Tag Archives: social media

Customer dis-service. Seller beware!

By Jeff Bowman

I once had a wonderful experience with a customer service representative from a local store that I frequent.  The woman was courteous, smiling, had a sense of humour and seemed to genuinely care about my concerns. The result was that my concern was rectified to my complete satisfaction, in very short order and I left with a much better impression of the store, and here I am telling you about it.

The ideal customer service experience!

The only problem with the entire scenario above is the second word, “once”.  I can list a multitude of occasions where my experience has not been so pleasant, and I have left the store or hung up the phone angry, when my original sentiment was slightly displeased.

There is no question in my mind that the ability to communicate globally and online has led to a reversal in the code of customer service conduct, which was so heavily emphasized  in the 80’s.  It makes a huge difference when you can look someone in the eye and discuss your problems.   There is empathy and a shared concern for keeping a customer satisfied. In the 80’s, the competition for your business was fierce, and therefore customer satisfaction ratings were a critical statistic. Employees were well aware how important it was to keep the customer coming back because they had a vested interest, their jobs.

Today, we have online complaint systems and customer service departments that may not even be in the same town or country. What is their vested interest in ensuring your complete satisfaction? Sure, “this call will be monitored….” But that doesn’t tell you if I will ever use your service again, or it I will tell all my friends about the unique experience I had. Try calling your local television service provider or government office, and tell me that you are not angered by the myriad of button pushing and extension dialing you must negotiate your way through before you get transferred or put on hold. How many times must you enter your phone number or account number, only to be asked to verbally recite it again when a live voice greets you?

The age of service will return.  It is a cycle.  After each economic downturn, it comes back with a vengeance, only to be reduced over time to facilitate technology and cost savings. Well, the rubber has now hit the road, as consumers are turning the tables on businesses using the same technology they use to cut costs and service levels. Customers are bringing their complaints to the web! Facebook, YouTube and the like are now rife with upset customers pulling no punches and naming names.

This will get interesting over the next several months as the economy improves and businesses start to utilize social media more and more as a customer service tool.  They need to keep in mind, that the very tools that they will be relying on to create open dialogues with their customers could be used against them if the other areas of customer support are not up to snuff. No longer buyer beware, it is now seller beware!

I’d like to hear your customer dis-service experiences.

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Filed under Customer Service, Jeff Bowman

Eating elephant morsels 140 characters at a time

By Stephen Rhodes

To build on yesterday’s post about the changing world of marketing , I want to say that most business people I talk with are afraid of Social Media because it seems complex and involved. And it may seem a little daunting to someone with minimum online skills.

There has been so much written about Social Media over the last 12 months and it’s easy to feel uneasy and out of touch. I can’t keep track of the daily how tos on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, You Tube and Flickr.

Think of it as an  elephant, and we all know how to eat an elephant.

Amber Naslund at Altitude Branding has an excellent primer called The Social Media Starter Kit. Download it and use it as a starter and a refresher. Follow Amber on Twitter and subscribe to her blog. She can teach you a lot.

In the beginning you want to listen and observe. Build your own community by following or subscribing to people who speak to you. When you feel comfortable, talk back, share and contribute. Find your own voice.

Let me know what you think of Amber’s starter kit? Or let Amber know.

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Filed under blogging, Communications, Facebook, social media, Stephen Rhodes, twitter

The changing world of marketing

By Stephen Rhodes

I spoke to a group of business leaders last week about the rise of social media and I was encouraging these influencers to add social media to their marketing mix. During question time, one wag suggested that Facebook and Twitter were passing fads and unlikely to last very long.

Behind the comment was a resistence to change – the fear that something unknown might get in the way of comfortable routine.

Of course there are fads. Look at  MySpace or AOL. And others undoubtedly will come and go. But the world has changed and those who embrace it will have a better chance of succeeding in business than those who cling to that old comfortable shoe.

Todd Drefren’s post  at PR Squared on The Future of Marketing is a fascinating look at how the world is changing. Have a read.

I would like to hear your opinions about  social media tools and how you are using them to enhance your business.

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Spying or Market Intelligence?

jeff bowmanBy Jeff Bowman

As a second generation business owner, I tend to put a great deal of stock in tried and true methods of business development and enhancement.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t use the technology of today to improve my business processes, I would be naive if I didn’t.

A company should always have its finger on the pulse of the marketplace, including the economy, new and emerging opportunities and technology that may provide cost savings internally and growth or product opportunities externally, and most importantly, the competition. 40 years ago we called this “the big picture”, today it is known as market intelligence

Market Intelligence (today’s business guru’s give everything that should have importance short- forms like MI) is defined as the information relevant to a market, which is gathered, studied and documented to enable more confident decision making. This information can be accumulated from external sources and internal sources, or by other nefarious methods such as corporate espionage.  The internet has made this easy.  At the click of a mouse you have access to information that might otherwise have taken years to collect.

Today we can analyze  market trends, consumer attitudes, investment risks, and competitive activities through news releases, publications and annual reports. Corporate websites sometimes provide us with more detail than we really need to know. Online searches can provide the rest – the good, the bad and the ugly.

Compare this to the Willy Wonka style of corporate spying that still goes on today.  Bribes to competitive employees for the inside scoop, some even have gone as far as paying contractors to bring the garbage of a large competitor to their office to be sorted and filed. It seems businesses will go a long way to gain market intelligence.

Market intelligence also includes our own internal data. We can segment our customer information, order history, products purchased and internal surveys to determine opportunities for new products, service improvements and up sale potential.  Our own websites, if optimized can give us details about who views what, pages that are of interest and what people might be looking for. Customer service departments and your sales force can provide first line information direct from the client that can be used in a variety of ways. And Social Media can provide us with the tools to have a dialogue with our customers.

Knowing the marketplace that you choose to do business in is a critical activity that must be part of your strategic planning.  With all the tools available today, it takes most of  the guesswork out of business planning.

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Filed under Jeff Bowman, Strategic Planning

The courting ritual

By Stephen Rhodes

In our last  newsletter my partner Jeff Bowman talked about the value of building trust when including Social Media in your marketing portfolio.

It’s really no different than the time and effort required to build trust in a networking group. Your new friends need to know something about you before they are likely to stake their reputation by referring you to one of their customers.

Little Boy With BouquetNetworking online or in person is not about the hard sell. If you are hoping to establish long-term relationships your need to do little courting first. A kiss on the first date is out of the question.

So, as Jeff says, limit how much you talk about yourself – or your products and services –and provide ways to help others instead. Be an expert, a resource for others and you will be surprised how that will build a following.

Look for micro communities –social communities that are relevant to your business. Get involved. Leave comments, so people will see you as an expert. If you submit content, make sure it’s useful and unique.

Social media takes work. And initially, it will seem a little daunting, but the results will come with diligence. Like face-to-face networking, the return on investment will take some time to materialize. But, it’s well worth the effort.

Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, have written an excellent book Trust Agents on how to build trust. These two fellows are well ahead of the curve on what undoubtedly is the new frontier of marketing. I see the Canadian Amazon link shows it’s temporarily out of stock. Be patient or check this link.

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Filed under Marketing, social media, Stephen Rhodes