Tuesday, November 3, 2009

NACCM 2009: Turn Your Enemies into Raging Fans: The Critical Imperatives to Listening Online

A website called “Comcast Must Die” was one of the reasons Comcast took a more active role in reaching out to their unhappy customers. Frank Eliason, Director of Digital Care, National Customer Operations with Comcast, says this website was one of the reasons they started actively engaging in social media. They began by looking at blog site comments about their brand and let these customers know they were listening.

Eliason and his team of 11 are assigned the task of managing Comcast’s social media strategy. The company has set up both internal and external strategies to listen to customers. Eliason involved a variety of departments at Comcast to participate in listening and sharing customer stories, including Marketing, Public Relations, Customer Service and Human Resource departments. According to Eliason, this strategy has enabled Comcast to apply this information and change processes for the good in all areas of the company.

They didn’t start out that way. Eliason shares that Comcast had to learn to move away from being a product-focused company to one that is experienced-focused. It’s easy to track numbers and data to measure your effectiveness says Eliason. But you cannot change your organization by looking at only the numbers. Service people know that the customer experience and customer stories count.

With respects to blogs, Comcast takes the approach of reaching out to customers one-to-one if possible. They will first seek to call the customer and have a conversation. According to Eliason, the surprise factor is high, a two-way conversation is facilitated, and customers feel special. If they can’t reach them by phone, they try email or respond directly by posting comments on the blog site.

Eliason’s advice was similar to many other speakers today. That advice was to start listening to conversations. Search your brand name on Twitter. Don’t hold back, reach out and ask “can I help?” Know which forums your customers are hanging out on. Every customer is an influencer on your brand says Eliason. Listening and engaging are more important than ever in growing your brand.

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