After two years and more than 50 episodes, the first known podcast dedicated solely to customer service in social media is saying goodbye. The Focus on Customer Service Podcast officially ends its run today as a new podcast about customer experience is also launched.
Sponsored from its inception by Social Media Today after its late founder, Robin Carey, took a chance on two guys named Dan with no podcasting experience, FOCS featured interviews with top brands making waves in social media by engaging with customers – answering complaints, questions, and compliments. What made the podcast unique was that its hosts were also social care practitioners at large brands, and many of the brands featured were recommended by listeners for their great service.
The podcast spawned a book, Winning at Social Customer Care: How Top Brands Create Engaging Experiences on Social Media, which details learnings and best practices from more than four dozen interviews with brand leaders.
Here are 10 can’t-miss episodes of FOCS, in order of their appearance:
Episode 1: Whole Foods Market – “Introducing the Focus on Customer Service Podcast”
Natanya Anderson, then the Global Director of Social Media, CRM, and Customer Service for Whole Foods Market, shared her philosophy on social care: “I want people to have such great experiences with our customer care team that they want to tell other people about how great the care was and then how much that makes them an advocate for Whole Foods Market.” Her passion for the brand and for customer care was evident in this memorable first interview that remains (barely) the most-listened to episode of the entire series.
Episode 14: Twitter – “Twitter Joins The Focus on Customer Service Podcast”
It was a pretty big “get” for a nascent podcast to score a leader from Twitter, and Senior Product Marketing Manager Jeff Lesser did not disappoint. Shortly after publishing a groundbreaking 126-page guidebook entitled Customer Service on Twitter, Lesser shared why Twitter believes it should be the #1 destination for customer service inquiries to brands. “We’re really excited about the opportunity to make Twitter the best place in the world to both do and receive customer service,” he said, further advising that “if someone tweets at you, always respond. There’s only good things that can come from that.”
Episode 17: Scotty’s Brewhouse – “Focus on Customer Service: Scotty’s Brewhouse”
If there’s one episode that could be listened to on repeat for a week, it’s probably Scotty’s Brewhouse. Scott Wise, Founder & CEO of a chain of Midwest “upscale sports bars” with a cult following, certainly lives up to his last name as he shares best practices, inspirational messages, and a whole plate of passion. Surprisingly, he tells people he’s “in the business of customer service” rather than the restaurant business. “The fact that we listen to people, and we respond, and we act,” he says, “that one thing that we do in my opinion makes us more successful than almost anything else we do in this restaurant.” One thing is for certain: You will not soon forget the teachings of Scott Wise in this episode.
Episode 22: Southwest Airlines – “Focus on Customer Service: Southwest Airlines”
Airline customer service has been in the news a lot the past couple of years, and usually not in a positive light. But Southwest Airlines has found the formula by building service right into its company mission: “The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit.” Rob Hahn, Assistant Manager of Social Care, joined the podcast to share Southwest’s “recipe of how we engage with our customers” in what became the 5th-ranked episode of the series.
Episode 26: Chicago Cubs – “Cubs Win! The Most Engaging Baseball Team on Twitter”
For a lifelong Cubs fan, it was an incredible experience to have Kevin Saghy, Manager of Communications for the Chicago Cubs, on the show. And one of his quotes, spoken before the 2016 season began, was especially prescient: “This is the greatest journey in sports history, and we want to see it through to completion.” Kevin and the team did see it through completion, with the Cubs winning the World Series and ending the longest championship drought in American sports history. Another championship the team won was being named the most engaging Major League Baseball team on Twitter by FanGraphs.
Episode 28: T-Mobile – “How T-Mobile Brings Its “Un-Carrier” Image to Social Media”
She may be small in stature, but Michelle Mattson, Director of Social Media Services for T-Mobile, more than makes up for size with a huge dose of feistiness. Managing six call centers and one of the largest customer service staffs of any company interviewed, Mattson handles customer inquiries to both the brand itself and to its outspoken CEO, John Legere, who has more than 2 million followers. “We’re there, we’re responding, and we’re really good at the experience part of it as well, so we have a lot of repeat customers,” says Mattson, who was one of the most-quoted experts in Winning at Social Customer Care.
Episode 31: Spotify – “Spotify is Hitting All the Right Notes in Social Customer Service”
The fact that the music streaming service is able to integrate its own product into its customer service remains one of the truly unique executions in social media. “We try to look for ways to put that special smile on customers’ faces,” says Chug Abramowitz, Vice President of Global Customer Service and Social Media. “We try to do things from within our product that accomplish that.” Abramowitz and Global Manager of Social Media Support Sam Thomas shared their secrets live on Blab (remember that?) in what would become the second most-listened to episode featuring a brand (third overall).
Episode 37: USAA – “How USAA Serves the Men and Women in Uniform on Social Media”
USAA has long been known as a stalwart of outstanding customer service, so it’s no surprise the company took its expertise to social media. Richelle Caroll, the Director of Social Servicing for USAA – and also an Air Force veteran – staffed her social media team with many veterans and military spouses so they would better relate to customers seeking assistance. “We really want our employees here to have a better understanding of what our membership goes through day in and day out, some of the challenges they experience, so we can relate and provide a better member experience,” says Caroll. “We take a lot of pride in things like honesty, loyalty, integrity, service” – just like the military.
Episode 48: Zappos – “This Company is So Famous for Customer Service, it Makes Social Media Look Easy”
There are few brands that are mentioned as often as Zappos for remarkable customer service, so it’s no coincidence that service is built into the company’s culture. “Right from day one, we were told that customer service is absolutely the focus on the company,” says Jeffrey Lewis, Customer Loyalty Team Manager at Zappos. “We want to do everything we can to make the customer experience is as fantastic as we can.” This episode ranked 4th in overall listens.
Episode 51: Joey Coleman – “Why Customer Experience is the ‘Last Great Differentiator’ for Businesses”
It is not a coincidence that customer experience guru Joey Coleman became the final guest on Focus on Customer Service, as you’ll find out in the next paragraph. Coleman argues that “getting customers is important, but keeping customers is even more important,” and that companies are “spending all this time, effort, and money acquiring new customers, but not spending a fraction of that time, effort, or money keeping those customers.” He teaches clients and audiences around the globe how to create “remarkable customer experiences – the kind of experiences that will transition someone from being a transactional customer to a customer for life.”
INTRODUCING: THE EXPERIENCE THIS! SHOW
As one podcast ends, another one begins. A new show, called Experience This!, has hosts Joey Coleman and Dan Gingiss trying to create a remarkable customer experience out of… listening to a customer experience podcast. There are no guest interviews, no singular topics, and no boring commercials. Instead, Experience This! features a rotating set of fast-paced segments that touch on real customer experiences with real takeaways that can make any company better.
Segments include “CX Press,” where the hosts read and explain the latest customer experience articles “so you don’t have to”; “This Just Happened,” which details real-life experiences that leave a lasting impression; “Required Remarkable,” which features required parts of the experience that could be boring (think legal disclaimers and flight safety videos) but are instead fun and memorable, and “I Love It!/I Can’t Stand It!” where the hosts look at all of the positive and negative aspects of a particular industry’s experience, gaining input from listeners’ own experiences along the way. Even the sponsor message is the unskippable “Check Out This Number,” sharing a critical customer experience statistic that every practitioner should know.