Next move in the social business game?

Last night I attended a panel event on the use of social tools in the workplace organised by head of digital and social for Fishburn Hegdes (@fishburnhedges) (and fellow Gooner) Chris Reed (@chris_reed) . The panel consisted of Andrew Grill (@andrewGrill) partner at IBM Interactive and renowned social business thought-leader, Miguel Garcia (@MiguelAngelo) Customer Success Manager for Yammer in London, Ben Matthews (@Benmatthe) Head of strategic communications for eBay in Europe) and Jacobina Plummer (@jacobinaplummer) Global Change & Communications Manager, Agile Working for Unilever.

With the debate on the terminology around what social business is and if it means anything at all to the all important C-Suite, it was really interesting getting the views, real use cases and personal anecdotes of the panel session.

Key takeaways for me:

  • In a global organisation with thousands of staff, the use of an internal social network is essentially a ‘can’t live without’ particularly in the modern age of distributed work forces
  • The use (or in some cases misuse) of social tools with any organisation relies on those at the very top setting an example
  • What qualifies as success differs from organisation to organisation as expectations are very different (obvious but worth stressing)
  • Social networks within the firewall should not replace the role of line managers to instilling a sense of purpose for employees but instead serve to augment the organisational culture.
  • Agencies and consultancies (thankfully) have a role to play in helping organisations implement best in class practices but need to be able to demonstrate they can ‘walk the walk’ and not just ‘talk the talk’

As organisations  continually look to transform themselves in digital age, I suspect we will see these discussions ramp up further on this side of the pond over the next 2 to 3 years. Interesting times as they say.

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Disruption, disruption, disruption

For those of us that work in digital communications, it can be easy to forget there’s a whole world out there that are welded to an historical/traditional mindset and approach.

In itself that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Just because there are newer ways of doing things, doesn’t mean you have to throw out the baby with the bath water (so to speak)

Except there are instances when it’s clear an overhaul is needed.

Which brings me to my experience last with Nissan. Firstly I just want to say I don’t have an issue with Nissan or the person who was in charge of their twitter handle who I was sparring with. (Or even the leasing company ALD who still haven’t responded).

It’s more to do with the industry as a whole. I’ll explain.

I leased a brand new car about 18 months ago. It was a Nissan Qashqai (I’ve been teased about its Dad-status but that’s besides the point)

Haven’t not owned a car for 10 years prior to that, the responsibilities that come with owning a car (such as services it) had passed me by. Hell I was just excited to have a new toy.

18 months later I realise I should take the car in for a service. The service attendant at the Nissan Garage in Leyton informs me I’ve missed the first year service.

The conversation went as follows:

Nissan service attendant: “You realise you were meant to have serviced the car last year. Did you just forget?”

Me: “Well not really. I never got a reminder telling me it was due. In fact other than being sent a tax disc 6 months ago, I haven’t had any communication for Nissan or anyone.”

Nissan service attendant: “That’s pretty bad. I’d have thought someone would have got in touch with you somewhere down the line.”

So with that, I went through the formalities of booking the car in and as one who works in digital Comms, sent a tweet to Nissan saying, it’s not on that I haven’t heard from then since I brought the car 18 months ago.

The following exchange ensued:

  1. So @NissanUK I’ve haven’t had word from you since I leased my car and now I have to pay extra for an M2 service. Not happy
  2. @eba Hi Eb – sorry, don’t understand the context. Do you lease direct from us, from one of our dealers or via a lease agent? ^DP
  3. @NissanUK It was via a lease agent ALD automotive. Not heard a word from them since I leased in 2011 apart from to replace the tax ->
  4. @NissanUK Didn’t get a service reminder so missed 1yr service. After sales service has been non existent
  5. @eba Understood – isn’t your beef with ALD then and not us? We dont set the terms of a third party lease. ^DP
  6. @NissanUK Yes it is. But I lease a Nissan Qashqai not an ALD Qashqai. Plus I doubt they are on twitter
  7. @eba Then to be frank your being unfair complaining to us about your lease terms – anyway, their twitter handle is – @ALDAutomotiveUK ^DP
  8. @NissanUK Wow your tone is unbelievable. Considering it’s YOUR brand surely some recognition that as a customer I’m not happy is due
  9. @eba Come on Eb, your an experienced tweeter, you know its not cricket to complain indiscriminately – if I could help I could, I promise 1/2
  10. 2/2 but your issue is with ALD and the lease contract you have with them, not us or the car we lovingly built for you by hand 🙂 ^DP
  11. @NissanUK I don’t complain indiscriminately. But to tell me I’m being unfair when I’ve had a poor service from your BRAND is shocking
  12. @eba Hi Eb – this is turning a bit silly – your experience is with the ALD brand while driving a Nissan one. I am trying to help. ^DP
  13. @NissanUK Yes it is. What you should have done it give me ALD’s twitter and then said you’ll have a word with them about aftersales…
  14. @NissanUK Not say I’m being unfair complaining to you (again I add I’m tied to your BRAND) not ALD

Now as someone who as worked with car brands I understand the complexities of the supply chain. However, in the day and age we live in surely the guardians and owners of the brand have the responsibility to ensure that partners aren’t unduly treating their customers and ultimately potential advocates. (Ok I’m being a bit pedantic. At the end of the day all that happened was that I didn’t get a reminder. It’s not the end of the world).

My point is brands spend lots of money trying to connect with customers and influence them to buy into their product or services. But when someone does the systems behind the scenes more often than not, don’t live up to what is being portrayed.

After my twitter exchange with the guy he actually called me up and we had a good chat about how to avoid situations like this for other customers. I appreciate where he is coming from and also the challenges of trying to connect a company that has systems that aren’t designed for the digital age.

It boiled down to the fact that despite being a Nissan advocate, Nissan’s social media team have no way of knowing who I am or linking my online public persona to their customer data.

Nissan are certainly not unique. This story sums up this issue facing many organisations. While their is a lot of effort putting on a public face, things aren’t necessarily working that well behind the scenes.

And this is why a lot of social media efforts are viewed sceptically by the public. Many lack authenticity. And why? Because they aren’t a true representation of the company culture.

Even though social business is becoming another buzzword that’s being banded around, for me this is a real live example of the disruptive power social technologies and thinking will have on many industries.

FYI – I actually really like my Qashqai.