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.

18% of brands don’t listen to their social customers

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42% of social media users talk to brands

… and 35% of users post information about a brand on social media sites.

There’s a lot of engagement. 

But all this engagement is totally wasted if you don’t know what is being said about you.  Do you care about what is happening online?  Do you have a listening strategy?  No? well, you’re not alone.

If you’re one of the 18% of brands that doesn’t have a brand monitoring strategy in place.  What should you do? 

70% of marketers have little idea about that people are saying about their brands or their clients brands.  They don’t have an idea how many free and paid for tools are available.  I’ve put together a list of  a few free, paid and crowdsourcing tools which you can use to listen to the conversation:

Free

Paid

Crowdsourcing

Backtype Alterian Crowdspring
How Sensible Hootsuite Pro Fold It
Social Mention Lithium Threadless
Tinker Meltwater buzz Mechanical Turk
Thinkup Onalytica Mob4hire
Who is Talking Peerindex WeArehunted
  PeopleBrowsr  
  Radian6  
  Sysomos  

There are many more tools, with new tools evolving and disappearing each month so this list is not exhaustive.

But having a list of tools is not enough.  You also need to have a listening plan that deals with the appropriate actions to take when brand mentions occur.  And if you have a listening plan, you also need an engagement framework in place to deal with the data:

Discovery: Blog post, Tweet, News article

Evaluation: Positive, Neutral, Critical, Anger

Assessment: General enquiry, Dissatisfaction, Criticism, Rage

Response: Success story, correction, Facts

Considerations: Timeliness, Tone and Manner, Acknowledgement

When brands listen actions happen.  Brands shouldn’t wait until a social crisis occurs before they respond.  They need to respond promptly and they need to listen to the customer.

Otherwise, their messages will fall on deaf ears…

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.

Image credit: ky olsen