How to Extend Your Customer Experience Through Social Media - Peter Merholz - Harvard Business Review

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The 2 page paper is about total customer experience management and is useful for designing customer experience using social media.

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  • 7/5/14 How to Extend Your Customer Experience Through Social Media - Peter Merholz - Harvard Business Review

    blogs.hbr.org/2009/08/how-to-extend-your-customer-ex/ 1/2

    HBR Blog Network

    How to Extend Your Customer Experience Through Social Mediaby Peter Merholz | 10:23 AM August 24, 2009

    Im in Toronto this week on business. Arriving a few days early to play tourist, I tweeted for recommendations for

    places to eat and things to do. In the onslaught of responses I got, one friend suggested Mildreds Temple for brunch

    (http://twitter.com/michele_perras/statuses/3277800736) . Given the flood of commentary, that would not have stood

    out, except that someone from that restaurant thanked my friend for the referral,

    (http://twitter.com/mildredstemple/statuses/3315139564) and encouraged my visit. On Sunday, my wife, son, and I had

    a delightful meal there, one that would not have happened without social media. And Mildreds got some new

    business.

    Clearly, thanks to services like Twitter and Facebook, there is now a global conversation. Whats not clear is how

    businesses can meaningfully embrace it. How can social media augment, fill out, and improve the customer

    experience?

    1. Only hire people who embody your brand

    Its disheartening how typically little regard management has for their staff, as witnessed by their onerous policies and

    procedures for appropriate communication. Two companies who lead the way in using social media, Southwest

    Airlines and Zappos (disclosure: Zappos is a client of Adaptive Path (http://adaptivepath.com/) ), empower their staff to

    engage with social media on the companys behalf. What allows them to be comfortable with this is that both

    companies have extremely particular hiring practices

    (http://blogs.harvardbusiness.org/taylor/2008/05/why_zappos_pays_new_employees.html) that ensure their

    employees embrace the companys values.

    Whats great about this approach is that you dont need corporate social media policies just let your staff do what

    they do. Whats challenging about this approach, at least for other companies, is that most dont hire with same intent

    and fervor.

    2. If you do need policies, keep them lightweight and human.

    Not every company has the luxury of Zappos and Southwest to wholeheartedly trust all staff members to converse with

    the public. For those companies, guidelines help staff understand how to appropriately engage. The trick is to write the

    guidelines in a straightforward, human manner, and not to overwhelm with corporate- or legal-ese. Intels set of social

    media guidelines (http://www.intel.com/sites/sitewide/en_US/social-media.htm) are thorough and clear, and would

    probably serve as a great starting point for any organization.

    3. Experiment, prototype, pilot try stuff out.

    This is good advice for any initiative, social media or otherwise. Not sure how you should best use social media? Try

    different things. Join Twitter and start talking. Put up a page on Facebook and see what happens. Launch a small

    community on your website, and see if people gravitate toward it. For each of these activities, make sure youve

    devoted the time and effort that will allow it to succeed dont assume that because people dont immediately flock to

    the initiative, its a failure (or, even worse, that engaging in social media is thus not worth the trouble). Evolve your

    efforts and see what sticks. ENGAGEMENTdb published a report (http://www.engagementdb.com/Report) of the

    brands leading in social media, and Starbucks came out ahead, notably for their willingness to try a lot of different

    things, some of which have succeeded beyond expectations (most notably with My Starbucks Idea

    (http://mystarbucksidea.force.com/ideaHome) , capturing customers love for the brand and transforming that energy

    into smart new initiatives).

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    4. Its a conversation, which means you both listen and take part.

    The worst offenders are those who see social media as simply another platform for marketing communications,

    blasting press releases and other promotions without regard. In a discussion within Adaptive Path, a colleague said,

    Its not a megaphone, its an ear trumpet (http://scienceblogs.com/retrospectacle/2007/12/vintage_ear_trumpets.php)

    ! And while that is definitely a more refined notion, its insufficient. While it makes sense to track social media to see

    whats being said about you, if you dont engage, youre simply not part of the conversation.

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