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Why Social Media Customer Service Is a Marketing Opportunity

Authors: Jay Baer Dan Gingiss
Posted Under: Social Pros Podcast
Hosted By
Jay Baer

Daniel Lemin

Convince & Convert
Jay Baer

Hannah Tooker

Jay Baer

Leanna Pham

Convince & Convert
About Social Pros Podcast:

Social Pros is one of the longest-running marketing podcasts in existence (10 YEARS and counting), and was recently recognized as the #1 Audio/Podcast Series by the Content Marketing Awards.

Our purpose? Making sure that we speak to real people doing real work in social media.

Listeners get inside stories and behind-the-scenes secrets about how teams at companies like Google, Reddit, Glossier, Zillow, Lyft, Marvel, and dozens more, staff, operate, and measure their social media programs.  With 600+ episodes, the Social Pros Podcast brings the humanity of social media to the forefront, while providing incredibly useful marketing strategies that listeners can immediately implement.

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Apple Podcast Reviews:

The Social Pros podcast has quickly become a favorite in my feed! I'm consistently impressed by the engaging conversations, insightful content, and actionable ideas. I truly learn something every time I listen!

@Arlie K

This is absolutely an awesome listen for anyone in communications or social media!!


This podcast has become one of my staple weekly podcasts for learning about marketing! Love the conversations that they have and it's always enjoyable and educational!


Love the podcast - informative, in depth and spot on for any business size.


Dan Gingiss, Author of Winning at Social Customer Care, joins the Social Pros Podcast to discuss the power, impact, and future of customer service through social.

DanGingiss-InstagramHitting 100% Engagement Rate

Customer care is not just a tool to help your customers fix a problem. It’s an opportunity for marketers to publicly engage with their customers in a way that leads to more interactions, more sales, and more positive metrics.
There are several ways to integrate customer care with your marketing team. It’s important to note that one of them is not removing the platform from your customer service team. Those folks know what they’re doing and frankly your marketing team needs to stay out of their way!
What marketing can do to support your customer service team is to ensure customers can engage with your brand on any channel and receive support. Adding specific “help” handles seems helpful, but is actually just another barrier between you and your customer.
The most important thing is to remember that the only way for marketing to avoid customer service is to get rid of all your customers. It’s a very necessary part of the work in social media marketing because without customers, there is nobody on social to engage with and we’re all out of a job.

In This Episode

  • How well-executed social customer care interactions lead to a 100% engagement rate
  • Why today’s social climate means companies have to talk the talk AND walk the walk when it comes to customer services
  • Why social customer care needs to stay with customer service
  • How the rise of social video leads to a shift in customer service recruitment
  • Why not focusing social on customer service means getting rid of all your customers


Quotes From This Episode

“A lot of marketers forget about the fact that social media has two words. It’s social and media and they tend to focus on the media part.” —@dgingiss
“When people are able to take the time out of the day to contact a brand, whether they’re complaining, whether they’re complimenting, or whether they’re asking you a question, it means they care.” —@dgingiss
“You have more than one additional interaction per social care resolution.” —@dgingiss
“If you’re a company that’s good at customer service you now get to demonstrate it out in public. That’s different than going on television and telling people that you’re good at customer service.” —@dgingiss
“There’s a certain amount of social currency for the customer when a brand is engaging with them.” —@dgingiss
Nobody is scrolling down the feed looking for your marketing messages. That’s just not how it works. Being able to show the customer service and show that you are an engaging brand is really its own marketing.” —@dgingiss
The customer service pie is expanding. Now that customers have more and more ways to contact brands they’re taking advantage of it.” —@dgingiss
“Just as video is becoming crazy big on the marketing side, there’s no reason why it can’t be on the customer service side.” —@dgingiss
Customer service is the new marketing.” —@dgingiss
“What started as a pretty good, pretty smooth eCommerce experience where a bot could be really helpful, turned into a complete mess and that’s what I’m really afraid of is that we’ve got to work really hard to get this right.” —@dgingiss
“You don’t have to ignore it. You can choose to invest in it.” —@dgingiss
“So many brands were just using Facebook and Twitter as yet another megaphone channel, like it was television.” —@dgingiss
“Customer service should not be looked at as a cost center. That is a mistake that most brands still make but when you turn that coin around, you realize that building relationships with customers is what it’s all about.” —@dgingiss


See you next week!


Jay: Welcome everybody to Social Pros, the podcast for real people doing real work in social media. I am, as always, Jay Baer, from Convince and Convert. Joined here on episode 261 by my rudimentary special Texas friend. He is from Austin. He is the executive strategist of Salesforce Marketing Cloud. He is Adam Brown.
Adam: That is me. Wow. Hey, Jay. How are you? As we record this, as you said, I am in Austin, Texas and we have a little shindig going on in this town this weekend. You may have heard of it South by Southwest.
Jay: South by Southwest. Yeah. It’s going to be a couple weeks before this show airs so we’re trying to get it done before Spring Break in South by and vacations and all that so I hope you survive the madness my friend.
Adam: I hope so too. I hope the weather cooperates. It looks like it may rain and we always love to have rain at South by when you’re a local and there’s only one reason for that, Jay. It’s because it seems as every time we have a South by people want to move here and I like to think that …
Jay: But not when it rains?
Adam: I like to think that the rain helps do the anti-chamber of commerce for the city of Austin. I love Austin.
Jay: You know what happens when it rains is people complain all the time at South by. They complain about how long it takes to get into places and they complain about restaurants, they complain about Ubers, and of course in that environment nobody’s going to do anything other than use social media to complain, which is why this week’s special guest on Social Pros is the perfect guest.
Adam: What a segue. Man.
Jay: Man I should do this for a living.
Adam: You’re a pro.
Jay: I am super fired up to have Dan Gingess on the program. Dan is a social customer service pioneer. You can tell because of the arrows in his back. He is the star of my book, Hug Your Haters, and now he has his own fantastic book, it’s out right now on, etc., go get it. It’s extraordinary. I wrote the forward to it, you’re going to love it. It’s called Winning at Social Customer Care, How Top Brands Create Engaging Experiences on Social Media. It is a barn burner, Mr. Gingess welcome to Social Pros.
Dan: Wow, thank you very much guys. Super excited to be back with you and Jay, can’t be more happy to have a book out with your name on the forward after really enjoying Hug Your Haters and being a part of that.
Jay: Thanks, we’re delighted to have you on the show. Congratulations on the book. I know it’s selling strong and will continue to do so because it is super duper useful. Why did you write this? You’ve been doing this for a long time, why did you dive into the book game?
Dan: Well I’ve been hosting a podcast for awhile, although not nearly as long as 261 episodes and I’ve interviewed a whole bunch of brands about social care and over that time I realized that there were some themes that were pretty consistent about what great brands are doing on social media in order to just nail it in customer service, and so I put those together into the eight steps of winning at social customer care and I started writing it, I was able to lean back on all the interviews that I’ve done with these fantastic brands and one of the things that I’ve loved about being a podcaster is that every single episode I do, I learn something and that’s what makes it so fun and rewarding personally to do and so then I know that people listening to it are learning as well. The book is really a compilation of that. That plus the fact that I’ve also been able to do social customer care at two big companies.
Adam: Discover and Humana.
Dan: Yup and then taking all that experience, plus what I’ve learned from others, you got a book.
Jay: I love it. You talk about how to create engaging experiences on social media. What makes social care engaging? What’s sort of the threshold where you would say, “Yes this is engaging versus this is just mediocre?”
Dan: Well that’s a great question. I mean I think that a lot of marketers, first of all, forget about the fact that social media has two words. It’s social and media and they tend to focus on the media and the social part is really what makes social different from any other channel and that is what is the engaging part. A lot of times people are coming on social to talk to brands because they want to have a conversation with that brand and so when brands are willing to have the conversation back that’s engaging. My view on it is is that when people are able to take the time out of the day to contact a brand, whether they’re complaining, whether they’re complimenting, or whether they’re asking you a question, it means they care and it means that they are interested in your brand and so why wouldn’t a brand want to take advantage of that and engage back?
One of the things that we talk about in the reporting section that I thought was absolutely fascinating, we saw this at Discover, was that if you look at engagement in terms of traditional social media. What we kind of call vanity metrics, the likes, favorites, retweets, etc., if you look at engagement after a customer service interaction is done and you start the clock when it’s finished what you see is engagement rates that actually top 100% in both Facebook and Twitter. What that means Jay and Adam is that if you are tweeting at a brand and asking a question and the brand responds back and resolves your problem and then you start the clock to see okay how many likes, favorites, comments, additional things happen after that? What you see quite often is that’s over 100%, meaning that you have more than one additional interaction per social care resolution. If you talk to any marketer, and Jay you’re one of the world’s best, you probably know that 100% engagement rate is pretty tough to achieve in any marketing campaign.
Jay: Yeah. No kidding. That is extraordinary. You’ve always been in charge of social customer care roles in your career, but certainly you’ve had a lot of visibility and interaction with the offline customer service teams, phone and email, etc., would you say that because of that sort of psychological loyalty advocacy condition that you just described, that social customer service is now a greater opportunity for businesses than traditional offline customer service because, as we talked about in Hug Your Haters, that customer service is a spectator sport now, right? That people, in addition to the customer themselves, people can see how you handle other customers on Twitter and Facebook and Yelp and Trip Advisor, etc.
Dan: I definitely think that’s one part of it for sure is that if you’re a company that’s good at customer service you now get to demonstrate it out in public. That’s different than going on television and telling people that you’re good at customer service. You actually get to show it. I think that’s one important piece of it. The other thing is, is that there’s a certain amount of social currency for the customer when a brand is engaging with them and that’s why you see so much of this engagement after a customer service interaction happens is that if I tweet at a big brand, like an Amazon or an Apple or a Fitbit or whatever, and they tweet back to me, that makes me feel good. That gives me social currency because I am important enough that a big brand just recognized me and I don’t think that happens on other channels because you obviously don’t have that shareable element on other channels.
You dial up the 800 number, of course they’re going to answer, or at least they should answer, but in social you get that additional currency there and I think that’s really what creates that relationship and satisfaction with people when brands do answer.
Jay: Yeah. I mean if you’re good at customer service, you want people to see that. In fact, you told me a really interesting thing when I interviewed you for Hug Your Haters, when you were at Discover, we were talking about businesses having separate, mostly on Twitter of course, separate handles just for customer service, so at company name helps, at company name care, at company name service, etc., and what you said at the time was why would you do that? If you’re good at social media customer service, why would you want to shunt that over to an account that nobody can see? Why wouldn’t you want to put your best foot forward and do customer service on your main Twitter handle where more people are going to see you being good?
Dan: Yeah. I do still believe that that’s the best option and also today, a little further down the road, the technology platforms have evolved to the points where it really isn’t necessary to have two different feeds because the technology platforms can cue up your feeds anyway that you want and so I still believe that one handle is better, in particular because it’s easier on the customer. To ask the customer to remember whether your help handle is at helps or at support or whatever it is, it’s just an extra step where they obviously know what your brand handle is so that makes it easy.
Then, I just don’t buy the argument which tends to come from the marketing side and I have to be careful how I refer to the marketing side because I am usually also leading the social media marketing teams as well so I love them just as much but the argument from that side tends to be well we don’t want people coming to our feed and having to scroll down a hundred different customer service things just to get to our marketing message. My answer to that is, nobody is scrolling down the feed looking for your marketing messages. That’s just not how it works. I agree with what you said that being able to show the customer service and show that you are an engaging brand is really its own marketing.
Jay: Where should companies be active today in social customer care? Classically I think we’ve all said Twitter and Facebook but let me ask this a slightly different way, all the data shows that Twitter’s growth is almost zero, that people are using Twitter less, should we also spend less time doing customer service on Twitter as a consequence?
Dan: Well I’d be careful before I say that because, I mean at Discover we probably had 100 times the followers on Facebook than we had on Twitter but 75% of our customer service inquires were on Twitter. That’s not true with every company. With a lot of companies, in fact it tilts the other way and Facebook is a lot bigger and certainly in other parts of the world, Facebook is for sure much bigger. I think the basic answer to your question is that companies should be where their customers are, and so if your companies are on Snapchat and they’re asking you questions on Snapchat, than you should be on Snapchat responding to them. If that’s not where your customers are than there’s really no need for you to be there.
Again, the technology platforms today, especially as we move into an era where messaging is becoming a more common way of connecting with brands as opposed to public posts, what’s nice about that is that the technology basically can make it so that it doesn’t matter what messaging platform somebody’s on, it all looks the same to an agent and the agent may not even know whether they’re on Facebook messenger or whether they’re on Wii chat or something else and I think that’s where we want to end up, is that that kind of automatically puts us where our customers are, wherever that is.
Jay: One of the questions that we get all the time from our clients at Convince and Convert, in fact I got one this morning, is okay, we’re going to have to scale social customer service, we’re going to have to add more people as more and more customers use social media as their primary, or at least secondary contact mechanism, should this be managed by the marketing team or managed by the customer service team?
Dan: Well the customer service portion should absolutely be managed by the customer service team, and the reason for that is that these are folks that know how to interact with customers. These are folks that have access to the CRM system that has all of the customer data, which marketers also don’t have, or not in the same way that a customer service team has, and so yes I think a lot of companies are having to put more resources towards this, but they’re also figuring out over time that, and you’ve seen the same research I have, that came directly from Twitter that servicing customers on Twitter is cheaper than servicing them on the telephone and so when I talk to folks in an operations center, I know that those leaders are thinking about cost containment because that’s what operation centers do and so this idea that servicing somebody on social might actually be cheaper and significantly cheaper, is a pretty good argument towards staffing it more than is done today.
What I’ve seen some companies make the mistake of is they’ve got people on so many different channels that when one channel blows up they pull everybody off that channel to go handle that, usually it’s the phone, right? When the phones are ringing off the hook, we pull people off of email, off of chat, off of social to go answer telephone calls, and that’s generally not a good idea because your essentially letting the phone ring off the hook in other channels, so I am supportive of resourcing social independently. It’s okay to cross train people on some other digital channels like chat, that’s usually a good thing, especially if you don’t have a volume to put a full time person in social, but definitely attaching them to that channel so that you are not sacrificing those questions for the questions on other channels.
Adam: Dan one of the things that fascinates me about social customer service right now, and you and Jay have already mentioned it, was this idea that because it’s out in public, that those social customer care activities are actually really marketing activities, I mean, done right as you said. It demonstrates the value of a brand. It demonstrates how a brand is listening to its customers. You’ve talked about how you want to consolidate now all of your Twitter handles and social handles to make it easier for people to get to it. The question I have is that if we indeed see, just as you’ve predicted, that a lot of the social customer service will go from being public like it is right now, back to being private with messaging, Facebook messenger and the like, are we going to lose all that public kind of branding goodness that comes out of social customer service and are we going to be kind of back to where it was three or four years ago?
Dan: That’s an awesome question Adam and something I’ve also been worried about, especially as we start to add on the layer of messaging bots, which we can talk about in a second, which concern me a great deal. I think the answer to your question is that what will still remain is this idea of the social currency, which we talked about before, and frankly if companies are not doing a good job on say Facebook messenger, the customer is still one click away from posting it publicly or putting it on Twitter, and so I think that that piece of it is going certainly require that we do messaging really really well, but there are so many people out there that want to share their experiences and that’s a lot of what I talk about at the beginning of my book is I’ve been fascinated at this idea of how offline experiences come online.
The first couple of chapters take a look at customer experience, what it means, the fact that it includes every single interaction that you have with a brand and I give what I think are really fun examples of offline experiences that are either really good or really lousy and most of those I either experienced myself or, shockingly enough, I found on social media. I don’t think that phenomena goes away. I think that what is really going to happen on messaging is, the more complex problems and the issues where somebody, as Jay would say, they’re not looking for an audience, they’re not really an on stage hater, they’re looking for a solution and a resolution and those are the folks that I think are going to flock to messaging because it is so easy. It’s quick, it’s asynchronous, and it’s persistent. So if I talk to a brand two weeks ago and I come back into that chat, that whole history is still there and that’s something that as a consumer I can’t really get in other channels.
Adam: Right when you call an 800 number they may or may not know that you called two weeks or two months or even two years ago. I think that’s a really good point. I’m blown away, I had a meeting this week, I was on the road this week and met with the CMO of a large CPG company and he told me a statistic, at least for his company, that blew me away Dan. The statistic was this, in 2015 their customer care operation handled about 20% of their customer service activities with social. In 2016 it was 46% and this is a company that managed three million customer service activities in the year. From 20 to 46%. Is this going to continue at this pace? I think I know the answer to this but I would love to hear your thoughts and your rationalization and how companies are going to continue to scale at that level.
Dan: Well I’d have to believe that if that company’s at 46% on social, what that means is some other channels has gone down. I do talk about in the book that I think the customer service pie is expanding. In other words, now that customers have more and more ways to contact brands they’re taking advantage of it, so you are getting customers that are coming on to social that would not have called, but at some point that has to tip and if you’re at almost half of your customer service inquiries are now on social, my hope would be certainly that some of the other channels are loosening up a little bit. It all depends on the audience. I mean if you have, older audiences are still not flocking to social as a channel quite as much as younger audiences are, but as those younger audiences grow up I think you’re going to see that tide turn a little bit more, but that’s a fascinating story and frankly, probably, a really profitable one if we looked at the numbers in terms of what their cost to service now is.
Adam: Now you mentioned bots. I definitely want to talk about that, I generally just want to talk about technology, but let me kind of set this up. I also know you’re not a big fan of Snapchat. Now, so often times, at least in social customer service, we’ve been seeing SCS or social customer care kind of follow the trends of the big larger social media things. The big trend right now is live video, whether it’s Facebook live, whether it’s Snapchat, and the like. I’m curious if you believe that we’re going to see kind of that streaming live video actually hit customer care, so I’ll actually be able to kind of hold my phone in front of me and actually see a customer service representative, I’ll be able to point the camera at whatever issue I’m having and they’ll be able to walk me through it, or are there other technologies like messenger and things like that, like bots, that are either going to be good for the consumer or actually good for the company from an operational efficiency cost avoidance type of standpoint?
Dan: Well it’s a great question and my dislike for Snapchat is really more of a personal thing. I like audio and the written word more than I like being on video personally. You can ask my mom. I never liked having my picture taken when I was a kid.
Adam: We actually have her on the line right now.
Dan: Hey fantastic, hey mom.
Adam: Miss Gingess.
Dan: For me, for Dan, it is still somewhat awkward for me to hold a phone out in front of me and record live video. That just doesn’t feel right to me. That being said, in my job we’ve been doing a lot of live video and it’s been very successful, it’s just not of me. That to me, that’s the difference. As to whether Snapchat and other live video platforms could be good for customer service, I absolutely think they could. I interviewed one company called iOgrapher on my podcast and the CEO, David Balsuto, it’s a camera and video company that provides all sorts of really cool stuff for your I devices in order to do a better job of capturing audio and video and images, etc., on the road.
iOgrapher is doing just that on Snapchat. David tells a great story about a guy who was having problems getting one of his pieces of equipment set up and not until they Snapchatted with each other could David actually see that the guy had two plugs plugged in the wrong way, in opposite ports. As soon as he saw that, he said, “Oh just unplug those two and flip them and you got it,” and he solved the problem. Really hard to do on the telephone, really hard to do on email, so video in that case was a fantastic solution. Could that also have happened in Facebook messenger? Absolutely, because the person could have taken a picture of their setup and sent it and probably ended up in the same place.
I think that just as video is becoming crazy big on the marketing side, there’s no reason why it can’t be on the customer service side. The thing that’s probably holding it back is what we were talking about before in terms of kind of who owns social care, it tends to be the customer service area and that’s probably not the area that’s going to be first to market in video. It’s probably going to require the push of the marketing department.
Adam: To that point, I know one of the things at least I’ve noticed in talking to our customer around social customer service, is that as we’ve seen now the customer service representative be empowered to be able to respond, rather than just kind of read a script on a screen like you’d do in a phone interaction or a cut and paste in an email. They’re actually having to create tweets, they’re having to create things that are very public and I’ve always said, and I think everybody agrees, that we’ve seen now the competency of those social customer service representatives have to be risen. They need to be more highly educated, they need to be able to communicate and converse at a different level.
If Dan what you’re saying starts to take place, where we start to see video and imagery and other things being shared as part of the social customer service process, does this also make it a little bit more complex and does it make there be a higher expense? Without a doubt we’ve seen that social customer service’s biggest claim to fame is it’s so much cheaper to do a social interaction. I’ve always used five, 10, 15, $15 for an average call, $10 for an average email, $5 for an average social, but as we have to get more talented customer service representatives, are we going to start to hit a wall there or do bots and things like that help us kind of keep those costs in check?
Dan: Well for sure I think in, what we can call traditional social care, and it’s funny to call it that, you definitely have different skillsets that are required. Probably the biggest of which is that they have to be able to write and have good spelling and grammar and that sort of thing. One of the things that I’ve seen that I think is a barrier to video service is that you not only have to find a different kind of talent, you have to find a wiliness to go on camera and most customer service agents that I’ve talked to, that’s a non-starter. They don’t want to be on camera. That’s not something that they want to do. I think some of them are afraid for their safety. There’s certainly some scary stories about agents being looked up on their personal Facebook pages by customers and all that sort of thing. I think that’s the toughest part and that’s the barrier.
For a guy like David Balsuto at iOgrapher, he’s an entrepreneur, he’s the CEO, he’s kind of the one man show so it makes a lot of sense. For a bigger company, to be able to find the combination of skillsets that would require great customer service and the ability to be great on camera, I mean that’s going to be a challenge for sure.
Adam: Yeah. I mean I think you certainly do hit a wall with that and you’re exactly right with the privacy, not withstanding the fact that I often times talk to social customer service representatives who love social customer service better than phone customer service because they say, “Hey people don’t yell at me anymore. People are actually appreciative and thankful,” much like you articulated where they kind of post social customer service sentiment that usually takes places and usually, in almost all cases, goes up. Dan, one last question before I hand it back over to Jay, and I think this is appropriate, especially as we talk about the expense of social customer service in some cases, and this inclusion of video and audio and all this new stuff. Do you think customer service should report up into marketing like you’re seeing at some companies because they realize that any interaction with a customer is a marketing opportunity or do you still think it needs to be kind of its own separate piece?
Dan: That’s a great question. I’ve never actually thought about it in that way. I think that in the companies that succeed, and in almost every company that I’ve talked to on my podcast, customer service and marketing work hand in hand and I think as long as that’s happening that’s a good solution and you don’t have to roll up customer service underneath marketing but we’ve all said at some point in time that customer service is the new marketing and I think as companies start to realize the power of customer service, Jay talks a lot about not looking at it as a cost center, looking at it as a profit center, than I do think there’s a chance that service ends up underneath marketing, but to me at least in today’s age, it’s the collaboration that is absolutely required.
Jay: That’s because I’m all about the dollar dollar bills. Dan, you were going to ask something about bots.
Dan: Oh, I just wanted to be able to come back to the bot question and why I think it’s an opportunity but also something I’m concerned with. Where I think bots have tremendous power is in simplifying regular repetitive questions. I think that’s great because that saves our agents so that they can handle the more complicated questions. I also think there’s huge opportunities in bots actually helping agents rather than helping the customer directly. If you imagine a typical telephone agent has three different screens at their desk and they’ve got all these shortcuts and they’ve got a word doc that they’re copying and pasting from and they’ve got to look up six different systems to find the customer and if you had some automation that did all of that for the agent so they could get right down to answering the questions, I think that is a fabulous experience.
What I’m worried about is companies looking at bots as a cost savings measure and taking short cuts in order to actually destroy the experience. Really quickly I was testing out a bot recently that was for a national floral company and the bot is set up to order flowers and it actually worked pretty well. You get to pick out your bouquet and enter in the persons name and address. More or less like you’re doing on a website, it’s just that it’s a little bit more guided. Well I got to the part where it said what date do you want it delivered? And it gave me three dates and I actually didn’t see that at the bottom it said or enter in your own date. I didn’t see that part so all I saw was three dates and I was like well these aren’t any of the dates that I want.
Jay: None of these are my wife’s birthday, what do we do?
Dan: None of the above so I decided to write help. I figured all right let’s see what happens. Well the bot understood that I was looking to get to a customer service agent so it said, “Would you like to talk to a customer service agent?” I said, “Yes.” Then I get, “Sorry customer service is only available 8:00 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.” I’m thinking okay so why did you offer me customer service?
Jay: Yeah, gray that out. Yeah.
Dan: But that’s not it. About three seconds later Samantha came on to the chat and Samantha was a live customer service agent, even though they apparently were closed according to the hours they had just shown me, but Samantha comes on and she starts answering my question and as I’m communicating with Samantha, the bot comes back and is now trying to answer my question as well, so now I’m talking to Samantha and the bot at the same time and the whole things a disaster. What started as a pretty good, pretty smooth eCommerce experience where a bot could be really helpful, turned into a complete mess and that’s what I’m really afraid of is that we’ve got to work really hard to get this right.
Jay: I’m going to ask you one more question before we get into recognizing our sponsors on this weeks episode. Lots of times when marketers consider social media customer service, they think about surprise and delight campaigns and shock and awe. Let’s find a customer and bring them a steak or let’s find a customer and buy them a teddy bear or let’s find a customer and give them something else in their hotel room. If you had to assign resources, how would you assign resources to those kinds of programs and do you feel like those are part of a social customer service philosophy or is that just straight marketing wearing a customer service robe?
Dan: I would pick door number two on that. That it is really straight marketing, but what I will say is one of the later chapters in my book is talking about integration with your CRM system and I think that what smart companies are starting to do, as they’re able to connect social conversations to the rest of their CRM, is they’re able to learn from customer requests and preferences and apply them in other channels. My old podcast partner, Dan Moriarty who used to work at Hyatt, gave the example of somebody going into Facebook messenger and requesting a hypoallergenic pillow for their stay at a Hyatt in New York next week. Well if Hyatt’s doing it right, then six months later when that person shows up at a different Hyatt overseas in London, that hypoallergenic pillow is there without them asking for it. Is that a surprise and delight? Yeah I would say it is a surprise and delight, but that feels a lot more like a service surprise and delight than a marketing one to me.
Jay: Then the marketing guy says, “Well what you should do is get in the pillow business and sell this guy a pillow.”
Dan: Exactly.
Jay: Man, I see the future. Actually I have one more question, sorry, and I’ll remind everybody the book is Winning at Social Customer Care, How Top Brands Create Engaging Experiences on Social Media, available now on Amazon for like $16 and change, which is a smoking deal. So, I talked about this a little bit in my book and you have as well, but I want you to mention it here on Social Pros, to me obviously, and to you obviously, and to Adam obviously, this all makes a lot of sense, but it doesn’t make that much sense because if it did everybody would be doing it, and they’re not, so Dan why doesn’t every company do this?
Dan: That is the $64,000 question Jay. I mean honestly I shake my head at this everyday because the numbers, every time a new report comes out, the numbers are inching upward barely but there really isn’t this explosion.
Jay: You mean the numbers of companies participating in social care?
Dan: Yeah, or the percentage of tweets that get answered or however you want to frame it, yeah, so those numbers move a little bit but not nearly as much as I think they should. You talk about, I remember you talking about a particularly large companies and how there’s often an excuse that says we’re just too big for this. We just can’t handle all of this quantity that’s coming in so we’re just going to ignore it. You made a great point in saying that was a choice to ignore it. You don’t have to ignore it. You can choose to invest in it. What I will tell you is all the companies that I talk to who are doing this, seem to be really happy with the investment. They’re not doing it because they feel like they have to do it, but they understand that they are creating relationships with customers, they’re creating loyalty, etc.
Jay: That’s a really good point. I don’t know if I’m aware of a case study of a business that embraced social customer service and then rolled it back and then said, “You know what, it wasn’t worth the money. We shouldn’t have done that.” I’m sure it exists but I am seriously not familiar of a case study like that and maybe there’s a reason for that. You’re right, people always say, “Well we don’t have the resources. We can’t answer that many tweets.” I’m like, “Hey, here’s what you do. Spend less money on logoed golf balls and you’ll find the money.” I mean big companies, especially on the marketing side, and I say this as a marketing consultant, waste so much damn money on so much stupid shit that you totally have the money to do social customer service, you just got to find five minutes looking for the money.
Dan: Absolutely. One of the funniest signs that I shared at the beginning of the book when I was talking about offline experience was this restaurant, fast food restaurant, that I walked into and the very first thing you see when you walk into this restaurant, before you even get to the menu board, is a sign that says, “We can not provide courtesy cups.” My first reaction was it’s not that you can not provide it, it’s that you will not provide it. That’s a very different story. Yet, that was their frame of reference was that they could not do it and of course they could do it, they just decided not to.
Jay: It’s also ridiculous. A, it’s a great picture but it’s like a big sign. They actually call it courtesy cups. Like okay all you’d have to do is change the way you position that and say, “We can not give you cups for free,” and people would be like, “Yeah okay that seems fair,” but when you say we can not give you courtesy cups it kind of puts the onus back on them. It’s like so not only is it a ridiculous policy but it’s also poorly communicated.
Dan: Well and to your earlier point, what worries me as a consumer is it’s obviously a cost cutting measure, right? But here we’re talking about cutting pennies and I mentioned this in the book, it’s like so where does your brain go after that? It’s like well what else are they cutting costs on? Like are those tomatoes in the cooler a little old and am I getting enough …
Adam: We do not provide laboratory soap. Yeah.
Dan: Exactly, so the communication definitely probably was not worth it. I know it wasn’t worth it. It would have been much more worth it for them just to provide the darn cups.
Jay: In addition to social media customer service, the sort of kissing cousin of social care is ratings and reviews and our friends at Yext one of the sponsors of the Social Pros podcast have a new white paper, which is called How to Win Digital and Real World Traffic with Local Reviews, and guess what kids? That white paper was written by me and Dan Lolemon who is our Chief Strategist at Convince and Convert so if you like this conversation, you’ll love that white paper. Go to That’s and for those of you who are more marketing inclined, you absolutely should download this free eBook from our friends at Salesforce Marketing Cloud, which is called The Future of Advertising.
It’s all about global ad span and average click through rates and conversion rates for Facebook ads, Google ads, Instagram ads, etc., it talks about how you can increase your return on ad span using CRM data. We talked about integrating CRM in a customer service context just a moment ago. Really useful eBook. Make sure you download it before they take it away. Go to bitly/salesforceads. That’s bitly/salesforceads and that’s from our friends at Salesforce Marketing Cloud. Adam, back to you.
Adam: Jay, thank you, and Dan thank you for being on the show. Dan Gingess, author of Winning at Social Customer Care, How Top Brands Create Engaging Experiences on Social Media. Dan, one of the things that you mentioned earlier was, or Jay mentioned in the intro, was how you led social customer care at two unbelievable great brands, Humana from a healthcare standpoint and from Discover. Both regulated industries in their own right with lots of rules and regulations kind of around how they interact with customers, what they can interact with customers on and how they go about doing that. I’m curious how those kind of regulated industries have given you the experience you had to write this book and also curious if, kind of like Jay and I, did you ever realize that you were going to get and be doing what you’re doing right now? I mean you’ve had a pretty impressive and interesting career path.
Dan: Well thank you and on the first part on regulated industries, I think that the regulations eventually will evolve. I think a lot of the regulations that both financial services companies and healthcare companies are under are multiple years old. Some of them predate social media and so what companies are left to do is interpret them under the lens of social media, which is frankly a difficult and sometimes scary thing to do. One of the good things is this movement towards messaging actually really helps regulated industries because what tends to happen is that regulated industry can be just as good as any other industry at responding to an initial request on social but then they very quickly have to take them somewhere else, and usually where they take them to is to a private DM in order to exchange the account information that they need to really answer the question. I actually like that movement to messaging for regulated industries. I think that’s going to help them quite a bit.
As to how I got here, you know I kind of always been a guy that just follows my passions and my interests. I was thinking recently I was a liberal arts major in college all these years ago and I ended up being a psychology and communications double major and I picked those just because I was interested in the classes. I literally had no idea what I wanted to do. The fact that I ended up in marketing in hindsight makes a ton of sense because marketing’s all about psychology and communications but I did not take a marketing class until actually I went back to business school four years after college and yet I had done marketing for four years prior to that. It’s really just been about following what I’m passionate about and when I first got into social media, I saw that everybody was focused on the marketing element and I definitely saw opportunity there but I was also a little bit disgusted that so many brands were just using Facebook and Twitter as yet another megaphone channel, like it was television.
I immediately kind of gloned onto this service side of it and I was like, “Many this really looks like an opportunity if people can do it right,” and I’ve just been hooked on it ever since and fascinated and so I love seeing, even though we’re not at the point, as Jay mentioned, that everybody’s doing it. I love seeing more and more brands come on board, even Apple which was a long time holdout came on board last year and started a Twitter support handle that’s been crazy successful. It’s been a really really fun ride and the book was a passion project.
I actually mention in the acknowledgements that my current boss gave us a task of setting a personal goal and we had to spend, I don’t know, like a half an hour or an hour writing down how we were going to accomplish the goal and just that half hour or hour that I spent writing that down, when I was done I was like, “Man, I think I might actually be able to do this,” and had he not given me that assignment I’m not sure I would have even attempted the book and once I knew I could do it, I sort of let my passion take it through the end.
Adam: That’s an incredible story how your book kind of manifested. You’ve been doing this Dan, as you said for quite some time. Is there anything that you see, kind of in my last question for you, mistakes that we made in the customer service space with phone and email care that you’re looking at right now just kind of hitting your head on the desk going “We’re making the exact same mistake in social care?” And what can we do about it?
Dan: Well I think the bot example is probably the best one that I have there is to me that just feels like we are reinventing the IVR for example. Is that if that’s what bots are going to become, is just a digital IVR, I mean yes I’ll be banging my head against the wall, but I’d say the main mistake, and again I mean I reference Jay, which I do a lot by the way, not just when I’m on his podcast, this idea that customer service really should not be looked at as a cost center. I think that is a mistake that still most brands make because when you really turn that coin around and you realize that building relationships with customers is what it’s all about.
I mean we don’t have any, the best way to have no customer service is to have no customers, so if you want to reduce your costs down to zero, we just get rid of all the customer and we won’t have to service any of them. If you look at it that way, you realize that this really should be treated more like we treat marketing as an opportunity, a way to invest in our company in order to get a return and not just as a cost center. I think that mistake is being made across all channels pretty equally.
Jay: Dan we’re going to close that episode 261 with the two questions that we ask every guest here on the program. Make sure you get a copy of Dan’s book, available in and elsewhere right now, Winning at Social Customer Care, Dan what one tip would you give somebody who’s looking to become a social pro?
Dan: Well I’m going to give the tip that I was given when I first got into social media and was scared to death because I had no idea what to do and that is to just jump in and do it. There’s really, you can read as many books as you want, including mine, which I’d appreciate, but reading books and reading articles are not going to get you there. You have to jump in and do it. I got in there, I started tweeting, nobody answered, I kept tweeting, eventually somebody answered, and you just kind of learn by doing. I mean I distinctly remember asking a friend of mine what a hashtag was because I had only been on Facebook and they weren’t using hashtags on Facebook and I didn’t even know what it did. Then once I learned what it did, I was able to use it and test it and learn which ones worked and which ones didn’t and all that sort of thing. You just have to do it.
To be honest with you, I’m a little guilty of that if we go back to the discussion on Snapchat, right? I probably haven’t given Snapchat as much as a chance as I should have. I should be following my own advice and jumping in there and snapping more often.
Jay: I love it. Okay we’re going to hold you to that. We’re going to have you back on the show and tell us about your Snapchat revolution.
Dan: Okay.
Jay: Last question for you Mr. Dan Gingess. If you could do a Skype call with any living person, who would it be and why?
Dan: Wow. I remember you asked me this last time and boy I can not remember who I answered so that’s good because that means this will be a new one. It’ll be fresh.
Jay: We’ll have to go back and see if you answered the same one. Yes, we’ll double check.
Dan: Yes. Actually I know this can’t be the answer because I don’t think he was around at the time. I know this is going to elicit some eye rolls from people who know me but I am going to go with the manager of the world champion Chicago Cubs, Mr. Joe Maddon, who is a guy that I love and respect not just for his baseball prowess and because he finally brought that illusive championship to Chicago, but that what he preaches to his baseball players, and I’ve written a blog post about this, is also so applicable to business. I think when this guy retires, he’s going to end up a motivational speaker for businesses around the world because what he teaches makes so much sense for business.
Jay: Yeah he’s really great. I love his attitude and his approach to really life is really quite refreshing given his occupation. We should get him on the show. Let’s do that. Adam?
Adam: I like that.
Jay: Chicago Cubs are probably a client of Salesforce, right? We can make that happen.
Adam: I think we can make that happen. Make a few calls.
Jay: Put your best people on that.
Adam: Mr. Gingess, congratulations again on the book. Really really happy about that. Ladies and gentleman make sure you go out and get a copy. Fantastic having you back on the show. Adam, great to have you back as well. Next week ladies and gentleman we’ll be back for episode 262. Until then, this has been Social Pros.

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