#PositivelySocial and why customer service in social media is a failure – Interview with Frank Eliason


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Following on from my recent interview, Employee engagement is not something that is done to employees – Interview with Kevin Kruse, today I’m very excited to share with you an interview that I recently conducted with Frank Eliason, the father of social service or customer service on social media, about his new book.

This interview makes up number twenty-five in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that I think that you will find interesting and helpful in growing your businesses.

Below are highlights from our interview:

  • Formerly at Comcast and originator of @comcastcares
  • Now SVP for Social Media at Citibank
  • A simple customer service guy
  • Just published a book @YourService, which is a mix of marketing, customer service and PR but is really about what is the culture of your company
  • The book takes a storytelling approach and social media is a lot about storytelling
  • Storytelling is a really powerful way to drive change in organisations
  • Stories can be just as important if not more important than big data in delivering insight and change in customer experience
  • Social media is a channel that helps us build human connections with our customers, build understanding and build intimacy.
  • Frank pictures a day when calls are routed to someone in an organisation who has similar interests.
  • The best customer experiences that you have had were never the ones that were the most efficient or the quickest. The ones that you remember are the ones where you made a connection or shared an isight with someone.
  • Facilitating those type of connections is at the heart of what Frank calls Scalable Intimacy
  • Also, imagines a day when a company’s marketing materials are not about the company’s vision of things but are instead oriented towards what a customer would be interested in.
  • But, intimacy is missing in a lot of businesses and things that we have done. We’re getting away from the fundamental issue and that is understanding our customers.
  • It’s one thing that many small businesses do really well and many larger businesses need to do better on this.
  • In most cases, customer service in social media or social service is a failure.
  • Most people don’t necessarily want social media customer service hey just want service to be done right.
  • Often, many customers take to social media because they are frustrated with other service channels.
  • Also, it sends the wrong message to all of your customers if customers have to take to social media to get attention. Fix the core first.
  • Companies should focus on what can we deliver, how we deliver and how can we do that the best we can.
  • Great case studies and stories within the interview so do have a listen.
  • We need to help our people get out from behind our process, policy, technology and all the legal caveats and let them connect with people.
  • Social media is much more personal than people realise.
  • Trust comes from human to human connection. People don’t tend to trust brands, they trust individuals. So, if companies want to build trust then they have to do it through their greatest asset…their employees.
  • Encourage companies to get their employees involved in social media and teach them about it, what they can do and what they shouldn’t do. Doing this will also send a message to employees that we trust them. Your employees will do it anyway so if you stop them then all you are saying to them is that you don’t trust them.
  • We need to start building Relationship Hubs in our businesses, environments that allow us to build connections and trust with our customers.
  • We’ve done so much over the years to get as far away as possible from our customers. We’ve outsourced our customer service departments because it is seen as a cost centre. Also, many large company CEOs are not talking directly to their customers, they are not developing that personal insight and understanding, they’re too distant from their customers.
  • Customer service departments are your relationship centres. They are one of the main reasons that customers want to do business with us.
  • Customer service departments should not be seen as a cost. However, service leaders are to blame in that they have failed to show how important customer service departments are to the overall business. That needs to change. We need service leaders to stand up and make the case and drive the change.
  • We have very few Chief Customer Officers because service departments have failed to justify why they are important.
  • Because service leaders haven’t lead the revolution in business customers are leading the revolution and companies are trying to catch up and keep up.
  • This is not just limited to service but extends to all products and services and the channels that we interact with customers. Expect to see some dramatic changes in the coming two years.
  • As customers have seen that they can influence and drive this change they will do it more and more.
  • If you are a CEO, or you are advising CEOs of larger companies, then one of the first things you should do if you want to get ready and adapt to the changes that we see around us is hire a Chief Customer Officer.
  • Failing that, listen first. And, really listen. But, listen in an authentic way across all of your channels.
  • Listen at all levels.
  • CEOs need to recognise this need but he/she also needs to get out and speak to and work with all levels, including the very front line and often the lowest level employees, to make the changes that are required.
  • CEOs need to be willing to go looking for the truth however ugly it may or may not be.
  • But we need to be careful that when we find issues we don’t beat people up. That doesn’t promote an open and transparent culture.
  • Frank sees a lot of negativity in social media and is using today August 14th to kick off a campaign (#PositivelySocial) to try. You can learn more at What It Means to be #PositivelySocial

About Frank (from his website)

Frank Eliason

Most people have learned about me through my work from Comcast and in Social Media. I am very proud of that work, but there is a little more to me then that! Hopefully everyone will learn a little bit more about me as well as my thoughts for Customer Service and Social Media. Today I am SVP of Social Media for Citibank in New York. At this time I live in the Philadelphia area, near where I grew up. I am married to Carolyn and we have 3 children: Lily, Robyn, and our angel Gia. Besides enjoying helping others, my interests are sports, especially football. I am also a gadget geek; I love my electronics!

Today I am privileged to serve on the Board of Directors for both the Council of Better Business Bureaus and the Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals.

I have always looked at the work I do as simply common sense, but I have been privileged to be recognized by some wonderful people.

You can connect with Frank at his blog, on Twitter at @YourService and @FrankEliason. And I would encourage you to pick up a copy of his great, new book @YourService from Amazon.

Thanks to JasperVisser for the image.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adrian Swinscoe
Adrian Swinscoe brings over 25 years experience to focusing on helping companies large and small develop and implement customer focused, sustainable growth strategies.


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