The Power of Customer Service
Much is written on the power of customer service. I loved Emily Bradbury’s post a number of months back that heralded customer service and how it relates to customer loyalty, particularly the nod to JetBlue. And maybe it’s all been covered, but having experienced numerous glaring examples of both good AND bad customer service of late, I felt compelled to revisit this topic.
Following a week that included a run-in with an airline gate attendant during holiday travel (enough said - I’m sure everyone can just insert their own horror stories for reference or join the nearly 10 million who have watched the viral video United Breaks Guitars for a frightening example of customer service gone wrong), and a disappointing first visit to a restaurant whose marketing message focuses on friendly and fast service, I was overjoyed to finish the month with a few of my best customer service experiences in recent memory.
In past posts I’ve mentioned our use of Spredfast as BDC’s social media management program. We began working with them about four months ago and in that time there have been a handful of bumps - all pretty understandable given their rate of growth, the newness of the company and the degree to which they are fine-tuning their user interface. But bumps can be frustrating and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that during those times of frustrations, I would find myself looking at their competitors. So here’s the thing: they turned my frustration into customer loyalty in a matter of days. After several unsuccessful attempts to work through the issues with my sales rep, one of the founders of the company called me personally. Mr. Cho listened to my concerns, apologized for the inconvenience and mapped out a plan of action to make things right. I spent over an hour on the phone with him again last week as he personally walked me through the troubleshooting necessary to get me where I needed to be. I hung up the phone and promptly posted my experience on my Facebook and Twitter pages. Now, it’s not as though I have a ton of followers and that my posts are going to mean that Spredfast realizes a measurable increase in business, but the point is that with superior customer service, they were able to convert a frustrated customer into a company ambassador. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the Holy Grail of customer service.
Another common target of customer frustrating - cell phone carriers. Though I've been a perfectly happy customer of Verizon for many years, I figured it was a good time to check in with AT&T to find out when my contract ends. It’s not that I’m unhappy with AT&T, but I’d been a loyal Verizon customer in the past and it just seemed worth a revisit. Well, suffice it to say, I’m not going anywhere. The customer service rep who answered my call was fantastic. Her demeanor, helpful approach and knowledge all had me feeling tons of AT&T love by midway through the call. Now, maybe I just happened to call at the right time, but I’m guessing not. In that phone call it was customer service that not only averted my decision to change carriers, but converted me from an AT&T customer to an AT&T fan.
At the end of the day, it’s not just the day-in, day-out great customer service that matters – though of course it is critical. But excellent customer service when things are not going well presents an opportunity for even greater gains in customer satisfaction… not to mention the creation of brand zealots.
When I first truly began to immerse myself in the world of Social Media, I was fairly certain that I was wading into a world of supreme inefficiency. Not only did it seem a daunting task to build and then keep up with social media for my business’ social media presence through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, my blog etc, but keeping up to speed (ok, more accurately put, trying to get up to speed!) on the world of Social Media could easily be a full time job. With the technology changing constantly and at dizzyingly rate, hours of research and webinars seemed only to scratch the multiple surfaces of information. At some point, I realized that for my sanity and in order to be a resource to my clients, I needed to find key efficiency tools that would maximize this wonderful new world of communication possibilities.
While this list is far from comprehensive and seems to grow daily, I thought I’d share some of my favorites of the moment:
1. Get a Social Media Management System - There are countless free and paid services out there that make social media management easier. Hootsuite and Postling are two that offer some really great functionality. We are currently using Spredfast, a paid social media management tool that offers a comprehensive program including tools for planning, implementing, monitoring and measuring across all SM platforms. Though it is a paid service, we’re finding it to be very complete and the efficiencies it offers easily make it worth the monthly fee.
3.Organize Links - Bridge URL This allows you to group several links within one bitly. I just recently discovered this one and haven’t had use for it, but I’m thinking it could be really useful for adding a series of links to various blog posts and especially to tweets or other places where there’s a character count issue.
4.Use Web/Blog Analysis - Google Analytics is just one of many analytics sites out there that help you measure activity to your blog or site. Woopra claims to be the most comprehensive. WordPress Stats is a great no-fuss option if you are a WordPress user. I like Reinvigorate because it allows you to receive notification when a visitor performs a particular activity on your site. Clicky is also good - easy to use and provides real time analysis - and for my fellow iphone enthusiasts, yeah, there’s an app for it.
5.Get Your Web Experience, Your Way - RockMelt, Flock, Netvibes and Alltop are just a few of the web browsers/sites that allow you to customize your internet experience putting the sites and topics you care most about into a personalized dashboard. Some also integrate functionality for social media postings right from your dashboard adding another layer of efficiency to your social media experience.
6.Tag Great Blogs/Articles to Read Later- Bar none, one of my favorite, newly discovered tools is Instapaper. This site allows me to bookmark, archive and organize web pages, blogs, on-line articles etc. for reading later. I can access and read them from my phone, laptop, ipod Touch or desktop, making it incredibly convenient and user friendly.
7.Know Your Twitter Connections -MentionMap - This site allows you to see a visual or map of your twitter mentions/connections. Each user is shown in connection to you and the people and hashtags they mention most in recent tweets. To the right is my current MentionMap showing my network of followers and mentions. It’s cool and very interactive. I run a MentionMap for all of my clients to give us a bench mark for their connections.
8. Make Info Sourcing Easier - FlipBoard is an application that aggregates the blogs, sites and social media streams you care most about into a customized e-magazine format.
9. Find Followers and Those to Follow - One of the greatest advantages that Twitter offers is that you can, to some degree, go out and find followers. By searching and following Twitterers who are interested in certain topics, you are likely to begin building a following of your target market. Tools like Tweetchat, WeFollow and JustTweetIt make it easy to find people to follow based on interest.
10. Measure Your Social Media -
In the common debate on whether it is truly possible to effectively measure the impact and value of social media, I fall squarely in the camp of “the jury is still out.” That said, I’m impressed with the ever growing pool of tools with which aspects of social media can be measured. When thinking about social media measurement tools, there are a number of factors to consider. It’s not just about the number of followers or the frequency of retweets. There are a whole host of factors that should be considered and measured if you want to get a true sense of the impact your social media efforts are having on your business. I love the graphic below which I found on Social Media Examiner’s site (love their blog!). This is a great visual of the key factors in measuring social media.
There are countless measuring tools, both paid and free with more popping up every day. I still love Google Analytics and Feedburner on the free side. Klout is an online influence gauge that combines a series of data points to give you a Klout score. They are quick to set up and easy to use. Sometrics.com will measure your success with social media advertising and Pagealizer.com promises to not only monitor and measure but also to make suggestions for optimization (I have not tried this one, but am curious to see how effective it is!) TweetEffect and Radian6 seem to have the engagement measurement locked. Sites like SocialMention are also free and easy, though if you splurge for a social media management system like Spredfast, you can get many of these tools all in one neat dashboard system from which you are also planning and implementation (again with the efficiency thing!)