Category Archives: Customer Relationships

Digital marketing platform fundamentals customer relationship Eileen brown amastra

Online marketing platform fundamentals

Digital marketing is a huge subject and getting to grips with the various platforms available can take some time as  you move from traditional marketing to digital marketing. Gaining platform expertise is a fast moving target. Channels come and go and are the darling of the marketing world one month, and out of favour the next.  There are a few commonalities however that cross all platforms which broadly cover a range of functionality. At a high level, here are the three main platforms that you will encounter in digital marketing on a day-to-day basis

Customer relationship platform (CRM)

Customer relationship platforms have existed for  many years. They are mainly focused on serving the customer in support issues. The sales team keep details of their prospects, leads and customers to help them manage relationships with potential customers. In support teams CRM platforms are used to gather statistics on which products or services generate the most customer complaints, and how long issues take to get resolved. Before the advent of web 2.0 – the interactive web – CRM systems centred around phone calls and postal mail. Today they integrate with live chat and email systems, and social media platforms.

The strength of CRM systems are their ability to collate data for analysis and automate some functions such as adding AI chatbots to resolve simple customer questions. If a business is not consistent with recording accurate contact information and records, the CRM system will not help the marketer.  The CRM  could be configured to measure certain details which means cross referencing, certain reports with results captured in other systems. A spreadsheet could help you significantly in tying these insights together.

Content management system (CMS)

The content management system is used to publish content, manage, schedule it, and organize it for end users. They initially became popular as blogging platforms became important to the business. In enterprises, corporate bloggers needed systems that would store text, video, sounds, images, and other assets. They also included workflow management such as scheduling and had a direct connection to the channel in which they were publishing.

Content management systems often have features that assist the administrators of such systems. There are tools to change the appearance of a blog or schedule when a blog post will appear. It also can incorporate spam detection and blocking tools, or anti-hacking features. It could also incorporate multi-user options, so that the publisher of the content may enlist moderators to help handle the steady stream of comments from Internet visitors.

Social or sharing platform

Social or sharing platforms are software systems designed in order to promote or share content from users to each other, and encourage online conversation between users. Generally their features tend to  include:

A user profile with privacy settings, so that the user can control who sees the content. The online identity of the user can be carefully crafted to suit your marketing goals (think of the Compare the Market Meerkat social profile of Alexandr Orlov)

A composing or editing feature, that allows the user to create the content, edit it, upload it, and then share it with other users.

The ability to share content. This could be controlled by the platform or by the user, and allows user-created content to be seen by other online users.

Larger platforms can include a component that enables advertising and promotion of content

Social channels and their advertising capabilities are central tools for marketing efforts which means that marketers need to be cognisant of the platform in order to use the platforms effectively. You need to make certain that you choose the right channel to get you the best online reach.

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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.

LinkedIn announces invite only LinkedIn Contacts

LinkedIn is moving even closer to becoming your one stop shop for managing your business relationships. It has been adding features to contacts for some time now with tags and notes fields so you can use LinkedIn as a CRM tool.

imageNow with its introduction of LinkedIn contacts you can bring all of your contacts together from your address books, emails and calendars.

Not only that, but you can remind yourself of the last contact you had with your connection before you go to meet them. Currently this facility is in beta in the connections Notes field, but this re-vamp brings threads together in one UI.

You can now organise your contacts by their job titles, and sources – as well as managing your saved connections.

Existing contact information — such as tagged and location specific information are still there and there is an option to de-duplicate address book imports with the ‘potential merges’ tab.image

When a connection is highlighted, there is the option to see all related information about the contact.

You can see your recent conversations with the contact, any meeting that you arranged – as well as notes about the connection.

You can set reminders about meetings, document how you met the connection – important when you’re managing hundreds of connections and tag the contact from one new tabbed interface.

Information about your connections now appears on your contacts page.  You can now see recommendations, job changes, birthdays and other opportunities to get in touch with your connections.

Register your interest at LinkedIn to be added to the waitlist

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.

How to use LinkedIn for CRM: Tags

LinkedIn has a little known feature that allows you to keep track of your connections giving you a set of rich data options so you can manage. Here we look at the power of categorising your connections using the tags feature.

imageYou can categorise your connections using up to 200 tags that you define. These tags are hidden from your connections so you can use names that are relevant to you.

To get to your tags select Connections under the contact menu. This brings up your list of contacts.

You can organise your connections by Tags, Last Name, Company, location, Industry or by Recent Activity. Recent activity highlights your new connections which are useful for updating your CRM information.image

Select Manage next to the Tags link when collapsed you can see all of the LinkedIn defined and user defined tags.

You can add and delete your own tags to the list.

If someone has asked to be connected to you on LinkedIn and has stated on the request that they are a friend, then they will be listed under the ‘friend’ tag. 

Colleagues, classmates and partners are populated in this way too.

 

If you want to add a connection to a specific tag, select the person you want to tag and click on Edit Tags:

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You then have the option to add your own defined taqs and edit the list of tags for that connection.

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Your list of tags makes your connections easier to manage when you are organising your contacts. From my list on the left, I can email all 8 of my connections at Menta to talk to them about a local event that they may be interested in.

I can ask questions of a specific subset of connections by emailing my own user defined groups and connect with a few on my contacts at a time.

In addition to location based searching, Tagging is a powerful way of sorting and organising the connections you have. If you have not used tags from the start, use your new connections, under the Recent Activity link to tag your recent connections.

Managing your contacts in this way will make LinkedIn much more relevant to you and help you manage and organise your contacts much more effectively.

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.

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.