Want to Excel at Customer Service? Be Better than Most

Social media is all the rage.  Between the changes to Facebook and GooglePlus, the upstart Pinterest, and the stodgy LinkedIn, social media is everywhere.  Businesses that want to excel in marketing and customer service are flocking to social, in order to better engage their clients and patrons.

But, if you step back, and take a long hard look at customer service, you will find that the majority of companies aren’t embracing all the benefits social media has to offer.

As a customer, I don’t expect to be treated like a king.  I expect them not to bend to my questions and demands, to only do what’s in their best interests.  So, when that doesn’t happen, when the business does more than what’s expected, I’m amazed, and will quickly become a raving fan.

Case in point.  I bring my car to the dealership where it was purchased for service, and in fact, have never serviced it elsewhere.  It’s as if I believe their oil is better than the local service station.  The first golden customer service nugget occurred when my service advisor called to let me know that my front rotors needed to be “cut” and that it would be a bit expensive.  Did I need it?  Do I even know what the rotors do, and how they would be better if cut?  No on both accounts, but I told him to perform the service anyway.  After all, he said I should.   About 2 hours later, I received a call to tell me the car was ready, and I inquired about the costs.  He told me what was done, and how much the total was.  Then, without any delay, he said, “I see you get the car serviced here regularly, so I will put the rotors under warranty.”  Completely unexpected so…wow!

Then, when I went to pick up the car I realized I forgot my 10% coupon.   All I did was ask the cashier nicely if there was anything that can be done (I expected nothing, as it was my fault).  She left to speak to the manager, and when she returned told me they would adjust the bill, and gave me the 10%.  I couldn’t believe it.  That’s customer service.  And, I’ve told several people about it, in just a few days.

I read of a similar situation in a blog post by Peter Shankman entitled, “When You Should Bend the Rules (or, How to Blow a 7-Year Business Relationship in a Day), which spoke of this very situation.  Where businesses don’t take their customers into account but live and die by the “rules”.  Where his previous apartment building refused to rent to a person with his recommendation, who had been sub-letting his apartment for months, and who could not get her previous landlord to sign-off that she lived there (she was involved in litigation with him).  The rental office’s attitude was simple – our rules require this paper, and without it, you can’t rent.

If only they had taken the time to consider the situation.  If only they had taken the time to rise to the occasion.  If only.  But they didn’t, and they have created enemies for life.  You can’t get that back.

If only businesses would rise to our expectations, they would create fans.  Fans for life.  Fans that would scream their praises from the highest mountains.

And, that type of marketing is priceless.

Are you mediocre?  What do you expect of the businesses you engage with?  Has a business risen above the normal for you?

Author:

Craig E. Yaris is the owner of EsquireTech Solutions, which helps small business get found on the social web, whether through Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, he can both teach you the effective use of any social network or act as your social media manager, enabling you to reach your clients where they are and when they want to hear from you.  He can teach your organization the social media best practices that can help you use the tools of today to cost-effectively increase your bottom line.  EsquireTech Solutions brings the social web to your business.  Visit EsquireTech Solutions or call 516-495-9107.

Other Resources:

I’d Like to Buy a Friend for $25.00, Pat

Sounds like a line from Wheel of Fortune.  Buying vowels to increase the likelihood that you will solve the puzzle. And it definitely works.  After all, the more letters you had, the more likely you were to solve the puzzle.

But, does this work in social media?  Will you increase the likelihood of selling more products or services if you purchase your fans and followers?  Unfortunately, I’m not sure there is a definite answer to this.  I am sure it is a morally grey area (and not permitted by Twitter’s Terms of Service).

By purchasing fans or followers, you will increase your reach.  You will also offer the perception that you are “bigger” or more “popular” than you actually are.  But is this a bad thing?

On May 17th, an article by Bill Rundle appeared in Ragan’s PR Daily entitled, “PR Pro:  I Bought Twitter Followers” and I began to wonder of the validity to the theory that we are only as good as the number of followers/fans that we have.  The author did just that.  He began a new twitter account to accompany a new blog he had begun.  In the beginning, he was having trouble gaining traction, as he was only attracting friends to follow and he was stuck at 30 for some time.  He then decided to run an experiment whereby he would purchase 2,000 followers to see if this increased the number of followers he could attract.  After all, he admits (as do I) to looking at people’s follower count before deciding to follow them.

As his experiment went on, his following increased, he had perceived credibility.  But, isn’t social media about building based upon word of mouth?  Were these newly acquired followers really helping him spread his influence?  Maybe.  Since people were now following him based upon his perceived value, he was increasing his reach.

So, is it a bad thing to be perceived as bigger than you are?  I was speaking with a potential client today about just that very thing.  Except we were talking about registrations.  Doesn’t it look better if lots of people are registered for an event?  It makes that event seem like something you would be crazy to miss.

Buying fans and followers will accomplish the same thing.  But, they won’t be engaged fans and followers.  They will be just a number.  And, as an aside, according to Mr. Rundle, Twitter removed the followers he bought after the story appeared.

So, should you buy fans and followers?  I don’t believe so.  It takes hard work to build a business, and it takes hard work to build a following.  A following of people who believe in what you do, and are willing to help you spread your message.  Honestly, and without concern for their own benefit.

It takes time to build the trust we need to succeed in a social economy.  And, you can’t buy trust.

Have you purchased fans or followers?  Was it worth it?  Would you consider it?  What do you think of it?

Author:

Craig E. Yaris is the owner of EsquireTech Solutions, which helps small business get found on the social web, whether through Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, he can both teach you the effective use of any social network or act as your social media manager, enabling you to reach your clients where they are and when they want to hear from you.  He can teach your organization the social media best practices that can help you use the tools of today to cost-effectively increase your bottom line.  EsquireTech Solutions brings the social web to your business.  Visit EsquireTech Solutions or call 516-495-9107.

Sources:

The Need To Blog

As you know, I write a weekly blog here at Digital Brand Marketing Education, covering all aspects of social media.  I really enjoy it, but sometimes, it is incredibly hard work.  So hard, in fact, that my blog (which is due by Thursday) is written on a Friday morning, to the consternation of our Executive Director and Senior Editor (I’m sorry).

Today is one of those days.  It’s really bad for me.  Terrible writers block.  Nothing coming out.  Even this is difficult.

So, it got me thinking that in all the classes I teach I talk about how important blogging is, and how if you really want to make use of SEO all you need to do is “Write.  Good.  SH*T.” (thanks, Guy Kawasaki for this quote).

But, where does the average small business owner find that good information to write about?

The first thing any small business should do is to write about what they know and are passionate about.  This will most likely include the business they are involved in or any topics relating to that business.

They should subscribe to blogs within their industry, comment on them, and react within their own blog.  Everyone has an opinion on something, and you shouldn’t be afraid to share it.  It is ok to disagree, even if it is with someone that you feel has more knowledge or experience.

When you have exhausted the general topics, it is time to search for things that will be of interest to your audience.  There are several sites available for content curation, but my favorite is Alltop.  They search the internet for articles covering almost every imaginable topic.

Blogging Frequency

How often should you blog?  The saying goes, the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it.  I know people who blog daily.  The more you blog, the more potential you have for Google to see your posts.  The more you blog, the more content you have to share within your social networks.

So, how often?  Minimally, you should be blogging once per week.  But it is what works for you.  I know that Scott Stratten from UnMarketing blogs infrequently.  His view is that he blogs when he has something important to say.  His last blog was April 15, 2012.  And before that?  February 11, 2012.  But they are worthwhile blogs.  Interesting and entertaining.

So, blog when you have something to say.  Blog once a week.  Blog when it works for you.

But, no matter what.  Please blog.  Even if it is hard.

Author:

Craig E. Yaris is the owner of EsquireTech Solutions, which helps small business get found on the social web, whether through Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, he can both teach you the effective use of any social network or act as your social media manager, enabling you to reach your clients where they are and when they want to hear from you.  He can teach your organization the social media best practices that can help you use the tools of today to cost-effectively increase your bottom line.  EsquireTech Solutions brings the social web to your business.  Visit EsquireTech Solutions or call 516-495-9107.

Blog Resources:

How Not to Market on Twitter

I have been attending the NYXPO over the last two days, and have enjoyed meeting many new people and connecting with many more over Twitter.

In fact, I love Twitter.  It makes it easy to connect with those people you may not otherwise get to connect with, and it gives you access to people you may not be able to access.  For example, I arrived early on the second day of the conference to attend a panel discussion that included Frank Eliason (@FrankEliason), and after a 10 minute delay because of sound issues, the panel began, but Mr.  Eliason’s chair remained empty.  So I did what any self-respecting social media person would do — I sent a tweet that said, “Where is @FrankEliason for the morning panel at #NYXPO?  Was looking forward to him.”. Seconds later he replied that he had “complications”. And so began a conversation with Mr. Comcast Cares himself (he is no longer with them).

How cool is that?  Very cool.  Social media cool.

So imagine my surprise when my Foursquare check-in at the Javits Center resulted in some of the worst marketing I’ve been involved with on Twitter.  One hour later, I received a tweet from someone that said, “Gdm! I see you used to be Attorney.  Ever heard of XXXXX (product name hidden to protect the guilt)?”  and, so began our “conversation” which included him telling me to go to a friend “in 5 minutes”, and to call several different phone numbers and press several different options, so I could learn more about this product (his website is all video, no words, because “too much to write.”)

Oh, and did I mention that he doesn’t follow me, nor I him, on Twitter?  We have absolutely no relationship.  We’ve never even “tweeted” to each other.

Social media marketing is about engagement.  It is about conversation.  It is about listening.  It is not about the hard sell.  What gave this person the idea that I wanted to hear about his company or product, or that I needed to know about it so badly that I should meet an “assoc” within 5 minutes?  Oh, and had he really read my profile, he would have noticed that I am a FORMER Attorney!  My profile is very clear:  Chief Social Marketer at EsquireTech Solutions, father, husband, traveler, Trekkie, former attorney.

So,  how do you market within Twitter?  You engage people in conversation.  You offer assistance when needed, and advice when warranted.  You share valuable information, you share what others have tweeted.  Then, and only then, do you even have the right to “ask for the sale”.  And don’t make it difficult.  It should be incredibly easy for me to learn about your product.  And since we already know each other, the sale should be easy.

So, how do you market on Twitter?  By not marketing.  By not selling.

This person will never get me to recommend his product.  It could be the best thing since sliced bread, but it wouldn’t matter.  I’ve been treated like nothing more than a dollar sign.

Author:

Craig E. Yaris is the owner of EsquireTech Solutions, which helps small business get found on the social web, whether through Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, he can both teach you the effective use of any social network or act as your social media manager, enabling you to reach your clients where they are and when they want to hear from you.  He can teach your organization the social media best practices that can help you use the tools of today to cost-effectively increase your bottom line.  EsquireTech Solutions brings the social web to your business.  Visit EsquireTech Solutions or call 516-495-9107.

Sources:

Social Media Tsunami – How To Manage It All

Social media can be overwhelming to the small business owner, especially one who has not really used these tools (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) before.  Questions abound: When do I post?  How much do I post? Which networks do I use? With so much uncertainty, the social media novice might feel overwhelmed to the point of quitting the race before it even begins.  After all, who has time to spend all day on Facebook, right?

So, should the small business owner throw in the towel or are there options for reining in the seemingly overwhelming task of managing their social media presence?

Short of hiring a social media manager, there are several tools available to the business owner that will help them overcome the “social media tsunami” that they can feel caught up in.

Buffer
The first tool I would recommend looking into is called Buffer. This free tool allows you to schedule posts and tweets right from within your internet browser of choice, whether they are to be posted to Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.  I had previously done a review of Buffer (“Why Not “Buffer” Your Social Posts – A Review”), and am still a very big advocate of their program. This constant flow of information that has caused people to approach me and let me know how valuable they find my posts and shares.  It also ensures that I always have a stable of posts ready to go, and they are released according to the schedule that I set.

HootSuite

One of my favorite social media “dashboard” programs is HootSuite, which allows you to monitor and manage multiple social profiles.  You set up columns for any social network (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and soon GooglePlus), search term, or hashtag that you want to follow, and it organizes your social life.  Want to schedule posts for later in the day?  Hootsuite can do that.  Want to run an analytics report on your progress?  Hootsuite has analytics built in.  It also has a built-in URL shortener, and pulls in the necessary pictures to attach to Facebook links.  There also free applications for you to use on your iPhone, iPad, Android, and Blackberry devices.  In addition, since the information is actually hosted in the cloud, whatever search columns you set up are available on all devices.  They offer both a free and paid service, but I believe it is worth the $5.99 for the Pro plan, which integrates Google Analytics and Facebook Insights.  Want to sign up?  Here is my HootSuite affiliate link (thanks, in advance).

TweetDeck

TweetDeck, now owned by Twitter, was one of the first social dashboards.  It allows you to organize your Twitter accounts, and to set-up columns for searches that you conduct on a routine basis (hashtags, users, topics).  TweetDeck also has a built in URL shortener, and enables you to schedule your tweets in advance, however, TweetDeck does not offer the same flexibility as HootSuite, since it is meant to only monitor Twitter.  TweetDeck offers both desktop and mobile applications, and will work well for someone looking for basic Twitter management.

Gremlin

Gremlin is a newer social media dashboard, that I’ve just started to experiment with.  Gremlin allows you to accomplish all the same tasks as HootSuite, and offers both free and paid versions, although Gremlin’s plans run all the way to $500 per month.  I will admit that Gremlin offers some very compelling features, which HootSuite and TweetDeck don’t, including goal tracking, a LinkedIn Groups, and the ability to post longer messages (with the comparable $6 per month plan).

But will it overtake HootSuite?  That remains to be seen (although I do prefer their mascot to HootSuite’s OWL).

Managing the social media tsunami takes time, effort, and work, but these tools can help you better use social media to promote your business.  And, since all of the mentioned programs are free or have free plans available, make sure to try them all, and find the one that works well for you.  And remember to share how you are using them.

Have you found another hidden gem?  A tool too good to be true?  Make sure to share it.

Author:

Craig E. Yaris is the owner of EsquireTech Solutions, which helps small business get found on the social web, whether through Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, he can both teach you the effective use of any social network or act as your social media manager, enabling you to reach your clients where they are and when they want to hear from you.  He can teach your organization the social media best practices that can help you use the tools of today to cost-effectively increase your bottom line.  EsquireTech Solutions brings the social web to your business.  Visit EsquireTech Solutions or call 516-495-9107.

Other social media tool Resources:

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