Connecting with Customers

This panel highlighted how big brands are using social data, across the organization, and especially to connect with customers.

Customers 1

Panelist Jayadev Gopinath, Chief Data Officer at Toyota Motor North America, gathers, manages, and analyzes data from two main sources: social data from various channels, and industry data purchased from organizations like J.D. Power. This is used across the organization, from PR to product to customer support. It’s the customer team, though, that has the deepest engagement with social data. Jayadev’s driving question is, “How do you make data part of everyone’s day-to-day job?” The data must be actionable. According to Jayadev, the sooner that companies like Toyota can receive and resolve customer feedback, the more money they can save through product improvements.

Panelist Kriti Kapoor, Global Director of Social Customer Care at HP, Inc., leads change from within the customer group at her company as well. Although social data was historically on the periphery at HP, over time and through a lot of learning social data has centered itself inside the organization. Once the company recognized the power of social data, HP shifted its customer focus to gain insight from online communities, Facebook and Twitter.

In order educate groups across HP, Kriti has had over 1,000 conversations to teach her colleagues about the data and value of customer care using social data. “Social is breaking boundaries across departments,” she explained. The volume of data HP manages helps to break these boundaries: Kriti’s team responds to more than 100,000 inquiries per month, across Facebook, Twitter and 22 other channels, in 10 languages.

Social is breaking boundaries across departments. – Kriti Kapoor, HP

Moderator Justin De Graaf, Director of Data Strategy & Precision Marketing at The Coca-Cola Company, asked when and how often the panelists looked to external companies for support in customer care. Kriti’s and Jayadev’s responses had a common through-line: use external tools to monitor and collect data, but analyze and interpret the data inside the organization. Toyota uses various agencies, buys industry data, and applies machine learning to gather raw data. Those external resources are closely managed internally by Toyota teams—in that way, it’s not fully “outsourced.” Instead, it’s carefully managed and analyzed via the expertise inside the company. Similarly, HP uses tools like Radian6 to monitor data, and designs social care internally with a playbook that defines support practices, escalation paths, staff training, and more to ensure not just response to customers—but engagement with customers.

When asked what pitfalls they’ve encountered in their customer care programs, Kriti’s and Jayadev’s responses were similar: When launching a new customer care program, run tests before pitching it to the executive team. Executives often don’t have familiarity with the social data and customer space, so presenting them with only an idea can lead to wasted time and resources. Prototype and test first. Sell internally later.

Kriti’s approach is: do first, ask permission later. Selling innovative concepts into an organization require storytelling with data. Kriti asks three questions when assessing new programs: Can we serve people at scale? Can we do it with quality? And lastly, can we do it economically?  “Executives are looking for people who will innovate their way to success, not cost-cut their way to success,” said Kriti.


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