Category Archives: Customer Engagement

How to make your hotel guests feel extra valued with great customer service

We are so quick to complain and slow to praise – But sometimes we get customer service above and beyond the job description which warrants a broader mention thank just a thank you face to face.

I want skiing in Whistler, B.C. Canada earlier this month. I love everything about Whistler, the mountains and slopes, the après ski, the location, the hotels, restaurants, spas and bars. it is my ideal ski resort. This year I returned to the Crystal Lodge. I like this place   — it’s close to the ski hire place, close to the lifts and on the main village stroll. I don’t like to trek around too much in my ski boots.

I was welcomed back to the hotel when I checked in — there was a Welcome Back card in my room when I arrived. A nice touch from the staff.

Whistler March 2014 (10)

I collected my skis and went to find somewhere to eat.

The snow was amazing the next morning. There was about 9” of snow overnight and everything looked lovely.

I wanted to ski a couple of easy runs to get into the swing of skiing. I stopped to take this picture and skied down the start of this slope – an easy run on my first morning there.

Whistler March 2014 (4)

I turned, hit a churned up patch of snow. I fell – slowly and twisted my knee. My skis didn’t come off and I pulled all of the ligaments (I found out later). Miserably I picked my way down to the nearest chair (in the image), went back to the room in the hotel and sat there feeling sorry for myself with ice packs on my knee trying to reduce the swelling.

The Manager at the Crystal Lodge called to welcome me back and ask me if I’d had a good day.  I told him of my injury and how miserable I was. An hour later there was a knock at the door – a delivery from the Manager for me.

He had sent some sprain removing Gel to my room along with another note:

Whistler March 2014

I was touched.What a great example of customer service. I was really impressed. Now I’m on the hotel’s files as an injured guest.  Smile

When I checked out of the Lodge 6 days later, staff reception enquired how my knee was doing (I’d skied all week on the easy slopes as I did not want to waste such a lovely trip). My knee would have been better if I’d have rested it a bit more but (skiers) needs must!

I flew home to the UK and noticed this tweet.

This was the icing on the cake for customer service going the extra mile in my opinion. Although I only visit Whistler for a week each year – and have only stayed in the Crystal Lodge three times, the staff thought that my business was worth keeping. The hotel does not have an automated social media / customer relationship management system – nor were these cards printed out as they sometimes are in other hotels.

Real people hand wrote the cards for the real people that stay at the hotel.

That’s important.

The staff at the hotel went the extra mile to show customer care to an infrequent guest.

That matters.

And because the staff went the extra mile for one of their customers, I will make sure I return to the Crystal Lodge every time I return to Whistler – and hopefully will not make the stupid mistake that left me face down in the snow…

Whistler March 2014 (31)

(And the knee is recovering well too Smile )

Eileen Brown is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Connect with Eileen on Twitter and or contact her to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.

Cash mobs go beyond the ‘Like’ to make a difference to local businesses

It is all very well liking pages on Facebook, sharing images and links about something you care about, but how many times does your action have a positive effect?

Charity nominations and just giving pages sometimes get overlooked. The post or email gets read and left in your inbox for another free moment. Once we have liked the page, we move on to the next article.

Struggling shops get our sympathy. Huge multinationals moving into our local area get our ire and anger at the destruction of the local economy.  We retweet things on Twitter and share articles on Facebook. But what do you actually do about it?

Cash mobs actually go beyond the passive idea of the Facebook Like. Cash mobs use actual hard cash, spent in a local shop.

So how does it work?

It is all done through the local community grouping together and using their combined networks to spread the word about the local shop that needs support. It is a little bit like crowdfunding only this generates real cash for bricks and mortar businesses in the local community.

The community gets together and decides to spend £10 ($20) or less in a local shop on a designated day. The local shop gets business that would have otherwise gone to a multinational chain of shops and the local community is energised.

Photo: Cash mob tomorrow! Hope to see you all out at Cederberg Tea House and Four Winds.News of the designated shop gets posted on social media. The information is broadcast amongst the community in the local parish magazine, village flyer and local social media. On the specific day, members of the community visit the store and buy something.

Cash mob, Bremerton in Washington state, US has a Facebook page and advertises when and where the next cash mob will be. Cash mob at Queen Anne Heart advertises its cash mob target in chalk on the pavement.

Chagrin Hardware in Ohio had so many customers when it was mobbed in 2012, the credit card machine had to be reset. The community flocked to Petosa’s Family Grocer in Edmonds, Washington after flood damage.

It is a simple concept. Shop local, buy from local shops to keep the local economy alive. And the initiative has support from large multinational companies too.

Throughout July, American Express is encouraging everyone to support local shops. It is running an initiative for July in encouraging you to ‘shop small’. Register your Amex card, and spend £10 or more at a local shop. Amex will give you £5 credit per location for up to ten different shops cafes and restaurants. That’s £50 in credits just for shopping locally.

So why don’t you register, organise a Cash Mob in your area and help local businesses survive. After all, the independent shops, cafes and bars are the reason that you love living where you are.

So put some of your money into local businesses, and keep your local community alive.

Image Credit: Queen Anne Heart / Facebook

Eileen is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact Eileen to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.

Do your email newsletters make your customers feel special?

This one certainly does not.  Have a look at these howling errors.

 

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So what is wrong?

The reply address tells me that this is just one of many accounts for this newsletter. The display name could have been customised in a much better way

Capital letters in the title. STOP SHOUTING AT ME!  It never enchants customers.

Dear {First name}} Test your newsletters over and over again across all the different email platforms you can find.  This missing field code is never acceptable.Most newsletter packages have an auto test feature so you can test this before sending any emails out externally

Irrelevant subject matter Vive Unique has no idea at all what my blog is about – Polly Western from Vive Unique should certainly do her research better.

An instant turnoff – and not a credit to the brand at all.  Testing takes minutes and can change customer perception about your brand.  Unfortunately, for me, it will take a long time for me to consider this company in a positive light – no matter how good the product is.

This email was probably sent out to thousands of potential customer from this PR agency, all of which would have had the same reaction to the depersonalised email.  Delete, delete delete.

What a waste of a potentially good campaign that could have brought in sales for the business.

A little preparation, consideration and care before hitting that send button would have made all the difference between a sale or a delete.

Guess which option I chose?

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Fifteen ways to amuse yourself when phone spammers call

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I seem to get more and more unsolicited phone calls nowadays.  In addition to the regular calls telling me I have a virus or malware on my PC, I’m getting more and more calls I don’t want.

I’m bored with just putting the phone down on the callers.

I want to tie up their lines so that they don’t get the chance to call others and annoy them.

So here are a few of the fibs I have told to occupy their time so that they don’t have chance to call you…

 

Annoying the logmein scammers:

  • They call from PC support.  I say yes, I’ve been waiting for an engineer to arrive.  When are you going to get here?
  • They call from Microsoft support.  I engage them with a long conversation asking them which organisation or division they work for, whether they are full time employees, or vendors
  • They call from a Microsoft Partner to say I have a virus.  I tell them they have got through to the reception of a large company and ask them which department they want to be connected to.
  • Another call from a Microsoft support organisation.  I let them talk me through the options and then tell them that I can’t find the ‘Start’ button on my iPad
  • Another call.  I tell them I know a damn sight more than them about messages on the PC that tell where there is a problem and then go into Event viewer and start grilling them on the system messages
  • Yet another call.  These guys don’t give up do they?  This time I start talking about the Workstation and Server service which appear not to be working on this machine.

Callers from a call centre, far far away..

  • As the line clicks through, I say: Hello?  Hello?  Hello?  repeatedly for as long as it takes them to realise that I can’t hear them
  • I carry on having a normal conversation – as through I haven’t realise that the phone has connected

Cold calls

  • If it is a call telling me about a government initiative or discount, I grill them on which initiative or discount, and then spend time tapping the keyboard trying to find the initiative online
  • I tell the caller that I already know about the initiative as I work for the department that is organising the scheme
  • I ask for the name of the company calling and the company offering the discount and then spend time searching for the correct spelling of the company online
  • I tell the caller that I’d love to have new white UPVC windows / conservatory / porch, but I’m not sure how it works with a grade I listed building /court judgement / bankruptcy notices etc.

Surveys:

  • I answer yes to each question until they realise I’ve said yes all the way through the conversation
  • I tell them I’m of a completely different age range / home owner status / financial position to the truth

Photographic studio calls:

  • I was asked whether I wanted a cheap family portrait done.  I said I was single with no family.  He suggested that I had my photo taken with a pet.  I told him I had no pets apart from 2 chickens and I didn’t particularly didn’t fancy having my photo taken with either of them.

I could hear him laughing as he put down the phone…

So sometimes my way of getting rid of cold callers isn’t all that bad.  Perhaps I need to get an answering machine and free up some of my time.  Well what do you know, the phone is ringing again.  Which response shall I use today?…  Open-mouthed smile

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Credit: TheGiantVermin

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Facebook Private messages: Good for social business, good for CRM?

Now brands can use Facebook Direct messaging to respond privately to their customers for a more personalised support experience.

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Facebook has rolled out its new version of Brand pages.  These look like the page familiar to users who have enabled Timeline view. It will also include a feature to improve social CRM – if it gets it right..

Now, when customers interact with the brand, the brand has the opportunity to respond by private message, without the rest of the stream seeing the interaction.

Brands can also respond to individual wall posts through private message, as long as a fan initiates the conversation.

Private messages for pages will be great for brands that want to get open and honest feedback from their customers. Although it is currently only available in Asia, it will be rolled out world wide soon.

Brands need to get their act in gear if they want to take advantage of the 1:1 interaction with their customers.  They need to respond in a positive, and timely way to avoid any negative responses.

Bob Kraut, SVP of advertising and marketing communications for Arby’s, suggested the direct messages may help firms avert comment threads that spiral out of control, causing bad branding.

"This [will] lower the risk and be better for customers in the long run," he said. "There will be more people in the game, and maybe less transparency. But maybe the customer is fine with that. It’s the customer that counts."

Without an effective customer engagement framework in place, and a team to respond to the demands of 24 x 7 complaints and comments, brands might feel that they are not as social as they think they are…

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Coca Cola happiness machine

Aah – this is really sweet…Coca cola has some brilliant ideas to connect with its customers.  This is the happiness machine which only dispense drinks if you can prove you’re a couple.

This is what happened in Istanbul on Valentines day this year…

What a great way to connect with people.  And make folks feel really great about the brand… Kudos to Digital buzz for the find..

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Facebook pages: Really worth the effort?

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These figures from the All Facebook blog, don’t look too good do they?

Companies spend a lot of money creating their Facebook page and are disappointed with the percentage of fans that actually see the page. 

If you’re not actively canvassing likes and comments then your page posts might be disappearing as Facebook scores other pages higher than yours.  The Facebook Edgerank weighting may mean your posts are never seen – even if you have hundreds of fans.

So is it all worth the effort?

Good news, the answer is yes…

If you have a great strategy, you can encourage engagement.  There are ways that you can grow engagement and keep your fans interested. 

  • Post regularly.  Add polls, quizzes and questions to encourage interaction – especially if there is an incentive to answer.
  • Offer a prize for the best answer to the question
  • Encourage creativity, haikus, poems, limericks, tongue twisters
  • Allow posting of user generated content such as photos to the site.
  • Target your audience – encourage people who are more likely to share your page with their friends
  • Celebrate winners.  Fan of the week, etc will encourage further sharing as fans vie for attention

Hardly anyone pays attention to your Facebook posts.  You will miss lots of status updates from your friends, so unless you are really active on your Facebook page, then your fans will miss that activity too.

So if you’re a page administrator, use the page as often as you use your own profile – and keep the engagement going…

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

8 ways to spot the social media snake oil salesmen

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Everyone is a social media expert right?  I mean social media is so pervasive that everyone must know about it?

Wrong…

There are lots of companies just starting in social media and wanting to take their first steps – their first correct steps online.  They need help to get it right.

Unfortunately, there are lots of people who claim to be experts in social media.

They are advising companies on social media implementation without implementing a strategy or a plan.  They don’t have any ROI examples and they don’t have the depth or the breadth of experience to be able to offer balanced advice across the channels.

They don’t even have a plan implemented for their own company…

If you’re looking to hire a social media consultant to help you with your community implementation or social business strategy, there are some things that you can watch for when you’re looking around for a good consultant.

Be wary of anyone that is keen to push you towards one solution such as Facebook for your business.  Facebook is not right for every business, nor is Twitter. Make sure you talk through ALL of the possible choices with someone who knows the features and benefits of each

Watch out for over promotion.  Snake oilers are keen to promote their services over everyone else’s.  Watch what they write about.  If their blog is full of self promotion and self congratulatory posts, avoid them.  If their Twitter feed exhorts you to retweet them all the time, or like their Facebook pages, they are just trying to make themselves look good to other customers.

Look for longevity.  How long have they been working with social media?  Have they got years of experience across different platforms or are they new to the game – and only one step ahead of you? For example, Twitter has been around since 2006 and got popular at SxSW (South by SouthWest conference) in early 2007.  Enthusiasts and early adopters of the technology should have been on Twitter for at least a couple of years.  If you want to find out how long someone has been on Twitter use a tool such as When did you join Twitter to check them out

Personal disclosure.  Social media experts know how much personal and business information to share in their updates.  Whilst talking about business constantly can put people off, so can sharing too much information.  It might be ok for friends to hear their deepest secrets, but it doesn’t look good to businesses looking to hire consultants

Twitter follower / following count.  Lots of Twitter accounts automatically follow back, so some snake oilers follow these accounts to increase their follower count.  Be wary of people who follow thousands of users in the hope of getting a follow back.  The overhead of tracking thousands of followers means that quality engagement can not happen.   I know that tools such as Tweetdeck and Hootsuite can sort followers into lists, but the rest of accounts followed will be ignored

Tools and channels.  Blogs, wikis and forums are equally valid social channels for social engagement.  Your business might thrive with forum based implementation.  Make sure your social media specialist can talk through all of the different forum, wiki and blog options including in-house implementations and proprietary solutions.  Remember, it’s not just about WordPress and Joomla…

Engagement models.  Your snake oiler should be able to discuss engagement best practices, frameworks and crisis plans.  They should also be able to give practical examples of companies in similar to your industry.

Are they ‘walking the walk’?  Is their blog up to date with practical, considered credible posts?  Do they engage with their customers?  Are they practicing what they preach?  Do they understand legal, IP and data protection issues, and more importantly – how to solve them?

Remember – you are the customer.  you don’t have to hire someone when you’re not sure about their experience or credentials.  Ask them why they are proposing this type of solution for you.  Ask for examples, ask for ROI proof.  Check them out, ask others about their credibility.

Look for history.  Look for evidence. Suss out the snake oil salesmen and become more savvy with your social business hiring.

You can then relax and know that you’re in good, safe, social hands…

 

Image credit: Tim & Selena Middleton

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Deeper social engagement: Beneful advertising for dogs

In their efforts to reach more and more customers marketers are using new ways to engage us.  Our pets.

Purina has released an advert for Purina Beneful.  Here’s the link to the original advert on YouTube.  This advert is different as it’s embedded with sounds at a frequency only dogs can hear.   Take a look at the reaction from this dog watching the commercial

The theory is that you engage with your dog, and your dog is engaging with the TV, therefore you’re much more likely to become aware of the adverts too.

And it certainly seems to work.  Dogs around the world are responding not only to the original TV advert, but also to the YouTube videos of dogs responding to the advert. Here’s a dog that drops it’s ball when the TV advert starts, Alsatians respond together, and a pug gets really interested in a laptop playing the Beneful video

Nestle explained how they created the Beneful video with sounds that dogs like:

    • The first is a ‘squeak’ which is similar to the sound dogs’ toys make. Both dogs and people can hear this.
    • The next sound is a high frequency tone, similar to a dog whistle, which humans can barely hear.
    • And the third sound is a soft, high-pitched ‘ping’ which can be heard by dogs and people.

…and judging by the reaction of the dogs in the follow up videos – it does seem to get their attention – and the attention of their owners.    From a social media perspective, getting deeper engagement with your audience is something that brands strive to achieve, and by exploiting the bond that we have with our animals you can ensure deeper audience engagement with the brand.  It’s certainly a great way to further deepen the connection to the brand.

I’m not sure that cats could actually be bothered to engage with the TV to the level that dogs do – although they do seem to enjoy the ipad for cats game.

Thanks goodness not so many cats have thumbs… yet…

 

Eileen is a social business strategist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

 

Networking: Why you need to follow up

I’ve written about the death of the business card before, but I’ll say it again. How many business cards have you collected at a meeting and ignored?

There they are in a growing heap on your desk, or in your drawer.

Gathering dust.

Do you honestly remember the person you met?  Do you know why you took their card?  Do you know what they actually DO?

Have you ever made further contact with any of these people? have you added them to your email contact list?  Are they in your phone memory?

No?? Then why are you keeping their cards?

You need to stay in touch with these people – regardless of the result.  If you don’t get any response from the person – then fine.  At least you made contact.

Networking is only Networking if you keep in contact with the person you met.  it might be through LinkedIn, it might be via email.  At least you kept in touch.  And they might

They might have lost your card.  An email from you makes it easy for them to reconnect with you.

 

imageThey might have some business to give you.  After my trip to the women in business conference in Las Vegas in June, I emailed every contact from every business card I’d received.  At the event, I told them that I would add them to my newsletter so if they forgot to respond to me, then they would get to hear from me every month.  There might be business from making this initial effort.  I know it works because I’ve already been approached about a possible UK / US partnership because I followed up straight after the event!

My approach to this type of networking is simple

I meet someone new, have a chat to them about their business, tell them about what I do

We exchange cards, and I tell them that I’m going to add them to the list to receive my newsletter

I email them shortly after I’ve met them.  I remind them of the conversation we had at the event.  I tell them again what I do as a business putting it into context for their business.

I put their contact details into Outlook

Then I throw their card away

If they respond – all well and good, if they don’t respond, then after a while, I’ll move their contact details into a different contact folder names ‘Inactive’.  If they get in touch after a while, then I still have their details.  but I still throw their cards away…

Following up shows that the customer or the connection matters to you.  You cared enough to get in touch, you cared enough to make the connection.  If you’re running a small business, that new connection could lead to a new piece of business for you.  You never know.

Throwing the card away will get rid of that ever increasing pile on your desk – and might bring you the connection or business opportunity you’ve been looking for…

Image credit: Flickr 

Eileen is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for BusinessContact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.