Integrate social media efforts across marketing and customer service

Most organizations likely place social media responsibilities primarily (or solely) with marketing, but a recent interview with Cisco’s Marketing Director on WebWorkerDaily, now part of GigaOM provides some insightful tips and makes the case for spreading it throughout the company, especially to customer service:

The heads of both your marketing and customer service departments should meet regularly. Marketing plans should be shared with — and can even be enhanced by — customer service. Each side should know how to use social media to not only fulfill their own goals but to help one another to get closer to reaching overall company goals.

Ensuring the alignment with the overall strategic plan is the key point, and in many cases KPIs for both groups will be similar. Hopefully customer service is already involved in other marketing efforts, but it’s especially important in the interactive space of social media. Customer service is better positioned to turn feedback into improvements to operations where identified.

Measure results together. As expectations are high for tangible returns on social media marketing investments, bring customer service in to help measure, analyze and tell the story of how social media is effective for the company.

Mine social media for more than sentiment. Instead of just looking for the positive, negative and neutral of what customers are saying about a company’s product or service, look for clues to how the public perceives the company as a whole.

Demonstrating a return on social media investments is a challenge for many companies, but collaboration across functions will help. As well, the social media team should build relationships with others subject matter experts within the company, so that customer feedback can be informed or addressed by the people best able to do so accurately. Tech companies, such as Google with their official blog, tend to do really well with this.

Building social media competence across the organization should also have the side effect of nurturing responsible personal use, which is still a risk, although one which I believe often unnecessarily overshadows the potential for beneficial use of social media to a company.

How are social media responsibilities organized in your company?

Saga of Semco continues

I blogged about Semco SA yesterday, but it was a shallow, dull post merely outlining the ways in which the management philosophy has improved operations for the Brazilian manufacturing and environmental/IT services company. Some more interesting details:

  • Due to management style clashes with his father and founder of the company, current CEO Ricardo Semler threatened to leave the company in 1982. Rather than see this happen, Antonio Semler quit as CEO and vested majority ownership in his son. On his first day as CEO, Ricardo fired 60% of all top management.
  • Adopted a lattice organizational structure, which places 6-10 workers in a team responsible for a task and imbues a sense of ownership and financial responsibility within the team.
  • The Brazilian economy tanked in the early 90s, and workers at SEMCO agreed to wage cuts (their share of profits increased to 39%), management salaries were cut by 40% and employees were given the right to approve every item of expenditure. This allowed the company to ride out the recession and resulted in employees learning more about the business and providing useful suggestions to improve operations.

My summary: Ricardo Semler simultaneously worked to enable his employees to give him useful advice while providing them with the incentive to provide that advice enthusiastically.

The former through the openness of the organization which allows workers to learn how it operates in greater detail than in traditional businesses.

The latter not merely through profit sharing, but also by treating their workers with respect and giving them greater responsibility.

Unorthodox management style is paying off for Semco

Semco is a Brazilian company that has recently taken digg by storm and is making waves amongst more real world folks too. The company is turning pretty much everything we know about how to run a business organization upside down, and getting great results doing just that.

The long and short of it:

  • Employees set their own working hours and choose their salaries and the leader they want to work under
  • All meetings are voluntary and open to everyone
  • Employees hire their own bosses, rate them twice a year and the ratings are published
  • Employees can take early retirement, meaning they get one day a week off in return for working one day a week after they retire

The company’s CEO has set happiness as job #1 for the company – not profits. Employees are treated like adults and are trusted to make responsible decisions. It’s a really cool way to run a company, and it definitely sounds like somewhere I’d like to work.

I think the accounting industry should take a closer look at the way this company operates, especially given how few and far between good CAs are in today’s market.