Meet Evan Shumeyko, a director at Ogilvy & Mather, and an expert in customer engagement. Read on for an in-depth interview with Shumeyko, and to gain his insight into how social software can improve customer relations and strengthen your organization.
Can you tell our readers a little about yourself and your background?
Currently, I work as the Director of CRM and Customer Engagement at Ogilvy & Mather, a global marketing services company. It was founded by David Ogilvy, the father of all Mad Men. But, I come from a kind of diverse background that’s a little different than you might expect…
Well now you’ve certainly got our attention…what’s your previous experience like?
I don’t have the typical advertising or direct response experience. My background is in customer care, so I understand a little better than most how important the customer mindset is to a business.
My career began in a company, which is now known as Verizon Wireless. I worked in their customer service organization, and specifically helped to identify and stop fraudulent activity. I eventually moved up and then on to other companies, where I focused on customer service and community management. I’ve worked everywhere from an Internet startup in the information marketplace sector, to the Associated Press, but I’ve always believed in the importance of offering great customer care. Even now, at Ogilvy, my job is to help brands offer better customer experience.
In your opinion, what’s a major problem in most businesses and their customer relations?
There’s an interesting irony about the way many organizations are set up– the teams who have direct, day-to-day contact with customers are often furthest from the heart of the business. They are usually not involved in improving broader challenges, such as how to improve customer experience. If companies align the customer care organization with the business, they can unlock customer value.
Ok, so you’ve found the problem, how do you fix it?
Well, first, you’ve got to get others to understand the problem before you can reach a solution.
I often have a conversation with clients that leads them to a certain realization. It sounds a little like this:
Client: I’m interested in building up our social media capabilities.
Me: That’s a great idea. However, you realize that you have a listening post already inside your organization, right?
Client: No, I had no idea! Is that something that was set up by another marketing team? I’d really like to connect with them.
Me: They’ve been around for quite some time, engaging in thousands of conversations with your best customers, influencers, and prospects. I am sure you can derive great customer insight from building a closer relationship with them.
Client: Where are these people? How soon can we connect?
Me: I’m talking about your customer contact center. Let me introduce you two.
All right, so you’ve got your client on board. How do you get the client to connect with the customer support team and better understand the customers?
Well, they have to do more than visit the call center once a quarter and listen to a few phone calls, or conduct internal focus groups only after a new product launches. Instead, they must engage with their customer care colleagues in real time, consistently, and with an eye on common objectives and an understanding of ROI.
In the past, this might have spurred a series of meetings or initiatives that would increase “time off the phones “ or create longer conversations, which can be problematic for any care team. I can hear the screams now from those of you who don’t work for Zappos and still have to deal with AHT – average handle times, despite its decreasing relevance as a key metric.
Now, we have this wonderful new tool called social media. Let’s use it in our businesses.
How do you think social media can help businesses better understand their customers?
Social media has presented us with a powerful opportunity. We can apply social media principles and tools inside our own contact centers. Customer care agents are an audience themselves, and we should be interacting with them more and gathering their feedback in real time. Social media provides us with the ability to marry the Voice-of-the-Customer with the Voice-of-the-Agent to get a true picture of how we are delivering on the brand promise.
Beyond listening, we can then use social software inside the call center to push out short talking point suggestions to agents, enabling them to have more valuable conversations with customers.
So, let’s get specific…how exactly would social software help?
Ok, let’s say your company sent out a confusing promotion and now your agents must deal with an overwhelming number of contacts. How do you know this? Well, because of social software, your frontline staff sent out a signal to your internal network, immediately alerting those who needed to know. As a result, you were able to create a post informing your staff on how to handle the issue, and share it through your social software. If your agents had questions or comments on your entry, they could respond immediately.
How does social software help you and Ogilvy & Mather, specifically?
What I’ve described is exactly what Ogilvy & Mather is doing with our clients. We are using a phrase we coined, “Socializing the enterprise,” so gone are the days of bosses dropping stacks of files on your desk. We use Socialtext on a daily basis, because it helps digitize the content that Ogilvy creates. I believe in service-based marketing. You shouldn’t have to spend 30 minutes searching for the document you need, when it takes you seconds to get a restaurant recommendation online. Using Socialtext allows us to unify teams, ensure relevance in conversations, and align service delivery with the brand promise. In doing so, we are making wise changes from the inside out, which allows our clients to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d like to offer readers?
If you provide excellent service, you’ll market your products more successfully. It’s a simple idea, but it always holds true.