Using social intelligence to improve web 2.0 customer experience


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A few hours ago I stumbled upon one of the most interactive, less formal and funniest tweet engagement by a company and a customer- on the social News giant site– Buzzfeed. In this case, it was between Tesco mobile and a customer, with tweets like this: @RicardoEspaa7, Together Riccardo, we will make this world a better place and the customer replying: @Tescomobile, me and you against the world. This now led Tesco mobile to respond by saying: @RiccardoEspaa7, yeah baby. The customer then got quite excited, engaged and thrilled as he replied: @tescomobile, no one can stop us. This social interaction now exploded in a very good way that made room for other twitter handles like @YorkshireTea, @Real JaffaCakes and @Cadbury UK to take part. I quizzed within myself: ‘What just happened?’ It definitely looks like social intelligence- a very socially intelligent twitter user of Tesco mobile. What then does social intelligence mean?

Unravelling Social Intelligence

After an enormous contribution to the field of emotional intelligence, Daniel Goleman, published a book titled: ‘Social Intelligence: The new science to human relationships.’ It did breathe fresh air to this emerging field as some consider it as an offshoot of emotional intelligence. He argued for a new model of intelligence, extracted from the emerging field of social neuroscience- hence, the thoughts behind social intelligence, as the new science to human relationships. The crux of Goldman’s standpoint of social intelligence is premised on our capacity to read others (our mind-set) – the possibilities of developing our social intelligence. He went on to add that, our brain’s social circuit guides us through every encounter- in a bedroom, boardroom, classroom, sales floor or social media. These social circuits or wires are at full action when lovers meet eye to eye and kiss for the first time or when restrained tears are witnessed due to emotional outpouring. They are indicative of the radiance that greets our expression when we talk with a friend that makes us feel wanted, loved and respected. It belongs to the school of neuroscience and could be evident in any form of interaction where tuning (attention) and timing (appropriateness) are critical.

Goleman couldn’t have put it any better as he opined: “It accounts for that magic in a meeting where everyone stops shuffling papers, quiets down, and locks in on what someone is saying.” Science is now understood to be capable of capturing the neural mechanics at work at such magic moments- where attention is ripe- interaction is rife- and a two person psychology emanates- as we genuinely and constructively connect. Karl Albrecht, also contributed to the school of social intelligence, as he believes social intelligence means the ability to get along well with others, and to inspire them to collaborate with you. He believes that there is a polarization between “toxic” behavioural patterns and “nourishing” attributes. The former is akin to that of social unintelligence- which stems out of a drive to make people feel demeaned, devalued, frustrated and inadequate. While the later, bothering on nourishing behavioural patterns, are synonymous to social intelligence- where there is the drive, through interaction, to make people feel valued, respected, celebrated and interesting. Having painted a visible understanding of social intelligence, it would now be pertinent to see how it could help a company improve her customer experience in a web2.0 customer ecosystem.

Web 2.0 customer experience
Wikipedia views web 2.0 as the second stage of development of the internet, characterized by a change from static pages to dynamic sites- pre-occupied with user-generated contents, of which social media is a prime example. Paul Greenburg, a foremost proponent of Social CRM, believes the presence of the social customer has led to a web 2.0 customer ecosystem characterized with features like social networks, user communities, social media, podcasting, micro blogging and an experience economy. Examples of web 2.0 customer platforms are: Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Feefo, Google reviews, TrustPliot, Instagram and a host of others.

Ways of using social intelligence to improve web 2.0 CX

Using the tenets of social intelligence to boost customer experience in a face-to-face scenario is quite understandable but putting forward techniques to intelligently socialize and interact with customers online needs more attention. It is to this effect, that I would propose certain elements that would be instrumental in helping companies socialize and interact with their customers effectively- over web 2.0.

Use their language: It is an online platform and you want to interact with the customer intelligently- to build connection- mitigate tension- and inspire magic. One of the key elements is to be intelligent enough to know how to utilise their language. What do I mean by this? If your online customer or potential customer tweets an issue using very geeky and technical terms, then you have to reply to that query addressing the issue effectively- using technical terms. A tweet to Comcast from a customer received a helpful reply with similar technical terminologies. Also, if your customer’s level of English language is quite sophisticated- and all they know is how to speak in that language, it makes sense to craft your replies with elements of a sophisticated language. It shows you understand their psychology and are intelligent enough to transcend from a one-person psychology to a two-person psychological interaction. In the case of the tweet scenario at the beginning of the write-up, Tesco mobile connected to the tweeter, by using his urban language style, which afforded a wider participation from other tweeter handles like Yorkshire tea.

Use their passion: A socially intelligent online customer experience specialist would make attempts to check out the profile pictures, previous tweets and timeline of her customers, to find out their passion- which could be sports, family, careers, pets, cooking, travel or a combination of a few. Using their passion to interact with them, reveals how socially intelligent you are. A good example could be after you have replied with a resolution to an issue you end by saying: ‘From your profile picture, I could see you could be a fan of Barcelona FC, we wish them a successful league run.’

Use their length: Some customers are a people of few words while others like the detail of any issue. If they make a one line query, it could be best to respond to them in the most precise and effective way.

Use their personality: Some customers have a great sense of humour whilst others have a problem making light of any issue. It is good to go through their previous reviews, tweets or posts to gain an insight into their personality and tailor a reply in line with their disposition.

Daniel Goleman believes that even routine encounters serve as regulators in our brain- stirring emotions in us, some are considered to be desirable and others not. The more strongly connected we are with someone emotionally, the greater the mutual force. It takes observation and intelligence to understand who your online customers are and where they are coming from, to be able to build genuine social connections with them.

Dateme Tamuno
Dateme Tamuno (Tubotamuno) is currently working as part of the SEO and PPC delivery team for UK based digital agency, Cariad Marketing. He has also completed a book on user-generated content marketing.


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