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February 22, 2017

The Best Twitter Advice I Ever Received

By michaelpace on September 12, 2011

Twitter profile

For the past couple years, much of the chatter and content on/in social networks has been about authenticity, trust, and not being “all about you”.  I am a big promoter of this philosophy, and truly believe this type of open content is the cream that will rise to the top.  But how do you know you are creating authentic sounding and trustworthy content? Or doing it well?

In the Twittersphere, each tweet is often just a moment of thought, sharing, promotion, or piece of silliness.   The roots of context, reliability and sincerity are difficult to ascertain.  Whether you tweet 1-2 times a day or 20-30, people on the other end of your feed build an impression of you.  It might be fair. It might not be.  You may have a different impact than your intent.  You may not realize how often you tweet about your job, promote your workplace, complain, distribute cat videos, or share other’s content.  Or the worst, you could be boring. So how can you tell or at least get an idea of how others see you?

The best twitter advice I ever received: 

Periodically, read through your sent messages and perform a self quality assurance check; a minimum of twenty tweets or a few weeks worth depending on your frequency.

(Paraphrased advice from Jim Storer of the Community Roundtable)

 If you have never done it, open up another browser tab and do it now! (But come back)

  • Be objective about yourself
  • Would you want to read You?
  • Is this the persona you want to portray?
  • What do you really tweet about?
  • Are you boring? Or untrustworthy?

I review my prior month’s worth of tweets usually at the beginning of the following month, religiously.  I block out the time on my calendar (and I am not an organization freak at all – come see my desk at work).  I block it out, because it is important.  If your personal or corporate brand is not important, please skip the rest of this post, I hear there is a new talking fruit video online now.

So what did my twitter feed look like last month (August):

Twitter topics

My thoughts on my own “performance” last month:                                                                 n=518

  • Happy to see General Friend Conversations and Relationship Building as my largest category – these are @ responses or starting conversations with friends or new people
  • Slightly surprised by amount of Twitterchat/Conference tweets from last month, but much of the total came from hosting #CCDemo11 (Prep for call center conference in Oct.)
  • 27% of tweets I consider professional (my blog or event promotion, Constant Contact promotion, retweeting educational material, and Job postings/referrals/retweets)
  • Could promote Constant Contact a bit more
  • I tell people where I am, what I am listening to, and what I am watching a bit too much
  • Qualitatively, I could tweet a bit less from bars after 3 or 4 beers

You need to decide and determine your own balance for yourself and your brand (personal or corporate).  My general theme is to provide edu-taining content while providing a small glimpse into who I am as a person.  The specific goals of my tweets are to;

  1. Establish myself as a Customer Service leader
  2. Become known as a leader in social business
  3. Meet/form relationships with interesting people

While this post has been predominately about me, it’s intention to push you to get introspective about yourself or your brand.  A tweet has a relatively short shelf life on the web, but it only takes a few seconds to create an impression.  That impression can be the difference between people believing you to be authentic/trustworthy and being seen as a corporate shill, fake or boring.

Does anyone know of an easy service to collect information on yourself?  I do a lot this manually.

Let me know if you learn anything about yourselves that you didn’t realize before you reviewed your tweets.

Random helpful twitter resources similar to this topic:

Power 50 Twitter Tips by Chris Brogan

ProBloggers 35 Twitter Tips from 35 Twitter Users

Social Media Quickstarter for Twitter

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

 

 

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

Social Customer Service – A completely different animal (associate)?

By michaelpace on June 12, 2011

Social Customer Service Team

For the last 30 years, traditional customer service recruiting, training, core skills and performance management have not changed dramatically.   Service professionals and their management teams have been able to hone the delivery of customer needs through various channels.  But are the same attributes that make a great traditional customer service representative applicable for Social Customer Service?

Traditional customer channels & attributes:

Attributes of Social Customer Service

But are these the same attributes needed for superior social customer service?  Let’s look at responsibilities & qualifications of a social customer service representative.

Responsibilities:

  • Monitor social media outlets/networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs.) for customer service related inquiries, complaints, concerns
  • Organize customer service inquiries, concerns, and responses for record and reference track the types of questions that appear on social media outlets
  • Distribute and/or partner with various  internal resources to ensure social media generated issues are resolved and communicated
  • Partner with various internal (possibly external) resources to update customers on promotions, technical advancements, general content, issues or changes
  • Create, curate, and repurpose content to share with social communities
  • Facilitate the Voice of the Customer (Social Media) to various internal departments and individuals to enhance the customer experience and product strategy

Qualifications:

  • Excellent writing and phone skills
  • Strong grasp of the structure, purpose, and tone of social networks
  • Ability to think quickly, and formulate responses within a short turnaround time
  • Ability to communicate on social networks in a professional, yet personable, way
  • Basic understanding of Marketing practices
  • Ability to work cross functionally
  • Flexibility
  • Comfortable presenting organization’s values, positioning and persona potentially to the  entire social universe
  • Able to “Exercise Responsible Freedom

social customer service team attributes

I think we are dealing with a completely different animal.  So if we are dealing with something different, what should we consider changing?

  • New job titles/roles/descriptions
  • Recruiting – should it need to be socially sourced?
  • On-board training – inclusion of marketing, product, service, HR
  • Core skill development
  • Career progression paths
  • Performance Management
  • Continuous education models

Social Customer Service Team

Since this is such a new arena, all comments and thoughts are very much appreciated.