service. Right? Are companies prepared for that volume? Because I think for sure what you just said is extremely true. Where if you engage with a company and they don’t engage back, that’s even worse because then you feel shunned, you feel ignored, you feel overlooked, etc. So and I know that a lot of companies are using chat bots and other other forms of technology to be able to engage all of these users that are now going to them as first results. But do you find that companies are ready?
[17:41] DG: So I do think that there has been an evolution within the contact center that has had to get prepared for this because it started with they weren’t prepared for it, right? The marketers and the customer service people generally weren’t talking to each other and so marketing goes out with a campaign, they put some paid behind it and all of the sudden this massive influx of feedback comes in because marketing put the ad in front of more people. Now, the companies that are getting this right have a much tighter interaction between marketing and customer service and what they’re also finding is that sometimes social takes the place of other customer service channels, right? People are calling less or they’re emailing last because they’re going to social. But social has also added to the total volume because you get a lot of people that wouldn’t have called in and wouldn’t have used another channel.
[18:42] DG: So for example, I always talk about people who compliment brands on social. Talk to any call center agent and they’ll tell you, it almost never happened that somebody called the 800 number for the sole purpose of saying, hey, you guys are doing a really great job, right? Nobody does that. But they do go on to social and they say, hey, I just had this great experience with this brand, look what happened, et cetera, et cetera. And I always tell companies it’s critical that you engage back with those people too because they’re your biggest fans. They’re basically doing what marketers are dying for, which is they’re doing word of mouth marketing, right? And if you ignore the people that are complimenting you, you’re losing an opportunity to kind of take somebody who is a brand advocate and just make them absolutely loyal forever. But that’s difficult for a contact center because there’s a cost involved.
[19:32] DG: And that is an incremental contact that wasn’t going to happen before. So I think the answer is companies are figuring it out. They’re realizing that, you know, social is an important channel and should be put up there with in level of importance with phone and email. I remember in my earlier career that one of the things that our call center often did at one of the companies I worked for was when the phone started ringing off the hook, they pull people off the social media to go answer the phones, but then you got people who are not being responded to on social media. Right? There was a belief that it was a lower channel and I think now companies have evolved to figure out, you know, what not answering on social. It’s like letting the phone ring off the hook. It’s the same thing, and so we’ve got to resource it accordingly.
[20:20] JC: Really interesting. The other thing that as a consumer that I’ve been wondering about recently is with all these different things that make it onto social media, united airlines and etc where something starts happening and everybody whips out their cell phones. I wondered about the employees and you’ve worked with a lot of companies and at some big organizations, I wonder how companies are training or communicating to their staff and how they feel. I mean, if I’m a frontline employee now and we’ve just gone through some big social crisis, how they’re acting, how they react to customers. Do you think it’s changing organizations thinking about how they’re interacting with customers now that they know that one simple interaction on an airline or a hotel or in a store can make it on social media and what have you heard or seen from companies in how they’re potentially training their staff or communicating with their staff around how to handle some of these situations now?
[21:23] DG: Well, I think you absolutely have to be prepared and one of the differences in the skillsets required for a social customer service agent versus other channels besides that they have to be able to write well, is that they really do have to have some PR skills, right? They’ve got to be, you know, you kind of be ready for anything. And so I think crisis preparation, that sort of stuff has become way more important. I mean an airline, no matter how many different scenarios they could have put, you know, put together in a crisis communications guide. Some guy being dragged off a plane was not going to be one of those scenarios, so you can’t possibly predict all the scenarios, but you can have a really good crisis communications plan in place that responds and responds quickly and that is proactive instead of reactive.
[22:15] DG: And what’s interesting is you mentioned United actually wrote a blog post about United several years ago, way before the, the man being dragged off incident, in which I thought they did absolutely perfect job responding to a crisis on social. In this particular case, I believe it was a system outage and I think it was out for like seven hours. So, you know, people were not able to book. I mean, nothing was working. The whole system was shut down. And they did such a great job of proactively communicating in social like we’re aware of this system outage. We’re working on it. We’ll get back to you as soon as we can. And as it went on, they ended up bringing in one of their SVPs who shot a video, basically apologizing to people in a very empathetic way saying, look, we understand that people are missing weddings and funerals and, you know, big events because of this system outage, we feel terrible about it.
[23:11] DG: Here’s what we’re doing, here’s how you can rebook flights, and it just was like, it was so well executed. Then I highlighted it in a blog post and then you have other incidents, even sometimes with the same company where, you know, the response is not very well executed and in fact sometimes can make a crisis worse. And so I think in summary that it’s absolutely something that you have to be ready for. You have to train agents and how to react in certain sit in certain categories of situations. There’s, there’s times where you need to call management. There’s times where you need to call PR. There’s times where you need to call the police. We had an incident at one of my companies where we thought genuinely that a poster was suicidal and, and we sent police over to the person’s house, and so these are things that you do have to train reps for to be ready for. And then you also obviously have to have a kind of a management tree in process so that you can escalate it quickly if something gets out of hand.
[24:15] MD: That reminds me of something that happened recently, which is pretty sad. It was like pretty depressing from a corporate standpoint. I’m not sure you heard about what went on between the company Zoho and TierraNet their server. Did you hear about this case?
[24:34] DG: I did not.
[24:35] MD: The meltdown came from the leadership. In a nutshell, Zoho is a massive company that’s got hundreds and thousands of users worldwide and their servers went offline because the service provider TierraNet was receiving complaints about emails from Zoho being phishing emails. And since Zoho didn’t do anything about it, the solution from TierraNet was just to take Zoho offline, which is pretty insane if you think about it, but then what happened, what ensued was a twitter battle and full on meltdown where the CEO of Zoho went onto Twitter and started publicly criticizing TierraNet and sending all these crazy irrational tweets out there and it was just embarrassing for the entire company. So this is a case where instead of leadership being the ones that are calling the shots about good decisions and the right way for the company to represent itself, the issues itself, were coming from within the company. Do you have anything in your handbook about how to deal with that kind of crisis?
[25:46] DG: Yeah, that’s a, that’s a new one, although I will say as you’re telling that story, unfortunately I think the world has gotten used to crazy tweets. So that’s one of the things we deal with nowadays. But I mean, look, there are some CEOs that are really great on Twitter and that are really involved. You think of John Legere over at T Mobile and others, and they’re really doing a great job putting a human face onto the company that said, I would say my experience with most CEOs is they don’t want anything to do with twitter, they don’t want to be anywhere near it. And probably for sort of the reasons that you just, you kind of demonstrated in that story and I mean obviously you would hope that leadership would kind of understand the implications of that a little bit more.
[26:42] DG: It is also interesting that story. We just did a story on our podcast about a B2B situation in which one company partnered with another and the partner, you know, in a public space, it wasn’t in social media, it was in an event, started bashing their partner talking bad about them in front of a group. And it was like, wow, that’s different. so yeah, I mean, look, it is, everything is amplified on social because it’s public, because it’s shareable, and because it’s essentially permanent and so it does require you to kind of take that extra moment. And in the words of my friend Jeanne Bliss and her new book, Would You Do That to Your Mother? You know, you kind of have to run that filter for one second to say like, hey would mom like this tweet before I send this out, because you definitely can make things worse.
[27:32] JC: Now you wrote an article didn’t you, about how to deal with trolls. I thought I saw something, I didn’t get a chance to read it, but I wonder if there was some tidbits in there because I always see it and you see trolls more and more these days in social media coming in, and they’re everywhere. And it’s always interesting to see how people react because, you know, usually the users get all up in arms, but how the company reacts to these things becomes interesting. [28:00] MD: Yeah. That must be a pretty critical thing as well, which is, you know, finding out if it’s an actual customer or an actual person behind whichever username and picture, is that something that companies have to deal with a lot, the fact that everyone is kind of anonymous online?
[28:18] DG: So first of all, I do believe that the first filter is you have to identify whether this is a legitimate complaint. It doesn’t matter who it’s coming from. Is the complaint legitimate, right? And you can tell the difference between somebody that’s saying, look, I’m having a problem or this is broken, versus somebody that says, you guys suck. You know, like, that’s not a problem. There’s no complaint, right? There’s just somebody yelling and swearing and whatever. And to me, those are trolls. You can ignore those. You can delete them, you can block them. The tricky part is that companies, they often want to silence complainers and that I think is absolutely wrong, right? Because when somebody has a legitimate complaint, number one, you want to solve that problem for that customer and show everybody else that you’re a company that cares that a customer is having a bad experience and that wants to fix it, but also you want to look at the root cause because oftentimes it’s just like they say in the in the call centers, right when somebody calls about a complainant usually means that 100 other people have that complaint and haven’t called and so when there is a legitimate complaint on social, I think you have to look at it the same way and and try to find what not just solve it for that one customer, but to say what’s the root cause here that is, especially if you’re seeing the complaint more than lines so we can go back and fix that and therefore we reduce complaints in general.
[29:39] JC: Yeah. It seems like the challenge too, dan, is also trying to figure out not only is it a legitimate complaint, but I mean there must be thousands. I can imagine you’re working in a call center. There’s thousands of different things that are coming in and and the organization can’t necessarily solve all of the issues that come in, so trying to also figure out the things that really are going to have an impact on maybe the number of customers or impact their decision to continue to be a customer or to continue to buy the product and trying to figure how to separate the wheat from the shaft in terms of what’s important and what things you’re really going to take action on must be a challenge.
[30:22] DG: Yeah, I mean, I think the good thing is, is that we’ve got really good technology these days that can analyze words and analyze sentiment and raise the important things to the top. I mean, I remember, at McDonald’s for example, you know, we had certain key words that we were looking for in connection with the brand that suggested an emergency of some sort, right? An emergency, if you think about any restaurant, right in emergency could take a lot of different forms. It can be somebody getting sick, it could be somebody trying to rob the place, it could be all sorts of things. It could be a fight breaking out or whatever. And so we used technology to identify things that we wanted to rise to the top to make sure that we addressed immediately. And then I think you also want to try to group things to again, figure out like if somebody continues to complain that you know, x, y, z is not working, then you know, at some point the social media team, although they’re not the ones that have been fix x, y, z, I believe it is their responsibility to figure out who in the company is in charge of fixing x, y, z and to get those complaints and of them and to get it prioritized because ultimately that is going to work. That’s what reduces your customer service expense if you don’t have to keep answering the same question over and over again.
[31:44] MD: Worthix is disrupting the market research industry with cutting edge technology and a revolutionary methodology. Visit worthix.com to learn how we’re using artificial intelligence to improve customer experience at companies like Verizon, Jeep, Blizzard, HP, and L’oreal.
[32:03] MD: I’ve heard you speaking about communicating issues to the business and to the decision makers that can actually remedy, maybe broken processes or issues to make sure that these complaints no longer happen because the problem’s been solved, right? I can see that working in like for like midsize companies, etc. But when you have a really large scale, a massive organizations with hundreds of thousands or even millions of customers, how can you make sure that? Like what James was saying, what’s really important to customers actually gets heard and is actually detected and passed on onto people that can solve the issue?
[32:41] DG: I think it’s all about listening and you know, I’ll give you an example. When I worked at Discover, and it sounds crazy, but it was true, there were a number of times when we found out that the website was down from Twitter because that was the fastest way for us to learn that the website was down, right? We’re not sitting there, we’re doing our day jobs, we’re not all on the website all day long. Right? And the technology folks, if the website’s down, they’re probably not broadcasting it, you know, they’re probably scurrying to fix it. So oftentimes the way we would find out that there was a problem was in social media and that was because we had a very sophisticated listening system set up, we weren’t afraid of complaints.
[33:31] DG: I always talk about, you know, companies should not be afraid of complaints because people who complain complain because they care. If they didn’t care, they just pick up and go to your competitor. Generally when I’m talking about people who are like genuinely complaining, who have a legitimate complaint, they want you to fix it. That’s why they’re bringing it up. You know, they’re not trying to embarrass you. If they didn’t care, they didn’t want you to fix it, then they just say, well, we’ll get another credit card or I’ll go to another fast food restaurant and ditch you. So I think that when you look at it from that perspective and also from the perspective of, and I’ve seen this countless times, is one of my favorite things to share when I’m speaking, there’s tons of examples of, of customers that start off angry with a company in social, but the way that the company engages back with them turns them around 180 degrees.
[34:23] DG: So you start with a detractor, and they actually become an advocate and all because of the great response that that happened in social media. I think one of the more famous examples of that happened last year during, I don’t know if you guys watch This is Us the NBC show and there was a particularly important plot point that involved the certain slow cooker. And all of a sudden, out of nowhere people are tweeting about Crockpot on Twitter. It turns out Crackpot didn’t even have a handle, they weren’t there at all, and they immediately got together, and then set up an account and started responding. And one of the ones that I love showing is this woman that basically says, you know, Crockpot, you broke my heart. I can’t believe this happened. I’m never using it again.
[35:15] DG: And they write back and they say, oh man, that episode broke our heart to know, rest assured our product is safe. And the same woman writes back like a couple minutes later and says, I have to apologize for my emotional response. I could never give up my beloved Crockpot. And it’s like, it’s awesome. And I think if they don’t answer, I don’t think she responds. In other words, I think her initial is what ends up being sort of the tweet of record, but instead there’s this back and forth, and a detractor turns into an advocate. So that to me is the power and you have to be listening. I think as you get to be a bigger company, it absolutely requires technology. There’s some great platforms out there. But you know, you can’t do it.
[36:02] DG: Just a couple of people sitting there. You’ve got to have it. You got to have a machine sifting through, getting rid of spam, identifying keywords that are important, looking for references to your company when you’re not tagged looking for references to your competitors or to your industry, you know, all sorts of things that can help you do your business better. Because as I said before, it’s like free market research. [36:24] MD: How do you feel about the Twitter battles between the social media handles for big brands? For example, Wendy’s? [36:02] DG: Yeah, that’s a great question. So I probably get asked about Wendy’s more than any other company. And what I would say broadly as first of all, you know, brand voice is what companies wanted to be and some brands are more sarcastic and some brands are more fun and some brands are more serious and there’s no right or wrong answer.
[36:58] DG: It’s their voice. Now, to me, just as a consumer, when I look at sort of the fast food landscape, I think of a taco bell, for example, as being a very millennial focused, very intentionally sarcastic and kind of in your face. And to me, I still think, and I’m a gen x, but I still think of Wendy’s as that restaurant that has a logo with a little girl on it. So to me it doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t feel like their brand to me, but I don’t work there. I do think that, what you have to be careful of, and what I would have advised Wendy’s to just tone back a little bit is that, you obviously don’t want to insult people.
[37:45] DG: You don’t want to insult your customers. It’s the same thing with humor, right, is that humor can be immensely successful in marketing. Think about the Super Bowl ads that we all remember, but humor can also land really badly because some people, because everybody has a different sense of humor. What I think is funny, you might find either not funny or offensive, so it’s just this fine line and I think that when brands are intentionally trying to stand out on Twitter with a sort of, I don’t know, explosive brand voice in one direction or another, I think you just have to be careful in terms of companies talking with each other, I think there’s a time and place for that. And I think when it works it’s great. I do think that there’s a big difference between a leader brand and a follower brand.
[38:34] DG: So Wendy’s I think can do that with more credibility than McDonald’s can because McDonald’s is sort of the leader brand. And so, you know, if McDonald’s starts picking on Wendy’s, then the reaction might be, well, hey, pick on someone your own size. Like it could backfire. Whereas the little guy, the number two or number three player I think can have that kind of attitude of going against the giant, and it’s a little bit more excepted, but just be careful and I think there’s sometimes there’s just magic that happens between brands back and forth, and those get written up as well. And I love when that happens. I think everybody loves when that happens, but there’s other times, you know, like the example you gave with the server company that it can get out of hand as well.
[39:27] JC: I had sort of a reflection, Dan, talking today, I’m thinking about our listeners, and they’re trying to look for things that they can take away to action, right? As they’re thinking about holistic customer experience, social being one, two things struck me today in our conversation that are critical. One is the importance of the social teams that are interacting with content. I mean, if you think about, we talk a lot in our podcast about frontline employees. The person at the front desk, at the hotel or the airline check in or the person at the restaurant or the salesperson of the retail store, but these social teams are are equally important because they’re interacting with sometimes first for millennials, particularly maybe the first line of communication with the company and the importance of organizations training those folks and making sure that they maybe are empowered to take the right action to get that information to the right people.
[40:25] JC: So that was sort of one point I thought that that our listeners should be thinking about it is those social teams, the importance of those teams and making sure that they’re there properly connected in the organization to be able to sort of send things to action. The other one was amplifying positive experiences. As I thought about some of the things we talked about today and you mentioned rightly so that it’s oftentimes it’s the negative experience that gets talked about as much. And actually shortly after that happened on United Airlines, I fly Air Canada quite a bit, and there was a situation where they had to remove a passenger. And I was very tuned in to what was happening, and it was done incredibly well. Uh, were they handled it, they got the person off the plane that didn’t want to leave at, took some time, but they were very calm and I was really impressed, but I never tweeted about that. I didn’t post it necessarily. No one was taking a video. So how do companies amplify these positive experiences and get them out there because I think they’re equally important as people are, are looking at companies and how they’re interacting with customers. So those were two things I just sort of picked up. Is there anything you want to build on those two or anything else that I’ve missed maybe that you think is another critical factor that companies should be thinking about?
[41:41] DG: Yeah, I love those too. I think they’re both right. And you know, for companies that don’t believe in the second one. I mean, just the other day I saw somebody post he had just signed up his daughter, I think for daycare and the daycare owner had recorded a personalized video thanking him for bringing his daughter, and it was like, “Hey James, we’re so excited to see your daughter Mackenzie next week at the so and so daycare and we’re going to take great care of her and she’s going to have so much fun and this and that”, and this guy was so amazed. What does he do? He posted the video on Twitter, right? And so the thing is is that you’ve got to look for these experiences that are Joey and I on our podcast uses the word remarkable lot.
[42:26] DG: And what I love about that word is it literally means worthy of talking about, right? So it can’t just be a good experience. It has to be something that is worthy of talking about. I was walking in downtown San Francisco a couple weeks ago, and I run into a sign that says Robot Coffee Cafe. And I was like, wow, okay. I got to see what this is all about, right? Like robots and coffee. I’m already like, I’m totally into this and I walked in and of course camera out and ordered a coffee and this will be a segment on our podcast, but like that is something that is totally different. Right? And so it is remarkable. It is worthy of talking about. And I think as you look at your various experiences, you don’t have to make every experience in the journey worthy of talking about.
[43:15] DG: But you do have to find the right places where you can impress the customer, surprise them in a way that they just sort of weren’t expecting. And that’s how you get people talking about it. I’d say, James, the only other thing is and it’s sort of related to the second piece is just remembering that customer experiences, every single interaction and in that online and offline and in print and on digital, these are all things that matter. You know, I have a couple pictures that I love to show in presentations of spelling errors that have shown up on product shelves and other types of things and it’s like that’s a reflection of your brand, and I always show one from a US company, it’s sitting out on the shelves and clearly nobody knows that the thing is, is spelled wrong. And then I show another from a British company called A Sauce that identify the spelling error on their own product packaging and tweeted about it with a picture calling it a limited edition. And got 15,000 likes, that was brilliant, just a brilliant concept to sort of take a mistake and make it remarkable. So it’s not hard. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but you do have to consider that every piece of the experience is important.
[44:40] MD: I loved this conversation, Dan. It’s great, and I’m going to be honest. That was our first question. We have five here that we didn’t even get to, and I’d love for you to come back sometime, and keep talking with us because this was a great conversation and there’s so much to unpack. There’s so much valuable insight in here. So I wanted to thank you for that and thank you for coming on today.
[45:05] DG: Absolutely. Well, I had a great time as well. I love talking to other people that love customer experience as much as I do. And you guys are doing a great job. I think this show is terrific and I’ve listened to a number of episodes and I learned something and I also love how you guys just have this very natural banter between each other that goes really, really well. So thank you for including me in that banter. It was a lot of fun.
[45:30] JC: It was great to have you. [45:31] MD: Well, you’ve been a promoter of our podcast and our blog posts and everything, so I want to thank you for that. And let me ask you something. If our listeners want to follow you and listen to your podcast and read your articles, where should they go?
[45:45] DG: Sure. Well my podcast is called Experience This and it’s with my buddy Joey Coleman, and it’s a podcast that is broken up into three different segments per episode. So we tell you three different stories and we actually choose from between 10 different segment types so you also kind of never know what you’re going to get, which is part of the experience. And, again, I have a blast doing it. Um, I’m also, as you mentioned blogging for Forbes so you can find me there and I, I talk about specifically how customer experience, how remarkable customer experience can be your best marketing. And then I’m available on twitter quite often. If you’re interested in more of the social care angle and my book and my website is winning at social, that come and you can learn more about me there.
[46:37] MD: Great. That’s wonderful. James, thank you so much for being on as well. Always great to have you.
[46:39] JC: Thanks. My pleasure, Mary. [46:39] MD: And Dan. I guess we will talk to you again soon. Thank you so much for being here today.
[46:49] DG: You got it. Thanks for having me.
[46:53] MD: Thank you to all our listeners who faithfully tuned in once a week to listen to our show throughout this entire season. Voices of CX will be back soon for season three with amazing guests such as Jay Baer, Matt Dixon, adam toper rec, and other top cx practitioners to keep you in tune with the voices of customer experience. Make sure to follow worth on social media for updates and season launch dates. See you next time.
Mary Drumond is Chief Marketing Officer at survey tech startup Worthix, and host of the Voices of Customer Experience Podcast. Originally a passion project, the podcast runs weekly and features some of the most influential CX thought-leaders, practitioners and academia on challenges, development and the evolution of CX.