Jay Baer on his show Jay Today went on a rant last week about ads promoting social media accounts for no apparent reason. And now thanks to Jay, I’m seeing examples of this waste of advertising space everywhere I go. It’s haunting me. I saw three just today. Thanks a lot Jay.

The point Jay was making is that too often brands are just slapping their social media accounts on their ads without giving us any reason to connect with them there. Jay’s assertion is that the brand needs to tell us why? Why should I connect with you there? Spot on.

But it goes further than that. That “why” better be based on what you know about me. Not why you (the brand) think I ought to connect with you. Tell me why the connection will be valuable for me. Not what you want me to realize as value.

After all, isn’t that the difference between social marketing and old school in the first place?

The Survival Guide to Customer Experience

I wanted to reach out and share a Project I was fortunate to be part of. It is a new eBook from Sprinklr called, “The Survival Guide to Customer Experience.”


I am joined by 19 other thought leaders including Jay Baer, Frank Eliason, Annette Franz, Stan Phelps, Richard Shapiro, John Goodman, Steve Curtin, Roy Atkinson and Jeanne Bliss.
Here’s a synopsis of the eBook:
It doesn’t matter what your ads say. In today’s world, the only thing that customers care about is the EXPERIENCE. Customers want a consistent brand experience each time they interact with your brand – and they want this across all channels. But how exactly do you pull this off? Through successful CXM (Customer Experience Management).What’s CXM? CXM is the process of providing unforgettable experiences to your customers at every touchpoint – online, on the phone, on social, and in person.The reasons to invest in CXM are clear:

  • Customers are twice as likely to share a negative experience with a business than a positive one.
  • 86% of customers will pay more for a better customer experience.

Interested in learning how to create a sustainable CXM initiative?

Download your complimentary copy of the ebook here.

quote-barry-daltonMy chapter in the eBook is called, “Bigger Isn’t Always Better in the Customer Business.” I hope you enjoy it.

Five Years Retrospective on Social Customer Care

Five years seems like a good milestone to reflect on the impact social media has had on how brands respond to and engage their customers to deliver customer care. Guy Stephens asked some of the leading thinkers on the topic to offer their perspective on what’s transpired and what frontiers are still to explore. Find the eBook here.

Share in the comments whether you think this group got it right

Betting On Social Business


1. 70% of U.S. workers report not being engaged at work

2. 89% of employers think their people leave for more money.  While 12% actually do leave for this reason primarily

3. 75% of people voluntarily leaving their jobs don’t quit their jobs, they quit their companies

4. 70% of Forbes Global 2000 companies will use gamification to boost engagement, retention and revenue

5. 90% of business leaders think an engagement strategy has an impact on business success.  Barely 25% have a strategy.

6. Only 40% of employees report knowing about their company’s goals and strategies

7. 43% of highly engaged employees receive feedback once a week compared to only 18% of employees with low engagement

8. Companies who’s employees report being highly engaged average 2x revenue growth of those with low engagement

9. 87% of of highly engaged employees report being less likely to leave their companies than unengaged counterparts

10. Businesses with highly engaged employees report twice the net income percentage of those with lagging engagement

(you can find the infographic and all references here)

Social Media Usage Among Business Professionals

The vast majority of social media usage data and analysis we’ve been reading over the past year has been focused on trying to guess what the next big platform will be.  More recently, a lot of the information has been based on age demographics (e.g. the shift of teens away from Facebook to SnapChat).  For the most part, the primary purpose of the research seems to focus on helping marketers better understand how to allocate future social media marketing spend most effectively.

In collaboration with my friends Jared Romanski and Seth Goldstein, we developed this research survey to better understand the shifting preferences of business professionals with respect to their social platform use. This research is not for marketing purposes.  Rather, it is intended to better understand where business professionals are realizing the most value from social tools and their use.  With your input, we are eager to understand the following trends:

  • How has one’s use of social platforms evolved over time?
  • Where are business professionals spending their time on the social web?
  • For what purposes are business professionals leveraging social (eg. Content sharing, consumption, networking personal branding or selling)

We would be grateful if you would take just a few minutes to share your input on this topic by taking this short survey.

If the link above doesn’t work, you can cut and paste the link here into your browser:


We’ll be sharing the results here and every social network on which we can.  Thanks in advance.

Ten Customer Experience Prediction Posts from 2013

UnknownYes, I know.  This is the time of year…or it was actually last month…for the flood of articles and posts predicting what will happen in the upcoming year.  In every field and endeavor, prognosticators are dusting off their crystal snowballs to give us their perspective on what we should expect in the twelve months ahead.

But I’m not much of a bold, big splash predictor kind of guy.  At the same time, I’m not one who spends a lot of time looking back or dwelling in the past, good or bad.  My approach is more observational.  I take in what I see.  And I set my agenda for what I need to do to stay on the crest of the wave; to continue to create value for those around me.

To know where you’re going, though, it is vital to understand where you’ve been.  If the path you’ve set for you or your business is in dramatic contrast to where you’ve just come from, then how you will get there will be radically different than if that path is just a straight line continuation of your current trajectory.

So, in that light, its always interesting to see how close or distant future projections came to the reality, now that that reality is in the books.  This isn’t to suggest who is any better or worse at reading the tea leaves.  But as interesting reading, here is a list in no particular order of ten of those prediction posts about customer experience and customer service from 2013.

My observation about 2013 predictions, as with most such articles, is that they were all directionally fairly accurate.  And, none of what I’ve read from late 2012/early 2013 is nearly complete.  Its all still an evolving work in process.  And at the same time, these predictions are all general and painted with a broad enough brush as to not provide any secret recipe to follow to the letter.  The hard work still remains in taking such information in as guideposts and implementing what creates value for your specific customer.

So how’d they do?

Who’s Mining Your Enterprise Collaboration Data?

imgresI’m not sure exactly what triggered my latest bout of insomnia two nights ago.  You can pretty much pick a card from the deck and find a reason.  So, at 3:15 am, I did what any sleep expert will tell you.  I picked up my iPad to catch up on my reading.  Because nothing says “soothing lullaby” like an irradiating screen burning your retina from six inches away.

As my head began to clear a bit at 3:25, I came across this post from Dan Brown.  He did to Facebook what many of us want to do but just can’t seem to pull the trigger, despite Sheryl Sandberg’s latest assertion.  If you are on Facebook (the 6 billion slackers that haven’t felt the rush yet can disregard), you need to read Dan’s post!

I did, several times.  After finally closing my tablet, I thought I could squeeze out another 45 minutes or so of sleep.  But, Dan’s post kept swirling in my head.  Then, I had a thought that scared the hell out of me.  Sleep was done for the night.  Here’s why.

It’s year-end prediction time all over this great big media universe we live in.  Everyone’s taking their turn putting on the Carnac get-up.  One of the most prolific predictions in the social business galaxy is that social business, enterprise collaboration, E2.0, whatever you want to call it, will accelerate in 2014 and will start to become ubiquitous in enterprise operations, strategies and business models across a multitude of industries.  Enterprise collaboration and the technologies that enable these practices will start to become the norm.  Corporate culture will shift en mass from the idea that “he with the knowledge wins” to “he who shares his knowledge and builds collaborative relationships will win”.   And, I’m all for it.  There’s no “I” in team.  Nor is there one in my name.  I am an over-the-top, open collaborator.  And have been forever.

But, in order for this enterprise collaboration to really work, for people to find and share with others in the organization through which they can create mutual value for themselves and the business, by definition, people will have to form bonds.  They will have to find some common ground upon which to forge these collaborative relationships.  In the course of this new enterprise Dating Game, people are going to share, and want others to share with them, information about themselves.  In this social media-driven world, we call it “authenticity” and “transparency”.  But, its also basic human nature.

So, what happens when the Monday morning water cooler chatter ends up in the new stream of the company’s collaboration platform?

A typical post that is already a reality might look something like this.

“Hey Bill, I’ve posted a revision of that design here for you and your team to review for your presentation”

“Thanks!  BTW, I had a great time at the Packers game yesterday.  Thanks for the tickets!”

Fairly innocuous.  Right?

Then, a couple of days later, Bill comes back from lunch and checks his news feed again.  The first post he sees looks something like this.

Sponsored Link

Get the latest NIKE NLF gear from The Packers and support Green Bay in their charge to another Super Bowl”








Ok, that would never happen.  The Packers stink this year.  But, here’s the point.

As Dan Brown articulated, in Facebook’s eye’s, you are the product.  You are there to be sold.  Everything you do, either with your explicit permission, or implicitly because they have crafty attorneys that write privacy statements that you can’t understand and so consent to blindly, is mined, packaged and sold as data to marketers who use that data to hawk their wares to you.  In case you hadn’t noticed, your Facebook news feed is being overrun by sponsored posts and targeted ads.

So, what’s to stop your employer from doing the same?  Yes, I know.  Just like email or any other company-owned platform, whatever you say becomes the property of the enterprise.  But, this is different.  Email is email.  And while I’ve seen way too many people torpedo their careers by hitting “reply all” when sending a rant about their boss, a selfie showing too much flesh or other such stupidity, this is different.  As, organizations become more virtual and digital collaboration platforms become the default methods for all communications (if we are to believe the prognosticators), much much more will be shared across these platforms than would ever have been shared via email.

Facebook uses all this member data for one reason.  To make money.  While not even Walmart has a billion employees, some of the most progressive organizations in the adoption of enterprise collaboration are huge, global enterprises with several hundred thousand employees.  Not a bad data set for a marketer, if you ask me.

What happens when one of those smart brands approaches said progressive company and offers a lucrative revenue stream in exchange for access to it’s collaboration platform data and the ability to use that platform to pitch its products to all 400,000 employees.  What if ten brands do it?  One hundred?  One thousand?  This is potentially a temptation too strong for company leadership to resist.  Where does it stop?  The NSA is already there.  Credit agencies? Banks? Insurance companies?  Lifestyle is a significant variable in health insurance premium calculations.  What if an employer’s insurer offers discounts on group premiums in exchange for access to this data?

The past several years have seen employers spend countless monetary and human capital resources crafting social media guidelines that their workers need to follow as a condition of employment.  The focus of these guidelines for the most part has been to protect the company.  What about protecting employees’ privacy?  It’s not reasonable for organizations to incentivize, and even in some cases require employees to engage on these digital platforms and then provide them no reasonable protection from having what may seem mundane information used as input into some targeting or segmentation algorithm.

My goal in writing this ridiculously long post (sorry about that) is that someone reading this post can point me to advocacy work already been done in this area.  Or, if not, to raise awareness that this is a real and present issue that needs thoughtful dialog and consideration.  Let’s hope the dialog happens before unsuspecting employees find out the hard way.  Like Bill.

The Real Reason Social Media Has Changed Customer Service

imagesI may as well fire this shot over the bow right from the starting gate: Customer service as an enterprise business function hasn’t changed all that much in the 30 years since the introduction of ACD (automated call distribution) technology. This is when it became practical and cost effective to deliver customer service at massive scale.

For the ensuing three decades or so, the overall focus of customer service has been centered on responding to customer issues with greater efficiency, greater scale, and greater speed at lower and lower cost.

There’s no doubt there has been noticeable innovation in technology and in the introduction of expanding communications channels through which to deliver the service. That includes social channels such as Facebook, Twitter, community forums, and other peer-to-peer networking sites.  And there have certainly been shining examples of companies that do customer service better than the rest.

But the point is that it’s the same service, the same function, driven by the same mission and measured by the same performance metrics as a generation ago.

The Tipping Point

Customer service is at a tipping point. Real change is needed. Real change is possible. Real change is being demanded.  And social media is the catalyst for this change. And, trust me when I say, I’m not a hype advocate, zealot, nor pushing any social media agenda. For as knee deep as I am in social media, I’m probably more pragmatic than most when it comes to adoption and business value, particularly in huge, risk-averse enterprises.

That said, social media is driving profound change in social consciousness, political debate, medicine, government oversight, and virtually every other aspect of human endeavor. The reasons why social media is so able to affect change differ in all these scenarios. But one thing they all have in common is this; the veil of secrecy has been obliterated. And information, accurate or not, now proliferates at the speed of light.

So what does change look like for customer service? While the tactical components are many, and those are probably worth exploring in followup posts, they can all be summed up this way.

Social media is the catalyst to move customer service from efficient reaction to value-creating proactivity

I’ve tried to test this overarching paradigm shift against every conceivable example. Every element of customer service as we generally know it today fits: enterprise strategic mission, engagement strategy, operational KPIs, interaction flows, knowledge management, financial measures, talent & skill development, data management, analytics, channel mix, workforce management. And, that’s just a partial list.

Is there anything I missed? Is there some element of customer service as we know it today that doesn’t fit this paradigm? Or am I truly in denial about my zealotry? Tell us about it below.

Syndicated, Social & Customer Service Data

Social-Media-InsightsSpencer Geren, my friend and big data evangelist, made a compelling case for the incremental value created by augmenting syndicated data in Consumer Packaged Goods with social web data.  In Spencer’s example, social data provides the opportunity to understand the “why” behind the sales and consumption numbers.

As background, Dion Hinchcliffe made a very good baseline case here for the value created by combining big data and social media.

While you can make the argument that this root cause level data is already available via customer surveys, focus groups and other such methods, there are key differentiators that make the pursuit of Spencer’s concept worth the investment.  A few differentiators that this strategy provides include:

  • Unsolicited vs solicited consumer feedback: unsolicited feedback especially peer-to-peer, gathered via social chatter is more authentic.  And, by not forcing answers to specific questions, potentially leads to unexpected yet more valuable insights. 
  • Timeliness of insights: social data provides a source of more real-time feedback to brands compared to the typical time delay associated with syndicated data alone.  Actions taken in that time compressed state can translate into significant sales and market share impact.
  • Why is always more actionable than What: As Spencer noted in his piece, social data provides insights on the behaviors and real-time reactions that will drive the consumption numbers in the future.

So, as a customer service guy, I of course look at this issue through that lens.  Multi-channel customer service data provides even greater value along those three elements above.  Multi-channel customer service data, by definition:

  • Is unsolicited
  • Is timely
  • Provides the insight into customer behavior

The point here is two-fold.  First, marketers and market researchers should be tapping into this customer service data as a value added tool in their quest to predict future customer behaviors.  Secondly, as I argued in my recent post on Salesforce.com’s blog, customer service as an enterprise function has the opportunity to use social, multi-channel and other big data sets to reinvent itself from traditional reactive processes to a proactive deliverer of customer insights.

The Big Data History Lesson

imagesI just got done listening to a keynote from McKinsey’s Matt Ariker on big data at the SOCAP Spring Symposium.  As I was listening I was struggling to find something more interesting to write than just reporting the highlights of his talk.  Then, about two thirds of the way through the hour long session, I got it.  Rather than ruining my own punch line.  Let’s see if you can figure it out.  See if you come to the same conclusion.

Matt started out challenging the audience with some good questions to ponder.  Like big data, what is it?  Why now? Why should you care?  One answer?  According to Tech Crunch, big data will drive $232 billion in spending by 2017.  So, yeah.  We should care.  Good so far.

Matt went on to share some other stats and also some of the key questions that his clients are asking on the subject.  Then, his presentation outlined what he believes, or is observing as some of the critical pains that organizations are currently experiencing with respect to big data.  In summary, they were as follows:

  • Lack of clarity on the vision and roadmap for big data.  Everyone wants all the data they can get there hands on without having the business questions identified first.
  •  Enterprise culture and mindset are not aligned.  There is not 100% buy-in and commitment from the C-Suite
  • Ineffective use of data and tools.  Data project scope creep is deadly.  Too many think “if I can get more data, why not?”  There ends up being too much time and resources spent on acquisition and aggregation at the expense of analysis and solving business problems
  • Ineffective integration of big data projects into business processes.  Internal stakeholders are not engaged in development nor accountable for delivery
  • Too much focus on technology and not business processes
  • Misalignment of required enterprise skills to execute on these projects. The focus is largely on technical skills, or in repurposing other skills and resources.

Did you figure it out?  This is history repeating itself.  Haven’t we seen this before?  Many, many times?  ERP.  CRM.  Virtually any big, enterprise technology initiative over the past 20 years has faced these same set of challenges.  You could take this post and do a find and replace.  Insert “ERP” or “CRM” in place of “Big Data”, date it 1995 or 2001 and the issues would be still relevant.

So, like back in 2000, there are companies that are doing it right.  So, perhaps the best place to start, the first mile of your roadmap, should be to find those examples and do what they are doing. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…and it just might save your career if you’re the one writing the big data checks in your organization.