Dan’s 20-year career has consistently focused on delighting customers, spanning multiple disciplines including social media, customer service, marketing, and digital customer experience. He is currently Vice President of the Strategic Group at Persado, a marketing AI company.
Dan is the author of the book, Winning at Social Customer Care: How Top Brands Create Engaging Experiences on Social Media, and the co-host of the Experience This! podcast.
Hi Dan, it’s great to have the opportunity to interview you for my Leadership Series. You are a big proponent of how businesses can use social media to build on the customer service they provide and how they work well together. Thanks so much for joining me today. Let’s get started.
Q1. I’ve followed your social media postings for some time now and am so happy we’ve connected recently. Isn’t this a perfect example of the power of social media – when two people, or businesses, can come together for the benefit of both?
Hi Steve, thank you too. It’s great to be part of this series. To answer your question, yes, absolutely. People often forget that “social media” has two words and focus only on the “media” part. The “social” part allows us to meet people who share common interests but who might otherwise never meet in real life. For companies, it allows for a new kind of relationship with the customer whereby the conversation is a two-way street, unlike any other marketing channel.
Q2. Dan, you’ve worked in social media leadership positions for industry giants such as McDonald’s, Humana and Discover Card. Have you noticed a specific difference in how each approached social media and what we can learn from this and use in our business?
Discover has a long history of differentiating with superior customer service, so expanding that philosophy to social media was an easy decision. What I loved about managing social media there was that it gave the company an opportunity to not just talk about its great customer service (which it did frequently on TV commercials) but to show the world its great customer service. To me, the showing was so much more powerful than the telling.
At Humana, there was a genuine desire to engage with members, but healthcare regulations made it extremely difficult to do anything other than push people to a private channel. It quickly became apparent to me that privacy regulations like HIPAA needed updating for the social media age.
At McDonald’s, the feeling was that the company was too big to engage with more than a handful of customers on social media, a feeling I (obviously) disagreed with. Large social marketing campaigns were often executed without regard for potential negative blowback. The small social care staff that did manage customer engagements did a good job, but it was just the tip of the iceberg.
Q3. I know you are a frequent speaker at industry events and conferences. What do you believe is the biggest impact or benefit you bring to these speaking engagements?
What makes me unique compared to a lot of speakers is that I spent nearly 15 years in Corporate America executing on what I talk about. Compared to consultants and “influencers” without real business experience, it also makes me relatable because I have walked in the same shoes as many of the people in the audience. In addition, I enjoy bringing dozens of real-life examples to my presentations, and my library of case studies has grown to the point where no two speeches are exactly the same.
I’m a big proponent of sharing real-world situations and examples too. As you mentioned, many “influencers” try to sell their services without having the day-to-day experiences that are needed to truly make a difference for their clients. This leads me to my next question.
Q4. Using this real experience, do you believe there is a direct correlation between the success of a company and how they use social media and their response rates to online customer contact?
I do believe that companies which compete on customer experience generally will outperform those which compete on price or some other measure. And several studies suggest that companies known for superior customer service outperform their peers in the stock market.
This stands to reason as consumers today are looking for a human-to-human relationship with their favorite brands, and when those brands show appreciation for a customer’s loyalty, that customer is much more willing to tell their friends and followers on social media. Companies often mistakenly chase “viral” content when free word-of-mouth marketing is often much more valuable in the long run.
Q5. So true. A show of appreciation and how a customer “feels” after interacting with a business can make all the difference. With that in mind, what do you love most about your job and what’s next on the horizon for you?
I’ve enjoyed the move out of Corporate America for a lot of reasons – the pace is much quicker, innovation happens more frequently, and we are less bogged down by policies and regulations. I also enjoy talking with people about a product that I really believe in. I hope to continually evolve my speaking career, my podcast, and my blog, and eventually write another book. I love to stay busy!
Q6. I read where you’re a pretty good pinball player. Any tips for our readers?
Yeah, I’m a bit old-school in that way, although pinball is currently enjoying a big resurgence in the U.S. and elsewhere. The key to playing pinball is understanding that every game has a storyline and the ability to aim the ball to certain spots on the playing field will yield the most points. My advice is to pick a single game and play it a lot, much like you would a video game until you get really good at it. As with other things, it takes lots of practice!
Dan, we have a love for pinball in common. I remember feeding many coins into the machines I played during high school and after. Then when the KISS machine came out I did everything I could to find one to play…didn’t have much luck though. And yes, I’m a KISS fan and have been since those fun high school days.
I’m also a fan of Dan Gingiss. Thanks again for joining me today.
Learn more about Dan by clicking the links in the article above and get his new book: “Winning at Social Customer Care: How Top Brands Create Engaging Experiences on Social Media”.