Frank Eliason is SVP of Social Media for Citibank in New York and former Director of Digital Care at Comcast. A self-professed gadget geek, he's participating in Tom Martin's social experiment, Talking with Tom. Take a look at his interview with Tom, and read below for more from Frank, including his thoughts on customer service and how to do social media well.
What's the most interesting thing happening in your industry right now?
Within social media it is conversation regarding Google+, and specifically Hangouts that I find interesting. I have always seen video as a disruptive option and hangouts make it easy. I am also fascinated with the notion of social fatigue, although I do not believe it is being discussed heavily right now. I watch my newsfeed on Facebook, as well as other spaces, every day and I am noticing less and less posts by those not associated with social media. I believe this is more fatigue, as individuals decide what they want to share, with whom and how often. In the service industry, I enjoy watching businesses start to realize the impact this social world has on the overall customer experience and how they need to improve that via all customer touch points. Service is the most important aspect to business and now the customer is making that point. Just appeasing those in social is not enough, and not the right approach anyway. If you want customers speaking positively about your brand, you have to provide the experience that would encourage that. It is no longer lip service.
What inspires you?
Passion! I love watching passionate people change the world. I see it through people like Guy Kawasaki, Gary Vaynerchuk, Chris Brogan, Brian Solis and others. This is what drives success. For me, I am passionate about the consumer, and I will live that in everything I do.
Which companies are leading the way in social media and customer service?
I still think Comcast is doing a great job. I also like watching Samsung, Dell Time Warner, AT&T and many others. At Citi we strive to lead by finding alternative solutions to better engage customers. As an example, the trouble with banking and social service is customer privacy concerns. Our solution is implementing secured click to chat. If you are talking to a Citi service representative and the conversation drifts to something that requires private dialogue, we can share a link and you will be able to continue the same conversation with the same person in a secured manner. If you are on a mobile device, we can send a similar link that will connect you to a call with the same person.
What brand do you love right now?
I have been an Apple fan for many years. I have also found myself purchasing many Samsung products for around my new home.
You can invite any four people to happy hour. Who'd be there?
Ben Franklin, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein and Martin Luther King. Every one of these individuals were disruptive in their own way yet were able to achieve so much. In responding to this question I was able to think of so many others that would be fascinating, including artists, religious, world leaders (good and bad) and business leaders who truly generated change. I think many of us are doing that today through our thoughts on social media, yet others paved the way for this disruption to take place, and it would be fascinating to learn from them.