Ashton Media
Marketing & Customer Experience Hub

The challenges of social media and the customer experience

In April, 2014, more than 150 customer experience, data, marketing and business leaders participated in the first Customer 360 Symposium run by  Ashton Media.

This is the second  of three posts based on a presentation given by  Billy Butler, Director, Global Customer Quality at  Dell, about how  Dell  made the transformation as a global  solutions provider without losing touch with the customer experience.

You can read the first part here.

Billy Butler from Dell

Social media and the customer experience

There is an interesting challenge with social media in that if you are slow to respond, if somebody raises an issue and you do not respond, their followers  will crucify you and will do significant damage to your brand. It means you really need to be conscious of it.

Here are two things we did.

First off, we had that challenge with, you’ve got a traditional call center or customer engagement model. How do you ensure that you are going to be able  to engage with customers in the channel that they will choose? Remember, you will never get to choose. The customer will always decide what channel they  want to go with.

We took our traditional call center and sales engagement teams, and we developed our own social media certification program, and trained employees to be  able to interact in the traditional role or utilising social media, and it gave them the ability to engage with customers 24/7 anywhere in the world.

Today, we have 15,000 employees who have been certified through this internal program. It consists of about three base models and then they can decide  which mode they want to go with, whether it’s LinkedIn, whether it’s Facebook, whether it’s Google+, and so on. They get trained and certified to use  it.

The feedback from our teams had been absolutely tremendous, but then the other piece of it that we never forget is you need to talk to your  employees. They are the ones who are talking to customers every day.

They know exactly the pain that those customers are going through and they can provide you with fantastic insights without having to go off and spend a  fortune on getting somebody else to come in and tell you because they’re going to go talk to those employees anyway so why don’t you do it first.

The pulse of the business

As we’ve gone through our customer loyalty and that promoter score journey, one of the things we used to do every quarter is to go out and target 25%  of our customers. At least once a year, a customer would be engaged.

We would then take that information, take the feedback, take it  verbatim, develop action plans but this is what would happen. As soon as we did that,  the next set of survey results would come in, and it might offer different insights or different information and it became very higgledy-piggledy in terms  of what we were doing.

We stopped doing it every quarter and we decided instead we’ll do it twice a year. In between them, we’ll do a pulse of the business. We will go out and we  will approach all of the various customers, and  our care team  who have  garnered our product experience, we would go through our  social media, and we would listen to sales and agents themselves.

That gave us a sense of the pulse of the business and where we need to focus. Then, when the NPR survey comes in, it would either validate that pulse or it  would allow us to have the time to drive the right business forward.

Insights from our customer journey

What did it all mean? I am going to share with you some of the insights that we’ve learned over the last number of years as we go through our customer  journey. I pick four different categories here just to put it into perspective for you.

We’ve looked at our products, our price, the account relationship between the sales teams and the customer, and our support. This is some of the  information we found.

If you look at our products, our promoters were three times more likely either through social media or through traditional channels to provide compliments  to Dell where as our detractors were twice as likely to actually nail us to a cross.

As you move through into price and you move into account relationship and support, you see those same type of figures. Even from a price perspective,  promoters, five times more likely, detractors; twice as likely to criticise you on it. Those are just some of the stats that you can see.

Account relationship, knowing the business that your customer’s in. Being able to have a conversation with them that is less about you trying to push  something to them and more about trying to solve the problem that they have. Six times more likely to praise you on social media or through any channel.

I’ll give you a prime example. We had the CEO from NASA who spoke to us there about a year ago, and  shared  a fascinating story. We were asking her, tell us about  your experience with Dell over the last number of years and have you witnessed a change in dealing with Dell?

She said, “Absolutely, I have. For the last number of years, I would get a sales guy coming in to me trying to sell me a service because he thought that’s  what I needed.” She said, “One day I had to turn and tell him straight, I have six-and-half thousand servers inside my data center. I don’t need any more  service,” but the next time he came in, he asked her, “What problem are you trying to solve?”

She started to look ahead and she was thinking about, how do I future-proof the business? It opened up a whole completely different conversation, new  opportunities and new ways of engaging with that customer. “Now, the experience that we’re getting with Dell was as a partner, not as a vendor,” and there  is a very subtle but important difference between the two.

Moving on from that, we have the whole notion of dissatisfaction. Again, using the analysis, we examined and we went back and spoke to our  customers. Those who had originally maybe scored as promoters and had now moved to passive are those that were promoters and became detractors.

We were interested to understand the areas that you’re dissatisfied in. How significant is that in contributing? You can just see even from the information  I’m providing that for promoters who became passive, it wasn’t that the number of issues that might have occurred were a huge problem. It was more that  they weren’t delighted anymore. They didn’t see a difference yet between us and any of our competitors.

Your competitors are just one click away

Remember, now in the digital age, your competitors are just one click away. By that, I just mean that every one of us can go onto Google, we can go into  Yahoo!, we can go into whatever social media site we want and type in the words ‘competitors of your company’, press the button and every one of your  competitors will come up. They are one click away.

With the lack of delight, when you look at promoters becoming detractors, it was a multiple bad experience. It wasn’t that something went wrong. Never  forget and we all know that from a customer experience perspective, it is not necessarily the fact that something happened. It is how you deal with it and  how you deal with your customer.

We were having that conversation just this morning. If somebody tells me that they have a problem with their Dell hardware; that would be a concern to me  if I saw a pattern of it. I am more concerned with how we treated you as a customer. Were we there for you? Did we understand the implication to you and  your business ?Whether you’re a consumer  or  you’re a large commercial global entity, it doesn’t matter.

The other lesson that we learned as well is to not differentiate consumers and commercial customers all that much where you can integrate the experience.  Why? Because the person who is making the decision tomorrow on doing business with you at a commercial level could very well be the father or the mother of  a child who has been on the phone for three hours with Dell the night before going through hell and being passed around.

It’s really important that you have that same level of high standard of customer experience no matter who is dealing with you. It’s a really critical  point.

Be conscious of customers’ time and input

Also, be very careful with your service. As I mentioned earlier, you can tailor questions any way you want but also be conscious of customers’ time and  input. You want to get insights from them. You want them to help drive your business and their business forward.

The minute you go on to a survey and we’ve all done it, and I guarantee you, when we leave this hotel within 24 hours, we’re all going to link for a  survey, and you will typically respond to that survey if you had a great experience or if you had a terrible experience, but if you go on to the survey and  you suddenly discover, you know where it tells you you’re 5% complete, 10% complete. If you’ve answered three or four questions and you haven’t hit that  20% or 30% completion, you’re going to stop and walk away.

Don’t go into situations where you’re creating effort for  a customer because you’re not going to get the insights and what you’ll find is as the  survey goes on, even if it’s there to the end, you’re starting to see they’re either getting tired or you’re starting to frustrate them to the point that  they no longer care what they’re answering anymore.

If you’re repeating questions and if they say, “Hey, I answered that already. Why are you asking me again?” that can be really frustrating and misleading when you’re analysing the information.

Customer outreach

Taking all of that into account, what are the types of programs that we have put in as a result of that and I just wanted to share a few of them with you.  One is customer outreach, activating promoters, helping the customer and then, talk a little bit about how we leverage social media as part of that process.

From the customer outreach perspective, as you can imagine, we’re very keen on sales engaging with customers all the time, and we do what we call thank,  engage, and share. If you fill in a survey for Dell, you will get a phone call back unless you specifically listed that do not contact me under any  circumstances and we do give you that option, but if you do not select that option, we will come back to you because number one, we appreciate the fact  that you actually took the time to complete the survey. That’s the first step that we take.

We also engage and to understand more if there are things that were particularly positive and would also engage to understand if there were things that  might have been negative so that we’re addressing each of those different categories as we go through.

Simultaneously then, we leverage all of our different CRM systems, we take that information, and we couple it back into sales as well. Then, all of that  drives improvement that goes back to the customer, and as we go through that thank, engage, and share, we’re getting their feedback on some of those changes  that we’ve implemented.

Winning pulse survey conversations

In terms of the winning pulse survey conversations, you can see there that the hashtags are used by sales and when they have a conversation they select  those hashtags, and that gives them direct and immediate access to all of the different support groups that are throughout the business.

Then, we give those guys a two-week window to come back to that sales person with  whatever improvement programs or whatever changes they have adapted based  on that customer’s observations.

Then, that sales person follows up with the customer again two weeks later with a follow-up call addressing any issues, and in the case of when they’re  given very positive feedback, we reinforce that message to them that we’re going to maintain and keep that in place. All of that helps to drive that  process forward.

Senior executives activate our promoters

We activate promoters by getting our senior executives across the business, to personally call. We give them a list of customers that we want them to call.  As they go through that process, and I should point this out, we will call our promoters and we will call our detractors.

The sales teams that I mentioned earlier will call detractors, executives will call promoters. That is in every single country. That is the approach we  take.

We also by nature of our customers telling us that sometimes it can be very difficult to deal with that and I am sure you’ve all experienced this. It’s not  just with Dell but with other companies where you ring through to somebody, you explain your life story to them, and then at the end of it, they tell you,  “Actually I can’t help you with this one. Let me pass you on to …” and now, you’re back to telling your life story again, and you could have three or
four of these conversations.

By the time you’re finished, you’ve actually forgotten what the issue is and now you’re just pissed with them for the way they actually dealt with you.

In the next post, Billy talks about how Dell improved their customer support with the “Help a Customer” concept.

View the full presentation here:

Mark Abay - Content Director, Ashton Media About Mark Abay - Content Director, Ashton Media
Mark is Content Director at Ashton Media. It's his job to create interesting and engaging conference programs that stretch the thinking of our attendees. Mark works closely with our industry advisors to ensure the conference content is aligned with the needs and interests of our audiences.