“My department is about three and a half years old, but it feels like we’re aging in dog years.”
“The social media space moves so rapidly,” says Nissan’s Senior Manager of Social Media and Customer Strategy, Bryan Long. In his presentation at our Brands-Only Summit, he talked about the past, current, and future state of Nissan’s social media program to explain how they’re evolving the customer experience.
Bryan’s department started in 2012 with four people. Since then, they’ve grown to have six to eight agents at any given time — six of those, Bryan says, are “strong-willed millennials.”
“In my department, we’re the voice of the customer,” says Bryan.
We try to integrate ourselves into the business as opposed to them integrating themselves into social media.
And while his team is steeped in customer care, he says it’s a little more complicated than just being a part of the call center. Bryan calls it a “hybrid model” of customer care: “We’re based in the headquarters building, but we’re not a part of consumer affairs — we’re not even in the same vertical. We’re not in marketing, and we don’t report to PR, but we listen on behalf of the entire organization,” he says.
Bryan says that while they know it’s an unconventional model for a big brand, he says it’s worked well for his team.
But their initial workflow wasn’t without issues.
Here’s how their workflow has progressed from September 2012 to now and where they see it going in the future:
“In the past, it was absolute craziness. Everybody had to have their finger in it and it was nuts trying to route information. Moving forward, we’ve simplified it quite a bit as we’re taking on more work and finding better, easier ways,” says Bryan.
“In the future, we’d like to have the opportunity to talk to customers directly. Is this last workflow oversimplified? Absolutely. But will we get there? Hopefully.”
In 2015, they launched a social media command center.
The command center is physically structured to be wide open and accessible. When you get off the elevator on Bryan’s floor, you’re right in the middle of it. He says that command center is helping them get to their future state of social media because it’s helped his team sell ideas internally.
“One unintended benefit of the command center is that we’ve held 40 different presentations bringing in different groups to give them a tour and explain what we’re seeing,” he says.
They also host a “social media monthly” meeting inviting anyone who has an interest in social media to learn about what’s trending, what they’ve posted, and what they plan to promote.
“We try to integrate ourselves into the business as opposed to them integrating themselves into social media,” says Bryan.
He says to move forward and take their program into the future, they have to think about things a little differently. “We don’t have the time to take it slow. We have to leapfrog and get social into the business, and the way we do that is to speak the language.”
Bryan explains that takes showing how social can grow revenue, decrease risk, and reduce cost:
- To grow revenue, Bryan’s team is looking to foster communities (like the emotional segments in their half-ton class of trucks) and grow their lead management capabilities.
- To decrease risk, he says the biggest thing they can do this year is focus on protecting Nissan’s brand reputation. That includes getting employees up to speed on social compliance, governance, and creating training groups.
- To reduce cost, they’re using tools strategically across channels and the organization and resisting the push to adopt a new technology or platform from every agency they work with.
In the end, Bryan says they’re focused on bringing different pieces of the organization together for a better customer experience.
“The automotive industry spends a ton of money in advertising, and we’re still big spenders in TV. The worst thing that can possibly happen for us when we’re spending those kinds of dollars is to have the message break down somewhere,” Bryan says.
He explains that there are a lot of places for that disconnect: advertising, native websites, consumer affairs, dealer websites, and the dealership lot.
According to Bryan, “There’s not a better tool to manage and connect all of those pieces together than social media. That’s our goal, to make sure we’re tying those pieces together.”