It seems that everyone now has a Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and any other alphabet soup social media account you can think of. And rabid social media "experts" are calling for every C-level executive to embrace social media as part of their new commitment to transparency. Who cares whether the CCO tweets? Is the CMO going to magically create brand evangelists in 140 characters? If the CFO posts a family vacation snapshot on the company blog, is Wall Street going to raise earnings expectations?
I think not. While there are benefits, whether you choose to blog, tweet, comment, or otherwise personally participate in social media is irrelevant. However, there are four things CCOs need to be thinking about now with regards to this powerful phenomenon:
1. Customer monitoring
More and more of our customers are on social media and, with the proliferation of social media monitoring tools, we have at our fingertips a rich and real-time view of customer (or end-user, as it may be for your business) needs, desires, and issues. Do we need yet another source of information about our customers? We might think not, but in truth, this source is far more immediate than sales reports, quarterly rolling surveys, or even post-interaction surveys. And because the comments are unsolicited, they're probably more accurate--although sometimes far more inflammatory. Leverage the opportunity presenting itself and use it to mine information about customers, users, and even competitors and detractors. What might words said in a "social" forum tell you about business strategy that salespeople can leverage?
2. Triage and escalation avoidance
As we've seen over and over again, mistakes and mishaps can go viral in a heartbeat. FedEx did a wonderful job of responding within 48 hours to a security camera video of one of its drivers caught throwing a computer monitor over a customer's gate. In two days the video received more than 4 million views and 17,000 comments. The SVP of U.S. Operations issued a video and print response that was fantastic: apologizing, reiterating the true values of the company, detailing actions being taken, and reaching out to the offended customer. Every news article includes reference to his response, nearly nullifying the impact of the original misdeed. We have all spent significant time and energy creating in our companies elaborate, closed-loop triage and issue resolution processes for our customers in the call centers, sales channels, and at the executive level. We need to extend those processes to social media to discover problems and nip escalations before they become full-blown PR nightmares that damage our brand, loyalty, and profits.
3. Opportunity discovery
During the Super Bowl a couple of years ago, a number of customers offended by Go Daddy's risquÃ© advertisements expressed their frustration with the obvious disconnect from their personal values along with their interest in changing domain hosts. An individual in Comcast's then-nascent social media monitoring group happened to be watching and offered them a special incentive to switch. There was a fair amount of business generated by this lucky catch. What opportunities can we find and shuttle to our sales teams?
4. Employee monitoring
In addition to all the benefits, social media can be a legal nightmare, a PR disaster, or simply a venue in which customer trust can be damaged or destroyed. Not all employees are malicious; many are simply misinformed and need guidance. Assuming that someone in the company has produced clear guidelines for social media behavior, there is a rising a need to monitor employee behavior on social media. In response, new businesses are emerging that help companies monitor and control how employees interact with customers using social media. While you're monitoring customers you need to be monitoring employees--not necessarily to catch them doing something wrong, but to guide their creation of a consistent customer experience across all channels.
What are your thoughts? Who cares whether or not the CCO tweets?
+ + + + + + +
About the Author: Curtis Bingham is executive director of the Chief Customer Officer Council