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May 20, 2016

Brands are Dropping the Ball on Social Media

Brand behaviors don’t even come close to syncing up with people's expectations on social media, according to new data from a recent Sprout Social study. People want a response, and they want it much faster than most organizations are either willing or able to give.

Most brands are moving in the wrong direction at the wrong time.

May 9, 2016

Bots, Messenger and the Future of Customer Service

Soon, “customer service” won’t be something consumers dread having to call, it will be something that builds powerful relationships with consumers. The best marketing is great customer service, and chatbots are a great step forward.

Is the future as simple as opening a chat and texting what you need?

April 14, 2016

Fidelity Creates Its Vision For Customer Experience

Recognizing that customers prefer to conduct business across a number of channels, Fidelity created a seamless experience, making it easy for someone to change channels mid-conversation without having to start over. This also easily allows switching from social media (not great for sharing private information) and they are testing Skype experiences.

The end of “Let me transfer you”?

April 6, 2016

Domino's Cooks Up Its Latest Tech Move: Zero Click Ordering

Domino’s continues to deliver on its goal to eliminate all barriers between you and a pizza with its latest mobile app, Zero Click. That’s right, you now only need to open the Zero Click app to have your preferred “Easy Order” automatically placed after a 10-second countdown clock verifies your purchase intent.

One-click purchases are so last year.

March 25, 2016

The 4 Things It Takes to Succeed in the Digital Economy

Digital is not just part of the economy — it is the economy. Why do some companies thrive in the new environment, while others struggle? Harvard Business Review identifies four themes that indicate success: customer expectations, product enhancements, collaborative innovations, and organizational forms.

 

The tipping point for digital transformations

March 11, 2016

"Hug Your Haters"

 

A new book from Jay Baer, author of "Youtility," is all about the modern concept of customer service and its impact on our businesses. Of course, most of us aren't ready for providing service in the connected world, yet - but, Jay makes it easy for us. In fact, one of our favorite things about the book is the poster included in the book called, "The Hatrix." 

Jay breaks down the lovingly-named "Haters" audiences as "Offstage" (support by phone and email) and "Onstage" (support via social media, review sites, and boards/forums) - and shows the impact from answered and unanswered complaints in each venue. For instance, The Hatrix tells us that an answered complaint in social media results in a 20% increase in advocacy for the brand, while an unanswered complaint in the same venue results in a 43% decline in advocacy. This is obviously kind of a big deal. Check out The Hatrix online and get your copy of the book today.

Check out the new book from Jay Baer "Hug Your Haters"

January 3, 2011

Social Media ' How May I Help You?

On Monday, December 27th, the East Coast was paralyzed by the after effects of the 'Blizzard of 2010'?. Power was out, roads weren't paved and airline travel was at a standstill. Everyone was scrambling to rearrange their schedules in order to get home or back to work from Christmas. A family member who works in the travel industry was trying all day to reach JetBlue to help with a client's cancelled flight. The phone lines were so overloaded that even calling the 1-800 number, he wasn't allowed to be placed on hold. He decided to place a 'Help!'? message on the JetBlue Facebook wall, along with his number, just to see what would happen. To his surprise, he received a call from a JetBlue employee in response to his post. He was able to rebook his client and make someone's holiday season a little brighter.

Not long ago, I was having issues with my Hotmail account. For those of you who have also experienced issues with Hotmail, you know that it is not easy to find a customer service phone number anywhere on the MSN site. After being put through the voicemail system for about 20 minutes without the benefit of speaking with a live person, I decided to follow Windows Live on Twitter and sent a direct tweet with a very high level (140 characters) overview of my issue. It may have taken them some time to respond, but I did hear back with instructions on how to access my account. As frustrated as I had been, I was relieved to know that I had been heard.

Is this the future of social media? Today, most companies have a Facebook page and/or a Twitter account in conjunction with their corporate website. Facebook and Twitter allow brands to have a more real-time, one-to-one conversation with their customers. With the increasing demand for answers, companies are going to need to ensure that they have the proper staff in place in order to respond to a consumer's question, complaint, issue, etc. in a timely fashion. If not, the negative response by consumers will spread rapidly on the social networks. I'm interested to see how brands continue to evolve their social media platforms into customer service vehicles in 2011. I know from past experience, it is now the first place I'll go to get answers.

January 3, 2011

Social Media ' How May I Help You?

On Monday, December 27th, the East Coast was paralyzed by the after effects of the 'Blizzard of 2010'?. Power was out, roads weren't paved and airline travel was at a standstill. Everyone was scrambling to rearrange their schedules in order to get home or back to work from Christmas. A family member who works in the travel industry was trying all day to reach JetBlue to help with a client's cancelled flight. The phone lines were so overloaded that even calling the 1-800 number, he wasn't allowed to be placed on hold. He decided to place a 'Help!'? message on the JetBlue Facebook wall, along with his number, just to see what would happen. To his surprise, he received a call from a JetBlue employee in response to his post. He was able to rebook his client and make someone's holiday season a little brighter.

Not long ago, I was having issues with my Hotmail account. For those of you who have also experienced issues with Hotmail, you know that it is not easy to find a customer service phone number anywhere on the MSN site. After being put through the voicemail system for about 20 minutes without the benefit of speaking with a live person, I decided to follow Windows Live on Twitter and sent a direct tweet with a very high level (140 characters) overview of my issue. It may have taken them some time to respond, but I did hear back with instructions on how to access my account. As frustrated as I had been, I was relieved to know that I had been heard.

Is this the future of social media? Today, most companies have a Facebook page and/or a Twitter account in conjunction with their corporate website. Facebook and Twitter allow brands to have a more real-time, one-to-one conversation with their customers. With the increasing demand for answers, companies are going to need to ensure that they have the proper staff in place in order to respond to a consumer's question, complaint, issue, etc. in a timely fashion. If not, the negative response by consumers will spread rapidly on the social networks. I'm interested to see how brands continue to evolve their social media platforms into customer service vehicles in 2011. I know from past experience, it is now the first place I'll go to get answers.

December 8, 2010

Richard Branson ' Please be my dad.

Richard Branson is not just a luxurious head of hair - he is also an entrepreneurial genius. I mean, he wasn't knighted for nothing. Wildly successful with his many branches of the Virgin Group, Branson continues to make groundbreaking forays in to whichever field he chooses. I look to him for advice and inspiration, and although I'm not planning on launching my own airline anytime soon, this silver fox is a fountain of advice on how to keep customers happy and coming back for more.

In a recent article on LiveMint Richard Branson wrote about 'Why Customer Service Matters,'? and he recalls a time when a Virgin America plane was stranded on a runway for hours because of bad weather. In response to the problem, which was not at all the fault of Virgin America, their CEO David Cush called many of the stranded passengers personally, offering apologies and vouchers for new flights.

What the what?!?

Aside from the obvious 'doesn't a CEO have other things to do than call a bunch of price-chasing upstate New Yorkers?'? it also begs the question, 'why don't I do more stuff like that?'? Granted, my booming e-bay marketplace does not call for this level of outreach; however, many companies seem to have lost focus on what is important to consumers. While some companies thrive based on pricing strategy alone, many small customer-focused businesses succeed without putting an ROI percentage on customer care.

As a member of AMP's PR team I immediately began thinking about social online media, and how keeping a watchful eye on consumers' likes and dislikes can affect a company. Boloco, a 'Boston Local Company'? specializing in lunchtime wraps, has been known to lower the music volume in specific restaurant locations in response to Tweets. Apple handed out water to people standing in the heat to buy a new iPhone4 in Boston in July 2010 as a response to the social media buzz.

So what am I doing for my customers? Or, what am I encouraging my clients to do for their customers? While it's easy to follow Facebook 'likers'? and tweet hashtags to observe consumer interests, it's also important to follow up. Aside from giving better service and creating a more targeted product, it makes consumers feel valued and inspires brand loyalty.

Now if Richard Branson would finally answer my letters and adopt me I could do even more good for the world'?¦

November 9, 2010

Losing a Customer for Life After Death

Here at AMP, we talk at length about ways to drive brand awareness and advocacy but what about the other end of the marketing spectrum? What about those instances where a company has screwed up so epically, that it has actually caused a consumer to swear off the brand forever (and no, it's not a tobacco brand)?

In 1987, when I was just a little tyke in short-pants, my family signed up for cable TV service. This ground-breaking entertainment option gave us a seemingly endless supply of TV channels. Never again would I have to play with an oversized antenna to watch the Fall Guy (epic show, BTW) and I was free to practice all my at-home, amateur stunts off the arm of the couch in the crystal-clear glow of our RCA television.

In 1989, my father suddenly passed, forcing my mother to deal with a burden of responsibilities. Chiefly among them was raising the nightmare that morphed into the blog author before you, along with taking over all of the family's finances.

She dutifully paid her cable bill, every month for the past 21+ years. Our local cable company happily took her money. As I grew over the years, so did her entertainment options with the advent of digital cable, Internet service, HDTV, DVR and the occasional dabbling in movie channels. Never Cinemax though, my teenage years lamented.

Her bill had inflated over time along with a separate phone bill until ultimately it made sense to consolidate all these services under one provider. There was a great deal running with a competitor, so she decided to make the jump. Once the new service had been installed, she called our old provider to discontinue service and cancel the account. That's when things took an unfortunate turn.

When she spoke to a customer service rep, he asked to speak to "Robert". My mother explained that she has been managing the family account that's been in her late husband's name for the past twenty-something years. Apparently, my mother's name was not on the account and the account holder was my father (it was the 80s! THAT'S HOW THINGS WERE BACK THEN). The customer service rep, unsure of what to do, again stressed that he needed to speak with my late father. My mother, sense of humor intact, wished him luck then explained that she has been managing the finances for all utilities in his absence.

Then the customer service rep insisted to see a death certificate. Or a newspaper clipping announcing his death.

I'm going to pause here so you can let that sink in for a minute.

It is this company's policy that only the account holder (and approved persons) can make changes to an account, whether it's adding more service or cancelling. This is especially interesting since DVR wasn't available in 1987. Clearly they had revised the rules over the years, but why not grandfather her in on the former policy / agreement? Oh right, because the agreement is subject to change. It'd be nice if the other party in said agreement had that type of power. "I've actually revised my terms and conditions and I'll only be paying 80% of the bill, effective immediately." Man, that'd be awesome.

I learned from a personal follow-up call to the company that my mother could have simply produced any document that lists her as an executor of the estate or owner of the property (i.e. a copy of her mortgage). Wouldn't that have been a lot easier to ask for? Way less dramatic, though.

The above experience lies at the intersection of bad policy and poor customer service. I understand that in these economic times people have resorted to desperate measures, faking one's death notwithstanding. But there are a number of other utility companies out there that do not employ that policy. Best practices be damned, I suppose. The result of that experience is a customer who has switched to a competitor solely based on a better offer but now has vowed never to return.

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