Social Media and Customer Service

•March 6, 2011 • 3 Comments

To maintain competitive edge, companies need to have a strategy on how do they engage in conversations customers are having about them on social media. I was so impressed when I heard the story of a Southwest Airlines customer who tweeted about a poor experience he had with the airlines. While he was still on the plane, they responded with a positive solution. This left the client happy to continue flying the Airlines. More importantly, they ended up with an amazing positive PR opportunity. News travelled fast, and the story has been quoted and re-quoted over time. I’m sure there is more than one person who selected Southwest over other airlines knowing that if they had any issues, the airline is likely to provide amazing service.

Recently, I tested another company’s responsiveness with social media.  I posted a comment on Sears’ Facebook page, explaining I was having an issue with my washing machine, exactly same issue large numbers of people on the internet were also having. Although Sears was did have a customer service person promise to look into it, no response after days. So I posted another sentence asking for a response to my earlier post. Again a promise to look into it and then nothing. Sorry Sears, you are missing the boat. An answer that doesn’t make me happy would be better than no answer. Not responding to postings on Company Facebook pages, Twitter etc., is the same as giving an 800# to customers and not answering the phone.

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Power of Social Media

•February 14, 2011 • 1 Comment
Social media source for news

Social media now delivers the news

Lots of people have been talking about the power of Social Media tools such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and more. These tools now not only share news, but also help people make it. Those who use it are aren’t surprised. Those who don’t, and I’m still a bit surprised how many still don’t venture to even the simplest social media tools, don’t quite get it. How can the events in Egypt be so influenced by these silly sites where people tell each other what they are having for breakfast or where they play these games where they can buy virtual farm animals?
But it is reality; these sites are now how our greater society communicates. If you were logged into your social media site during the Superbowl, it is likely you would have seen regular updates on the games and commercials. I was actually preparing and cleaning up dinner, and just by reviewing Facebook every few minutes, I already knew about the National Anthem fiasco, who was up in the score, and that the VW Darth Vader ad was well liked by many of my peers. No more waiting until the morning talk-shows to know what’s hot. I had a good picture real time. That’s only one site, and only comments from my small number of friends. During the Superbowl, there were more than 4,000 tweets every second at the peak. I personally figured it would be overwhelming, so I found FB a better pace for my news.
But social media is now where I typically hear first about so many of the major events of a day. Not only things like the situation in Egypt, but I know when someone famous passes away. I know when bad weather is coming and when it arrives. I know which sports team is doing poorly or well. And so much more. Of course, it is sent through a filter of other people’s perspective so it may not be accurate or unbiased. But it is still news. It’ll be interesting to see how the traditional media responds and adjusts as they are no longer the first or only source for information.

Local Utility Does a Great Job Managing Crisis with Social Media

•April 10, 2010 • Leave a Comment

A few weeks ago, we had a major windstorm. Power was knocked out for hundreds of thousands of families in the area. Nobody had any idea of when power would be restored.  The local utility company in the area stepped up and used social media technologies to provide timely information to those customers with access to the internet. PSNH utilized their Facebook page, twitter account and website on a continuous basis each day of the aftermath, until power was restored to all residents. They had a person dedicated to responding to tweets from customers about particular areas of towns. They did the same on Facebook. They also proactively posted new updates every few hours on their website with maps. These updates about their progress to restore power were also linked through twitter and Facebook.

As a customer, I felt comforted in knowing how much progress was being made. I felt some control over being able to access the company, without having to hold on their toll-free phone number. I was impressed by the dedication of their crews out at all hours working to restore power.  These efforts left me feeling just a little less stressed being without power for 6 plus days with 3 little kids.

As a marketer, I was impressed with their decision and dedication to these social media avenues. They realized how important communication is in times of stress. They went above and beyond the traditional methods of support, thus making at least this one customer feeling very positively about their company. Although I don’t have a lot of choice when it comes to selecting power companies. I feel more loyal because of their efforts during this crisis. I worry a little less about their rates. I somehow feel that previously I was paying a few dollars too much each month. Now I feel like those few dollars extra  now are at least going towards paying for a person or persons to better support me when the next crisis hits.

Facebook, Don’t Mix Business with Pleasure

•April 10, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I’m all for setting up a Facebook page for your business. It makes sense to send information and updates to those customers and prospects who are interested in your information. People are now comfortable with this and accept these undisguised promotions into their daily news updates.

Recently, I became a “fan” of a business who was actively using Facebook. I found their posts very interesting and creative from a marketing sense. Then a day later, I personally received a “Friend request” from someone I didn’t know. When I clicked on his profile for more information, I found that this person was actually the business owner for the company I just “fanned”. Humph… This person was 1/2 way across the country, I didn’t know him, probably wouldn’t ever meet him and didn’t share any mutual friends. I immediately felt uncomfortable. Would I want to share photos of my children with a complete stranger? Would I want to really share with him what I was doing for the day, what I thought about my friends posts? Would I want him to see photos that I get tagged in? Of course not. I felt he crossed the line. Now, I had a negative impression of him and now his organization.  I wish he hadn’t taken that extra step attempting to mix business with personal communications.   I wonder, if this is what it will come to in the years ahead. Will it become acceptable to pry into others lives just because you have a personal connection?

Becoming a FB Fan- Says a Lot About You

•April 10, 2010 • Leave a Comment

So, you are active on Facebook. You’ve become a “fan” of pages or a member of a group. You may have joined that page or group because you are interested in related information and look forward to relevant updates on that topic.

What you may not have considered is that it also helps create a profile of you. It can tell others your political views, your shopping habits, your musical interests,  even your life status: married, children, divorced etc.  If you simply go to the “info” tab on any of your FB friends, you will quickly get an overview or general impression about that person, maybe things that you might have ever known.

Also, people seem to be “Fan”-ing up, for more than receiving information. They are simply picking pages because they either know that person/business personally. Maybe it is your local car dealership, restaurant, insurance company, realtor, or gym. Or they choose to e affiliated with the group because there is some sort of “status” or “statement” to be made when becoming a fan or group member.  They may not have any intention of looking for updates from these groups.  Maybe it is a statement about becoming frustrated with Farmville posts, maybe it’s a statement about gay marriage, maybe a statement about your appreciation for your home town.  Regardless of why you join a group or fan page, you have created a public profile that tells others much more about you than you may have realized.

Always Include your Contact Information

•December 21, 2009 • Leave a Comment

In today’s competitive environment, it is very important to make it very easy for customers to interact with your business.  One small and free way to do this is to ALWAYS include all your contact information on everything your customer receives from you.

For instance, if you send them a renewal notice for a service, don’t assume they’ll always save the return envelope provided. Make sure your complete mailing address is on every document you send. Your phone # and website should also be on every single document (and very page of the document). Don’t assume your customers will save all the information. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve miss placed the final page of something, only to find out that now I don’t have all the information needed to submit the form etc.

This is true for any direct mail piece- renewals, invoices, promotional letters- anything!!!! It is also true for  advertisement, press releases, websites (phone #’s should be easily found on every single page of the website).  Historically, people used to insert pre-printed business stationery with this information already on every page, ensuring that this information was always there.  With the advent of word processing, now people are often creating their own documents, and often forgetting this information.  It is probably easiest to create a template of your contact information including your company logo, address, phone #’s, fax #’s, and website. Require all your staff to ensure that all this information is on any document that leaves your facility.

Don’t Ignore Your Signature!

•April 30, 2009 • 2 Comments

Are you trying to grow your business? If so, don’t ignore your email signature. It sounds so simple and it is. Today, people send emails all day, for work or for personal correspondence. I regularly get emails from acquaintances for a variety of reasons, and at most they will put their name, first only. What a missed opportunity! The more effective alternative is to have a professional signature with a nice valediction like “sincerely” or “take care” and your full name.  You are probably already do this with your business email account. But why not consider it for your personal email account as well? Include your phone #, business name, tagline and website. Save it as an automated signature in your email application. If they allow you to include your logo or photo even better! People will see it and may remember it or pass it along to someone else.  You don’t have to be selling them anything or even mention your business. It is simply an FYI.
Here’s a real life example of how this worked for me. Recently. I sent an email to a group of parents about a school related project for my son. My automated signature was included which mentioned my company, my tagline, website and phone number. Within 2 days, I had a parent call me to discuss a potential project for their business. If I hadn’t included the signature, she would have never known what I do for a living, and I would have never known about the opportunity!
A signature, it’s free, it’s easy and it can help you grow your business. Don’t miss out on this quick and simple step to build your brand!