customer service

This Week in Social: Lessons Learned from Myspace, Adobe's Message to ANA

Myspace: Five Lessons Learned From the Front - Tech Fortune

Myspace may be the most high-profile failure to turnaround a major Internet media property. Now, ex-CEO Michael Jones reveals what went wrong -- and why.

Adobe’s Message to ANA: Digital Can Be Measured - AdAge

While most presenters at the Association of National Advertisers annual meeting in Phoenix took the opportunity to tout their brands to the hundreds of marketers and vendors, Adobe SVP-Global Marketing Ann Lewnes aimed her pitch directly at one man -- the guy hosting the show, ANA CEO, Bob Liodice. "The goal of this presentation is to convert Bob Liodice" Ann said.

The Secret of Virgin America’s Happy Customers - iMedia Connection

For her opening keynote at iMedia's Breakthrough Summit, Porter Gale, former vice president of Virgin America, emphasized the power digital had in Virgin America's success. Gale took attendees through the never-before-shared making of the company that transformed the traditionally stressful, stale peanuts hassle of air travel into an experience so pleasant that one consumer said it was akin to "flying in an iPod."

Webinar Recording: Turning Fans and Followers into Brand Advocates - ZuberRants

Check out the recording from the recent Zuberance webinar on “Turning Fans and Followers into Brand Advocates,” where marketing experts shared best practices on leveraging your fans, followers, and customers to recommend your brand and products to their networks. The speakers presented social marketing success stories from top brands like Microsoft, Rubio’s, Blurb, and Ooma.

9 Ways Top Brands Can Use Social Media For Better Customer Service - Mashable

During the first day of the Social Media for Customer Care Summit in New York, a gathering of some of the largest brands in the world focused on how social service can be leveraged more effectively. Nearly every brand was struggling with the same three big questions, which became discussion topics and hashtags in their own right: #integration, #scaling, and #crisis.

One Negative Review Leads to a Lawsuit

One man, posting anonymously under the username “JT”, shared his thoughts of his rented apartment’s property management company on Yelp.  The result: the company is suing JT for defamation.  Needless to say, this raises numerous questions about what we can and cannot, or should and should not be writing online.  Do your online reviews and recommendations fall under your First Amendment rights to freedom of speech?  JT maintains that what he wrote was “not pretty, but it was true.”  The property management company claims his opinion is welcome but they merely wanted to clear up inaccuracies. For business, making the hasty decision to file a lawsuit over a detracting comment, post, or review may be the worst idea…ever.  It just continues a stream of bad press.  Instead, see this detractor as a huge opportunity to flex your customer service skills.  Acknowledge, respond in a timely manner, and try to solve the problem to the benefit of both parties.

I recently had a somewhat similar situation happen on the Facebook page of my family’s business, a small dairy company in New Jersey. One of our customers had a displeasing trip to one of our stores where an employee treated him rudely.  He was so miffed that he felt the need to write a lengthy and disapproving post on our wall.  I wrote him back privately and told him that we were extremely surprised and saddened to hear about his experience, guaranteed we would speak to the employees working on the offending night, and offered him coupons to come back to the store.  He wrote me back and said he “appreciated my response” and was “glad to feel welcomed again”.  Did I need to incentivize him?  Probably not.  But, what’s important is that instead of deleting the post from Facebook and ignoring it – I took 5 minutes to address his concern and make sure we didn’t lose a customer.  Any company should (and can) use social media to its fullest advantage – creating ample amounts of Advocates willing to recommend you.  Oh, and JT’s lawsuit has since been withdrawn.  Seems the property management company found a better way to handle the situation.

-Lucy Arnold, Marketing Intern, Zuberance

Does your company embrace transparency?

ZuberRants contributor, Ted Rubin, recently wrote about a fundamental value that every company should embody in today’s social world: authenticity. Last week, I attended the Social Media Optimization Conference in San Francisco during which a panel discussion touched upon another core value that every company must embrace: transparency.

During “How to Build and Leverage Your Social Graph,” the panel discussed what to do when an unhappy customer is blasting your company through social media on both their personal profiles and your branded profiles. Sally Falkow, President of PRESSfeed, advised to take the issue offline, or at least to email, and out of the public eye where you can quietly resolve the problem. Khris Loux, CEO of Echo, disagreed and said brands should do the exact opposite. Instead, keep the conversation online and in the social media world where people can see how you consistently and gracefully provide effective customer service.

I completely agree with the latter approach. We now live in a transparent world whether your company embraces transparency or not.

Even if you move the conversation behind closed doors, what is stopping that angry customer from quoting your email response and tweeting it or posting it on their blog for the rest of the world to see, comment, and fuel the fire?

And, let’s face it. No brand is perfect. There will always be disgruntled customers. But companies who demonstrate their swiftness in social media monitoring and can follow up with a solution to their customers’ problem, are capable of turning detractors into Advocates. In fact, a recent survey from The Strauss Group found that 95% of dissatisfied customers would do business again with a company if their problems were solved quickly and satisfactorily. Wouldn’t you like to show that to your entire community?

A few months ago I was one of these angry customers that turned to social media to vent my frustration with AT&T. Irritated and impatient from being put on hold for over 15 minutes, I tweeted (and excuse my French), “AT&T is on my shit list.” An AT&T representative immediately replied to me, asked that I send him my number via Direct Message, and then resolved my issue over the phone. (In this case, it made sense to take the issue offline due to efficiency.)

As an avid social media user, I was extremely impressed with their prompt response and appreciated that they solved my problem in a five minute phone call. They were able to turn me, as a detractor, into an Advocate. I even posted a follow up tweet, “Wow, @ATT is on top of their social media game. Thanks for your help!”

Keep the conversation on Twitter or your Facebook page so you can show both happy and unhappy customers that you are listening and value their opinion and satisfaction with your brand. Plus, your customer service experience will probably will make its way back to the social web anyway. Transparency is an inherent component of social media which simply cannot be ignored.

-Cara Fuggetta, Marketing Manager, Zuberance

The Social Media budget is there…so now what?!?

In the past three years, social media has gone from being a novelty, to test and try out, to being serious business.  Companies are now coming on board and showing their new opinion of the true business value of social media by opening their budgets and allocating resources to social media use.

So the social media budget is there -- which is great news -- but now what?  Many companies will just add social media as another self-contained “bucket” in the product life cycle, but it needs to be so much more than that.  It is time to spill the social media bucket so it crosses all aspects of the organization.

Research: use social media for gathering customer preferences, behaviors and expectations… and let this information guide your innovations.  Your budget (and stakeholders!) will appreciate the financial savings from fewer wrong innovation turns.

Legal: consider the implications of social media use and make sure your entire organization knows what is legally appropriate.

Production: use social media to perform due diligence on your current and potential vendors and manufacturers.  Listen to their public customer conversations.  Look for their Brand Advocates (they don’t have many?  That should be a danger signal to you!).

Customer Service: Use social media for instant and ongoing engagement with your customers.  Pay attention to them and address their needs early, often, and publicly.

Marketing: use social media to engage with customers, build relationships, and increase brand visibility – low cost, high return!

etc.: use social media as internal communication and collaboration tools. Everything social media can do for your customers, it can (and should) do for your organization!  Use social media to build relationships, to share information, to make announcements, gather data, and expedite innovation.

There’s also a nice side effect to weaving social media use through all aspects of your organization:  it gives you clearer ways to measure your ROI (and ROR!)… and the more useful and accurate measurements you can provide to the C-suite, the more willing they will be to continue including social media in the budget.

Don’t take for granted inclusion of social media funds in the budget.  It is up to you to prove the continued value of social media for your organization, so start now with implementing a 360-degree approach that crosses every silo and every platform. Go spill your social media bucket and start the integration work!

-Ted Rubin, Social Media Strategist

VIDEO: Excellent customer service creates Brand Advocates

Is there a brand that you enjoy more because of the personal attention they've given you? Most often this is in the service industry, but it doesn't necessarily have to be that way. Sometimes it's because you had a problem with a product and they handled it so well that you immediately became an Advocate. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jk3vHSfWRuw

Ted Rubin, a consultant with Zuberance, loves Virgin America, Dell, BlackBerry, and Verizon. They won him over because he just loves brands that do excellent customer service. When they handle his problems well, he appreciates it, and he tells people about it. (Read Ted's recent blog post that highlights the importance of customer service here.)

The brands that get the most advocacy from Rubin are the ones who engage and interact with him on Twitter.

-David Spark, Social Media Jounalist, Spark Media Solutions

Dave Carroll on creating an international fan base through "United Breaks Guitars"

Standing outside the Marriott at SXSW, I ran into Dave Carroll, a Canadian singer made internationally famous through his frustrating customer support story, "United Breaks Guitars." It just so happens that Carroll and I appeared together in a piece on Al Jazeera about his song and the unbelievable success it brought to him through the power of social media. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFKDOagvaaA&feature=related

Carroll says that as of today, the "United Breaks Guitars" video has been viewed 10 million times. He estimates that the press from the story alone has reached more than 150 million people.

A few nice things have resulted from all this fame. Carroll's gone from being just a Canadian singer to known internationally with new fans discovering his music. And given his songwriting and storytelling abilities, other companies have approached him asking him to tell their tale in a four minute song.

-David Spark, Social Media Journalist, Spark Media Solutions

Social Media Strategy: What doesn’t work

You know what doesn’t work for a social media strategy? Not being social. It might sound like common sense, but all too often, being social is overlooked in a social media strategy.  It’s not enough to just start accounts with all the most popular social media tools and community sites, even when you include professionally-designed graphics and a big bold display of your logo and a few text lines about your brilliant mission.  First and foremost, you absolutely must BE SOCIAL! When you are not being social, even if you think there is no message, you ARE sending a message to your consumers and potential consumers --  and it is not a message you want to have associated with your brand.  That message is… we don’t want to socialize. From the consumer perspective, your not being social looks like this:

  • Not paying attention
  • Not being interested
  • Not caring
  • Not engaging and interacting

Silence (not being social) is a lot quieter online than it is face-to-face.  When you are silent online you are actually screaming… we don’t want to make the effort to build relationships or pay attention.

There is pressure these days to have a perfect social media strategy in place, and to have it in place NOW.  A carefully thought-out, integrated strategy is very important, but even more important right NOW is to just start being social.  Start now.  Be social while you’re honing your strategy and building your ideal social media team so when you implement the rest of your strategy, your consumers will already be gathered around you.

Start the connections and start to build the relationships NOW…with the opposite of not being social:

  • Be genuinely interested … and interesting
  • Pay consistent attention to your consumers
  • Ask questions, respond to answers, ask more questions, respond again (i.e. ENGAGE)
  • “Talk” with your consumers, not at them
  • Provide real, relevant value by interacting, listening, and socializing.

Don’t let your social media strategy falter.  Get out there and get social… now!

-Ted Rubin, Social Media Strategist

No more mixed messages: Integrate Social Media Marketing!

Social media marketing to most in the C-suite is still a campaign-based tactic, viewed and managed separately, but it really should be integrated.  Social media marketing needs to be woven into the fabric of all marketing channels and strategically managed from a 360-degree perspective. This integration is especially important around Customer Service, where the disparity between the customer experience in the social media channel and the customer experience in the traditional channel is a dangerous chasm.   The result is a mixed message around Customer Service – an area where none of us can afford to be unclear or inconsistent!

Think of it from the customer perspective (as you always should):  they get a quick response and dedicated attention in the social media channel, and then are subjected to the “same-old, same-old” via traditional customer service channel.  Long waits (phone or in person) and inattention in one channel will immediately cancel out any gains from your social media marketing channel.

As you can see, social media marketing desperately needs to be integrated into ALL marketing channels!

This integration of course takes time, but you can start the integration immediately with absolutely no technical changes.  Simply be diligent in your social media channel about setting your customers’ expectations.   If the reality of your traditional Customer Service channel includes a 7-10 day response (refunds or backorder fulfillment, for example), then use your social media channel to respond immediately… and TELL THEM about the 7-10 day reality.  Then go fix that timeline, and when it is fixed… tell that too.

Think of it this way:  broken promises and mixed messages are a quick way to send your customers away.  Kept promises and integrated messages, systems, and management are a quick way to create Brand Advocates… the heart of your social media marketing channel.

The biggest marketing weakness today is the mixed message around Customer Service.  It’s up to your company to make integration a priority and give your brand a chance.

-Ted Rubin, Social Media Strategist

Customer Service “is” the New Marketing

Remember the old small business customer service mentality?  Where pleasing the customer came FIRST, and the need to delight them was “a given” not an option?   Great news – it’s back (or at least on its way back)! The democratizing nature of social media has returned power to the customer, making Brand Advocates one of our strongest marketing assets.  If we want to share their power (not take it!), we need to adopt customer service as the new way of marketing – or “unmarketing,” a term mentioned by Brian Solis in the introduction to his book Engage, and Scott Stratten details extensively in his blog and book UnMarketing.

Considering this power shift, the #1 question we should be asking our Brand Advocates is "How may I serve you?" Ask early and ask often.

This “How may I serve you?” question shows our Advocates that we are back on the customer service bandwagon, and just as importantly, it keeps us in check.   If you aren’t ready to make “How may I serve you?” your priority question, consider these implications for use:

  1. It flattens the traditional hierarchy of "push" messaging, giving even more power to our Advocates.  The more power our Advocates have, the more power our brand has.
  2. It reminds us to arm our Advocates with tools for evangelizing in their own way. Side benefit: those tools are also of great value internally in our organizations!
  3. It reminds us of the necessary two-way street of communication between us and our Brand Advocates.  The era of mutually beneficial brand-Advocate relationships is here – let it work for you, your brand and your Advocates!
  4. It reminds us that our egos need to turn the spotlight over to our Brand Advocates. The success and impact of our product or service is not about how much we love it, but about how it “serves” our customer.
  5. It gives us direction for innovation. When we know what our Brand Advocates want more of (or less of), we have a blueprint for change.  We have unprecedented access to the needs and desires of our market – why would we even consider not tapping into that??

So here’s your new 4-word marketing strategy for 2011:  Guess Less, Ask More… and always start with “How can I serve you?”