While the majority of my Twitter network are those who work in pr/marketing/social media, I’m grateful that its breadth includes others in very different industries – I never cease to be amazed by the connections and observations they bring me. One such instance emerged while following the tweets of @AmandaCDykes*, a middle-school science teacher. A few months ago, as she tweeted about her experiences with Promethean, a provider of educational technologies, I saw her professional world crash into mine as a the makings of customer-centric case study emerged. And, it’s a story worthy of sharing…
According to their company website, Promethen operates on two premises:
1. No one understands teaching better than teachers.
2. The best way to engage tech-savvy students is through technology.
With that in mind, this global company with 15 offices around the world, invited this tech-savvy teacher (truly, she is – her students blog, skype and create projects and homework assignments online) to join five other educators at their corporate headquarters in Georgia to act as their social media council.
She recounted her experience on her blog…
“Every conversation kept going back to education, not product. Even more shocking, some of the people were listening to what we had to say…it was obvious to me that this place really cared about teachers, students, and education in general.”
And, if that wasn’t already enough, on day two, Amanda was totally blown away when the CEO of the company stopped in for what was supposed to be a five-minute conversation and turned into more than an hour with with senior-level staff.
Internally, there’s no telling for how long or to what extent the advice of the social media council will contribute to Promethean’s product development or customer service initiatives, but already, since conducting their social media council, the company has gone social. (This page on their website kinda gave me goosebumps – a lot of companies are far from this point.)
They didn’t just set up some profiles and start pushing their product – they listened first, stepped in, and are curating and organizing their social activity back on the mothership for the benefit of their customer. (Tips for educators, resources for using social media in the classroom, and a major changes to their Facebook page with the “Promethean Thanks a Teacher” program.) Also during this time, employees have become more active on Twitter and this community is growing.
I’ve had a lot of conversations about customer-centricity (thanks much for your intelligent guidance, Beth Harte)and, like so much in our industry, a lot of those conversations revolve around a disconnect between theory and practice.
If your company is one that claims to, or aspires to be, customer-centric, ask yourself…
- Would you (or have you) given your customers a seat at the boardroom table?
“I’m just a teacher, I can’t believe they care what I have to say,” Amanda tweeted. (And yes, I scolded her and told her never to call herself just a teacher.) But, herpoint here was that the C-suite was listening to their customer on the front lines. Good, bad, or indifferent. They invited them into their headquarters and for two days, and soaked up all of the knowledge and experience that they had to offer.
- Are you really listening to your customers and letting them lead the conversation?
Like Amanda said, “Every conversation kept going back to education, not product.” Your customers have a habitat that consists of a job, a family, a professional and personal networks, struggles and successes. Are you willing to think and act from their perspective, leaving aside your own notions about your product?
- Are you prepared to act?
This goes beyond things like, “Customers told us wait time on the phone was too long, so we hired more staff in our call-center and reduced wait-time by 50%.” (Although, this is a starting point.) To really be customer-centric, the company really doesn’t know what will come out of it. (See previous point about setting product aside.) In this example, it’s quite likely that Promethean had plans to enter the social space and listening to the council helped guide that. (Which, in and of itself is a smart move.) But, the reality is, (based on Amanda’s anecdotal evidence) they likely got a whole lot more information from the council than they bargained for. What they choose to do with this information will be an ultimate case study in customer-centric brilliance.
Amanda was amazed and honored to be listened to and continues to sing this company’s praises. Isn’t that how we’d all love our customers to feel?
*Yes, her tweets are protected. She’s a teacher. She has her reasons. Follow if you want, or don’t, I’m merely directing you to her existence on Twitter.