Category Archives: Blog

Social media customer service as awesome brand building

You want to meet someone special. Someone that you could start a long, prosperous and mutually beneficial relationship with. Someone whose goals match yours and who you can work with to achieve your goals together. You know what I mean?

No, I’m not thinking about joining an online dating site. I’m thinking about how we work with our clients here at FACE. It’s a partnership, and over time it gets even better. At the start, it can of course be terrifyingly… new.

When you’re in a truly social business, you have to put yourself out there – just like in any other relationship. You have to talk openly. You have to listen. To experience the benefits of a dialogue with your clients or customers– not just a monologue by your brand – you have to be real. My former colleague Pete Blackshaw used to say: you’ve got to demonstrate trust, authenticity, transparency, confidence, consistency, and integrity to be socially successful. Subtext here is that being selfish and isolated is not recommended.

Alongside account manager Anna Dorywalska, I thought we’d share some thoughts.

Consumers are changing, so should you

What do you do when you want to find information about a new product, service or organisation? Do you Google the name and check relevant websites, or ask your peers and see what Twitter has to say?  How about complaining about a company – phone call to their customer service or quick note to your Facebook friends and Twitter followers? In times when trust in businesses is declining (check out the Edelman Trust Barometer), an increasing number of us are likely to say the latter in both cases.  It’s easier, quicker and, lets face it, less frustrating. For that reason it’s important for organisations to be truly present in social media and engage in conversations evolving not only around their brand, but also competitors and the industry in general. Participating in honest and dynamic discussions will help you strengthen existing relationships, but also be crucial in acquiring new brand fans.

This is how they do it

Whether your online presence is established and you’re rocking your customer service on social, or have only just started thinking about jumping on the wagon – one thing is certain, your customers are talking about you (and to you), and they expect you to react. And it’s a good thing!

@O2’s epic response to customer feedback during their network outage in 2012  probably will be used as an example of great customer service for years to come. The company managed to turn what seemed to be a hopeless situation into a successful showcase of its social media ninja skills (forgive us for using this phrase!) and company values.

O2 Conversation for Blog

Not only O2 have benefited from a humorous and witty approach to customer care online. Netflix, Sainsbury’s, and Bodyform have also decided to show their ‘human face’ via social and engaged in a friendly banter with customers.

We acknowledge some companies, financial services in particular, might find this type of approach challenging or even impossible.  Fear not! It’s not only about the humour. What matters is having a solid social media strategy, a dedicated team (consisting of one or 20 members, depending on business needs) and technology supporting both.

As Daryl West, Social Media Insight Manager at Telefonica UK, says:

“Social media customer service is now a large part of our service remit with over 4000 customer queries handled by more than 20 trained social media service specialists on a weekly basis. We helped develop an engagement platform with FACE that helped create a strong workflow management system that could filter and categorise queries to drive efficiency in social customer service.”

Telefonica was one of the first companies to realize the potential of social and implement innovative solutions within the business. The brand hasn’t stopped there and being a social business is as important as ever. Says Daryl:

“We truly believe that our presence on social media demonstrates to consumers that we are a forward thinking brand that’s future proofing our customer service by being responsive and supportive on new and developing service channels. Furthermore, we also use social media service as an indicator to flag customer problems, if repetitive issues arise in social we can flag to our other service channels. This is a great way of using real time social media insight to feedback and maintain excellence across all service channels.”

Being real should be easy, not to mention fun, right? So why is the threat of social failure still one of the most frequent concerns I hear from clients?

Well, because just like personal relationships, brand and client relationships take work – and sometimes they can be scary. Inevitably, sometimes needs won’t be perfectly aligned and there will be differences of opinion on the right steps to take. And at FACE we’ve had a breakup where we’ve listened to our client’s point of view but in the end had to be confident about our transparency and remain consistent and true to ourselves. Thankfully, when you’re a truly social business, working on your client and customer relationships also defines you. Each interaction is an opportunity to affirm and communicate what your brand stands for.

FACE CEO Andrew Needham wrote just a couple of days ago about the importance of “delivering customer obsession in the digital age”. Business is changing – moving away from a old manufacturing “product first” model, towards one where customer needs lead.  That’s why we think social media listening, engagement and customer care is so important. It’s what turns an interaction into a relationship – it’s what turns brand awareness into customer loyalty.



Erika Ammerman is the Head of Social Insight at FACE. She has worked for clients ranging from healthcare to hair care and beyond. Connect with her on LinkedIn.



Anna Dorywalska is a Social and Pulsar Account Manager. She is following her passion for social media, working with brands including O2, eBay and Samsung. Connect with her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter.


Product Manager wanted – the FACE Pulsar Team are hiring!

Looking for a new challenge this year? Does the idea of working on one of the most exciting and innovative products to emerge in the social media space appeal to you? Well, then this might be for you, so listen up!

We are currently seeking a Product Manager with excellent technical and communication skills to join our interactive Pulsar team in the London office, working on the Pulsar Platform suite of products (


Your primary product focus will be Pulsar Flow and Pulsar Live. We’re looking for someone to truly own the development of these products in terms of new features and functionality – managing user needs, defining roadmaps, correcting course and delivering releases on the scheduled date.

You will have at least 3 years’ experience working in a Product Manager or Product Support role, building enterprise-class software products. You will be accustomed to working in a fast paced, technically driven and client facing environment and be well versed in navigating various social media platforms at both a user and technical level. A strong practical knowledge of social media reporting and engagement tools is a great plus.

If this sounds like you, then we would love to hear from you.


Visit our Join Us page to download the full job description, then send a CV and covering email to our Chief Innovation Officer, Francesco D’Orazio (

the FACE Pulsar Team


Delivering customer obsession in the digital age is critical to business success

Amazon aspires to be “Earth’s most customer-centric company” and CEO Jeff Bezos speaks passionately not about customer-driven, but customer obsession. An empty chair is often kept in meetings, where the customer is symbolically seated.

As we start 2014 more and more CEOs are recognising that to deliver sustainable competitive advantage in the digital age they have to be able to meet the demands and expectations of today’s empowered and connected consumers consistently and continuously in real time. To achieve this successfully their organisations are going to have to put the customer at the heart of everything they do and then apply scaleable social technologies across the entire company to help make this happen in a human way. They are going to have to become what is being coined a “human era” company, able to manage brands that are more “human”, people-powered entities.

Applying customer obsession in the digital age

Customer obsession in the digital age means understanding that consumers expect their interactions with your organisation and brands to be not just “always on” but “on demand”. They want to be able to do things immediately and interact anywhere at anytime (immediate, real time); they want to do truly new things that create value for them and that delight them (valuable). They expect all data stored about them to be targeted precisely to their needs and personalised to their experience (relevant & personal). Above all they expect their interactions to be simple (easy). And lastly the “on demand” customer desires a more human interaction with companies and brands (human).

Meaningful human connections can’t be formed in one direction — they require the company or brand to reciprocate, to level with consumers. When they do, the connections become a foundation for something we all intuitively understand and value highly: trust. However, for companies to be human in deeds as well as words, a fundamentally different mindset must prevail – that the role of the firm is no longer just to make and sell products, but also to engage deeply and openly with customers as collaborators in creating value together  (Social Capital).

Already, search technologies have made product information ubiquitous; social media encourages consumers to share, compare, and rate experiences; and mobile devices add a “wherever” dimension to the digital environment. Technology will only continue to empower consumer expectations in these five ways. Further developments in mobile connectivity, better designed online spaces created with the powerful new HTML5 web language, the activation of the Internet of Things in many devices through inexpensive communications tags and micro-transmitters, and advances in handling “big data” will just accelerate the appetite of the “on demand” customer. Soon they will be able to search by image, voice, and gesture; automatically participate with others by taking pictures or making transactions; and discover new opportunities with devices that augment reality in their field of vision (think Google Glass).

So to deliver against these 5 key expectations of Immediate, Valuable, Personal, Easy and Human in real time there needs to be a clear framework where the “on demand customer” is at the heart of everything a company does. A customer driven knowledge framework that sits at the centre of a company’s organisation like the hub of a bicycle wheel where all marketing and business disciplines feed in to and out from the “on demand” customer.

Putting the voice of today's consumer at the center

Applying social technology with a human touch

The application of social technology is essential to helping companies put the “on demand” customer at the heart of a company.  In many ways technology can also allow companies to be more human; to do things that we would naturally do in 1-2-1 and face-to-face situations. Technology can help us apply a human touch but on a mass scale. But achieving this can be a major effort for organizations that were not born digital.

What is most challenging for our clients is the ability to operate in a joined-up, end-to-end way. Many of the companies we work for are siloed around different functions or geographies. But “on demand” customers expect a fully consistent and joined-up experience. And that requires companies to think quite differently about the way they organize, their governance structures, and their standards for data and systems.

It’s also apparent that this is not just about the marketing function on its own. The company as a whole must mobilize to deliver high-quality experiences across multiple disciplines and across the entire value chain: sales, innovation and collaboration, service, product use, finance, logistics and marketing. Social technologies can help ensure “on demand customers” touch every part of the organisation in a human way and every part of the organisation is driven in real time by “on-demand” customer expectations.

Applying Socially Intelligent Research

McKinsey said recently: “We’re placing a bet that as customer behavior becomes more fluid and complex and where business models can be disrupted overnight, the client community will welcome the opportunity to have a more holistic, adaptive and responsive view of the customer”. 

To win over on-demand customers, companies will increasingly need to spend a lot of time getting to know them, what they expect, and what works with them, and then have the ability to reach them with the right kind of interaction and content at the right time. Unsurprisingly at FACE we believe that big social data integrated with other research methodologies lies at the heart of efforts to build that understanding—data to define and contextualize trends, data to measure the effectiveness of activities and investments at key points in the consumer decision journey, and data to understand how and why individuals move along those journeys.

Here are 3 important questions we want our clients to be asking themselves this year:

1. How does our customer experience compare with that of leaders in other sectors?

2. What will our customers expect in the future, and what will it take to delight them?

3. Do we have clear plans for how to meet or exceed their expectations?

We believe that socially intelligent research has a big role to play in helping companies and brands become more socially intelligent by informing their behaviour with a holistic view of the consumer so that they become more human, more social, people powered entities.


Bad Andrew picture

Andrew Needham is a Founding Partner and CEO of FACE Research. A pioneer in the use of social data in qualitative and quantitative research to deliver a holistic view of the consumer, Andrew is leading the global expansion of FACE. 


 Read more of Andrew’s thoughts here. Or reach out to him on LinkedIn or Twitter.

8 New Year’s Resolutions for the Research Mind

Every New Year, people around the world pause to make promises to themselves to change or to do something new. For many, it’s to be healthier and get in shape. But we have a different take on New Year’s Resolutions here at FACE.

As Oana noted in her blog, “A peek through the keyhole of the FACE office,” we really love what we do, so we have research-focused New Year’s Resolutions! Some of these resolutions are specifically about research methodologies and tools while others are more about keeping our minds flexible and open. Both kinds will help the FACE team tackle all the challenges 2014 has to offer.

Image by Flickr User vanhookc

Riki Neill, Associate Research Director –

book image“I’ve always been excited by the changing world but more recently I’ve been interested in the things that aren’t changing. My New Year’s Resolution is to revisit my interests in cognition and consumer behaviour that stems from evolution; and combine these fundamentals with Face’s natural expertise on emerging consumer trends. I’m getting started with Robert Kurtzban’s ‘Why Everyone (Else) Is A Hypocrite’”


Andrew Ho, Managing Director of Face Asia – 

ted logo“Let’s watch more - once a week the Asia team will take turns to pick a video on any topic, and discuss its virtues. Great way to get us all talking about non-work related stuff, think differently, and it’s my not so subtle way of using others to make me sound smarter.”

Nicole Li, Research Manager  –

“Write a blog post every quarter – I am a firm believer that if you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it well enough. At Face, we are always learning something new, I hope that the discipline of writing can help me distill my thoughts.”

Kate Davids, Senior Research Analyst –

O'Reilly book“This year I’m going to teach myself programming, starting with Python. As both a social media analyst and an online qualitative researcher, I think it’s important that I understand how the tools I depend on actually work. My O’Reilly “Learning Python” book is massive, but I have all year to get through it.”



Jess Owens, Social Media Research Manager –

“My professional New Year’s resolution is to speak up. Quite literally: I want to speak at more events! I have this privileged position studying pop culture phenomena and digital consumer behavior, and there are so many insights worth sharing with a wider audience. I also read a lot about the problems of imbalanced gender representation at conferences and events, especially in the tech industry – by putting myself forward, I can do a little bit to fix that.

I spoke at Immaterial Labour Isn’t Working in May 2013, and I want to contribute further to these interdisciplinary conversations about how technology is impacting our selves and societies.”

Sharmila Subramanian, Research Director - 

mindfulness“My resolution would be about getting into better habits that can encourage mindfulness.  I think a lot of researchers are very good at acquiring information (as is to be expected), which ends up in a bit of a detritus of “stuff” in your brain – this in itself impedes ability to switch off and actually think more clearly and laterally about research challenges.

So, 2014 for me is about mindfulness”

Serena Jacob, Head of the Face Singapore Office –

“My New Year’s Resolution: to keep up with changes in the industry and to be more willing to experiment. It’s so easy to go on using the same techniques and methodologies. So, I want to read more and talk to people more about how they approach research differently, and then try them out in my projects this year.”

Erika Ammerman, Global Head of Social Insight -

“I absolutely agree with Serena. Keeping your eyes open to possibility is as key to being a great researcher as also being able to weed out the many, many, unfruitful avenues to insight. In Social, where many things are shiny and new, it’s extremely important to keep our eyes open for better ways – and those better ways can come from completely new technologies and methodologies, or from cleverly adjusting a tried-and-tested approach, or – better yet – from integrating both. Keeping on top of fast-moving developments can be hard, but it’s essential.

I also want to publicly state that another resolution of mine is to BLOG MORE! When I look around the FACE business and see how certain people don’t just use social, but USE social (Kate, Jess, Cierra and Fran come to mind immediately), I can see how being immersed in contributing and sharing with others can aid a colleague’s POV tremendously. I want more of this in my life.”


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FACE Qual team are recruiting!

Calling all junior researchers! Feeling fresh for the New Year? Feeling like you want a new challenge? Feeling like you want to work at one of the most interesting agencies around? Then listen up…

FACE London is looking to recruit 2 new researchers to our growing qualitative team. You’ll need to have 1-2 years experience and a desire to embrace innovative research and consultancy methods. We are pioneers in co-creation, online, and social media research, with our own platforms and products; you’ll have the opportunity to develop your skills in all areas of the business.

co-creation image

FACE is a boutique agency. We work hard to produce game changing insight and strategy for clients such as Unilever, Nokia, CocaCola, O2 and Tesco. But we do it in a friendly, fun, and exciting environment.

We have offices in London, New York, Hong Kong and Singapore so there are plenty of chances to travel and experience new places and cultures.

If the idea of coming at research in new and different ways appeals, then why not get in touch?

Matthew Arnold

Send a CV and covering email to our Head of Qual, - or drop him a message with any questions you may have.

Hope to hear from you soon,

the FACE London team