RENEGADE THINKING from the Founder/CEO of Renegade AND the author of the upcoming book, "The CMO’s Periodic Table: A Renegade’s Guide to Marketing."

Happy Employees = Happy Customers



Sometimes a single blog post can’t span the breadth of what I’ve learned from a particular CMO.  This is definitely the case with Steven Handmaker, CMO at Assurance, winner of The CMO Club Leadership Award who also joined me for the opening panel at Incite’s Content Marketing Summit.  While the interview below focuses on his approach to leadership, it doesn’t cover what I subsequently learned about his approach to content and the highly effective marketing campaign he helped initiate for Assurance.  So allow me to address that first.

Knowing how hard it is to differentiate insurance companies and the products they sell, Assurance decided to focus attention on its “quirky culture” thus putting employees front and center. With its campaign, “Happy Employees = Happy Customers,” Assurance not only found a source of highly distinctive content but also they tapped into a wellspring of goodwill both internally and externally.  Assurance does many professionally-focused things to engendered this goodwill (i.e. training seminars & a “university” ) along with many just plain fun things like an employee Olympics, a casino night and sending digital high fives to top performers. These activities have catapulted Assurance to be among the top 5 places to work in Chicago and just as importantly, helped Assurance outperform many of its rivals.  And frankly, that’s what I call leadership.

Drew: How would you describe / or how have others described your leadership style? 

In terms of leadership style, I’m always aiming for inspirational.  I work hard to have those I lead understand our ultimate vision and allow them the freedom and flexibility to use their talents to help us get there.  Beyond inspiration, I’m a big believer in consistently showing appreciation.

Drew: Do you have any role models that you’ve admired over the years and if so, what did you pick up from him/her?  

Personally, I worship at the altar of Bruce Springsteen. I mean, he is the ultimate Boss.I never miss a concert. Seen him in multiple cities, seen him in multiple continents — I am one of those. I could write a book (and may one day) on why he’s a great leadership role model for business. But for the purpose of this interview, let’s just say he’s a master storyteller, first and foremost, with legendary desire to connect with his audience.  Something to which all marketers should aspire.

Drew: Can you talk about some of the actions you took as a leader in the last couple of years that were particularly challenging?

I work for an insurance brokerage whose primary business is B2B.  When it comes to marketing technology, our industry is woefully behind the times.  I’ve installed a state-of-the-art Eloqua automation system and have established an engaged audience of prospects and clients, rich with data.  The challenging part is partnering with our sales people who are already tops in our industry, and convincing them to incorporate this new technology in to their process for even greater results.  I’d say this work in continually ongoing.

Drew: How important is your peer to peer network to your on-going success?  What are the biggest benefits of having a peer network?

Peer-to-peer for me has been invaluable.  I’ve learned (stolen) so much from marketing leaders, particularly in other industries, which I’ve been able to take back and apply in my own environment.  As I’ve said, nearly every industry is further along than insurance brokers – so it’s not too difficult to identify some amazing things we should have probably been doing 4 years ago.

Drew: What’s the best advice you’ve been given to guide personal / career success? 

Anybody can follow a job description, do exactly what is asked, and produce positive results.  If you really want to get noticed, if you really want to get ahead in your career, you need to ask yourself what else could you be doing that isn’t in your job description.  What else should you just do to help those around you and the company succeed.  Do that, and success will follow.  If you apply this ideology to your personal life as well, you can expect the same results.

Drew: Looking ahead to 2016, what is the single biggest challenge that you’d like to overcome?

My own marketing team is growing and I’ve got some amazing talent I’d love to spend more time working closely with and nurturing. However, time management is something that ebbs and flows for me.  Lately I’ve been ebbing and I’ve got to get my flow back!

Wilson Scores with Content Marketing


Content marketing is one of those things that is easy to talk about yet extremely hard to get right.  It’s not enough to have a clear strategy although that is essential. It’s not enough to tell compelling stories across a wide range of platforms.  Even with paid media driving views and influencers adding their audiences, there is no guarantee that your content program will take off right from the start.

These realities were front and center at Incite’s Content Marketing Summit in Chicago a couple of weeks ago.  While there, I had the pleasure of kicking the first day off with some historical perspective on the use of content as a marketing tool (i.e. 1900: Michelin Guide; 1955 Guinness Book of World Records) and moderating three panels, including the opening keynote with Charlie Breit (SurePayroll), Steven Handmaker (Assurance), Jeff Pundyk (The Economist) and Amy Weisenbach (Wilson).  I’ve already posted my interview with Charlie and the others are forthcoming, including my refreshingly honest conversation with Amy that follows.

Amy_Wilson_headshotAs VP of Marketing at Wilson Sporting Goods, Amy is the force behind Wilson’s first ever cross-brand campaign that includes lots of branded and user generated content.  And though the campaign has exceeded expectations, generating strong engagement rates and significant brand lift, Amy is the first to admit that they are on a steep learning curve. For example, it turned out that it was much harder to get consumers to submit videos than photos. They also learned that when working with influential video creators, it’s probably better to let them go off and create their own content rather than offering them a particular story line. All I know as a tennis fan is that it sure doesn’t hurt when you can get the likes of Serena Williams and Roger Federer to help tell your brand’s story.  Read on.

Drew: How important is content marketing in your overall marketing mix? 

Content is critical to how we build passion for the Wilson brand among our core consumers: avid youth athletes.  Young people are consuming an extraordinary amount of digital content each day, and if we want to be relevant and top of mind with them we have to be in the mix of what they’re consuming.  We have a ton of great stories to tell and interesting assets we can leverage — from our pro athletes and league affiliations to intriguing product development stories from our  Wilson Labs, the innovation hub at Wilson.  We’re luckily in a category that’s important to our consumers’ identities and are among the kind of content they want to consume.  In terms of our marketing mix, most of it is what I’d call “content” – some is more heavily branded and from the Wilson brand voice, but we’re increasingly developing content that feels more organic and soliciting content from our athletes and consumers themselves.

Drew: What role or roles does it play and are there types of content that you are you finding particularly effective?

We’re continually learning the best ways to package our stories and engage our audience.  We’re experimenting with everything from Wilson Advisory Staff Member takeovers on Snapchat to documentary storytelling to blog-like content to soliciting UGC.  We’re definitely in test and learn mode, but early findings suggest the obvious which is that more visual stories get higher engagement.

Drew: Tell me about #MyWilson.  What was the strategy behind this program?

We created the My Wilson campaign to create a conversation amongst youth athletes – across a wide range of sports — about the role their equipment plays in their lives and in the pursuit of their personal ambitions in the sport they love to play.   It’s a 360-degree marketing effort, with a heavy emphasis on social and digital media. At the heart of the campaign is a video, called Nothing Without It, that features amateur athletes alongside some of the world’s best professional athletes recounting the ups and downs of their journeys.  The video features pros like Serena Williams and Dustin Pedroia as well as amateur youth athletes side-by-side.  We also invited youth athletes to add themselves to the video by sharing a clip tagged #MyWilson. To incentivize participation, we pledged to donate sports equipment for every clip shared up to $250,000.

Drew: How did you bring this program to life?  How did people find out about it?

We launched the My Wilson campaign amidst one of the biggest weeks of the year across all of our sports: during the US Open, the kickoff of the NFL season, the AVP Championshipsweekend and the MLB pennant were just underway.  We kicked it off by engaging all 10,000 members of our Wilson Advisory Staff made up of pro athletes and coaches from around the world.  They posted personal stories about what their Wilson equipment means to them and encouraged youth athletes to add their own stories to the conversation.  We also supported the campaign with paid media, including TV and digital video as well as some home page takeovers on key youth sports sites like and

Drew: How has it worked out?

The campaign has performed really well to date.  We’re seeing very high video completion rates and many of our social posts related to the campaign have garnered some of the highest engagement rates of anything we’ve ever posted.  It’s been incredibly rewarding to see and hear the stories our youth athletes have to tell and how Wilson plays a part in their journeys. The most exciting results have come from a brand lift study we conducted where we’re seeing double-digit lifts in key brand health metrics like “for me” and “is a brand I talk about.”

Drew: Was it tricky implementing a program like this over a wide range of sports – did you have to make adjustments as you moved sport to sport?

Each of our sports has its own culture and a slightly different tone of voice; that uniqueness is critical to engaging authentically with youth in each specific sport.  So as you can imagine, it was challenging to get all of our individual sport marketing teams to coordinate on approach, content and timing. Believe it or not, I think this was the first time we used a common look for our social skins and avatars. In the end it was worth the extra time and effort because it helped us take a huge step forward in presenting ourselves to consumers as one brand.

Drew: What are some of the major lessons learned when it comes to driving (user generated) content programs like #MyWilson?

Our baseball team has a long-running social photo contest called “Wilson Wednesday” where consumers submit photos of their glove for a chance to win a prize.  We learned through that promotion that it takes a while to get consumers over the hump to submit photos and even there we’ve had limited success with getting consumers to submit videos.  Given that, we decided to lean on a content partner, Whistle Sports, to help solicit user generated content for the My Wilson campaign.  Whistle Sports’ community readily garners and shares UGC content and so when they asked for videos on our behalf, UGC content began flowing in.  As we suspected, we saw a limited number of consumers willing to create and submit content directly through our channels.  Photos a little more, but very few videos.  Moving forward we will be looking for ways to build a stronger two-way conversation with our audience so they are primed when we’re ready to turn on a UGC-based initiative.

Gearing up for Gen Z: The #Selfie Generation?


HeadshotPattiGirardiEmailJust when you’d thought you’d wrapped your marketing minds around millennials, along comes Gen Z to really mess with your head.  Born between 1996 and 2013, the oldest part of this group is just now entering college, wreaking havoc with their multi-tasking mobile mindset and no doubt, creating huge challenges for the marketers trying to engage with them.

One such marketer is Patti Girardi, VP of Marketing with Chartwells Higher Education Dining Services, a division of Compass Group that feeds the students at 270 colleges and universities across the U.S.  Patti and I got connected through Incite’s upcoming Content Marketing Summit, where we’re on a panel together. And it turns out, she’s has had serious success engaging Gen Z with content — user generated content. Based on our conversation, we might just have to call them the #selfie generation. Read on to find out why.

Drew: I read about your “Where Hungry Minds Gather” program, which was designed to address the “unique attributes of Generation Z.” Can you talk about the strategy behind this repositioning?

Chartwells’ new brand identity positions its brand for the new generation of college students, Generation Z, which is replacing the Millennials on college and university campuses. With its extreme affinity for technology, Generation Z is described by thought-leaders like the Harvard School of Public Health as “over-connected, yet under-related,” and its work suggests that brands promoting high-intensity relationships will be the key to helping prepare this generation for the future. We looked at what we do naturally to promote high-intensity relationships — our dining programs bring students together and serve as centers of academic life on campus, for example — to arrive at our new slogan, “Where Hungry Minds Gather.”

Drew: How did content marketing fit into this program?  What kinds of content did you develop to appeal to Gen Z? 

Content marketing helps us stay true to communicating with Gen Z “in their language.” This group wants a story, not a sell. So our emphasis is on developing visual content that is quirky and playful, versus a more traditional sales-oriented communication approach.

Drew:  What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome in the content space?

Gen Z multi-tasks across five digital screens (versus two for Millennials). So we are always striving to tell our story consistently across multiple digital platforms.

Drew:  How do you measure the effectiveness of your content marketing activities and how have things been working?

We look at the volume of interactions (likes, shares, retweets, etc.). In some cases, we’ve been able to boost same store sales.

Drew: Is there a particular type of content that is really working well for you right now? 

Gen Z communicates in images: emoticons, emojis, video. Regardless of the platform, we emphasize visuals over text as much as possible.

Drew: How does social media fit into your content strategy?  

This group is really all about social. As the first generation that has always had social media and the Internet, this demographic does not differentiate between the two. User generated content programs are highly popular with this generation – this is the age of the selfie!

Drew:  What are the 2-3 key lessons you’ve learned when it comes to developing effective content programs?

  • Keep it short: this generation communicates in snack-size portions (when it does take the time to read).
  • Produce content that is sharable. If Gen Z isn’t sharing your brand, you don’t exist.

Getting B2B Content Marketing on the Payroll


I’m on the phone the other day with my friend John Hall of Influence & Co and casually ask, “Do you know any Chicago-based wizards of content marketing that would be good panelists?” [My inquiry was anything but casual in that I’m emceeing the first day of Incite’s Content Marketing Summit and I’m a stickler for getting sharp and articulate panelists thus making my role a whole lot easier.] Anyway, back to the story. John suggests Charlie Breit, VP of Marketing at SurePayroll, a division of Paychex, and I have to say I was initially skeptical since this particular category is not, at least in my mind, inherently scintillating. Of course, I should know better than to” judge a book by its cover” and as you will see in our interview below, not only does Charlie know his stuff but also his approach is truly inspiring. Read on — this particular interview definitely pays dividends right to the last!

Drew: How important is content to your overall marketing strategy? What role does is play in the overall mix?

Content is a key strategic pillar for us within our marketing strategy.  Two-thirds of our new customers are either new small businesses (or households with Nanny Payroll) or new to payroll solutions (and also only have 1 – 4 employees), so they are usually not very familiar or knowledgeable about the ins and outs of taxes, payroll, etc.  Also many are new small business owners, so they are also trying to get their business up and running and often times can be overwhelmed by everything they need to do.  We see ourselves as a strategic partner that helps business owners simplify an aspect of their business that at times can seem difficult and hard to understand – but it doesn’t just begin and end with our payroll software.

Our content marketing program is a way that we can help all of our customers learn about taxes, payroll and running a business.  As a whole – our customers want a solution that is low-touch and software that they can manage on their own – with little help/inquiry to our service team as needed.  Content is a way that we can help educate our customers and provide them the support they need to be more successful in their business and help them get a better handle on taxes, payroll, etc. as they grow and develop as a business.  Content is something they can access and consume on their own time, which aligns to our main product/service.

We use content throughout all phases of our marketing program and mix – to help with acquisition to retention to advocacy.  We’re also looking at how we can develop content to improve our overall experience and support our Sales and Service interactions – everything from mining what topics come up in these interactions and building content to support our customers and prospects having a better understanding of the process and what is expected to helping them achieve their desired outcome without a call to using content as a pro-active follow up to make sure the customer/prospect has the right information.

Drew: Do you have a specific strategy for content? 

We are currently evolving our content strategy.  Initially, content was developed to supplement SEO and drive acquisition traffic and therefore content was developed around keyword and search opportunity. We are moving to a strategy that assess our small business owner and household customers’ needs and then developing content that will be designed to be self service and offer depth and breadth on topics that are important for our customers.  We will no longer chase keywords and search traffic, but instead look to use content to improve the value that we deliver our customers and increase the usefulness/utility that we provide.  As a result – content will also become more effective for retention and for deepening our relationship and engagement with our customers.

Drew: How do measure its effectiveness? 

The old strategy measured effectiveness through traffic driven to our site, leads generated and sales.  As part of our strategic move – gross volumes no longer are relevant, but instead we’ll look at success metrics focused on our target segments. We will still look at our acquisition funnel and see how our content supports acquisition, but in terms of our target market and not just gross volumes.  We’ll also look at retention rates for customers who engaged our content vs. customers who didn’t and our overall satisfaction with our customer experience (e.g. CSAT, NPS).  In addition – we’ll see if our other success metrics improve as we begin to implement our new content strategy.  Also from a measurement standpoint – we are moving towards looking at the effect of content over a longer term period and not just how it drives an immediate action.  We’re still determining metrics to measure this – but the goal is to better understand the long term impact of content and not just measure views, shares and leads generated when the content is released.

Drew: Is there a particular content program you have initiated in the last couple of years that you’re particularly proud of? 

Our SurePayroll blog is a great starting point for our content program as well as our Small Business Scorecard.  Both of these initiatives are focused on providing small business owners with content that is helpful as they are starting and building their business.  The Small Business Scorecard gives small business owners factual information about other businesses their size to help them benchmark and see what others like them are doing.  The blog has begun to bring a full breadth of content to our digital experience and look to be more helpful/useful than just try to sell something.  Both of these initiatives were originally started to improve SEO and drive traffic, but also helped provided small business owners with valuable content that helped them beyond just buying our product, so while we are pivoting the strategy – these are both initiatives that will be solid building blocks for our content program in the future.

Drew: With every business recognizing the need for content, how have you made sure that your content stands out from the pack?

First, we developed a brand story that provides us a starting point for what we are about and how we fit in with our target audience.  From there – we began to develop our brand voice and philosophy for how we want to align with our audience and how we could deliver value that was in context of our clients’ needs.  In the past – content was developed to chase keywords and traffic, so the only reason that content was aligned to what we do is that the traffic needed to have an interest in our solution at some basic level.  This meant that from an audience perspective there was really no rhyme or reason to why we developed the content that we did.  Content was optimized based on what worked, but “what worked” was driven by gross volume metrics.  In our new paradigm – we are looking at developing content from our strengths in the business and in alignment with “who we are” and “why we do it” of our brand.  This unique perspective and our commitment to being aligned to our audience’s needs provides us with a platform for standing out.  Our goal isn’t to be all things to all people, but a resource that our target audience would find useful and relatable too – and ultimately stand out from all other sources for this group – because we are focused on delivering value through our content  that is targeted to their needs and viewpoints.

Drew: If you were talking to someone new to content marketing, what would you say are the three keys to building a successful program?

  1. Target your desired audience:  Know who you want to connect and engage with and get to know them as well as you can – so that you can provide value to them in context of what they need and desire.
  2. Deliver value: Find ways to deliver value in all of your content.  Value is based on perception, so find ways to simplify, add utility or be useful that means a lot to your target audience – even if the general public doesn’t necessarily find value in what you are delivering.
  3. Be reliable: Consistently deliver content that is in the same voice, provides value and is something your audience knows will be there.  Content marketing should not be a flash in the pan project, but a commitment to the long haul.  How often or through what delivery vehicles/channels depends on your audience’s needs and wants, but your audience should know that they can rely on you to be consistent with what you deliver.

Drew: Are there brands out there that you think are doing a particularly great job with content?  If so, what do you like about their efforts?

The classic examples of brands using content very well to build community and passion for their brand is Red Bull and Disney.  As a consumer with young kids – Disney’s content has been extremely useful as we have planned our trips to Disney World.  We’ve extensively used their videos to have a better feel for what things are and aren’t to plan the trip and help us have a better experience.  Red Bull has done a great job for a while of connecting with their niche audience and developing content and being a part of experiences that are directly tied to their customers’ lifestyle.  They are targeted to their fans and their fans love all of it.  Also from a consumer perspective – I’ve been impressed with Home Depot’s content program and have found it very helpful as I try to tackle projects around the house.  They’ve done a great job of providing value beyond just being the place that I can buy supplies and tools.  Their content has been very helpful in better understanding what it would take to do a project right and sometimes shown me that it’s beyond my skill level and not worth starting at all.  I think the key denominator in my examples is that the content is directed at a particular audience and provides value or is useful in a way that’s not about buying something directly – but provides value in context of the relationship that I have with the brand.

CMO Insights: Todd Merry on Customer Experience



Todd Merry is the CMO of Delaware North, a gigantic company that you many not have heard of but have probably interacted with. How is that possible?  Well, first here are a couple of key facts–Delaware North is privately held yet has revenues of more than $2.6 billion and has 55,000 employees worldwide.  Those employees work around the globe at venues like the TD Garden, MetLife Stadium and Yosemite while serving a whopping half a billion customers each year.  That’s a lot of customer experiences, experiences that, as it turns out, are not always completely in their control.  Now that’s a tricky challenge, one that requires both vision and pragmatism, two of the essential ingredients to win The CMO Club‘s Customer Experience Award as Todd did this year.  To understand how Todd and the folks at Delaware North accomplished this and more, read on:

Drew: Congrats on winning the Customer Experience Award.  Can you share the kinds of things you did to improve the overall customer experience in 2015?

We have so many different customers in different locations – MetLife Stadium, Yosemite National Park, New Orleans Airport, TD Garden, just to name a few – but the one way in which we focused on improving their experience was through insights, specifically a proprietary program called “Total Listening” which incorporates ongoing communities, social media monitoring and analytics. Through this program we have been able to identify opportunities to improve the experience throughout our interactions with customers.

Drew: How do you measure your customer experience?  How do you know if your customers are having a great experience?

We have in place a comprehensive customer experience/satisfaction program called “GuestPath”. The role of this program is fourfold – to define and codify the standards for all of our industries and geographies, to train our customer-facing personnel to these standards, to anonymously measure these results of these standards three times a year at every location and, finally, to collect, analyze and report customer experiences through an ongoing survey process.

Drew:  A lot of studies suggest that only 1 in 10 unhappy customers will share their complaints with a brand. How do you process customer complaints and make sure that a systemic issue is not overlooked?  

As above we have processes in place and are set up to relay comments to the right place and ensure resolution/followup. But we also agree that few customers, even unhappy customers, will follow your feedback processes. To that end we have employed social media monitoring to scour those channels for any negative feedback and reply to the same. Many more people will take to social media to complain and by using a comprehensive monitoring tool these channels can become your best way to catch unhappy customers.

Drew: Do you have complete control over the customer experience and if not, how do you overcome the responsibility without authority conundrum? 

We don’t have complete control over the customer experience which means two things – we have to exercise the control you have as effectively as possible and, two, we have to have great relationships with our operators who become our last mile to that customer. Thankfully most operators understand the importance of the customer experience, particularly in this hyper-connected world where every customer has an expanded reach and influence.

Drew: What other company do you think is doing an amazing job with CX and why?  

JetBlue. Not only do they seem to have almost real-time monitoring and response on their social channels but they seem to have a very active finger on the pulse of the customer experience. And as one of those customers I know they work hard it – they actively seek my opinions multiple times during a year.

Drew: Looking ahead to 2016, what is the single biggest challenge that you’d like to overcome?  

Getting a better handle on marketing ROI and specifically the attribution to “softer” efforts like customer satisfaction/experience.

How Dell Tackles Social Customer Service


Giovani Social customer service is becoming more important to a company’s success than ever before. What was once primarily used as an opportunity for good PR and marketing strategies is now an integral piece of the customer service puzzle. When a company publicly engages with their customers via social it shows their followers they are not afraid to openly discuss any issue that may come up and take responsibility for their mistakes. This sort of public interaction creates a deeper sense of trust between a business and their customer. But how do you define where in your company social customer service belongs? Where do you draw the line when it comes to addressing complaints? How do you know if your efforts with social are even making a difference?

Giovanni Tavani has the answers to these questions and then some. At Dell for over 14 years, Giovani currently serves as Global Social Media Manager. In 2010 Giovanni was appointed as leader of the Social Media Support team which is currently up and running in 15 different languages. At present Giovanni leads the Global operations for EMEA, Latin America and APJ and drives the development of customer solutions and digital content through Social Media. I will be talking social customer service with Giovani today at the Customer Service Summit in New York but you can read some of our conversation here:

Drew: Dell was an early adopter of social customer service— how has your approach evolved over the last couple of years?  Then,

Yes, we expanded our team & scope to all global languages, became a central team/organization and developed our approach, no longer “limited” to handling customers` queries but also to build meaningful content for our customers to anticipate their needs.

Drew: Social listening is a big challenge for popular brands — brands like McDonalds get several mentions a minute and of course not all are positive.  How do you decide which complaints to respond to?  Does every complaint warrant are response?  

We do not only receive complaints. In the early days people used social media to complain, now even users consider it as a channel like voice or chat. We respond to all posts except, mostly on forums, where tech savvy users interact with each other with good solutions/suggestions.

Drew: There is some debate in the industry about celebrity complaints.  Some argue these folks warrant special treatment as they have such a large sphere of influence, Others will say that no customer should be more important than another in this arena.  What do you think?

I agree all customers should be treated in the same way, which means….if we know that an exceptional CX can be delivered to celebrities, I don`t see why the same exceptional experience shouldn`t be delivered to all customers!

Drew:  Have their been cases with when social listening identified a product issue or opportunity and if so, how does your team aggregate customer feedback and determine what should be escalated to the product development teams?  

With regards to Win10 upgrade, which went very well, we knew it would be a top social topic, so we built huge campaigns of tips & tricks, how-tos, videos to anticipate all potential questions and to make the Win10 experience even better for our customers. We decided to anticipate rather than suffering from too many queries on the same topic if we didn`t act proactively.

Drew: Can you speak about a particular social customer service success story?  

Every time we give an answer to a customer and we also take the action in an end2end fashion, that`s our success stories every day. We never ask another department to handle and we never ask customers to contact someone else or to change the channel. That`s the successful approach we have and want to keep investing on. In terms of strategy, I am proud of having been the one to have some game changing ideas in the past couple of years: do not limit to customer support but build posts with #DellTips (AKA proactive solutions) in an attractive way, i.e. bring in people with digital marketing skills into customer support rather than “limit” to IT technical profiles. On the video strategy piece, we considered 1. YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine of the web and 2. Videos built through agencies are expensive. So I had the idea to see what universities could do in some kind of R&D environment focused on audio-visual medias. We found the best place in Brazil, in a very well known university campus, where movies and animations are created. We signed a deal with them to exchange skills and internships and build professional videos with animations and talking heads in all the languages we needed while keeping costs under control.

Drew: Does your purview include international social accounts?  If so, what are some of the challenges that you’ve been able to overcome? 

Yes, we cover 18 languages (and many more countries). The biggest challenge I am still dealing with is the huge growth of China on social media. 1 year ago we could handle the volumes with 6 community managers, now we are at 22 and need 20 more. I could imagine China would grow (that was pretty obvious from day 1….) but the growth is more of an explosion now as it`s going so fast. So the challenge is mainly on keeping leadership aware of a fact Vs talking about a forecast and then go hire the best profile and fast. This is still work in progress…..and I guess that is just the beginning of China growth on Social Media, also considering their WeChat platform is really cool and it already works outside of China.

Drew: is there a company out there that you think does a really amazing job with social customer service? If so, why?

I see Emirates airline as a good example. I travel a lot and use them a lot. Their idea of CX is just “excellence” in every part of their customer journey and they always respond in a timely manner with a real solution with professional and empowered agents. There are many other companies like Coca-Cola, Nike, Adidas which are really great on social media but I prefer to look at companies which sell a product that generates a long lasting customer journey Vs a short term product consumption. These other companies can afford having mainly marketing to handle their social presence, while companies like Dell, airlines o car makers must have a social social customer support presence, because the product usage experience is as important as the purchase and unboxing experience.

Drew:  How do evaluate the success of your social customer service program?

Growing volumes year-on-year, similar KPI/metrics as the rest of the company, CX above all, to have the right level of trust and visibility from the leadership team.

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