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After a Social Media Gaffe: How to Recover and Not Dig a Bigger Hole

It was late at night when a staffer from the American Red Cross accidentally sent a personal tweet from the organization feed. Unfortunately, it was a tweet about beer. Immediately, there were thousands of tweets in response saying, “The Red Cross is drunk.” Wendy Harman, director of Red Cross information management and situational awareness in disaster cycle services, says that what happened next was a product of being prepared for social media mistakes and trusting that a little humor would help.


Moving Beyond Marketing

The 2014 research report by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte finds that measurement sophistication is finally taking hold in social business. More than 90% of “socially maturing” companies actively measure their social business efforts, and measurement sophistication is starting to prove its value. As well, social business is becoming not just a B-to-C phenomenon, with nearly 60% of B-to-B companies saying that social business initiatives are positively impacting business outcomes. Crucial to all these efforts: C-suite leadership.

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Be a Good Sport With Social Media

Reaching out to customers on social media platforms can be a double-edged sword, particularly when the subject is sports. As airlines KLM and Delta discovered, there is a fine line to be walked between supporting the home team and offending a multitude of potential customers. Social media expert Gerald Kane offers some lessons derived from the Twitter errors made during the 2014 World Cup.


Rejuvenating a Brand Through Social Media

When Nestlé UK invited customers to vote for a new chocolate bar flavor, the company’s target customers participated in droves. By leveraging social media for the Kit Kat brand, the company was able to build positive word of mouth through consumers who became brand advocates; increase sales; and generate a higher return on investment. The process followed a four-step framework that any company can use to extract valuable information from the vast amount of data generated by social media.


When Customers Help Set Prices

To many managers, the idea of involving customers in pricing decisions seems counterproductive. For most companies, pricing is a sensitive, private affair. But it may be time to reexamine those ideas. Letting customers have input on prices provides opportunities for customization and can promote greater customer engagement. Opening up customer participation also offers a way for companies to create a new sense of excitement.



Reimagining Customer Service at KLM Using Facebook and Twitter

For KLM, social business arose as a spontaneous response to the Icelandic volcanic eruption that spewed ash into Europe’s airspace for days, halting all air travel and stranding thousands of passengers. Since the abrupt birth of the airlines’ social business strategy, e-commerce senior vice president Martijn van der Zee has made the company a model for using social in customer service.


The Multiplier Effect of Social Business Tools

Mondelez International’s brands include some well-recognized names, including Oreo, Ritz, and Cadbury. Yet as Mondelez’s vice president of global media and consumer engagement Bonin Bough explains, even a powerhouse like Oreo must work to engage its customers — and in the modern era, that means using social media. In his interview with David Kiron, Bough describes the company’s innovative methods for expanding its reach.

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Ethnography in Action at Wells Fargo

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How do companies gain value from ethnography — the in-person study of how people actually use a product or service? Wells Fargo Bank commissioned an ethnographic project and found out for itself. The bank was able to determine that customers approach retirement with three styles: they were either Reactors, Poolers or Maximizers. The bank learned, for instance, that the language of customers who were Maximizers would not resonate with Poolers — and so it developed new kinds of messaging for each.


Should Your Business Be Less Productive?

Research suggests that productivity improvements can have counterproductive results in a service business. Productivity gains are not always easy to make without sacrificing perceptions of quality, and unlike on the assembly line, increased productivity may not always lead to increased profitability. Instead, in a service business, productivity must be treated as a strategic decision variable.



Finding the Value in Social Business

A recent survey by MIT SMR and Deloitte shows that companies are starting to derive real value from social business — with the payoff concentrated most strongly in companies that have reached a certain level of sophistication in relation to their social business initiatives. The higher a respondent rated his or her company on a “social business maturity” scale, the more likely he or she was to report that the company is deriving business value from its social business initiatives.

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How to Win a Price War

There are usually no winners in price wars. But under the right circumstances, it’s possible to win a price war by leveraging a specific set of strategic capabilities. These include the ability to read how things are changing, the skills to analyze data to identify trends and opportunities and the wherewithal to implement organizational changes both internally and across the value chain. Albert Heijn, a Dutch grocer, started and won a price war through its strategic capabilities and skills.


Is Your Brand a Living Entity?

Traditional ways of building brands have passed their sell-by dates, while social media opens up new possibilities. Effective Twitter strategies, for instance, are helping brands such as Starbucks and Whole Foods gain a special status and sense of personality among some of their Twitter followers.

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What Unhappy Customers Want

Companies have tried for decades to improve customer complaint resolution — without notable success. Customer expectations are rising; customers now expect positive results and not just the chance to complain. Many customers want nonmonetary remedies, such as an apology or a chance to vent. In addition, companies must recognize that they must treat every customer interaction as if it were playing out on a Facebook page or a YouTube video, because it might be.

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The High Price of Customer Satisfaction

No company can last for long without satisfied customers. But misguided attempts to improve satisfaction can damage a company’s financial health. Research finds that the relationship between customer satisfaction and customer spending behavior is very weak, and that the return on investments in increasing customer satisfaction is often trivial or even negative. What matters is how customers rank your brand in satisfaction relative to your competitors.


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From the Editor: How Important Is the Customer’s Voice?

It’s easy to say customer satisfaction is very important – but harder to put that into practice. The Spring 2014 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review features a special report on understanding your customers, from gauging global clients’ satisfaction through the use of big data to figuring out better strategies for improving customer complaint resolution.

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The Big Upside of Customer Participation

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Encouraging customers to provide feedback and recommendations directly to a company engages them in valuable ways. Researchers looked at customers of a global bank who engaged in either positive word of mouth, or provided suggestions, or both. They found that customers who ranked high in participation tended to purchase more products and services. In other words, participation was more closely associated with customer spending than word of mouth was.


Tying Customer Engagement to Employee Engagement

Turning an organization into a social business — one that knows how to use new forms of collaboration and communication via social media — is a challenge for any operation, but it’s especially challenging for multinational, highly regulated companies. Boston-based financial services company State Street has become an industry model for how to use social business to make the business more innovative.


Reading Global Clients’ Signals

How can geographically distributed companies monitor large clients’ attitudes about their services? Traditional customer satisfaction surveys can lack sufficient timeliness and detail. But taking a big data approach to analyzing collaborations lets companies gain valuable and timely insights into client satisfaction. Examining the structural properties of email communication patterns and correlating them with external performance metrics can offer managers helpful insights.


The Art of Selling with Social Tools

“Our lives have increasingly migrated online in recent years, so why wouldn’t [sales] reps want to connect with customers on the social media front as well?” That’s the logic of Hearsay Social, whose platform lets sales people keep track of what their customers are posting on Twitter, LinkedIn and even Facebook. Says Gary Liu, vp of marketing, “social media can be used very effectively to enhance real-world interactions.”

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