Thursday, November 10, 2011

Social Business Evolution Starts with Good Social Service, Thank You @CathayPacific

I had a recent experience with Cathay Pacific and want to share how Social Customer Service made a difference and some lessons for any business offering Social Service.

Cathay Pacific and me as a customer

First, I am fan of Cathay Pacific. I love flying on Cathay Pacific for my international travels. In the past, everytime I got to talk to a real customer service person on the phone or at the airport they were awesome. Service online is excellent.

However, web and phone which are traditional customer support channels fell short for Cathay Pacific support when I needed it this week.

1. Cathay's web site is functional but does not communicate well if something does not work because of a business rule. I ran into just that trap and began spinning my wheels early this week.

I changed my mother's Cathay Pacific ticket to a new date and could not get seat assignment done online. The online site told me I was eligible to get special seat assignment but gave no details.

2. Cathay Pacific has several local phone numbers for US and I recalled from my past interaction they have a separate number for eservice for tickets purchased online.

The eService number failed repeatedly saying the number does not work from the number I called (which was a local US phone I called from).

They have several local US numbers and the California number seems to work only from 9 am to 5pm California time. This number hung up on me saying there is large wait time everytime I called.

As a final resort I found Cathay Pacific has an international support number which is a Hong Kong number. I reluctantly called them as an international call staying up late at midnight my time. I had to choose several options which did not lead me anywhere.

Enter Social Media Customer Support

Frustrated and helpless, I did what I always do. I tweeted. I called out @cathaypacific and complained. My Twitter friends  tweeted back empathizing saying it is bad if I had to do an international call for support.

@CathayPacific tweeted me and brought in @cathaypacificUS to the conversation.

Over the next 2 days I kept tweeting as I  tried their various 800 numbers.

As I felt alone and helpless as the 800 numbers failed or hungup on me, I tweeted (see screenshot below). At it escalated I called out MarshaCollier who is the guru in Social Customer Service. So when my problem was solved Marha ReTweeted to her 42,000 followers.

@CathayPacificUS kept the engagement with me during this time. They sent me direct message on Twitter and found out  that my ticket was of a particular class and hence I could get not get seat assignments. A twitter Direct Message in 140 characters could not solve my problem. I had more questions on why my ticket was of that class with the limitation.

But it served one purpose. It kept me engaged with CathayPacific. It did not make me lose faith in them as a brand. It did not encourage me to continue negative tweets.

They tweeted me saying a rep was going to call me and they did after a day. My ticket class type could get seat assignments only 48hrs before the flight time. This was never communicated to me on the web site or in my eticket. It was flaw in their online system, it was a flaw in their 800 numbers line management, it was a flaw in their communication to customers.

But this experience proved to me Cathay Pacific cared for me as a customer. They went out of their way to solve my problem. Thank You CathayPacific Twitter Support team. 

Setting up Social Business Process for Social Customer Support

As I work in social media in a large company I wonder about these questions about Cathay Pacific:

1. How @CathayPacific and @CathayPacificUS are connected, what is their internal workflow to transfer a US customer complaint from their social listening platform?

2. Did they treat me differentlty in their Customer Service response because I had a large Twitter following? Or were they able to give such a response to all customers?

3. I wonder how they escalated across the Twitter Service and their regular phone reps to arrange for a rep to call me and I am thankful for that.

4. Calling a customer back is expensive, how would they measure the ROI of supporting me? I am happy and going to stay their continued customer and will likely tell a lot of others that Cathay Pacific is a good airline.  Do they measure this differently or I was a spike in a call center cost because I was noisy on a social network?

5. Do they monitor their customer conversations and will my tweets add to the sentiments they track?

6. I have given valuable feedback on their online system that did not tell me my ticket class allowed me to get seat assignments only 48 hours earlier.  I have given feedback on 800 numbers that do not work for US customers. Do they have a process in place to send my feedback to the correct departments? If so do they listen? Again, how do they measure the value of this customer feedback?

7. Now my perception of Cathay Pacific has changed from this cold website and 800 number to a personable brand with real people who care. Do they know and have a way to track the sentiment change of a customer served via

I am still pondering who are the kind souls behind the Twitter Support in Cathay Pacific, how many of them are there and did I make their job difficult and do they know how much value their support and that they have earned me back as more loyal customer back for their company and brand.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Top 10 Consideration to build out Google+ For Business

Dear Google+ Business Page Team,

I have worked with Brand Managers and Marketing Execs on Facebook fan pages since its early days and have built brand pages for DEMO conference, AOL, PayPal, Intuit and several nonprofit brands. I want to share my experience here to help shape Google+ brand page experience to be better than that of Facebook fan pages and LinkedIn’s company pages today.

I have always loved Facebook fan pages but my heart goes out for its limitations. Facebook started with Groups then added fan pages, relaunched Pages and has adapted to growing demand from brands since then without (so it appears) a thorough customer study of enterprise brand processes and team roles.

So, Dear Google+ Team,  I would like to offer these suggestions to help you create the best experience for brands. Please do not replicate the current Facebook Fan Page experience but build it based on a deeper understanding of customer use cases, roles and enterprise/team processes.

Top 10 consideration to building business brand pages:

10. Analytics is huge and Google+ team has made a great start in identifying analytics as one of the top two upcoming features. Please note that it is important to offer analytics from a brand’s perspective not replicate the Facebook insights offered in their pages today. Facebook added analytics after the fact and lot of Facebook insights are not actionable.

For example, Facebook analytics do not tie into a multi-channel campaign to compare how that channel is performing. So Google’s plans to connect your analytics to AdWords is a great start but please plan on a holistic approach to help us compare channels. Webtrends integrates Facebook Analytics by using Facebook API but it is not the same as offering an integrated analytics for multiple channels.

9.  Facebook analytics for 'likes' when the fan page widget is embedded in a web page is awesome. This is a huge win for Facebook with their Open Graph Protocol. The metrics showing scale of growth of impressions is very important to get buy in for pilot projects before they scale social media ad budgets.

8. In Facebook  for the longest time when a user creates a page, they became the admin and could not be removed (easily). Companies use agencies, students and consultants to create fan pages so the creator’s user profile has to be independent of the brand page once they are not associated with the brand or project. Facebook has since added this functionality and offers the page admin a choice to share feeds as two personas one as their consumer profile and one as the brand page. This gets confusing for people as they create and manage multiple brand pages and can be done with better usability.

7. Every brand has many pages for their main brand with several shared admin and several pages for brand extensions and different regions and languages owned by different groups inside the same company.

Please understand the roles of different players involved in the brand pages to set right access control. One admin adding many other admins in Facebook fan page as done today does not work for real enterprise social media teams. This will not come up easily in your market survey as this is a boundary condition and a pain of the social media guideline provider taking care of employees who transition out. Many social media pages have multiple employees as admins and not many brands worry about the liability of the ownership of the pages. They usually wake up to it one day. I have been part of the rush of many brands that go through a brand audit to check which of their pages are owned by someone inside their own company. Expect management time on your policy team’s part unless you build a self management module for a master admin for a large brand. LinkedIn company pages is a good example of adding company admins in one place.

6. Fan page today is not setup to run campaigns, this is a major design flaw in Facebook.
I have experience running a campaign connecting Venture Capitalists and entrepreneurs on a  Facebook fan page. It was difficult for users to engage on the page until they fan the page. Then based on the admin access of whether the fan can post pictures or videos etc users could engage with the page. This is reverse to how user engagement should be done by creating easy call for action, much like the web. So we cannot measure page views of users visiting a fan page untill they fan the page missing out on people who leave without becoming a fan.

At DEMO, we tracked fan count when VCs with large friend counts responded to an entrepreneur question on the Facebook fan page, which was DEMO’s  real campaign goal. We had to track it manually  and not in the Facebook fan page insight. So in summary, we need fan growth tracking on campaigns for  a variety of campaign situations.

5. At AOL we had a scavenger hunt at events and got users to friend the fan page. At Intuit we had a different quiz game at conference booths to increase fans. These again were not trackable with direct metrics. So metrics should have several attributes - location, time, device and custom fields to be tracked by campaign manager. The campaign manager should be able to track the metrics based on the campaign goals of whether it is lead gen or engagement and define what that means for the particular brand.

Palm Norchoovech from SAP says “We have several fan pages for different regions and languages and spend lot of time to sort the fans into multiple lists. If Google+ page can follow back all fans and sort them into groups automatically based on the criteria in their profile info (locations, languages, etc) it will save business page admins valuable time. Then, we can use only one business page for one brand and not multiple pages based on languages. It will allow admins to send updates to the right target fans.”

4. Sun Microsystems used fan pages to communicate with their base like a newsletter. We used this at DEMO minimally, although this again is not easy in Facebook fan pages. Communication in a company is done by a marketing communication or marcom team that is different from the brand page admin. The comms team makes the creative of the newsletter in HTML. But Facebook messaging for fan pages is primitive and non-HTML making it extra work for the admin to make a text of the message to update fans via Facebook Fan Pages. This should be improved with Google+ business pages. Google+ could integrate standard email programs directly instead of offering basic messaging options from brands to fans.

3. Facebook struggled with differentiating between Groups and Fan pages in the beginning, so some business were stuck in Groups unable to transition to pages. So Google+ should look very closely at Facebook Groups and Pages to understand the various brand profiles and use cases.

2. Branding the brand page is a killer need. I remember endless conversations within companies explaining how a brand name cannot be translated to a vanity URL. Worse is to beg friends inside the company to fan a page to get 100 fans (now 25 fans) to claim the fan page.
This again is against standard enterprise behavior and worse is that leaves many employees as fans of the page influencing decisions of what consumers really want. You will need to ensure there are enough fans so there aren't empty brand pages. But why not get creative to allow brands to run campaigns to get fans as part of their fan page creation process?  

1. I love how Google+ calls it Google+ pages for brands, bands and beyond.

Facebook allowed fan pages by real fans as an afterthought to allow for community of fans of a brand to maintain a fan page. This is good for me as a consumer and not an easy thing to accept as a brand. It offers a dichotomy of brand adoption and brand dilution in one.

So Dear Google+ team you cannot plan ahead for all kinds of pages types, so plan a flexible structure to adapt to change. Be prepared or Google’s  loyalty will be torn between consumer groups and Google’s customers who will want to control the brands.

I hope Facebook Pages team reads this and brings innovation to Facebook Fan Pages too. I join the many brands and social media enthusiasts as we wait for innovation in brand pages to truly bring social media to connect us to our customers to let our customers lead us.

Readers: Share your thoughts on what else you would add. Comment here or Tweet me @sujamthe

Sunday, June 26, 2011

My random lines of wisdom influenced by that of @BenParr

Ben Parr blogged about his philosophy in life as "Random Lines of Wisdom". That has promoted me to write my own philosophy. Thanks Ben! People reading this: you should think about yours and share if you are comfortable.

1. Be yourself

This seems the easiest to say but hard for many to follow. I am most happy when I am true to myself. I get my full potential when I follow my heart. This philosophy has led me to constant introspection of who I am, stay humble, keep learning and be honest to myself.

It has helped me in time management as I look at what I am doing, is it true to myself or do I feel butterflies in my stomach when I get ready to do something. I go all out in full bloom when I am myself and stick to jobs that bring out my passion for them, for teams and environments that help me be myself. I challenge myself if is this me often and see if I can expand myself better as a more open person.

2. People matter the most in life

I am a big extrovert, so I love meeting new people and helping them is so fulfilling. I have built a habit of tweeting out names of authors as I read articles or books I like, meeting new people all around me - coffee lines, strangers, friends of friends. I love finding ways I can help people unconditionally. I refer people to jobs or help anyone looking for connection to anyone else. Once I reminded a guy who tweeted to remind him to take beer out of his fridge in 30 minutes; I checkin on twitter if someone sounds sad or complains about their lack of sleep.

I learn so much from the new people I meet. I am surrounded by such positive energy from the people I interact daily. I am humbled by many conversations online and offline.

For example I found our cook in the PayPal cafe has traveled and lived in 7 countries and has amazing passion for various spices he uses in his daily cooking. The starbucks server Anahi got her name from a movie character her mom loved making me wonder about mothers, movies and brand names (which brings me back to my job and social media).

One thing I try hard and need to get better at is at staying in touch with my friends. Of all the people I meet many stick, social networks makes it easy for me to engage and stay connected but I struggle with staying in touch with a large inner circle of friends.

My network seems to expand not because I add new people to it but because I help them by connecting them as a habit and they get bonded well or work together and recall me when they meet, strengthening my network with them even when I am not in touch with each of the two as much the two I connected.

The people who impact us make us who we are, and the people we impact shape our world so it is such a blessing to be able to help and being helped by people.

3. Be Thankful

I have learned this recently. We all have so much to be thankful for. It gives us perspective to be respectful of people who helped, our jobs, our family, our mentors, our guides, our past colleagues, several people who set examples good and bad and guide us to be who we are.

I believe in paying forward and appreciate my early managers who have taught me the value of teamwork, several new friends who inspire me daily and help me stay on top of new technologies by their passion and innovation and for my family and friends who let me be myself.

Thanks to BenParr for getting me started to think about my philosophy.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Social listening for Product Managers from Silicon Valley PCamp

I was happy to be immersed by smart product managers all day long with awesome sessions and learning.

My panel was called "Social Media Listening for Product Managers". I hosted this along with Stephanie Shum, Yahoo! Mail Product Manager and Van Riper of Google.

Below is the slide deck we shared.

Here is my learning from Pcamp and my session:

1. Yahoo uses to gather feedback from existing customer base of 270Mil users with 5/7 PMs listening.
2. You listen and then decide how you prioritize the features.
3. Social Media listening tools are evolving, people are hungry for such tools so they can filter around specific products.
4. I met PMs from many companies and it is a real issue that the company has to be ready to be transparent from the highest level.
5. I am pleasantly surprised to hear about Tweetchats, how several people are hosting tweetchats and learn about tools for it.

Cindy Solomon hosts weekly Product Manager Talks weekly over Twitter at 4pm pst. Follow her at @prodmgmtalk She co-hosts this with her host from Australia and is developing the science behind Tweetchats for companies.
I also learned about Twitter chat
for B2B marketers Use hashtag #B2BChat @B2B_Chat . Check it out weeklty thursdays at 5pm pst.

It was good to see all the local community and product management influencers.

Thanks to the tweetwall by @socialping we could engage the larger community via Twitter.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Updated 3/12: Sudha's Guide to Geekdom at SXSW 2011

I want to share my list of geekiest tech activities at SXSW as I am making sense of it all. So all your own suggestion in the comment if you think I am missing something cool!

My own panel is on Sat at 3.30pm at The Hyatt with the awesome Dave Peck (details below). Hope I'll see you there, else ping me on Twitter. I plan to be at Tweethouse friday evening and livestream interesting peeps at PayPalX #Livebytes channel, so let me know about interesting people to cover!!! Best way to reach me is Tweet me @sujamthe

Sudha's Recommended List of SXSW sessions and talks (not all parties covered)
Thurs 3/10

7pm: Girls in Hack e 6th St, Austin, TX

3/11 Friday:

2 to 5pm Tweet House Sponsored by Chevrolet from (several panels) then party at 5pm by Steve Broback at 501 Studios – 501 I-35, Austin, TX, 78702
9pm American Express Presents the Tweet House After Dark” party will feature iPad D.J. Rana Sobhany (I've heard @rana at Iosdevcamp last summer she is awesome) (#chevytweethouse, #sxsw details:

3/12 Saturday:

9.30am: iPad Design Headaches (2 Tablets, Call in the morning) by Josh CLark, OReilly author at Salon J, Hilton
11am: Abeywickrema, Punsri at panel: The New Sharing Economy at Hilton (500 East 4th St) Salon K
11am: Banks: Innovate or Die by Bob Weinschenk of Smartpigs, Rob Garcia of LendingClub, Brett King Author Bank2.0 at Hilton,Salon F/G
11am: Startup America, Reducing Barriers by our USA CTO Aneesh Chopra at AT&T Conf Center Grand Ballroom, 1900 Univ Ave.
11am: The King of Lean Startup at AT&T Conf Center by McClure, Scoble, Stacy Higginbottom Room 2.04
12.30pm: The Lean Startup Pirate Metrics by Dave McClure AT&T Conf Center Room 2.04
12pm: Surviving Hockeystick Growth by Reddit founder Alex Ohanian at Hilton Salon AB
12.30pm: Why can't startups and brands play nice? by Charlie Taylor, GM Digital Marketing, Volkswagon Jay Adelson Hilton Salon C

3.30pm: Building Community Ass: Building Better Influence by Sudha Jamthe (me) and Dave Peck at Hyatt Hill Country CD, 208 Barton Spring Road

5pm: Lurkers, your most important community members at Hyatt, TX Ballroom1 208 Barton Springs Rd
5pm: Flipboard Fad or not by Flipboard CEO Mike McCue and Kara Swisher at Radisson, Town Lake BallRoom, 111 E. Cesar Chavez St
5pm: Welcome to the EGOSystem by Brian Solis at Austin Convention Center, Ballroom D
7pm to midnight - Diggnation Live at Stubb’s - 801 Red River, Austin, TX

Sun 3/13
10am to 4pm: Ebay SpeedHackat Lucent Alcatel Lounge, Room 406 4th floor Hilton
All Day: DogPatch labs Treehouse Pub 501 E.6th Street. Startups go an make a pitch there.
1pm to 6pm: Google Developer event (several sessions) (at Speakeasy 412 Congress Ave at w 5th · Austin, Texas

5pm: Boston in Austin Tweetup at Fado at 214 W 4th (updated new)
7pm to midnight: League of Extraordinary Hackers/SHDH@SXSW by Chris Messina & Boris Smus
10pm+: Red Laser Party with Chromeo

3/14 Mon thru Tues 3/15
From midnight Sunday to Monday Mashable House SXSWi 2001 (public free events )
at Buffalo Billiards, 201 6th Street, Austin, TX 78701

3/14 Monday

BizSpark Startup Accelerator Emceed by Tara Hunt, supported by Frank Gruber's TechCocktail
delivering happiness teaming with Zappos Tony Sheih. Included PayPal developer Yapper as one of the finalist. Judges include many notables.

Tues 3/15
What’s In Your Virtual Wallet at Town Lake Ballroom, Radisson, Town Lake Ballroom by Richard Brewer Haye, Laura Chambers and Red Laser's Rob Veres


Closing remarks: Let me know if I am missing any event thats a must-attend and I'll add it here.

Check RBH (@ebayinkblog) schedule of SXSW here


Peeps I am adding new events as I hear from you here!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Birdie In the Mirror

I saw a bird in my yard pecking at her own image in a mirror repeatedly this afternoon. At first, it was funny. She came and gave a look at the bird in the mirror, fluttered her wings to scare it, pecked at it from all heights. Then she left, sneaked back to check if her opponent was gone!

I have been working on a social media plan for work very obsessively focused getting input from many internal teams excited to "do social". So naturally I saw the parallel with companies doing social. Well, now you know what this post is about, read on if it interests you!!!

Watching the bird hit me - All Social Media campaigns which are not listening are all birds in the mirror.

Companies plan elaborate tweets to push their product information. They build plans and schedules and execute the campaigns with their small set of friendies and PR support. The get metrics, report internally but no new real customers and don't move the needle of their business.

They are like birds looking at themselves in the mirror! Whatever they do, they see an impact, they stare and the birdie stares back, they fly high and the birdie flies back.
They get RTs and reach numbers to quote but are looking at echos of their own push messages.

Real Social Media is about conversation!

Each of us has a personal communication style as unique as ourselves. Some are short, some curt, some prolonged, some courteous, they all count if you have a listener and you engage in a conversation.

Same is true for social media. Chat with your ecosystem, and if they care and listen and engage back, you are on a path to success.

So if you are like me planning your social media plan for a company, build listening campaigns if you need a campaign for focused tracking. Some initial ideas about listening campaigns are:

1. Set 30 min of your time to engage with your users and listen and help them where you can, share your excitement for their success. You will be surprised to make real friends of your customers who care and appreciate you, the real human representing your brand.

I remember my customers at Dash Navigation who appreciated the conversation and would go to great lengths to help be our advocates with media folks to do test runs in traffic with our product, a traffic telling GPS device.

2. Plan a fun campaign to engage your users on issues that they need help with. I am thinking of this as your FAQ on your web site but on steroids. Engage in a conversation to answer FAQ questions but with real user. The trick is to go on till you find the first real user who has a real question.

3. Start a Tweetchat. SAP called these online meetups. These are events with programming, speakers and schedules but on social media. There are several variations of them. Again keep them as a conversation not as a broadcast.

I hope this is the start of a fun conversation between you, me and likeminded folks who care about listening and customer engagement. Please share your suggestions/examples of listening campaigns. Post a comment below of tweet me @sujamthe.

I am looking forward to our conversation about social media conversations (Ah I like how that sounds)