Social Media Based Customer Experience Strategy


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The real underlying power in Social Media is a new customer experience model. Too many hip “social media campaigns” failed because it was just old ideas blasted into a new world. Too much money was invested in fan pages or online community that became dormant after just 3 or 6 month – or worst – was never adopted.

“Anybody experience with…”
Social media is about the most often asked question: “Anybody experience with…”. Customers asking for help from real users, real customers – names they would never get from the respective business. Over 160,000 Toyota driver, 65,000 John Deere customers, 50,000 IBM customer, 25,000 SAP customers, 10,000 Dow Chemical customers… customers in all industries for all types of products asked those questions and most found answers. You are right – this is not 100% of their respective customer base – but these are the most vocal and therefor most influential people. Neither business processes automation, nor the next generation CRM, or a marketing campaign or yet another survey can help. If you and your team are not part of the conversation – your influence is ZERO.

The new customer experience model
Social Media in a business world is NOT having a LinkedIn profile, is NOT listening to tweets of somebody walking their dog and is NOT browsing through facebook pages. Social media in business is first and foremost “The New Customer Experience Model”.
1) Create a thorough social media assessment
2) Craft a good old SWOT analysis
3) Create a sound social media strategy
4) Build your resource and budget plan
5) Develop a social media execution plan
All need to be interwoven with your business objectives.
You will notice that the tools are secondary – the new mindset for a better customer experience primary.

Leverages your team, your partners, your customers, vendors and others to become part of the conversation – not the old “message blasting one way street” – no – a meaningful and mutually beneficial conversation with your customers, your prospects and the rest of the market.

The Tools Selection
Only once you have all your ducks in a row you will select the platforms, places, and tools for your social presence. Then you select the reporting systems to measure, model and tune your progress and success.

The Social Media Academy is running a complementary webinar this week July 10th. which is all about the new customer experience model, case studies, methods, frameworks, reporting tools and ways to make it happen.

Axel Schultze
CEO of Society3. Our S3 Buzz technology is empowering business teams to create buzz campaigns and increase mentions and reach. S3 Buzz provides specific solutions for event buzz, products and brand buzz, partner buzz and talent acquisition buzz campaigns. We helped creating campaigns with up to 100 Million in reach. Silicon Valley entrepreneur, published author, frequent speaker, and winner of the 2008 SF Entrepreneur award. Former CEO of BlueRoads, Infinigate, Computer2000.


  1. Hi Axel,
    I want to challenge a couple of your assertions.

    “these are the most vocal and therefore most influential people”

    I don’t know that I agree with this.

    Just because a customer is vocal doesn’t necessarily make them influential. A company needs to be able to understand what contribution is most valuable to them and then make sure they attract these types of social media participants.

    For example Company A may have a new product that has some known issues but really needs good ideas from the user community so as to develop it further. Within there community they have two users as follows:

    1. User-1 is very vocal about known problems having posted 75 times either as new posts or replies to other posts
    2. User-2 has made a couple of contributions about how and where the product should be developed in the future. One of these posts led to 50 other community members posting follow up comments

    What’s more influential in the eyes of the company? User-1 who is vocal about stuff they already know or User-2 who contributes that 1 gem of an idea that might take the product to the next level?

    “If you and your team are not part of the conversation – your influence is ZERO”

    Wow. I really disagree with this. I don’t believe you (the company) need to be part of the conversation. In my opinion, enabling the conversation, being aware of the conversation and then taking this information/learnings into your business is just as, maybe more important than being part of the conversation. I argue that enabling (and by default owning) the conversation creates enormous influence for a company.

    There is much value in sitting back, shutting up, and listening/observing

    I agree with your list of steps but believe you need to add an additional point (probably between 3 and 4):

    6) Develop and publish your social media acceptable use policy

    Finally, I got a bit lost following your thoughts re the new customer experience model – are you proposing this as a new way of describing enterprise wide social media strategy?

    If that’s the case then you would need to have a very broad description of customer – it would need to include employee, former employee, the general public etc – because it’s not all about the customer in the traditional sense of a customer. Is customer even the right word to use?

    cheers from down under

  2. I think that you and Axel are in violent agreement about what constitutes influence. It is not the person who posts / tweets the most, but the person who is viewed the most by others. This is definitely a measure of influence. However, you are also bringing up a different kind of “influence” – not one associated with brand reputation (which will influence others to buy or not buy a product) – but with good product ideas that will help the company. These are two different types of influence – and both are very valuable.

    I agree with you that employees, former employees are all part of the mix – the larger “social media ecosystem” but I do have an underlying problem with your listen-only mode and focus on what folks in the social media can do for the company without any counterbalance on what you can do for the people talking about your product. Simple responses, suggestions and thanks go a long way. If you had a colleague that just took notes on what you said and then ran off and used your ideas without so much as a “hello” I don’t think you’d feel too kindly. I think that the same rules of human relationships apply in the social media

  3. Hi Catherine,
    Your comments about influence are correct. My simple analogy doesn’t do this concept justice as you’ve outlined.

    I’d like to clarify my comments about listening. I believe there is much merit in an organisation allowing discussions to take place without their intervention or contribution. There are times when an organisation jumping into a debate can kill the conversation – thereby costing the company a rich source of data. Having said that your points about acknowledgement and giving thanks is also very important. I guess it’s a balance and one the organisation should be constantly looking at (and not leaving to others). I personally place great value on knowing that a company is listening to my opinion – whether they can or will do anything about it is secondary – it’s the fact they are listening.

    As an example, we run the social media activities for a client and one of the forums we monitor has a very strict policy on “vendors” posting. So in this case we post quite infrequently but in a way that most of the visitors to the forum know that we watch and listen to what they have to say – this is partly achieved because we post responses to many of their comments on the blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

  4. Based on the post, I am surprised at the comments about influencers. I disagree with any company targeting influencers, unless they are working from a PR perspective. If working from a service perspective I would strive to target all Customers talking about your company. Service to me is always about listening and helping those in need, not the person with the most friends. If your genuine focus is to listen to your Customers, there are tools that make this easy. I also agree with Axel that it is important to be a part of the conversation when possible. Even if it is to say “please continue talking this is great feedback. Let me know if I can help in any way.”

    I do agree that you need to plan out a social media strategy, but it can be really simple. At Comcast our strategy has always been to listen to our Customers and help when we can. Have we assisted influencers? Yes, but we are happy to help all people and we strive to provide them all the same level of service.

    @ComcastCares on Twitter

  5. @Mark challenge taken…
    1) We all have seen these “loud” customers steering up the market. One can influence thousands in a heart beat. I’m not talking about value to the company nor to the market. I’m talking the sometimes sad business reality. There is no avoiding it – the loudest are often also the most influential. So one job is to make sure we get those people in our camps.
    2) OK you may chose NOT to be part of the conversation. Then you have to agree that your influence to that group is zero. Listening is GREAT – but JUST LISTENING is dull. My experience is that the less social media savvy companies prefer to let their customers alone – and that is one of the mistakes of being to “low key”. Customers WANT the conversation more than anything else. More to say than the post allows…
    3) Right – and we describe 3 major groups: Customers/Prospects, Team, Partners. A company need to act like a state – a complex society system. And while we learned in business school that a state should act like a company – we actually just start to “return the favor”. In our class today we talked about the team composition – it’s quite a process but once dome right very powerful.

    Thanks Catherine – well said 🙂

    @Frank – completely agree that you need to support all customers, regardless of their level of influence. Not so sure about the “really simple”. I hate to make things complicated and mystic or “special” but I see that too many companies take it too easy – too tactical… Social media is the front end engine to a better customer experience but it needs robust interfaces into the actual processes. For instance: I am impressed if I have trouble with my cable connection and you take care of it right away (actually happened) – but if the execution afterward is not there – the best front end service just becomes a facade.
    One of my clients actually did a good job in the beginning with customer interaction through social media – but neither products nor services lived up to the promise – so social media was just another marketing facade. We had to go through a rather extensive strategy plan to make it an interwoven holistic concept rewiring existing dysfunctional business processes. It was 70% business process work and 30% social media front end work. As we all know the customer experience – at the end of the day – is how well a company functions internally not externally.


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