Archive for the 'customer service' Category

Why is the Customer Experience so Hard to Deliver On?

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You’d think brands would know what the customer wanted at this stage of the game, right? It’s 2015 and companies left and right keep talking about their new mandate of delivering on a quality customer experience. providing a powerful and memorable customer experience, etc. etc… It’s almost as if what has happened up to this point didn’t matter or was not a quality experience. I guess, what I want to know is, what have I been getting all of these years?

You might want to say this out loud: “Companies just now, are starting to actually care and do something about me and for me, the customer.” What changed? What happened? What took you so long? You have to wonder, could you have actually been getting more out of your brand experiences all this time? I almost feel like I’ve been short-changed. Until now.

I’ll tell you what happened and it’s really pretty simple; and most of you will slough it off as yet another social media justification post, but it’s true. What happened is social media happened. Social gave the customer a voice they never had.

For the longest time, companies just pushed out what they thought the customer needed and wanted. They didn’t really ask. Sure, they might have done the occasional test/focus group or survey but those were never a large enough sample size. Back in the day, wasn’t customer feedback the 800 number you called to leave your complaint? You never really expected them to get back to you. Did you?

Of course you know this but I’m going to say it again anyway to drive the point home. Social media has allowed customers to have a real voice on so many levels/platforms now. You can write 1000 words diatribes praising or bashing a company. You can voice your displeasure immediately in 140 characters or less on Twitter. You can rate your experience via Yelp or you can Video or take pics of how bad the experience was via YouTube or Instagram. Clearly the customer now has a voice; and that scares the crap out of really large brands as well as small and medium sized businesses.

Why does that scare them? Because the truth actually might hurt them for a change.

I hate when I hear the term, “the customer now has the upper hand.” That’s not what this is about. Customers should not have to compete with a brand. They just want a fair and equitable brand experience. The truth finally evens the playing field. So if consumers are competing, which they shouldn’t be, at least brands know that there are eyes and ears on the customer experience now.

Hard to believe that brands are just now starting to talk about and acknowledge the need for delivering a superior customer experience, but hey, talking is one thing, doing is another. Will the customer rise? Is the customer experience the brand experience? Or is it just lip service for 2015?

Content May Be King, BUT…Customers Rule!

Guest Post from Chris Doster from Digital Response Marketing Group

As a “newbie” to the digital marketing space, I may only have a “surface level” comprehension of this ever evolving profession, but I know my customers…

Since the days of dial-up AOL and old school cell phones with plans that required a bank loan, I’ve been marketing products and services to the medical device industry about as far back as when Gates and Jobs (R.I.P) were just getting started..

I might be a dinosaur when compared to “digital strategists” of the modern day new media, but some things will never change.  One constant, in my humble opinion, is the fact that with all the high-tech “reaching out” methodologies and social channels that exist to make companies more engaging, and accessible, is that the CUSTOMER, still rules…

Now as a guest columnist, I don’t mean to ruffle any virtual feathers here, but since the dawn of the “world wide web”, those of you with the secret skills of “I.T” haven’t always been the most popular staff members in the office.  Much like the respected yet confusing golf pro, it often seems that the “geeks” that create  software, apps and sites and make them tick, make many customers go “blink, blink” with blank stares like a “South Park” Character.

You might proclaim to the customer that you have the “golden ticket” to traffic, conversions, and  “conversations”, but you still get “the look”

So do I have all the answers for the fledgling social media marketer, of course not.  But this much I do know; I am your target audience.  I know enough to be dangerous in regards to “search and social”, but you all play a game I am not familiar with…

From my experience, the majority of business owners are way too busy making payroll and making a marketable product.  To assume they understand your business would be assuming you know theirs….do you?

My simple suggestion would be to consider what I was taught back in the dark ages of that lost art of face-to-face sales calls.  Combine the “high tech” with a bit of “high touch” and remember that people buy from people.

All the “CMS” tools  and knowledge you may drop on a client, all the technical jargon and “buzz words” may make you appear as the “King” (or Queen) of the Digital marketing world.  But if you forget that “nothing happens until there’s a sale”, and that making a connection with your prospect is your most important tool, you just might forget that “Customers” still rule…

 

On Brand Experience

When I was in grade school, one Christmas in particular stood out for me but not for the reasons you might think. My parents were not getting along at the time and for whatever reason, I received a ridiculous amount of presents from my father. Some of which I was not even interested in nor had I asked for.  I found this odd and yet this one thought was not lost on me even at that young age-I thought that my dad was trying to buy my affection.

I remember thinking that why couldn’t he just spend more time with me? Why couldn’t he have just hung out with me and talked with me? That’s all I wanted to do. I didn’t need presents. Well maybe one or two but…

Now let’s think about the brand experience. Before the age of social media, we really didn’t talk about the brand experience. It didn’t really have a name. It was just marketers trying to sell something. However, once consumers found their voice-It became readily apparent that they wanted a say so in what they wanted from the products they bought.

Pay attention to that last sentence.

It’s funny but sometimes I think we have been beat down so much as consumers that we misconstrue good customer service as a warm “live” voice on the other end of a phone. Great customer service? Someone who cares. Ironically, Brand loyalty starts out with the intent of the consumer hoping to get something from the brand, but then is actually cemented by something as simple as a conversation or recognition that you actually exist.

That’s all we really want. We just want to talk.

The Customer Experience Revisited

Recently I had 3 conversations with a cab driver, a plumber and a CEO. Each conversation revolved around the customer experience. I want to share with you the gist of each conversation.

The Cab Driver: I actually had 3 cabbie’s but it was the 3rd one who had really understood the customer experience. Look I get it, if you take enough cabs, you’re going to get the gamut of drivers, but I think it’s interesting to see how some know how to engage the customer and how others could care less. I’m just a fare. It’s those that “get it” who will make more. I actually had the cab driver who explained to me how he reads the customer to see how he should “deal” with the customer. His goal? Not only to engage, but to provide a positive experience that could result in repeat business as well as referrals and a higher tip. Insights from a cab driver.

The Plumber: Let me preface this vignette by saying that “The Plumber” is a very good friend of mine. But the conversation I had with him was as much enlightening as it was a relative fact with all SMB’s. They not only have to do what they are good at but they also have to manage their people and manage their business. However what really opened my eyes was when he told me what was the key to growing his business. Was it more people? More trucks? More resources? Better technology? Nope. He told me it revolves around word-Compassion. Compassion for the customer and walking in their shoes. Good stuff coming from-A Plumber who get’s it.

The CEO-I had about as bad an experience as could be had at a local restaurant. I was so mad that I blogged about it. Of course I used the company name with a map and hyper links because I was so angry but never really expected to hear from anyone within the organization. I even sent an email to the GM of the local franchise but still, I never expected to hear from anyone I just figured it was another FAIL.

About a month or so after the blog post I received an email from the CEO of the entire company expressing regret and essentially saying that I was right, they were wrong and what can he do to make the situation right. He even offered to take me to lunch to prove that his restaurants do get it right when it comes to customer service. He didn’t have to do any of that did he? He’s the CEO-He could have had his area managers handle it, someone in customer service, or basically half a dozen others, but he chose to handle it himself. A CEO.

So what’s the story? It’s not social media. It’s about the customer. It’s always been about the customer. But ironically, it doesn’t matter what your business is, what your job is, if you understand that in whatever you do, the customer experience is priority one. You’re ability to win, to succeed, and to do great work will always be achievable.

Out of the three, who get’s it the most? How would you rank their approaches? I love the cab drivers approach. The Plumber understands what and who is driving the business and the CEO? I’m just one customer but he still took the time to reach out. This doesn’t mean that each will succeed in the end, but it does mean that in some instances, they can impart that wisdom on to others within their respective businesses.

The Social Customer

Posted: November 2nd, 2010    By: Jason Breed

You think marketer’s lives are rough, try being the customer.  So much is being thrown at the customer these days, its hard to keep up.

B2B Customers: You used to have a few vendors that competed for your dollars, the agencies were simply creatives and technology vendors simply did technology.  Without all the improvements in technology, manufacturing had many barriers to entry which reduced your choices.  You never heard about how vendors were treating your employees (good or bad) and you never cared how they were performing with other peers in related industries.  Marketing was marketing and technology was, well, technology and never did the two meet.  Decisions were made independently without concern to the ecosystems that are in place today.

B2C Customers: You were able to make purchase decisions simply based on how the product tasted, handled, or felt.  You did not worry about their greenhouse effects, the videos their employees were making behind the scenes or how much the same product cost at other stores within a 7 block radius.  Your friends may have mentioned cool products but you did not have to worry about your friends seeing every purchase you make (remember that Dixie Chicks album you really want) nor did you have to remember if you had ”like’d” the Brand in one of your networks.  You did not care what they were making next because if you did not want it, you would simply just not purchase it.  Forget writing letters to your friends to warn them that the “new & improved” product really wasn’t.

Fast forward to today.  Customers are more equipped through technology and network science to make purchase decisions than every before.  Interestingly enough though, the buying cycle is getting longer, not shorter.  Customer’s purchase paths have changed. No longer do they call you to see if something is in stock or what your hours of operation are. No longer do you get a chance to speak to prospects, they simply search online, visit the first few sites that come up, comparison shop through online and physical stores, review product ratings and comments.  If prospects can’t relate to the things they find in that process, those potential customer simply go away without you ever knowing they were actual prospects.

While purchase patterns have changed, so have expectations.  The expectation is that I, as a customer, can ask a question online to a company and get a response back either from other customer zealots or from the company itself.  The other expectations are that you are being a good corporate citizen (because I’ll find out if you are not) and that my vote counts.  I want to influence the direction of the next product, not as a shareholder, but as a product user and Lord help if my product breaks down before I think is reasonbly expected.

We know that customers are changing for both B2B and B2C and yes, even for B2B2C.  The challenge is that customers have not yet fully transitioned from customer-of-old to customer-of-new so they are still in motion.  They don’t know what they want in a Brand yet however the expectation is still there.  So how do you handle this?

What Happens When the Mega Personal Brand Leaves the Company?

This past week something occurred that seems to have slipped by people rather quietly. Frank Eliason is leaving or has left Comcast. For those of you that have been dialed into social media for awhile, this is significant for a number of reasons and you’ll know why.

The biggest reason is that we, the social media community lose our poster child/case study of how one person with one tool/platform can transform how a company operates in the social media spectrum of customer service. Can some of you even count the number of times you might have used ComcastCares as one of your social media “examples” 2 years ago.

If you don’t know who @Comcastcares is or was, it was merely one of the first  large companies/individuals to take Twitter and use it as a direct bridge or line of communication into Comcast customer service for real time/any time help of customer service issues.

When social media case studies were few and far between, Frank’s work at Comcast was our shining example of Twitter and customer service. We name dropped Comcast along with Zappos and Starbucks and Jetblue.  So much so that Frank’s personal brand grew, and grew and grew. Not because he was promoting himself, merely this was just the effect of his social media success.  @Comcastcares was as much Frank as it was Comcast. They were synonymous with each other-interchangeable if you will.

Which lead to an interesting conundrum as well as the second reason why Frank’s leaving is significant. It’s something in which a lot of us in the social media community had often talked about, tweeted about, written about and speculated about, and that’s this:

What happens when the personal brand behind a company becomes larger than the company because of social media? What does the company do? One of the other questions we threw around early and often as well was, What if that personal brand leaves the company, what happens then?

Well guess what? It’s finally happened. Frank, little did you know but you may be  creating another case study for all of us. Good luck, and thanks for setting the table, taking chances, and leading the way for a lot of companies and people that will have no idea that you might be reason they are using Twitter for customer service. :)

The Intersection of Customer Service and Social Media

The conversational divide…

I have a couple of quick questions: Does social media allow customers to get their issues resolved quicker than if they were to use traditional means? Does whining via social media move you to the head of the line? In a recent article in Adage the answer may be yes but below the surface there is an easier explanation.

If I’m a disgruntled customer, or just someone that is trying to get something resolved with a company I’m doing business with, chances are I’m going to go the traditional route; Phone, email, live chat, trouble ticket, phone again..It’s what I know-it’s how I am conditioned. Right?

What if I’m getting nowhere? And I know this social media thing might give me any time access to a company to get my problem resolved? Or at least to be heard? I should do it, right? Absolutely!

On the flip side, If the company is listening and monitoring, that company now has a chance because of social media, to get it right or to fix things before they spiral out of control. Right? And let’s face it, all the customer wants is to get their problem solved-that’s all.

But if said company screws  it up, or if I’m getting nowhere-what were my options in the past? Does this look familiar? Phone, email, live chat, trouble ticket, phone again..It’s what I know-it’s how I am conditioned.

According to Pete Blackshaw of Nielsen Online Digital Strategic Services, he thinks that social media is disrupting the harmony between departments when it comes to dealing with irate customers.

I say screw that. That’s their problem, not mine. I’m the customer and now finally, the tables have been turned. Social media is my ally. Treat me right and I’ll tell everyone how great your company is-if you don’t, then watch out.


The Deets

Marc Meyer is a Digital and Social Media Strategist at DRMG. This is my personal blog where I share observations, thoughts and opinions that are all my own.

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