Social Customer Care

Yesterday, Gregg and I were at the AMA Atlanta Chapter’s Signature Luncheon presentation on Social Care featuring Anne McGraw, the Senior Manager of Global Digital Assets at Nissan. The event was at the Twelve Hotel ballroom in Atlantic Station, where we saw the former Falcon, John Abraham, leaving in his Bentley as we pulled up! Gregg has that celebrity-hawk-eye 🙂

We arrived early for some networking before being herded into the ballroom where lunch was served and Anne’s discussion took place. Anne, pictured below, lives in Nashville and previously worked for both Autotrader and Cox Communications. You can find her on LinkedIn by clicking the image below.


Following the day’s social care topic, she began by announcing that she spearheaded the first social customer care team for Nissan — very impressive. She stated that social media is like an open window for ALL of the good and bad things going on with your company. No one owns this space or can control it, and feedback isn’t optional. It’s important to be a facilitator and stay ahead of the curve. For Nissan specifically, and the automotive industry overall, things tend to move at a slower pace, opening opportunities to get ahead and stay ahead if you’re willing to work hard and take some risks. Nissan has excelled at this in the past, and look to continue doing so moving forward. An interesting segway into social media for Nissan came through the fact that the Leaf was exclusively available online at first. Learn something new every day!

She went on to explain how the title, “Social Media Customer Service,” does the practice a disservice because it’s really the same as any customer service! Being associated exclusively with social media, in this case, puts the practice in a weird place organizationally, and it doesn’t receive the attention and funding it deserves. I agree, and believe that responsive social care teams are increasingly becoming more and more valuable as opposed to call centers.

Next, Anne stated that she spends about half of her time making sure she’s using the best in class tools, especially in terms of analytics. “You should never get comfortable with the tools you use,” and I completely agree — social media is constantly evolving, and start-ups around the world are creating revolutionary tools almost daily!

Photo cred:

One of my favorite topics Anne touched on was that you should never buy a social media book. Ever! They’re obsolete before they even come off the press, and anyone claiming to know the ROI of Social Media is just looking for more book sales. There’s really no one, best way to attach an ROI to social media (yet), and Anne mentioned that she has no KPIs. A bit shocking to some people, I’m sure, but to me she was preaching to the choir. It’s all about having the presence, being better than your competition, and responding to the most posts in the fastest manner. Which brings us to building out the social care team.

In terms of hiring, Anne explained how most companies will repurpose their call center staff for their social media care team. This seems to naturally make sense, but there are inherent problems with hiring this way. What you really need are people who are socially savvy, adaptive to change, drama-free, and have a customer first focus. People with retail backgrounds usually have great customer first mindsets. Other tactics Anne uses in hiring include a live web chat before the in-person interview to test writing and problem solving skills, and also a Twitter test. This is when she sees which candidates have studied how you tend to reply to customers on Twitter dealing with different issues. And, finally, when asked how valuable her efforts are to the organization, Anne states that she’s able to justify increased head counts to continue rising in the rankings on response and engagement rates. Great tips!

Anne briefly touched on reporting, stating that she utilizes a weekly email dashboard presentation. This began with 50 high-level executives, but quickly spread to over 300, with the engineers being the most interested and responsive. This is a really great example of Anne’s role making a huge difference in a huge corporation. Why you ask? Because now, car owners are being connected and forming relationships with the engineers who designed and built their cars! The customers are blown away to be so involved and asked questions that could potentially lead to future improvements and innovations.

Anne concluded by stating that social intelligence will drive us to a customer first culture. The customers you don’t hear from are the ones you should be worried about, and the ones speaking up are typically advocates and want to see progress and genuinely care about your company. Also, Anne stated that we should look to use social feedback for process development, as opposed to product development, as customers’ thoughts and patterns can be vital in creating future processes and procedures. It’s all about the customer experience! Anne really gets this stuff, and mentioned that she’s looking to build a Center of Excellence here in America to be a hub for best practices for Nissan’s worldwide efforts. However, social dynamics are not the same around the world, as “Americans tend to complain more,” so there are some complications in the execution. It will be interesting to see how this shapes up in the next couple of years!

anne mcgraw ama

Great to see our friends Donovan Panone, Brent Beatty and Justin Thomason, and meet and speak to Anne McGraw afterwards. Until next time, AMA!

{photos credited to Anne McGraw,, and}

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