Tuesday, April 4th, 2017 | 11 min read
Recently, something wonderful happened in the world of social – one of those things which reminds you that, despite it all, there is still good in the world.
A driver having a stroke on the Autobahn near Munich was saved by another driver, who ruined his own Tesla in the process. Elon Musk caught wave of the news, and tweeted that Tesla would repair the driver’s car free of charge.
In appreciation, Tesla is providing all repair costs free of charge and expedited. https://t.co/D68HNJcCoQ
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 15, 2017
This isn’t the first time that the Tesla chief has made news with his Twitter game. He also took a customer complaint and developed a full solution in just six days, prompting huge praise from the previously aggrieved customer.
Musk is a great example of a C-level executive understanding how social can create change in an organization. In both instances above, he acted quickly and effectively, using Twitter to communicate with his customers and implementing solutions that benefit Tesla’s customers and brand reputation alike.
Here are 4 more examples of executives using Twitter to drive change and value in their respective organizations.
With a single tweet on Christmas Day, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky started a movement. By simply asking his thousands of Twitter followers what they would like to see Airbnb introduce in 2017, Chesky opened himself and his company up to a world of feedback and suggestions. He may have been taken aback by the sheer reaction to a simple tweet, receiving thousands of responses in a matter of hours.
If @Airbnb could launch anything in 2017, what would it be?
— Brian Chesky (@bchesky) December 26, 2016
Among the numerous customer suggestions included the ability to rent other items from hosts, an Airbnb loyalty program, and even recommendations on what not to do.
It was an inspired move by Chesky, especially since it is relatively unheard of for CEOs of multi-billion dollar companies to seek feedback from their users, let alone engage in such thoughtful, open and candid discussion. Accessibility to executives narrows the gap between a brand and its customers, giving the brand personality and a face that customers can interact with on a human level.
Thanks for the 2,000 submissions. Most popular: Bitcoin, Guest Loyalty, upgraded homes & services, group travel, things to do, and Mars https://t.co/DbrBSTDlCl
— Brian Chesky (@bchesky) December 30, 2016
In recent months, the company has followed up on Chesky’s promise for lots of changes, introducing two new features – Experiences and Trips. Meanwhile, Airbnb has also announced deals with high-end Luxury Retreats, restaurant reservations app Resy, and social payments startup Tilt. These dealings directly relate to a number of changes Chesky promised for 2017 on Twitter.
Airbnb’s quick response reflects its organizational excellence and ability to drive fundamental improvements.
Having been called an ‘ailing unicorn’ by Business Insider in late 2015, Evernote was feeling serious pressure. The company was struggling to develop its revenue streams and was contending with a string of unsuccessful products.
Help arrived in the form of Chris O’Neill, who became CEO in July 2015 after a decade at Google. O’Neill brought wholesale changes, cutting much of Evernote’s product line, laying off a number of staff, and raising prices for paying users.
These changes have led to a startling upturn in fortunes – since early 2016, Evernote has doubled its number of paying users, moved all company data to the Google Cloud Platform, and delivered profits for the second half of 2016.
Much of this success has come from O’Neill’s focus on customer-centricity and the customer experience. This was highlighted on New Year’s Eve 2016 when, following Brian Chesky’s lead, Chris O’Neill asked his Twitter followers what they would like to see from Evernote in 2017.
O’Neill took this opportunity to interact with his customers by, not only responding to their feedback, but also sharing what Evernote was about to release – Evernote 8.0.
— Chris O’Neill (@croneill) January 3, 2017
Called ‘the version you’ve been asking for,’ it signified the company’s ambition to become a thought management platform as opposed to just a note-taking tool.
Alongside O’Neill’s engagement on Twitter, Evernote CMO Andrew Malcolm has highlighted the importance of breaking down internal silos, saying that, “by building deep connections between marketing, product and technical teams, one can create a great, customer-centric product vision.”
Evernote’s transformation highlights what businesses can achieve when executives and teams align to meet common goals.
How fitting it is that Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, would use his company’s platform to engage with customers and followers. Dorsey has been CEO of the company since October 2015, news which he aptly announced via Twitter.
Capitalizing on the instantaneous nature of his platform, Dorsey followed Brian Chesky’s lead a few days shy of 2017 by asking his followers what they would like to see Twitter create or improve in 2017.
Thousands of Dorsey’s almost 4 million Twitter followers responded in earnest, offering up many ideas for what Twitter could implement or improve. Among the most common suggestions included better safety features, new layouts, reporting options and, probably most popularly, an edit button. An editing option seems to be a particular priority as Dorsey considered whether users want to simply edit spelling/grammar mistakes or be able to edit anytime.
Thanks for all the feedback yesterday! 4 clear themes you want us to work on: abuse, edit, topics & interests, and conversations. https://t.co/hMJMZ3P0Rz
— jack (@jack) December 30, 2016
Dorsey pointed to the importance of company transparency and open dialogue with Twitter users, indicating a strong focus on customer centricity. As Dorsey mentioned in a recent interview, customers want big merchants to feel small. Customers want real-time interaction with previously inaccessible executives who will then take user feedback on board.
In the past few months, Dorsey and Twitter have displayed their customer focus, introducing quick replies & welcome messages in Direct Messages as well as a number of features that tackle abusive content and improve the overall user experience.
Recent comments suggest that Jack Dorsey has a clear vision for where he would like to take Twitter in the coming months and years; Dorsey mentions that in late 2016, the organizational structure was streamlined so that he could be “a lot closer to the products.” This is indicative of an agile business where goals are aligned to meet user needs.
When one mentions the world of stock photography, Shutterstock is always the first company that comes to mind. With an offering of over 70 million images and 3 million videos, Shutterstock is the leader in images and videos for creative use. At the helm of all of this is Jon Oringer, Founder and CEO since the company’s humble beginnings in 2003. Called Silicon Alley’s first billionaire, Oringer has taken the company to lofty heights since shooting 30,000 images of his own images in the first year of business.
A single-minded focus on the company, its products and its clients has been key to Oringer’s success. This focus on continuous improvement was again highlighted when, following Brian Chesky’s lead, Oringer posted a tweet in the first few days of 2017 asking customers what they would like to see from Shutterstock in 2017.
— Jon Oringer (@jonoringer) January 2, 2017
Customer suggestions included removing the company’s 15mb file size limit, 360° content, and the ability to access 4K resolution videos in HD search results. Not only did Oringer agree with numerous suggestions – he also informed customers that certain possibilities (e.g. more payment options) were on the company roadmap for 2017.
Shutterstock has also brought greater opportunity for customization to users, launching a graphics editor that allows users to customize content before even purchasing.
Oringer admits that the company has a healthy feedback loop with customers, knowing that “commitment to customer service” starts with him. The company’s tech and UX teams work in tandem with support teams to drive innovation and customer value.
Oringer’s steely determination for constant improvement in product offerings and customer experience creates a mindset that flows throughout the organization and its teams, translating to optimum performance.
It’s clear that the traditional role of a CEO is changing over time. Customers now expect C-level executives to act as a face of their company, not only in business but on social. However, it is important to have an organizational structure in place that allows for findings, through social or otherwise, to be implemented quickly and effectively.
Executives such as Elon Musk not only listen closely to their customers — they also structure the organization in a way that allows for swift collaboration and decision-making. Laying the right foundation allows for transformational changes to be implemented.