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February 22, 2017

Archives for July 2011

Does Bon Jovi know Customer Service & Social Business?

By michaelpace on July 28, 2011Bon Jovi Boston                                          Bon Jovi pontificating after a blown speaker fuse during their Boston show in March – image via @chickswguitars

If you are like me, you probably do some of your best thinking in the shower or on your commute to work.  The other day, while doing a little commute dancing and jamming to Bad Medicine, the greatest 80’s song of all time, I had an epiphany for my Social Support team.  That specific idea needs to be fleshed out a bit more, but I also came to the realization that both in the shower and on my commute I am usually rocking out to some tunes.  Maybe I was smarter in the 80’s, or hair band music releases brain motivating endorphins, or maybe, even it’s the slightest possible chance, Bon Jovi’s music has subliminal hidden meaning for Customer Service and Social Business rockstars?   Ok, probably not, but if I am to be a true scientist of how to deliver superior Customer and Social Service, I will need to investigate this possibility.

 

Bad Medicine

On The Surface: This is uber quintessential cheesy 80’s hair band song, presumably about a woman’s love being like a drug.

Questionable Quote: Bon Jovi concert

I ain’t got a fever got a permanent disease
And it’ll take more than a doctor to prescribe a remedy
And I got lots of money but it isn’t what I need
Gonna take more than a shot to get this poison outta me
And I got all the symptoms, count ’em 1, 2, 3

Possible Deeper Meaning: All the money in the world sometimes cannot get a customer to the right person to handle their problem or poison.  So why not enable every representative of your organization the ability to help a customer?  Organizations that focus and exercise strong knowledge management practices/processes provide the tools for assistance regardless of where the call ends up.

I’ll Be There For You

On The Surface: Man treats incredible woman poorly, and is really regretful of his decisions.

Questionable Quote:Bon Jovi stage

I guess this time you’re really leaving
I heard your suitcase say goodbye
And as my broken heart lies bleeding
You say true love in suicide

You say you’re cried a thousand rivers
And now you’re swimming for the shore
You left me drowning in my tears
And you won’t save me anymore

Now I’m praying to God
You’ll give me one more chance, girl

I’ll be there for you
These five words I swear to you
When you breathe I want to be the air for you
I’ll be there for you

Possible Deeper Meaning: I think Jon may be talking about retention here, and isn’t that the primary goal of all Customer Service operations?  In particular, I believe he is talking about your service’s availability and its role in customer retention.  Do you have a good understanding when your customers are using your product or service?  Do you need 24/7/365 human support?  Should you outsource (domestically, near shore or offshore) to create flexibility and availability?  Do you have resources that your customers can access on demand, such as knowledge centers or FAQ’s, tutorials, videos, taped webinars, or branded / unbranded communities?  Are you there for your customers and are those 6 words you’ll swear you’ll do?

Just Older (a personal favorite)

On The Surface: About a man who is getting older, but still doesn’t consider himself old and useless.

Questionable Quote:Bon Jovi closeup

I like the bed I’m sleeping in 
It’s just like me, it’s broken in 
It’s not old – just older 
Like a favorite pair of torn blue jeans 
This skin I’m in it’s alright with me 
It’s not old – just older 

Possible Deeper Meaning: Jon and crew could relate to phone support.  Yes, it is our industry’s most familiar technology for customers to reach out to companies with issues, comments or questions.  While older, it is still the best way to create a bond between customers and companies.  Companies that monitor beyond compliance quality, and allow their phone representatives go “off script” or even (wait for it) let them be humans have the potential to really connect and build relationships with their customers.  Great conversations lead to relationships, and relationships lead to retention.  Yes, there are a lot of new and shiny ways to connect with your customers, but you phone support is still your relationship foundation.

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead

On The Surface: Rock band wants to live life to its fullest

Questionable Quote:Bon Jovi concert start

Until I’m six feet under 
I don’t need a bed 
Gonna live while I’m alive 
I’ll sleep when I’m dead 
Till they roll me over 
And lay my bones to rest 
Gonna live while I’m alive 
I’ll sleep when I’m dead 

Possible Deeper Meaning: Bon Jovi must also be his band’s Community and Social Media Customer Service Manager, because we all know these roles in organizations have minimum sleep qualifications.  In an informal poll (really informal), the average Community and Social Media Customer Service Manager sleeps 6.4 hours per week.  They are usually recognizable by their iPhone with Hootsuite running constantly, and tucked under their pillow.  Communities and social networks operate 24/7/365, and can operate in a self service manner, but all the best ones require consistent management.  And by consistent management, I do not meaning just monitoring.  Community and social business require content creation, curation and connection.  It is no wonder Jon just figures he’ll sleep when he is dead.

Livin’ on a Prayer

One the Surface: Fictional couple (Tommy & Gina) struggling make ends meet and maintain their relationship

Questionable Quote:Bon Jovi screen

There are no questionable quotes in this song, as it is the most fun song of all time (line in sand has been officially drawn).  Try not to sing this:

We gotta hold on ready or not
You live for the fight when it’s all that you’ve got
Whoa, we’re half way there
Whoa oh, livin’ on a prayer
Take my hand and we’ll make it I swear
Whoa oh, livin’ on a prayer

Possible Deeper Meaning: Bon Jovi clearly knows how hard it is to be a Customer Service and Social Business superstar.  This is just pure entertainment.  So if you are Community or Social Support Manager, take a few minutes and get your rock horns ready for some head banging.

In conclusion, apparently it is scientifically impossible to tell if Bon Jovi is subliminally singing about Customer Service and/or Social Business or not.  I suggest more research needs to be done in this area.  I may check to see if this scientific discovery can fit into the National Debt debate going on right now (should only be a few million for me to travel and follow the band).

If you have put up with me this far, thank you for letting me have a little fun and break away from the hardcore Customer Service, Social, Business Process Management & Leadership focus.  While there are things to be learned here, we all need to take a summer vacation from our norms sometimes.  Rock on Soul Brothers!

 

Images by @chickswguitars my partner in crime at Bon Jovi’s Boston 2011 show

For an amazing collection of pictures and videos from the Boston 2011 show created by @chickswguitars

 

 

Shocker: Great Customer Service is not for everyone

By michaelpace on July 18, 2011

Twitter Conversation

Great Customer service is not for everyone.

There I said it.  My fellow customer service leaders may hate me for saying it, but it is true.

After reading a great post on B.L. Ochman’s blog “Google’s missing link: customer service. It has none.”, we began engaging in a conversation over twitter.

My heart agrees with B.L. about the importance of great customer service as a key differentiator for many companies, and my head knows many of the most profitable companies in the world are not customer service focused.  Take a look at the most profitable companies of 2010 from CNNMoney, I don’t see any customer service superstars.

Most Profitable Companies

Don’t forget, for companies, customer service is not the end goal.  The end goal is for the company to win, and for most companies, that usually directly ties back to share of wallet, profitability and/or shareholder value.  Exxon, Microsoft, Walmart, BP and IBM do not inspire customer service leaders or customers, but evidence shows that they are successful (at least monetarily).

B.L. brought up a good point around Apple.  I do not think Apple provides a great customer service experience, I think they provide a great customer experience.  I think they provide a great customer experience through design and usability.  The Genius Bar is nice, but if I have to go all the way to an Apple Store to get something fixed and speak to someone, I would not consider that a great customer service experience.

So does Google need great customer service? I do not think they do.  Their core competencies are about search technologies and other work tools.  Just as in Jim Collins’ book Good to Great, Google can be the best in the world at search.  Customer service does not fit into their hedgehog.

Now all this being said, customer service can be a huge differentiator for many companies; it is part of the mission and value proposition of the company that employs me.  Superior service can keep customers loyal in high competition and commodity markets.  Incredible service can make it easier for your customers to spend more with you each month/year.  With the addition of social business and media tools, fantastic customer service can help you acquire customers via word of mouth promotion.   Delivering “awe inspiring” customer service is critical to many companies, especially small businesses, but I do not believe it is right for everyone.

 

Do you agree with B.L.?

Does Google need to provide good customer service to remain a top performing company?

When does customer service matter, and when does it not?

Straight from the Unicorn’s Mouth

By michaelpace on July 11, 2011

Unicorn's mouth

“How do you guys do Social Media Customer Service and do it well?”

I might be paraphrasing, but that is probably the most common question that has been asked of me during the past 2 years at Customer Service and Call Center conferences.  In this post, I thought I would have my team at Constant Contact give their top tips to executing Social Media Customer Service and how to manage these team members.  So straight from the Unicorn’s Mouth*

Top Tips from Community Host & Social Support Associate Jarrad:

  1. Response Time – Customers on Social Networks are looking for answers fast, especially on Twitter. Minimize any delay in a response. We try to respond to any @ or general Constant Contact comment within 2-5 minutes.
  2. Keep the Customer Informed – If you are experiencing downtime or a problem, address it immediately. Be proactive and honest. This is a great way to build brand loyalty.
  3. Content – It is not all about reacting to customer issues.  You can help them before they even contact you.  Try to provide content that your customers want and are interested in reading or watching.  If you see an article that relates to your client base send it out to them
  4. Support – Not all answers can be solved by a simple tweet. There may be some back and forth, but try to solve the problem online rather than having them call in.
  5. Call The Customer – If an issue cannot be resolved online, don’t pass it off to your phone support. Make the call yourself and do as much as possible to resolve the incident at that moment.
  6. Research – If a customer has a blanket statement like, “I hate your company” see if you can find out what has prompted this tweet. Check their website or email address and see if you can locate the customer’s account. Find out the “Why” before responding.
  7. Ask for Feedback – If someone is considering canceling their account or stopping business with you, rather than leaving it alone, ask them for feedback. Not only does this show you value their opinion; it can also help retain customers.
  8. Personality – Try not to sound too robotic or stale when answering customers. Be social. Talk to them casually and personally and at the same time, keep it professional.
  9. Experiment – Social Media is still new and trying new ways to interact with your customers is important.  You never know what will work and what will not until you try it.
  10. Visibility – Be aware that everything you say on a Social Network has the potential of being seen by millions of people. Don’t respond to trolls and don’t post anything your company would be embarrassed by.
  11. Empathize – Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. (How would you like your favorite company or brand to address your concerns?)

Top Tips from Community Host & Social Support Associate Marissa

Acknowledge as soon as possible

  • You don’t need to have an answer readily available, but at least if you acknowledge you saw the tweet or post and you’re looking into it, people can be very appreciative.

Be empathetic

  • Try to put yourself in the shoes of the person you’re reaching out to. You may not agree with what they are saying or have ever been in the situation, but at least try to understand.

Don’t argue

  • If someone says something horrible about your company, don’t start a fight and tell them that they’re wrong. Something as simple as “Was there something I could help with?” can go a long way.  I even had a Blog Post written about it!

Curate content you know about

  • Don’t just tweet articles you haven’t read, make sure you can answer questions on them if need be.

Know your audience and your brand

  • Make sure the content you’re curating for them will provide value.  Don’t waste their precious time with useless noise.  Find information they can use, find entertaining or can learn from.
  • Different customer service brands have different voices, you need to know yours.  For instance, Zappos and Tiffany & Co. provide great service, but have very different voices.

Thank your followers

  • Whether someone re-tweets what you say or if someone gives you great content, tell them thanks.

Don’t be afraid to have conversations

  • Don’t just answer questions.  Start a conversation with those that ask questions.  You’ll be surprised what you may find out.  I was helping someone the other day and even though they weren’t local, they told me about a local restaurant to check out!

Top Tips for managing Jarrad and Marissa by Ros

  • Transitions between team members is critical. If you have multiple team members tweeting or managing social support, the customers shouldn’t be impacted by a shift change.
  • “Social Influence” is an indicator but not the goal. From the help side, your number of followers and retweets are not the primary metrics. Your Klout or influence is AN indicator not THE indicator. Socializing this with your internal team and executives is important.
  • Trust is key. As a manager, you must trust that your team’s intentions are good and support their risk taking.  Social Media is changing everyday and some mistakes will be made.  It is important for your team to know that you support them even if they stumble.
  • Hiring curious people is key. Social Media is fast moving and having people eager to learn is more important than having people who have all the answers.

 

*Unicorns are prettier than horses

Can Location Based Services provide the next great WOW Customer Service Moment?

By michaelpace on July 6, 2011

Future of Location Based Services and Customer ServiceWhile sitting on the white sand beaches of Cancun last week*, I was thinking about Foursquare’s announcement that they have reached 10,000,000 users.  10 MILLION users is not chump change.  Now when you include other Location Based Services like Facebook Places (30-40M+), SCVNGR (1M+) and Gowalla (~2M), and then you add the users of “Whatcha Doing LBS Apps” like GetGlue, Foodspotting, Soundtracking and Instagram (8M+), you can begin to see the magnitude of open, vocal and sharing users (or customers).   Furthermore, I began thinking about how the Customer Service world can leverage this technology to retain and thrill customers.

To date, much of the buzz around Location Based Services has been around its “Marketing” applications, and directed to “Marketing” professionals.  But we all know incredible customer service and word of mouth advertising was the first Marketing (I doubt those of the oldest profession [Ahem] had marketing departments and budgets).  So if you don’t understand and use LBS applications, it is time for Customer Service to get on the bandwagon because the possibilities are near endless.

Location Based Services allow users to indicate where they are, what they are doing and what they are seeing, most often using the GPS in a mobile device, and providing the access to comment via their social networks (such as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and email).  Having this real time information and sentiment of where someone is, what they are doing and sometimes how they feel are tremendous tools for Customer Service organizations.

Below are a few scenarios or use cases of how LBS tools can be used to create WOW Customer Service Moments:

Industry: Retail

Tool: Foursquare/Gowalla

Scenario: Customer walks into a large retail establishment, such as @wholefoods or @bestbuy, and checks in using Foursquare or Gowalla and tweets their status.  Leveraging real time monitoring tools, a Social Customer Service Agent could acknowledge, thank and offer their services within minutes of arrival and become a mobile concierge for the customer.  If the customer has a question of where an item is located in the store, or if they need more information about a product, the customer service agent is available and ready for their inquiries.  It would only take one well executed use to secure that customer and potentially blow away their expectations.  This example also works well for hospitality and event management industries.

 

Industry: SAAS – Software as a Service

Tool: GetGlue

Scenario: (Actual case) Customer indicates that they are “Thinking about creating their next Constant Contact Email Marketing newsletter” on GetGlue from their iPad. (Note: I am the Director of Customer Support for Constant Contact), and promotes their status through Facebook and Twitter.   My Social Customer Support team uses Hootsuite to monitor Constant Contact mentions (and variations) in Twitter.  Upon seeing the tweet, we will introduce ourselves, our handle (@CTCTHelp) and offer assistance if case they ever need it.  About 20 minutes later, we received a response from our customer thanking us for our responsiveness and availability.  This particular customer did not use our services for this particular email, but they did follow us.  By following our help handle, we can give real time alerts to new product release offerings and issues, receive curated, relevant content to small businesses and links back into our most popular community discussions.

Industry: Yours (doesn’t make a difference)

Tool: SCVNGR

Scenario: SCVNGR attempts to create a game layer on top of the world by using your location to mark a place where a “Challenge” is completed.  For example, a customer can check-in to their local taqueria using SCVNGR, and complete a challenge of creating a foil goose with their burrito wrapper to earn points towards possible deals or honors.  Schools and universities are using this challenge/gaming format to develop new and interesting ways to educate their students.  Customer Service organizations can borrow the same idea as schools to educate their associates on social business, social media tools and how to use these collaboratively internally and externally.  The future’s most powerful organizations will be the ones that integrate social’s best practices and disciplines throughout their daily activities to help the customer of today, and more importantly the one of tomorrow.  Understanding your customers and serving where they are is a sure way to thrill them.

 

What other ways can Customer Service organizations leverage Location Based Services to create WOW Moments?

Location Based Services and other social tools are blurring the Customer Service/Marketing line more and more each day.  Do we need to rethink how we structure our organizations to deliver retention and customer satisfaction goals?  Do these tools help make the case?

 

For an incredible, inclusive resource on Location Based Services and Marketing, get in line and pre-order Michael Schneider and Aaron Strout’s book Location Based Marketing for Dummies.

(*Yes, I manage communities and customer service organizations and do take vacations – it is possible)

Note to my hardcore Customer Service brethren: Before I get a boat load of comments and replies about how we need to get the basics of customer service right first, cool your jets.  I know that our discipline still requires more consistency in delivering to expectation, and know that if we are not looking and moving forward, we will be forever behind.  It’s the balance that we all must strike.