How a social media company you've never heard of is primed to revolutionize customer service

Future of Customer Service

Hear that steely twang bouncing around?

No, you didn't stumble into a bluegrass convention, or a Steve Martin concert (yes that same Steve Martin is also an accomplished musician), or onto the set of ​Deliverance. Rest assured, this Banjo you hear is an entirely different instrument.

Meet Banjo, the social media company primed to revolutionize how organizations view and interact with social media—including how they'll serve their customers in the future.

While reading this in-depth profile of social media company Banjo and it's founder Damien Patton, my curiosity flung me​ to pondering the future of customer service. The article, from the April issue of Inc. magazine, introduces Banjo's "event-detection engine" which, as the author writes, "imposes order on the vast chaotic cloud of social media and unlocks its power in ways we haven't yet seen."

While social media listening/filtering/intelligence engines have existed for years, this dive into Banjo's new offering exposes how their technology is uniquely poised to unlock new insights through mobile-centric analysis, shifting the perspective to an angle better suited to observe the current (and future) realm of social media.

And while the Inc. magazine article teased out a few industry-rattling use cases, they failed to explore how the evolution in social-media analytics can (and will) revolutionize customer service. But, that's why I am here.

Buried deep in the lengthy piece was a brief description of how one of Banjo's current clients already used the platform. So while Banjo was initially intended to power the social streams of Bud Light's House of Whatever—an event the author describes as "a massive Millennial-baiting frat party, and curating and serving images to Anheuser-Busch's various digital advertising platform"—what the client ultimately discovered was a massively powerful customer service tool. Interestingly enough, this was the only one of ​Banjo's current​ clients who went on the record about their new service.

"It also allowed us to become a customer service center," says Nick Kelly, who leads communications for the brand [Anheuser-Busch]. "We could see what was working, what issues we had--'This line is too long' or 'I love this concert.' "

As technology evolves and the intersection of big data, social media and your existing customer relationships increasingly becomes valuable real estate for development, we are going to see customer service get a whole lot smarter.

It's about time.

Here are six areas of customer service Banjo (and similar technologies) is primed to elevate.

Contextually Aware Customer Service

As the stream of social data continues exploding exponentially (​cough, Periscope, cough), simply tapping into the unending stream of social data won't bring any benefit to your brand. It's like attempting to find a cool, refreshing drink of water from the business-end of a firehose. If you are lucky, you end up with a ​measly drink of water, but you'll be soaking wet and sore.

Instead of being knocked flat, thoroughly overwhelmed and befuddled by the massive amounts of data, specialized tools can harness and surgically extract the inherent power from within the flow of nonstop information.

With a powerful tool (ie, Banjo) intelligently applying the proper context, the treasure trove once hidden deep inside the massively messy pile of social data is uncovered. Context unlocks your most valuable resource for making (and keeping) your customers happy—what exactly your customers (and potential customers) want, think and feel.

Today, if you are hosting an event, your ability to monitor the pulse of your event ​begins and ends with customers adopting a brand-defined hashtag, or worse, directly your company account in the conversation.

By bringing in the power of a real-time, context driven filter, such as Banjo, you can get a complete picture of all interactions related directly (and indirectly) to your event.

Instead of discovering, after it already happened (too late), that the line at one entrance had backed up leaving hundreds of your customers soured on your event before it ever began, you would instantly know at the moment the first sign of trouble popped up at that entrance.

Now, you quickly dispatch extra staff to open a temporary entrance nearby, while actively communicating with the swelling crowd to address the budding issue before it ever becomes a debilitating problem.

Because you were able to view social data live, through the exact context relevant to your event, you are able to utilize all channels at the venue to quickly respond to changes—digital signage, audio systems and your official social accounts and official app—alerting attendees through proactive customer service.

As one group approaches the entrance where the line was growing a bit too long, they instantly are informed to head to another access point for a quicker, smoother entry. ​While on the other side of the venue, nothing changes and those customers aren't aware of even the slightest hiccup.


Unlike similar platforms, Banjo was designed for our current (and immediate future) mobile-first world.

"Instead of 'How do we mine social media?' Banjo looks at it from the mobile phone, which is out in the real world," says Noam Bardin, co-founder and former CEO of Waze, who's been working at Google since the search giant bought his traffic app company for $966 million last year. "They've asked the question very differently: 'How can we know what's going on in a specific place at a specific time?' They're able to mine social media in real time."

With the ever-growing dominance of smart phones and our hunger to consume and share socially, there is an always-on army of smart sensors constantly beaming information to the world. Customer service systems, which have been​ sluggish adopters of our changing habits, can drastically improve customer-driven results by building mobile-first systems to streamline how customers find answers and connect for help.

A simple starting ​place: allow your customers to reach out for help via text message. Or even better, if you have a mobile app, ​bake customer service tools (contextually aware knowledge base and click-to-call or click-to-chat buttons as a few examples) right into your app.

Location, Location, Location

"They [Banjo] can ask the question better than anyone else: 'What is happening in the world that's different, right now, at this location?' That allows them to take out of the analysis the 99 percent of the data that is not relevant."

-Noam Bardin

Imagine a world where one of your customers opens your app, needs help and is instantly connected with the perfect team member to handle her need. With access to a customer's location a retail operation could dynamically display the right answers at the right time—for example, when they are in (or near) a store, they could get instant access to information relevant to that store.

By tapping into the power of location-relevant customer service, organizations will have the powerful ability to personalize and contextualize every step of the customer service process.

Customers using an app, or attempting to contact an airline while inside an airport, could be funneled to an experience specifically tailored for their needs.

Replay and learn

Want to know the secret behind the best football teams?

I can promise you it doesn't involve covertly deflating the ​footballs themselves.

No, in football the best coaches and their players continually improve their skills, techniques and strategies by relentlessly dissecting their own, and their opponent's performance, on film.

By gaining a better perspective of the action and control of the speed of development, the best quarterbacks can discover how one bad step led to a costly mistake and how even the smallest things (ie, the placement of an opponent's hands) can give him an exploitable edge.

​Banjo is touting the incredible ability to zoom back in time and watch an event as it unfolds—giving businesses the same tools as football teams, empowering them to witness all the factors that contributed to a particular event occurring and each stage of the development.

Customer service, in particular, is an area ripe to reap the rewards of the rewind, as we move away from stubborn reliance on being reactive organizations.

By observing, dissecting and learning from the events that affect your company—for example a retailer reviewing a recent sales event—organizations can optimize their content, systems and people to replicate and stimulate another successful event, or proactively head off the next customer service emergency before it happens.

At the least your team can be better tuned to the various factors at work, hone your listening skills and plan to tackle similar events in the future.

Smarter listening

Currently social customer service is predicated on how well you've set up your filters.

You monitor your twitter handle in HootSuite, listening for a few target keywords relevant to your brand, but regardless you find yourself still sifting through a mess of unrelated garbage.

Imagine a system that knows (and monitors) the baseline pulse of your customers, and can send you instant and relevant notification anytime the pulse changes, informing you of exactly what has changed and why that matters.

Instead of constantly sifting, you are able to focus on appropriately responding to each and every customer handling their unique needs in unique ways. Because until we have smarter listening, we won't have smarter​ responding.


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