Loyalty Is Your Goal

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Good morning,
Price may get them in (and may even cause some to shop around), but it is the service and experience a customer receives that makes him loyal to you or your brand. We lead such hectic lives it is wonderful to find a brand you can count on to get it right and put YOU first.
How comforting is it to walk into your favorite restaurant where you are known, the food is consistent, and, the service right on? The service provider who is always on time, knowledgeable, and friendly?

Customers have choices – work toward loyalty.

As always, I welcome your comments.

Cheers,

Toby

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Punish Employees for Good Service?

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Over the weekend, I visited a large liquor store chain to perform one of my least favorite jobs: can return. This particular store does not want to be seen as a redemption center: rather than self-service machines you load, the customer tells the attendant how many returns he has, the attendant deals with them, and provides a slip to redeem for cash.  After communicating my total, the attendant politely informed me of their return policy, that I was over their return limit, and kindly provided me with a slip for the total amount; lesson learned, no big deal.

I visited the customer service counter to redeem the slip for cash and the manager gruffly asked how was I able to get a slip for this amount: it was $4 over the max.  I said the attendant had explained the policy for my future reference and I was thankful for his great service.  The manager did not look happy and begrudgingly opened the cash drawer and provided payment.

As I walked out of the store, this announcement came over the intercom: “I need to know who authorized the large bottle return payment.” Wow! I understand the importance of rules and polices, but punishing this employee is the wrong thing to do.  He understands the policy, explained it to me without lecture, and most importantly, he provided fine customer service.   A conversation is better than wrist slap: it makes an employee feel valued; a valued employee takes pride in his job and delivers great experiences to customers.

Do you agree?  I look forward to your comments.

Cheers,

Toby

 

Photo credit phillyemploymentlawyer.com

A Community Benefits Your Customers & Your Brand

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Online communities are essential no matter your business.  In addition to offering a great customer service solution, I will discuss three additional reasons why you need to create and nurture your own community.

Customer Service:

My graphic above shows why a community is the full-service solution to customer service.  Phone queues are hell for customers to get through and expensive for companies to staff properly.  Videos and knowledge base articles eliminate the queue, but if they do not cover the customer’s specific issue and you do not allow (or respond to) questions, your customer still has a problem.

A community is a perfect solution: fast engagement for customers, easy to staff for the company, answers become a searchable knowledge base, and customers may ask follow-up questions.

Connect With Your Customers:

Customers who care want your brand to succeed and love companies who listen and engage.  Active community participation also shows your brand’s personality and provides faces.  Along with discussion and questions, build focus groups and invite members to participate; receive product ideas and improvement suggestions from the people using your product or service.

Customers Become Advocates:

Potential customers learn about your brand by what is happening in your community.  What is the tone?  Is your brand engaged?  Are your current customers singing your praises?  People come with questions, problems, and stories: the results will set your brand apart from your competition.  Customers who care will sing your praises and even share your community with others; people love to talk about a club they belong to.

SEO:

We are all slaves to The Google Monster.  We spend money and time optimizing websites with keywords and blogs.  Websites become stagnant and although they may have the right keywords, blogs are often too company focused (why we are awesome) & go unread by customers.  What the Monster really loves is keyword-rich content that is always updating; your community members provides this each day, all day.  An addition, because discussions & solutions are customer focused, they are not only consumed, they are SHARED.

So, why have you not built a community?

Please share your comments and questions.

Best,

Toby

Twitter May Not Be For You

Alwaysdoneit

I really enjoy and utilize the connections and conversations I have on #Twitter.  I believe it is a wonderful platform for customer service, marketing, SEO, and general learning.  But… (you knew it was coming), it’s not going to work for every brand or product.

What works for one audience does not guarantee success for another.

1.  Ensure you are looking at your metrics and results.

2.  Test other platforms.

3.  Experiment with content types.

What people must understand about Social:

1.  There are NO silver bullets (platform or content type).

2.  Relationships and conversations matter (and take time to build).

Let people know who you are.  Ask questions.  Give answers.  Entertain and add value.  Always measure your efforts.

Cheers,

Toby

Graphic credit to Clapp Communications

Creating Advocates & Sharing Knowledge

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This article is about Jive closing the doors of its Portland office.  End of an era.  Jive-X was part of my daily life and taught me so much.

Companies preach about the importance of collaboration, synergy, knowledge management, customer advocacy and communities can help with all of it.  No matter internal or external, a great community requires time build, nurture and gain adoption.

Internally, a community allows employees to collaborate and share solutions, but unlike instant messenger, the knowledge can be saved and cataloged. Externally, a community allows you to build external trust, increase customer communication, and best of all; build a self-service, cost saving, knowledge base of information.

Tell me about your community (internal or external), how are you using it?

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Cheers,

Toby

 

Do You Have The Right (Support) Bucket?

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Customer service and support is continuously evolving and great service differentiates brands and turns customers into advocates.  This blog will discuss three service buckets and how an online community can benefit your company while providing your customers an outstanding service experience.

The First Bucket: Phone Queue

Something we are all familiar with, but often hate using.  Because there such a high staffing cost to companies, customers are often burdened with lengthy menus or unhelpful automated responses.  To add further irritation, it is often difficult to reach the rep with the right level of knowledge leading to transferred calls, the need for a customer to start over; a horrible experience.

The Second Bucket: Self Service

Convenience and speed are appreciated by customers and allowing them to help themselves is very popular.  YouTube videos,  or a knowledge base created from solved customer problems are very helpful to customers and will free up support rep time, but what if a customer has a question?  If there is no way to ask a question or if comments are not monitored, the problem still exists and the customer remains frustrated.

The Third Bucket: Online Community

An online community offers customers many things they are seeking: speed of answers, access to a knowledge base, and most importantly, the ability to ask questions about their unique issue.  Like a knowledge base, a community cuts costs by documenting solutions and providing self service; both reduce demand on support reps.  Furthermore, most community solutions are provided by customers: a cost savings for the company, and trusted by peers.

An online community will deliver trusted and targeted support to your customers in a timely manner while reducing costs for your company.  If you have not done so, it is time for your community!  I look forward to your questions and comments.

Best,

Toby