General Mills Brings Core Values to Social Care
General Mills has over 50 brands from breakfast cereals, to snacks, to frozen and prepared meals. Committed to quality and providing great consumer experiences, General Mills has always welcomed comments from consumers in any channel. Today, social care strategist Fred Gorrochotegui shares how the company has brought the same level of commitment and care to social.
Traditionally, the consumer services team at General Mills has engaged with consumers via phone, email or even hand-written letters. But in the past year, faced with the reality that consumer behavior has shifted, we’ve evolved to expand our activities into social media. We now have a small team of people who are dedicated to providing strong consumer service in the social media space, and I’m fortunate enough to help lead that team.
Our 50+ brands serve a diverse demographic and we definitely want to engage our consumers and fans who are increasingly using social media as their preferred channel of communication. They ask questions, they make requests and they let us know what they think.
Today the bulk of our engagement happens on Facebook. The platform’s popularity with our consumers can be attributed to a few statistics we’re all familiar with (e.g. high adoption, wide-range in user age), but Facebook is also generally more conducive to enabling fans to express themselves. After all, sharing an experience with food can be challenging in less than 140 characters.
That said, we see a strong amount of activity on Twitter, but the content tends to be more brand focused rather than requiring social care engagement. We recently started monitoring YouTube and Instagram, but it will be some time before we begin engaging on those channels, and Google+ for social care is currently not in scope.
At its essence, what we do as social care specialists is resolve issues – and conflicts. What I’ve found works best is to embed our General Mills values into our social care engagement strategy:
Do the Right Thing, All the Time We listen, acknowledge, and act in the best interest of our consumers, even if what they’re saying may not be flattering. It’s the right thing to do.
Win as a Team We support our brands and marketing teams, and we communicate on behalf of the brand in the brand voice. At that moment, to consumers we are the brand. If there’s a quality issue, for example, we take responsibility without pointing fingers to a specific function or team. We’re in this together.
Act Bold, Move Quickly: We try to answer all the tough questions, and we do it as diligently as possible. Most importantly, we never get defensive. Speed and responsiveness matter. We’re empowered to make things right, and we do.
The nature of the service we provide is evolving rapidly. It’s predominantly related to product related questions, requests, suggestions and an array of fulfillment at the moment. But we’re definitely seeing it evolve quickly. As General Mills’ social care team, we don’t just strive to be #1 in service; we aim to excel at the convergence of customer service, analytics, and marketing. For example, we work closely with the team of 20 community managers at General Mills, who manage the daily activity of our brands in social media, to make sure we’re presenting a unified brand voice to our consumers. And we use analytics to flag and report on any major issues we’re hearing across the multiple touch points we handle in Consumer Services.
For General Mills, we’re social because our consumers are social. They’re increasingly opting to communicate with us through this new medium – and we’re going to be there for them.
The biggest challenge we face today is aligning data from multiple sources (social, email, phone, etc.) to create a coherent view of the consumer. That process can be time consuming and involves manual steps today. But we’re working with Spredfast and our own Social Media Center of Excellence to align the relevant data in the broad ecosystem of the consumer experience— and enabling us to better meet and exceed the expectations of our customers on social channels and beyond.
Fred is a social care strategist and futurist in matters of consumer relations, social media, value/contact center operations and communication dynamics. He gained his service/sales/marketing chops working in banking, telecommunications and advertising sales. He holds a 5-year tenure with General Mills, but over the last year he’s been serving as the Sr. Social Media Engagement Specialist supporting the holistic integration of social care in the contact center.