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Are We Creating the Age of Me?

Posted on : 31-01-2012 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Business, Marketing, Social Media



The world is changing around us and in many ways I love how connected we are becoming. At the same time with the good there is always some bad. Their has been much discussion regarding recent legislation to protect copyright infringement and illegal downloads. I am not a supporter of the legislation and I personally believe it is a slippery slope for the government to advocate such actions. At the same time I do believe we should have an open dialogue regarding the issue.

Before I get into that, let me say I think other actions are creating a world about me, instead of the connected world that many of us envision. It starts with the manner businesses operated for years which to Consumers seemed to feel like they did not care. Policy and pricing decisions seemed to be part of back room deals to maximize profits at the Customers expense. Of course these can prove to be short term financial gains but could hurt long term. The record industry as an example limited ways to purchase music, so to get around that Consumers created new ways. Finally the record industry woke up and new alternatives have arrived but they will most likely not be at the same profit margins that were enjoyed for years. I wonder what would have been different if their pricing efforts were considered more fair? We have seen this same impact in movies and television. Of course the industry is only tepidly moving forward and for every few steps forward a few steps are taken back. As an example Starz is discontinuing its deal to distribute content via Netflix. Speculation is they fear its current deal with Netflix is hurting subscribers via cable. From the rumors I heard they wanted Netflix to have some sort of tiered pricing to combat that. For years the movie industry has controlled releases carefully to encourage people to go to high priced theaters, then buy DVD’s instead of renting, etc. In my view the trouble they have with illegal downloads comes down to this control and not creating an @YourService environment. It was all about them, so now their Consumers is saying, no it is about me.

Now we are in a social media world and businesses all over want to be a part of the conversations. They want their Customers to make it about the brand. Toward this effort businesses galore have offered discounts or free product to ‘like’ them or follow their every move. This may spur conversation for their brand, but at what cost? Is this type of marketing going to change Consumer behavior? We have all heard stories of small businesses trying to take advantage of the social world by buying Groupon deals only to find the business inundated with Customers only buying the item on the deal and the business losing a lot of money with little or no repeat business from the group. I think the key for businesses is to have a culture that aligns the experience with their Customer. Building an @YourService environment Customers will want to discuss your brand and build on the relationship you have with them. Trust is key, and very few businesses have it. Do you think the movie or recording industry had it?

I view a lot of work to be artistic, whether it is a book, movie, song, or even a more traditional business product. I want to see artists get their dues. It is hard work. I have been privileged over the years to be provided many books. What these artists do not realize is that I often also bought a copy. I own many duplicates! But I am proud of their work and I want them to have success. At the same time, I trust them so I am more likely to do that. You see I do not see it as a world about me, but rather a world built on trust and relationships. This is the @YourService world I envision.

A View of Social Media from a TV Guy

Posted on : 19-07-2010 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Business, Social Media

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While reading Wall Street Journals “Social Media Draws a Crowd” this morning I was inspired to write a post that has been on my mind. The basics of the article point out facts that many of us already know. First social media is fashionable, not unlike the characters in HBO’s Sex in the City. It is currently the buzz of the marketing town. In addition to being perceived as sexy by companies, marketers, and especially the social media “experts.” This is a dangerous perception.  My favorite line in the article was:

“You can’t walk out your house without bumping into a social-media expert today, says Sean Corcoran, an analyst at Forrester Research. The reality is the space is still very much a Wild West.”

Many social media “experts” remind me of Larry David of Curb Your Enthusiasm fame. They awkwardly guide people in directions that may not be productive. In some cases they are very adamant on their view, even if it is proven wrong. Prior to todays article, I had a few encounters that prompted this post. The first was a presentation by a marketer proclaiming that social media was the biggest win for marketing. He even went so far as to state that it would mean the end of corporate communications departments. Although this shortsighted view is to be expected from Larry Davids character, it is also prevalent with some social media “experts.”  I am sorry but all departments are key to success. The other day I saw a blog post by a social media “expert” who is part of the digital strategy team for a major PR agency. In the post he declared “Facebook is Now a Corporate Necessity,” ending with “the question is no longer why should companies and organizations be on Facebook, but when are they going to launch their Facebook pages.” Definitive statements regarding social media are dangerous because the space is changing each and every day. I guess he never heard of the Nestle/Greenpeace experience.  If the post did not emphasize being part of Facebook and instead made the emphasis listening, I may have agreed more. Some of these “experts” remind me of a standup routine on the Larry Sanders show.

As Sean Corcoran noted, it is still the wild, wild, west when it comes to social media. Just like Deadwood, there are con artists willing to sell you lots of land loaded with gold at every corner. For just a small investment, you too will be rich from the gold in social media. Unfortunately as they are telling you this, they are smirking behind your back at the real money they are taking from you. This is not to say all experts are bad, they are not. Many are competent and well respected.  Just like hiring other experts, I would advise seeking recommendations and reviewing prior experiences.  In addition to learning who they have worked with, ask to speak directly with the companies.  Some experts may claim that they have worked with top companies, yet this will fall through as you ask specifics. Just like recommendations for TV programs, social media recommendations from those we trust are golden.

As marketers want to get the most out of social media, I would first recommend listening.  Listen thoroughly, just like Gina from In Treatment. There is another key point that is often misunderstood. Many spaces in social media are owned by the Customer/prospective Customer.  It is their right to turn you on or off and they will!  Just like a vampire on True Blood, who must be invited into a humans home, in some spaces you need a similar invitation to fully take part. If you are not invited in, the space may not be right for you yet or you may not have the right plan. When I think of Big Love, it is apparent that the wives do not always get along, yet they seem to be there for each other. The same is true with your spouses in different parts of your organization, such as marketing, Customer Service, PR, and HR. It is key to involve them, even if you do not always agree. In the end you will get value from each other.

If you feel like Tony Soprano is holding a gun to you forcing you to participate in social media, first think through all these HBO shows, and what you have learned .  Isn’t it funny how HBO shows can imitate life!

Editor’s Note: I apologize for not blogging for a while.  As I noted on the Comcast Voices blog, I am moving on to new challenges.  In upcoming posts here and on the Social Customer, I will be sharing some of what has been going through my mind, the experience and other thoughts.   I missed everyone, but this post is to let you know I am back!

Social Media Business Evolution Part 1: Culture

Posted on : 10-03-2010 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Business, Marketing, Social Media

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Tomorrow I will be speaking at the Social Business Summit in Austin, TX.  This pre-event for SxSW, which starts on Friday, is being presented by Dachis Group.  Dachis is a great example of a company striving to work in this new transparent environment.  Have you ever checked out the Dachis website?  They strive to be so transparent that they have developed a scroll on their website that shows exactly what they are doing.  For example if a member of the team tweets a message, it will show up.  It will even say when they are emailing someone and the domain they are emailing (not the name or full email address).  I am looking forward to this event, because the topic is fun, culture change within businesses.  I am also looking forward to seeing people like Charlene Li, who I have never met in person.  Her book Open Leadership is about to come out, and I know it will be great.

Anyway, over the past few weeks I have been doing a lot of reading, probably one of the causes for not posting as much as I would like.  I hope to start putting a lot of these pent up thoughts into posts over the next few weeks.  One of the things I have realized is their are a lot of diverse thoughts on all aspects of social media and how companies will incorporate it.  First these varying opinions are great discussion points and will help define this going forward.  At the same time, I believe many are putting the cart before the horse.  People within social media tend to love the speed of information, transparency, personal control, and the ability to see their thoughts take off.  Also those of us in social media tend to see how these benefits can impact the world.  Many see it as an revolutionary transformation, as it has been for themselves.  For businesses though, it still needs to be more of an evolutionary change, otherwise many of the positive benefits will be lost.  This change will take place at different rates of speed, and most likely in different ways based on the organization (and the people that make up that organization, including Customers).

I have read in a number of sources that businesses should not be involved in social media until they have the right culture.  This typically is centered around the free flow of information as well as trust in employees that is required in the space.  I this spirit I should admit I have sometimes been in this camp too.  Here is a funny, true story.  I have spoken to numerous organizations about social media and how I have used the space.  There is only 1 company that I did not help when requested.  The reason for this was before they were willing to chat, they wanted me to sign a non-disclosure agreement that was very lengthy.  I really did not want to read through the entire thing, and I personally felt if they were requiring that from an unpaid consultant such as myself they probably were not ready for the space.

The more I have learned about social media, I have realized the culture change that people reference is starting to happen, but it does not have to be fully embraced for a company to begin in social media.  First employees, just based on the numbers, are already participating in social media through Facebook, MySpace, blogs, Twitter and so the list goes on.  Don’t kid yourself, they are already representing the brand and generating their own culture change.  They are also taking on more say over the brand due to this.  This is why I sometimes refer to social media as the “disorganized labor movement.”  Customers are within social media discussing your products, how they use them and their thoughts on your business, this is commonly referred to as the Groundswell.  This can be positive or negative, but they are talking (I will have an upcoming post that discusses this).  Customer are also forcing this culture change.

Companies are going to move in different ways to embrace social media.  From my perspective I have seen the first efforts to be within marketing or public relations/communications.  What has happened as companies have done this, they were forced to evolve strategies to effectively meet the demands from Customer and employees.  This has meant a shift to more transparent discussions and more areas of the business being involved, such as Customer Service and senior leadership.  Most of these companies did not have the transparent culture prior to this happening, but it was forced upon them.  So for those that say right culture is required first, should observe these evolutionary patterns and understand that culture change will happen because of social media, but it is not required as a point of entry.

Here is what is really required.  First it requires visionaries that can see benefits within social media.  It really does not matter from which silo it comes from.  This also does not require full support from everyone, but it will require at least one high level supporter.  The reason you need support from one high level person is because as this evolves, some of the old school leaders will be scared and may try to cause the organization to take steps back.  Fear of something new is natural, and the reason some leaders fear it, is because they lose some sense of control.  It will also highlight deficiencies within the organization, and it may even involve their area of expertise.  As time goes on, more and more people within the organization will embrace it.  I always joke that all senior leaders are from Missouri, the “show me” state.  They need to be able to touch and feel things.  I know many have struggled with “metrics” within this space, but that is not the best way to touch and feel things.  The true benefit is you can easily show leaders what is happening in the space, reaction and what, as an organization you are learning.  The fact is they can be shown Twitter search, Google Blogsearch, Facebook search, or other easy to use tools.  They can touch and feel it themselves.

As part of this discussion of culture change, some also say the entire organization must have a strong Customer focus before entering this space.  I disagree with this too.  The reason I disagree, is this space will assist companies on their focus on the Customer.  It is difficult for senior leaders to listen to every call, or view every email, but as I mentioned above they can easily follow the discussion regarding the brand.  As we know this is a space controlled by the Customer, and they will tell you the good, the bad and the ugly.  The difference is anyone can easily search this information and learn from it.  I have never met a senior leader who wanted to create a bad experience for a Customer.  Before it is pointed out by others, I do recognize there are sometimes natural conflicts, such as price, but they never wanted anyone to not be helped when help is required.   This space will create the change within any company just by simply listening.

I applaud any company for being involved in social media.  Even if they may not be taking the best direction, I recognize that this space will force their evolution and they will become stronger participants because of it.  So my feedback to the experts in the space, just give it time; your  visions will be recognized by many companies.

The Future of Customer Service

Posted on : 18-06-2009 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Business, Customer Service

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I have talked about it before, but Customer Service across all businesses has been changing, whether it is known externally or internally.  First and foremost the Customer has changed.  I always credit this to the popularity of Amazon reviews, Ebay ratings, and Google in general.  Beyond that the typical Customer Service workforce is changing, they are now filled with the Gen Y, Millennial Generation or whatever the name is today.  This is a group that prefers a more flattened approach.  They want to share their feedback, and they will provide it to whoever will listen, no matter the title of the person.  They are not out to impress, but they will drive their point home.

So what does this all mean for businesses?  The approach for everyone needs to change.  Lets start off with the Gen Y group, they want to be a integral part of the decision making process, they want to fully understand the reasons why decisions are made and they want to be able to provide clear feedback regarding how the business is being run.  Internally it is important to provide tools to allow team members to be able to take this bottom up approach.  Engage them in decisions and take the time to teach them why certain decisions are made.  They are eager to learn, and they will be even more dedicated to the company when they feel involved.  In my observations, I have noticed the baby boomer generation to be more accepting of leaders decisions.  I remember at my prior employer, when I started you would always hear “it is what it is.”  You are not going to change it, so accept it.  Well that was never my style!  Anyway, the Gen X’ers, of which I am a part of, will question things but usually in the end support the decision and move on.  That has never been my style, but for all groups I am generalizing, and I know there are people with other styles.  For companies to better run, and have a cohesive team, it will be important to better explain and involve all levels.  The other thing to realize is if you do not, Gen Y is very resourceful, and will find ways to move the needle in their favor.  I have seen many stories of this, so this will definitely be an important aspect to managing.  They will communicate with friends (“rally the troops”) or even engage the topic in public via social media.  But the good news is, they are really striving to do what they think is right for the company, and, actually in many cases, the Customer.  I have been in Customer Service management for many years and I have seen this many times.  Have you ever had a call and thought the representative was not up to par, maybe even down right rude?  Many times this is not because of the agent, but because they disagree with the policy and they are sending a message to the company through you.  Trust me, in my prior company I managed quality assurance, and I did it by evaluating the company as well as the representatives.  You learn a lot when you start to dig into what is occurring.

Now on to the Customer.  From what I have seen the Customer is tired of companies telling them what they like or dislike.  Amazon reviews (I know there were others prior, but it really took off from there in the US) started shifting that power.  Today if a product is bad, a Customer is going to try to tell as many people as possible.  This can be done through Amazon, but now with the popularity of places like Facebook and Twitter there are now many places to do it.  Companies have to recognize this and make sure their products are at the levels they would want to represent the brand.  Now, more important then ever, service will be leading the way.  Companies have depersonalized interactions through self-service.  There will also be a shift to personalize service again.  Measurements will shift, and in many places already have, from handle time to first contact resolution and Customer satisfaction.

Beyond all this Customers are going to demand more support in ways not noticed before.  How many people have called their internet service provider and the trouble was reported to be the router.  Well from experience I can say it may be, but companies are going to have to find ways to help with all aspects.  This is not easily done, but what I foresee is working with the entire web community to build help that is used with Customers on calls, and for someone surfing the internet looking for help.  I am in the process of designing a way this could be done across many spaces.  Customers will be a part of the answers and they will have the opportunity to help others.  This is not new, but really has been limited to help forums.  But in the future this will be part of the help through all communication channels.

I also think Customers will have a greater say in the service they received.  We have already seen this through all the surveys companies are doing, but I think involvement will go from teaching representatives, to talking with senior leaders.  A lot of the future involves a theme I have always said is the most important part of management: “Listening.”  The funny thing is when I interviewed for a management role at a former employer, Vanguard, I provided that as my response.  The feedback I was given was management was much more than that.  The funny thing is I used the same response for a different management role at Vanguard a few months later and I was hired.  To this day I still believe it is the most important aspect.  Many people around you, including Customers and staff members know so much more.  It pays to listen.

Converging Worlds

Posted on : 17-06-2009 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Business, Social Media

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It seems to me that the word converging is used to describe so much that is happening right now.  At Comcast we have used it to describe the combining the way people use products like phone, internet and TV.  But in general we hear it throughout business, especially when we hear about mergers or new partnerships.  We also hear about it in politics, global news and within social media.

A little over a year ago I told a large group of PR people that the best thing about me is that I was not one of them.  This was not done in a negative way, but used to point out that people within social media do not like to have spin or the corporate line.  They prefer dialogue.  Of course I was wrong, and I have grown a lot since that time.  I have learned that we are in a converging world.  PR and Customer Service have a lot in common.  Ultimately good service is good PR.

Last night I received a phone call from a head hunter (probably not a politically correct term, should probably say executive recruiter or something like that).  That was not the first time, but what was interesting was the position was a leader in marketing for a major company.  I am sure I know many people that would be good for the role, but what really shocked me was how I have accomplished many of the goals in a very short time.  How can that be?  I have never been in marketing.  As I say all the time “I am a simple Customer Service guy.”  I guess nothing is simple in today’s world.  Things are changing including the approach to marketing and the shift to conversational marketing.  This is the first time that I could really touch it in a quantifiable way.  My eyes continue to be opened wider each day.

In this online world, it is about dialogue, not dictating the conversation.  It is not about spin but listening and asking questions.  These are both common in good Customer Service experiences.  Worlds are converging everywhere and the real winner is the Customer.

The big question for @comcastcares is: How will they scale?

Posted on : 16-01-2009 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Customer Service, Social Media

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This past week BusinessWeek.com posted a story called Comcast’s Twitter Man.  Of course I am one of a number of people on Twitter from Comcast.  These positive stories have come about because of the great team I have and their efforts to improve the Customer experience.  I am still shocked by it all.  Whenever a story comes out like this it always brings about questions:  usually scalability and existing Customer experience through other channels such as phone and chat.  This post will answer the question on scalability.  I am saving the discussion on improving the experience through all channels for the future Comcast corporate blog.  That is a topic that is more relevant for that space instead of this one.  But since I am a believer that social media engagement will be important in the coming years, I thought scalability is a great discussion for here.

Jeremiah Owyang is an analyst for Forrester Research.  He likes to ask the difficult questions, and I appreciate that about him.  I look forward to more questions in the future.  Follow this link to see an interview Jeremiah did with me during the Forrester conference in Dallas.  After the BusinessWeek.com story he tweeted the following:

To begin to answer this question I should point out that I personally believe that social media is another form of communication, similar to phone or email.  To me there is no difference.  People post in social media to be heard.  It is really just a question as to who is listening.  I believe in the coming years, as companies begin to understand social media you will see more of it.  If someone has this belief, then they  also must believe that it is scalable.

There are multiple answers in the way in which social media outreach is scalable.  The first and most obvious is as social media continues to expand more and more employees will be participating in these spaces.  If the employees are passionate they will assist.  There are 2 keys in making this successful.  The first is company policies must permit them to do so.  Many companies have been scared of this, but who is a better advocate for the company then the employee.  If they are not then the company needs to review their own hiring practices and the manner in which they treat their employees.  By the way, no matter what the company policy is, employee will still be participating in social media anyway, so it is best to embrace it.  Second is companies should teach their employees how to participate in social media spaces.  @Zappos and other companies do a great job with this.

The other model for scalability (BTW it works with the one above very well) is engagement by a team of individuals.  This too is very scalable, but it requires the right tools.  Many companies over the years have built listening tools or have a listening service.  I personally like our friends at Nielsen Online.  They have great ways to “hear” what is being discussed regarding your brand and strong analysis.   If a company is not listening, they should be.

There are also tools that are used for engagement in social media spaces like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogs, forums or many other websites where conversations are happening.   These tools are still being developed by many companies and I believe they will continue to get better.  We have been reviewing a few of them.  One such tool is Radian 6.  This tool not only pulls these conversations into one single place, but you can also assign it to someone to review and reach out to assist.  The tool also gathers the data so you can reference again in the future if necessary.  You can also track how the conversation changes.  With this tool in theory you can have many people assisting Customers in social media.  Here is a screen shot of Radian 6.

Radian 6

Radian 6

Now tools like this will continue to improve in the coming years.  I think the keys to the tools would be speed, yet provide the ability to keep it personal.  I find social media to be about relationships, so it is also key that the tool can make sure the same person is able to assist if someone comes back for help.  I would also love to see it integrated with email communication.  This will further the analysis tools but also a great way to fully understand a Customer story.  At the same time it definitely makes engagement scalable.  There is an ability to have 5 users or 10000.

Beyond the tools, companies have to continue to grow comfortable with allowing the relationships to develop.  It is imperative for anyone working in these spaces to “be themselves.”  Companies must be comfortable that every word said will not be reviewed by many different people.

So to recap here are the keys to scalability:

  • Company support
  • Speed of response
  • Assignability
  • The ability to keep it personal

There is no need to go out and purchase these tools yet, although they help.  For now, until you understand the space and how you will use it, tools like Twitter Search or Google Blogsearch will work well.

The tools will continue to evolve as social media will, but it is really making the world much smaller for individuals and companies.  How do you see this evolving?

The Lines are Blurry

Posted on : 12-12-2008 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Social Media



The other day a Customer posted a comment to my blog about his Comcast experience. He did not realize that there were better ways to contact me or that it was not a place for discussing Comcast (for the record I prefer Customers email We_Can_Help@cable.comcast.com). I helped him out and we had a nice conversation on my ride home from work. I told him at the time that he inspired a post. He was not a blogger he just wanted help, and as always I am happy to assist. Based on the great work of my team I have been very much linked to Comcast. I realized this when I went to Blog World. The first night I was in Vegas I was invited to the TechSet party at Mirage’s Bare Club. I was really looking forward to have a good time with a few drinks. I walked in and the first person I met was one of the hosts Stephanie Agresta. I introduced myself and she immediately announced to the crowd around her how ComcastCares was in the house. This is when I realized I represent Comcast to many people.  I am not Frank but I am ComcastCares.

I still had fun that night talking with Brian Solis, Gary Vandurchuk, Tony Hsieh and many others.  At the same time I only had 2 drinks the entire night.  Not that I am the type that would have been running into the pool or doing anything crazy, but it is a weird feeling the moment you realize that everything you do not only represents yourself, but also the company that you work for, no matter the time of day.  I also tend to be working all the time because twitter makes it so easy to talk with great people about topics of interest, including the work that I do.   

The day that the comment was made on the blog, I already was thinking a lot about how blurry the lines are in social media spaces.  On my ride in to work I heard a news report regarding an appeals case involving Hermitage School District and a student who created a fake myspace profile for the school principal.  On the page he referred to the principal as a “steroid freak,” a “whore” and a marijuana user.  According to Philadelphia CBS 3, the student was suspended, put into an alternative education program and restricted from extracurricular activities for his actions.  This punishment is what caused the lawsuit.  The initial court ruled that since the activity was outside of school, the district did not have the right to offer the punishment.  What is really interesting is another case with the exact opposite outcome also in the appeals system.  It is another Pennsylvania case involving an 8th Grader who created a myspace profile of the principal.  The profile did not mention the last name, but it did have the picture of the actual principal and listed his job as principal.  I will not repeat all of the specifics, but he was described as having sexual activity in his office and hitting on students and parents.  The student was suspended and the court upheld the decision.  It is now being appealed with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union and a pro bono team from Drinker, Biddle & Reath.  They are claiming first amendment rights.

I find it interesting that 2 very similar cases with 2 different answers.  I am curious how the appeals court views both cases.  But this just shows more of the blurring that is happening.  In these cases it is home, school and social media.  I have to be honest, I am not sure how I feel about these cases.  The activity was outside of school, so it is something that the parent should discipline.  At the same time there does need to be a certain amount of respect for the principal and I am sure both caused some disruption at school.  Are these cases defamation of character or a joke protected by the first amendment?  Should the schools discipline for this or should the individuals being defamed sue the family?  Maybe nothing should be done.  To me it is a blurry aspect of social media.  If this was the press, the principals would sue.  Is social media any different?




Redefining What People Think of Customer Service – Engagement

Posted on : 09-12-2008 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Customer Service, Social Media

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Engaging in Social Media is not redefining Customer Service, but rather what people think of Customer Service. To start lets look at what Customer Service really is. In an effort to do this I started by Googling the term “Customer Service Definitions.” Many of the definitions I found made me laugh. I am starting to see why Customer Service is lacking throughout the country. It is interesting that many of them were missing key components or focusing on sales, the company or other ancillary business aspect. To me it is simple. It is the manner that you build long term relationships with your Customers. This is done through every interaction a Customer has with your company, including use of the products, interactions with your systems (such as your website), reviewing marketing material or talking to anyone representing your company in any forum (phone, in person (even at a party), email, chat, etc). Even when the Customer is writing the check or using their banks online bill pay service, this is Customer Service.

What I found most interesting is many of the definitions seem to focus on complaints, people interactions or sales. This is missing the boat. If you purchase from Amazon, one of the main Customer Service points is when the shipment arrives at your door. If it is damaged or late, you will consider it to be a poor service experience. But if it the shipping time exceeds your expectations you will be wowed.

This is why I am a firm believer that everyone in any organization is part of the Customer Service function. Do you feel that you are part of Customer Service? Or do you look down on people that work in this function? If you do it is time for you to adjust that attitude.

Now this brings me to the topic of the post. I have seen a lot of press and blog posts about the efforts of my team on the web. I have always been surprised by this because I do not see what I am doing as that special. If you review how I defined Customer Service, you will notice that I believe it is everyone’s responsibility to talk with Customers. I also believe that it is important to be where they are when possible. The internet provides that ability.

To me if I hear someone talking about the company I work for I always offer to help. I have done this at parties, on the street, and one time in a Verizon Wireless store. I never have done it in a negative way. I would just say let me assist, here is my business card. My business card has my email, office phone and my cell phone clearly listed on it. It is very simple. “Let me know if I can help.”

So now we look at engagement in social media spaces. In many cases I write simple messages, “Can I help” or “Thank you.” I do not use the time to sell which many marketers have tried to do. Yet these simple acknowledgements have led to many sales. The key is to be genuine and willing to sincerely listen and help. I never press, I simply provide the opportunity for someone to obtain assistance. For me if I saw someone who wanted or needed help anywhere, I would be happy to assist. As many of you know I have been known to do this many hours of the day, but that is because if I see someone that needs help, and if I can, I will.

So our online activity has caused a little buzz at times, but it is never redefined my definition of Customer Service. What occurred is some people never thought of social media and Customer Service so it appeared new to them. It redefined their thought on Customer Service. That to me is exciting and it is part of the overall shift I think we are seeing in the way people and companies view Customers Service. The definition is becoming more clear. What do you think?

A Rapid Response Culture – Just in Case You Missed It

Posted on : 08-12-2008 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Social Media



You Might Get a Headache from Social Media

Posted on : 18-11-2008 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Brands, Social Media

Tags: , ,


How effective is your company listening to social media?  Do you have the ability to respond quickly and effectively within the space.  Everyone knows my story on Twitter, so I will not go into that here.  But one thing I have always said is the true ROI for being involved in social media is the cost for not being involved.  Over the past few days a story began to unfold regarding a brand many of us have used (although based on what I have seen, many will not use going forward).  The brand is Motrin.  Lets watch a little of this headache unfold:

It all started with this ad campaign (you can provide your own adjectives). I think Peggy Olson (Mad Men) would have told Donald Draper no on this one! 



That was the beginning of the headache for the maker of Motrin, McNeil Consumer Healthcare (A division of Johnson and Johnson).  As I have stated before, one of the reasons Twitter is a good place for business is news starts in places like that or online forums.  From there it usually spreads to other sources such as blogs, or in this case You Tube.  Eventually the information finds its way to traditional media.  Well this is just one of those stories.  So after the ad campaign began, let the tweets and the headache begin.  Here is an image of the website:


Moms began to tweet about the offensive nature of the ad.  These mom’s made it clear that it is not a pain to hold their child close to them and they love to do it.  So this ad was truly backfiring on them and they did not know it, at least until someone decided to build the video.  Instead of rebuilding all the tweets, check out the You Tube video created:



This started numerous blog posts on the topic.  Check out Google Blogsearch, Twitter Search, or a search of You Tube.  This caused a large hit to the brand that will show in search results for a long time to come.  Now at this time the company has posted an apology on the Motrin website:



There are a number of lessons for brands.

  1. Common Sense Marketing – First and foremost use common sense in advertising.  I am not a marketing person, but I could see this one coming the moment I saw the ad.
  2. Listening in Social Media – Listen to spaces such as Twitter because it will give you a heads up very early and hopefully respond before there is a video and numerous blog entries such as this one.
  3. Engagement – If you had individuals already in spaces like Twitter, reaching out at the time of the initial tweets may have prevented this (although no guarantee).  It at least would have made it so some of the individuals would have known the brand was listening.  I will write a post soon on engagement by companies! 
  4. Rapid Response Culture – Create a rapid response culture that would allow this to be escalated to the right people and decisions made immediately.

I would like to thank the Moms on Twitter for sharing the story – I have become friends with many of you and I appreciate all the hard work you do.  I also found the blog posts from David Armano and Pete Blackshaw very helpful (as always)