Winning at Social Customer Care – Book Interview


Heidi Cohen Interviews Dan Gingiss

New book: Winning at Social Customer Care:
How Top Brands Create Engaging Experiences on Social Media

Winning at Social Customer Care Q: What’s your best piece of advice for readers looking to improve their marketing?

“Customer service is the new marketing.” This line has been bantered about for a couple of years now, but it’s truer today than ever before.

Great customer service can be more valuable than any marketing, and poor customer service can destroy any PR. There’s nothing better than your customers marketing your company for you because they’ve had such a memorable experience!

Q: What was the inspiration for Winning at Social Customer Care?

I have hosted the Focus on Customer Service podcast for two years and have had the pleasure of interviewing nearly four dozen amazing brands which have really dedicated themselves to superior customer service in social media.

Since I am also a daily practitioner – having led social media for several Fortune 300 companies – I realized quickly that I was learning something new and applicable to my job in every single episode. I also noticed several trends that the most successful companies shared, so I wanted to share all of these learnings with a broader audience.

Specifically, though, my boss at work challenged his direct reports to set a personal goal for 2016. Now I don’t usually subscribe to those kinds of HR projects, but since he gave us 30 minutes in a conference room to plan out how we would achieve our personal goal, I decided to use the time and start outlining the steps required to write a book. Honestly, if I had blown off that half hour, I probably would have never published the book!

Q: What is the key concept behind Winning at Social Customer Care?

Social media is the first marketing channel where people get to talk back; brands don’t just get to scream through a megaphone anymore! There is a circular relationship between social media and customer experience: Customers amplify their experiences on social media, and how (or even if) a brand responds contributes right back to the customer experience. When done right, we see great examples of brands turning detractors into advocates just by engaging.

Customers amplify cx

Q: What do you want readers to take away from your book

After reviewing several fun customer experience examples and why they have the potential to end up on social media, the core of the book covers the “8 Steps to Winning at Social Customer Care”. These are the best practices derived from my interviews with dozens of brands plus my own professional experience, and they are what make companies stand out in social media from a customer service perspective. For each step, the book includes quotes from leaders at top brands that are in the social media trenches every day, so it’s not just one “expert” revealing some special formula to the reader.

The 8 Steps are:

  1. Creating a Social Customer Care Philosophy
  2. Choosing the Right Technology
  3. Hiring World-Class Agents
  4. Training Your Agents
  5. Establishing a Scalable Process
  6. Developing Useful Management Reporting
  7. Integrating with the Rest of the Business
  8. Integrating with the CRM

Q: How do you describe yourself professionally?

I am a marketing and customer experience executive who is an elite strategic thinker, innovator and cross-functional team leader. My expertise is in customer experience, digital marketing, social media, and customer service. As an author and podcaster, I am able to take best practices from dozens of top brands and integrate them into my daily work as a real-life practitioner.

Q: What are 1-3 books that inspired your work/career?

Q: What is the biggest challenge that you’ve had to overcome?

In my 10 years at Discover Card, I became a “put me in, coach” kind of guy, meaning that executives knew they could put me in any role and that I would learn it quickly and bring innovation and quantifiable results. When I was recruited into the role of Head of Digital Customer Experience, which also oversaw social media, I had zero experience in social. I didn’t even have a Twitter account! What’s more, my boss told me on the first day that he wanted me to become a “recognized expert” in digital and social media.

I heeded the advice of my predecessor in the role, who said, “In order to learn social media, you just have to do it”. I signed up for Twitter, started with zero followers, and learned by constantly experimenting and engaging with other people.

Today I am proud to be recognized on multiple industry lists for both marketing and customer service in social media, and I get to enjoy speaking and writing about one of my favorite topics.

Q: What’s something unusual or fun that most people don’t know about you?

I’m going to play “3 Truths and a Lie” with you, and in order to get the answer you’ll have to engage with me on Twitter (@dgingiss)! 3 of the following 4 things are true; can you guess which one is the lie?

  • I have sung the National Anthem at three professional baseball stadiums
  • I once delivered a pizza to Michael Jordan
  • I once shook hands with a U.S. President
  • I spent a summer as a vendor at Wrigley Field

Q: Is there a piece of marketing content that you’re particularly proud of?

My first job out of college was as a product manager at The Danbury Mint, a direct marketer of high-end collectibles. The product lines that I managed included sports collectibles with licenses from Major League Baseball, the NFL, NHL, NBA and NASCAR. One of the best-selling products was a series of gold-plated trading cards; these were replicas of actual trading cards, stamped with gold foil and preserved in plastic to keep and display in a commemorative binder.

I suggested to management that we obtain a license to sell products from World Wrestling Entertainment, which had its corporate offices just a few miles from our company headquarters. I was immediately met with resistance and pushback ranging from “this isn’t our audience” to “we can’t do it because there aren’t existing WWE trading cards from which we can make a replica”. After researching my target audience, I recommended that we create our own trading cards and assured management that WWE fans were so loyal that they would love this product.

So I got to negotiate the deal with WWE, design the initial cards, and market the new series. And guess what? It became the second-most successful sports license for the company, ranking only behind baseball. It was from this experience that I learned that preparation and persistence are two keys to success!

Images from the danbury mint

Q: Is there anything else that we haven’t covered that you’d like to share? 

Self-publishing a book is hard! There’s no big New York public relations team spending tens of thousands of dollars to drive awareness and book sales. And as a marketer for 20 years, I have never had to market my own product. It’s a challenging and humbling experience, but it has taught me to appreciate each and every person who chooses to buy my book and/or recommend it to others.

Dan Gingiss Contact information

Thanks, Dan.

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on , Facebook and .

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