Tag Archives: customer service

Online sales cut cookie cycle in half

19 Feb
Cookies online

Little Brownie and the Girl Scouts even provide Cookie Locators (database/map) and Cookie Alerts (RSS feed). There's an iPhone app for cookie lovers on the go.

Attention all cyber scouts and high school boosters, it’s time to start selling online. Avoid trudging street-to-street past the junkmail receptacles (those boxes on a pole that the U.S. Postal Service still uses).

Little Brownie and the Girl Scouts even provide Cookie Locators (database/map) and Cookie Alerts (RSS feed). There’s an iPhone app for cookie lovers on the go. High school boosters and drive ticket salespersons  move their product online, as well. A PayPal purchase or donate button makes things easy.

This will only eliminate one half of the cycle. Delivery (of your cookies, kettlecorn or drive tickets) will still be delivered by U.S. Postal or a cheerful scout or student. But look at all the fuel and shoe leather saved by pitching online.


Why do I need a social media policy? Because you do!

13 May

Content curatorHold on there, cowboy (or cowgirl). You might have already leapt onto the social media horse. You might already have active social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. But do you have a social media policy in place?

Social media can help create a buzz around your brand and help small businesses punch harder, but if used haphazardly or irresponsibly these same tools can damage your marketing efforts and your reputation.

Read more in the Toledo Free Press.

How to start a conversation: You need content topics

4 Oct

Resist the urge to broadcast. People want to learn something useful. If you can share useful content about your company, your products and services, then that’s a bonus.

Summary: You need to develop a content strategy. For this you need content, information and ideas about your products and services. Here is a list of good content ideas.

Do you want to have a conversation with your customers, visitors, readers? What’s your conversation starter? Content. What do they want to know about you? What interesting items and events can you tell them about? More importantly, what information is good enough or unique enough that your customers and visitors will share the info with others?

Your website has a base level of content that helps people learn about you and your company and complete tasks (register for more information, purchase a service or product).

The road to building content runs through listening and monitoring (social media analytics). OK, now you’ve followed some conversations. Do you have anything to add? You can build an editorial calendar and fill it with great ideas that will help customers and visitors learn and connect.

Resist the urge to broadcast. People want to learn something useful. If you can share useful content about your company, your products and services, then that’s a bonus.

If you are creating content (text or video) for your content hub (company website, blog) here are some good ideas for content that customers or visitors might find interesting. Can you hear your visitor repeating these headlines? Are you bold (crazy) enough to share some of this information?

  • What’s the best way to suggest an improvement to our product?
  • Some tricks that might keep you from having to contact support.
  • Here’s our upcoming coupons and offers for the next month.
  • We want to talk. Tell us how to contact you? Where?
  • Video: Here’s a tour of our plant/facility/office.
  • Video: Follow one product/idea from start to finish.
  • Find out what it’s like where we work.
  • View these photos from our latest event.
  • When we create something, these people are involved.
  • What do you think our product’s price should be?
  • Five tips for getting more from your purchase.
  • We support these great causes, here’s why.
  • Five ways we customize your order. Tell us two more.
  • This is what we think is unique about us. Do you agree?
  • Where else do our products go?
  • We’re sorry. This is how we’ll handle things next time.  (Think of crises communication before the crisis. Prepare a post on how the process is supposed to work, how it actually functioned, what you’ve learned, and how you’ve adapted.)

Can you produce just of few of these ideas for your content hub? What kind of reaction would you gain from your potential customers? Would you click on Warranty and Quality, Our Mission, or Sitemap, or would you click on the above headlines?

Anchor this content on your content hub (website) and then share these ideas on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Does Sears Care about social media? Apparently they do

13 Aug
Sears Cares

A negative Tweet that specifically mentions the vendor – Sears – produces a tweet from Sears Cares customer service within three hours.

Can Twitter and Facebook make the world a better place? Here’s a consumer action that was prompted, got bumpy and then was repaired with social media. The project: Find the best value and most durable washer and dryer combination to purchase.

There were three steps in the process:

  • Research/word-of-mouth: Do your due diligence via word-of-mouth and Google search. After discovering that the brand name does not show up in the Google pulldown search for brand scam or brand fail, we use IceRocket and Social Mention to look for product and vendor mentions. Then we go directly to our tribes. I used Facebook to ask 200 friends and my wife’s 170 friends. We asked: What’s the best value and most durable washer and dryer combination and who is the best vendor for price, service and delivery? These questions produced a 30 comment thread and a 25 comment thread. We selected winners – Sears and LG.
  • Engage customer service: Delivery was delayed and the Sears customer call center is unable to find the delivery order. The situation is stalled. However, a negative Tweet that specifically mentions the vendor – Sears – produces a tweet from Sears Cares customer service within three hours. The Sears representative suggests taking the conversation offline (or at least off Twitter) and provides their email address. After an exchange of emails, the delivery hiccup is resolved, a detailed explanation is offered, and the customer is completely recovered.
  • Leave breadcrumbs: We then shared our experience to provide a roadmap for others (WordPress, Facebook and Twitter). The initial negative tweet is connected by keywords, hashtags and a Twitter handle to identify a pattern. As a business, you can’t hide a negative, but you have the ability to improve the result.

Do you know of any other good ways to use social media to minimize your risk when buying a durable good and picking a vendor?

Sweet sounds of massive social media word-of-mouth

9 Mar

When Dave Carroll and Sons of Maxwell created their ode to a smashed guitar they were writing a new chapter in social media conversation and massive word-of-mouth exposure.

In the spring of 2008, the Halifax band Sons of Maxwell was traveling to Nebraska for a one-week tour. Carroll witnessed his Taylor guitar being thrown by United Airlines baggage handlers in Chicago. The damage inflicted on his $3,500 guitar inspired a unique customer complaint.

Carroll decided to respond to an unsympathetic United with three songs and videos (1, 2, 3). In July 2009, the original United Breaks Guitars video gained over 10,000 views in the 30 minutes that it took to write this blog post. The video has since soared to 8,059,599 views.

As companies struggle to effectively spend marketing dollars, a massive word-of-mouth narrative that informs millions of people about your company in a very short time is gold. But a massive word-of-mouth narrative where millions of people learn something negative about your company in a very short time is a formidable foe.

Canada mopped up in the recent Olympics. Now the Canadian picker and his bandmates have produced the third song of their promised series and a customer care blog that could become a Canadian Consumerist.

Carroll’s customer care site summary clearly states:

One of the most annoying concepts far too many companies embrace when it comes to customer service is that of “statistical insignificance.” Their goal: “Get it mostly right, most of the time,” so that the number of customer service failures are so few in comparison to the number of satisfied customers or uneventful interactions that they are statistically insignificant (a.k.a., “not worth worrying about”).

What has United Airlines learned from this situation? If you are inspired to contact United Airlines regarding “customer service” expect your first two options be “praise or compliments” or “comments or feedback.” The welcome banter and legal summary wear you down before discovering option three – “complaints.”

It was easier to find this whistleblower page by a McGill University professor (alas, the usability of the page is like snaking though a long line in security).

The lesson learned is that customer service will not necessarily occur on your customer service platform or during your business hours.