Today on Branex Talks, we have an extraordinary guest with us. He has served as an executive at multiple Fortune 300 companies, which includes major roles like Head of Global Social Media at McDonald’s Corporation, the Head of Digital Marketing at Humana and the Head of Digital Customer Experience & Social Media at Discover Card.
He is also the author of Winning at Social Customer Care: How Top Brands Create Engaging Experiences on Social Media. He co-hosts the Experience This! the podcast and has previously hosted the Focus on Customer Service podcast. Furthermore, he is a regular contributor on Forbes and has been quoted in several books and articles, appeared as a guest on many podcasts and won numerous industry awards and accolades. Without further ado, we would like to welcome Dan Gingiss on Branex Talks.
Branex: Dan, thanks for taking out your time for Branex. You have a great experience of enriching customer experience on social media, what would you say to startups who are entering the market, now?
Dan: Thanks for inviting me to contribute to the Branex blog! I would suggest to startups that they should be where their customers (or prospective customers) are in social. Don’t feel like you have to be everywhere because you likely won’t have the resources to keep up. Always be listening, always respond to comments, and be willing to accept constructive criticism that will make your product or service offering better.
Branex: Strategizing content and marketing it to the interested people is one difficult task, how much do you think marketing strategy should be customer-centric for attaining desired results?
Dan: 100%. The whole idea behind content marketing should be to deliver something that people want to consume. Creating content that is customer-centric vs. company-centric communicates to people that your company listens to and understands its customers, which is an attractive trait when determining with whom customers want to spend their hard-earned dollars.
Branex: Lately, chatbots are being heavily relied on. Do you think that automation through chatbots will affect CX for better?
Dan: I’m not a big fan of chatbots — yet. I think they can handle simple, repetitive questions that frankly could also be Googled. But the very idea of chatbots conflicts with consumer behavior today, which desires a human connection with a brand. Chatbots must be able to sense immediately when a question is better answered by a human, otherwise, we risk repeating the mistakes of the IVR (Interactive Voice Response) menu on the telephone. That said, artificial intelligence generally can affect CX positively, particularly by helping human agents access answers more quickly or even by anticipating customer issues before they happen.
Branex: Social Media has evolved so much over the last decade or so, what do you think brands need to do for enhancing their CX?
Dan: Social media is not another broadcast marketing channel like many brands thought it was when it first came onto the scene. Both consumer demand and platform algorithms have dictated that brands can’t completely control the conversation. What works, and what gets rewarded with reach and engagement, is a strategy that is focused on talking with people and not at them.
It is critical to always be listening, always respond, and look at it as an opportunity to get closer to your customers vs. just trying to sell them something. Additionally, it’s important to remember that any part of the customer experience can come online at any time, even if the experience begins offline. Thus, social has changed how we approach the entire experience, not just the social parts.
Branex: Businesses are often looking for things like buyer persona template, what are some of the things that need to be catered by a business while building one for themselves?
Dan: Personas can definitely be useful in identifying and documenting different types of customers, but I also warn companies not to be overly dependent on personas. This is because no two customers are exactly alike, and even if they share similar characteristics that make up a persona definition, they may not share the same motivations or they may be in a different place in their lives when making a buying decision. Use personas to help determine where and when you should be marketing, and how your product or service can address the needs of a certain group.
Branex: Who has influenced you the most on & off the social media chart, and what are the reasons behind such influence?
Dan: My last boss at Discover influenced my career quite a bit because he believed in me to lead a digital experience team when I had neither a digital nor a customer experience background. But he saw in me that I always thought from a customer’s point of view and once he identified that, I’ve always made sure to lead with that skill. Plus, that role convinced me to sign up for Twitter since I was going to lead a social media team!
Shep Hyken has also been a big influence on my career, as both a customer service/customer experience expert and a Hall of Fame speaker (not to mention we share a barber!). Shep is as genuine and thoughtful as they come and manages to distill complex concepts into easily digested, actionable takeaways.
Branex: Lastly, Branex is a full-service digital agency that helps brands grow. What do you think about Branex? And how important it is for Businesses to collaborate with a professional Digital Agency for making their customer experience even better?
Dan: Digital has become a major part — and sometimes the entirety — of the customer experience, as first websites and then mobile apps became the main channels for customer self-service and engagement. Thus it is important that companies have the technical know-how to create effortless experiences, and agencies like Branex provide that plus a broader view of what’s working and what’s not across industries.
Many times companies can suffer from “tunnel vision” — only looking at their own industry for best practices — which can drastically reduce creativity and innovation. A great digital agency will have a wide portfolio of success stories from multiple industries, and the know-how to apply them to your industry.