Is Good Customer Service Good Enough?

Sunday, September 7, 2014 Posted by

Good Customer ServiceIn the last week I’ve experienced two poor customer service experiences. Both were takeaway food purchases gone wrong, and both companies ticked all the boxes to turn it around. I’ll only go back to one.

The first was with a local Mexican restaurant near my new house. The yelp reviews were average to damning, but I really wanted it to be nice.

The food was horrid. Sloppy enchiladas, dry rice and stale corn chips. A few days later a Mileage Plus Dining Rewards email gave me the chance to give feedback, so I did. I was honest and fair. I chose not to share it on social, but did elect to keep it public on the rewards site.

A few days later the restaurant responded asking what they could do to make it better.

The restaurant did everything by the book. The responded nicely; they asked how to improve the situation. It was perfect, right?

Let’s look at another situation from the same week.

I often order my lunch online from a busy West Coast sandwich chain. They have a store across from a client’s office, so I can quickly duck downstairs, grab the lunch bag and be back working in 10 minutes. On this day they left an ingredient out of my sandwich. Of course I didn’t realize until I was back at my desk and I didn’t have time to go back to have it remade. So I logged on their site and sent a message letting them know. I also said that I would have gone back to get it fixed, but no time. I didn’t ask for anything and made it clear it was an FYI.

A couple of hours later I missed a call. The voicemail was from Specialty’s and they were sorry about the slip. They were speaking to the store, but also giving my a $10 credit. They’d follow up with via email.

Both places did the right thing. They acknowledged the issue, and offered restitution. However, I will never return to the Mexican restaurant, but I’ve ordered from Specialty’s many times since.

What is the difference? I don’t doubt either place was genuine with their offer, but Specialty’s made it tangible. I didn’t need to think about what would make it better, it just happened.

The customer service bar has been raised, and it will continue to do so. What you previously thought was good enough is no longer so. And what’s good enough now, won’t be in 12 months.

How can you keep up with good customer service?

The restitution has nothing to do with monetary value. Make the response personal. Do you have order history for that customer? What’s their favorite item? Did you mess up big time? Check their social media or website to see what they like. Gary Vaynerchuk is great with this and uses it to thank customers for large purchases. Think of the goodwill (and social mentions) you’ll get for nailing it. Even if it’s a little off, you’ll still get kudos for trying. If your customer is a business, this still works. Send snacks for the team, or a voucher for a team dinner.

No longer can you get away with checking the boxes for good customer service. It’s time to make it personal.

Book Review: Dataclysm

Sunday, August 31, 2014 Posted by

DataclysmDid you hear? Dating site, OKCupid has lied to you; just to see what happens. This headline hit just days after Facebook tried publishing user behavior research in an academic journal. What the journalists seem to have missed was that OKCupid’s co-founder and President Christian Rudder wrote the blog post about some of their findings just before his book, Dataclysm was released. I actually suspect Christian wrote the blog post because of huge backlash Facebook received. After all, a blog post worth of user behavior data is easier to stomach than an entire book.

So what’s Dataclysm like?

It’s an informative, educational look at people and what they do. Is it a scandalous expose? Not really. Will you be surprised by the results? Probably.

Christian takes what comes across as a math nerd’s hobby and turns it into an insightful profile. He has access to gigabytes of offered and acquired data. I know I wouldn’t be able to resist.

I suspect this book has two aims. One, to show what data is available for analysis, and two, to research some behaviors that are difficult to accurately measure. For instance, do men search for gay porn more in liberal states? By the way, no they don’t. Search rates are equal across the country.

Other little snippets are reported from data that extends to Google, Twitter, a job site and more. Academic research also supplements the OKCupid sample, giving a more robust story than just that from a dating site. Some snippets are useful for marketers, such as the fact that people are more likely to reword a Tweet than use abbreviations. However, most of the data is general and an interesting anthropological view.

Christian’s story telling tends to be more pop sociology with simplified English. He does drop just enough research terminology to keep the data nerds happy, but always with translations. Chapter titles like, “Death by a Thousand Mehs” helps grab those who detest math.

The book could be tightened a little with some setting the scene paragraphs being dropped. I do especially like the “end of book philosophical chapter”* that explains how web data analysis is here and should be useful for consumers, but of course needs to be treated cautiously. He quotes the Target case where their data modeling was so accurate they predicted a pregnancy before the woman told her family. Unfortunately the woman was a teen. He’s right though, data analysis is here and really we should embrace it.

Who Is Dataclysm For?

Dataclysm is more of a sociology book than a marketing book. If you’re a marketer wanting to understand the applications of big data, then definitely read this. It won’t help a marketer do their job better. If you’re worried about online privacy and want to understand what is recorded, then definitely read this book. Finally, if you’re just a curious nerd, buy it. My copy was an unedited proof courtesy of NetGalley, without the graph formatting. I now have to wait until it’s released next week to buy a full copy.

What’s your customer service strategy?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 Posted by

Brian Solis - Customer ServiceWhen I started my first customer service job in 1994 it was easy. If a customer had a complaint they called or dropped by. Occasionally they wrote a letter. Sure the grumpy ones told their friends over the garden fence, but that was just the neighbor.

That was 1994. Now it’s 2014.

Brian Solis recently said that an unhappy customer tells 20 people. A happy customer will tell only one. I recall hearing similar numbers back in 1994.

But in 1994 telling 20 people about a poor customer service experience wasn’t a crisis. Social media has given a new customer service tool. It has also given customers a new, public voice.

Let’s look back at the 20 people who hear about the poor experience. Imagine if one of those tellings was a facebook post. The average facebook user has 338 friends, which instantly turns that 20 into 357. Add in a Twitter account and it’s 576. That’s a lot different than a gossip session over the fence.

What can you do about it?

If you’re already listening to your customers (including on social media) and offering great customer service to minimize any poor experiences, give yourself a pat on the back. Well done.

If you’re not there yet, it’s not too late. Look at your policies and your team. Is that how you’d want to be treated? Yes, it will mean some changes and probably cost you some money, but can you afford to lose 20 customers for each poor experience? To quote Brian Solis (again), “Customers have to be asked and rewarded. It’s something new. It’s proactive customer service.” This is from a social customer service video series that he’s doing with Hootsuite. There’s also his book, [What's the Future] of Business?

And you can always email or Tweet me.

Hootsuite University – Six Months Later

Saturday, August 9, 2014 Posted by

HootSuite Certified ProfessionalOne of the most popular pages on here is the post announcing my Hootsuite University certification. Understandably people want to check it before pulling out their credit card. I know I did.

Was Hootsuite University Worth It?

The short answer is yes.

As I mentioned in the original post, I did more work to become certified than I needed to. I could have done three courses, I did 10. I just felt it was too easy with just the three and the instructions weren’t clear. Fortunately the videos were easy to follow and some of the courseware is beginner level. I also had the advantage of having come back to Hootsuite after using Sprout Social for nearly a year.

So, what did I gain apart from $21 of credit card loyalty points each month and my name on a website?

How about a new client? In March I was asked to help a local foundation out with their digital execution for a few weeks. They were a Hootsuite Enterprise client and didn’t have a lot of time to train the contractor. Being Hootsuite University certified meant it was one less thing to train. Oddly, I’m still working with that foundation as their acting Communications Manager.

After my first day with that client I used another benefit of Hootsuite University – the additional training. There are four courses on just Hootsuite Enterprise, but also five sets of videos. The videos take you through how to grow and engage your social media audiences, becoming a social business, best practices and then by department and industry sector. That night I started with the Enterprise then hit the non-profits. The videos are interviews with leaders in those sectors, so you’re not just hearing from the Hootsuite team.

The final favorite benefit is #HSUChat. This was actually the first one I got into and now I’m disappointed I travel between clients and miss it. For those not in a car at 11am on Tuesday, follow #HSUchat for insightful discussion. The topic is generally announced on the Monday and is often lead by a social media manager who has had success in that area. The chat isn’t restricted to Hootsuite University graduates, so just in to the conversation.

There are more benefits, like being listed in the directory, but I don’t know if I’ve directly benefited from that. no one has mentioned that’s how they found me.

Do you have any questions about the certification? Add them in the comments. Oh, and if you’re one of the people Googling to find the Hootsuite University exam answers, just watch the videos and stop being lazy. Don’t deny it, Google Analytics tells all.

Book Review: Human to Human

Wednesday, August 6, 2014 Posted by

Human-to-HumanThere was nothing profound in Human to Human: #H2H. There was nothing even new, and that’s the way it should be. Human to Human: #H2H by Bryan Kramer is the hot business book of the summer.

For the few of you who haven’t heard about Human to Human or seen the #H2H tweets, it’s a book dispelling the B2B and B2C sales concepts. After all, we’re all humans.

Those who know me are familiar with my rants on this. I can’t recall if I’ve mention it on here, but I kind of, may have, rudely called people out-of-date when they’ve suggested we need to have B2B or B2C focuses. Now I can just send them the link to this book and be done with it.

For an example, here’s the introduction:

“Communication shouldn’t be complicated. It should just be genuine and simple, with the humility and understanding that we’re all multi-dimensional humans, every one of which has spent time in bot he dark and delightful parts of life.

That’s human to human.”

In a short 68 pages, Bryan explains why. Using recent and public cases, and even one of his own projects that went astray, he describes human behavior and what we need to do as communicators and marketers to appeal to our audiences, regardless of their segment.

Short videos embedded through the ebook have experts explaining their experiences. If you’re like me and don’t like video, you won’t lose anything by skipping them, but you will gain a lot from watching them. I didn’t make many notes through #H2H (it is rather short and reinforced my existing beliefs) but these did stand out:

  • “we all need to speak more human”
  • lines between B2C and B2B are blurred (paraphrased)
  • context and understanding your audience
  • rules of social context

Yes, once again my notes make no sense on their own.

Who is Human to Human: #H2H for?

Any marketer or communicator that needs a reminder that they’re appealing to humans, irrespective of the purchase context. Oh, and all who need a kick up the butt to get up to speed.

Go, read it now. You’ll regret it otherwise.