Megan McQ’s Musings

Archive for the ‘WOM’ Category

My GPS busted a few weeks ago on the way to a lunch with Patrick Ashamalla from A Brand New Way. Needless to say, locating the office via Blackberry while driving was interesting.

arm

Finally, I get around to calling the GPS company to see what we can do to fix the problem.

Unfortunately, when we have products that break, we’re unable to speak directly with the person who invented this product, nor speak with the manufacturer of the device. I’m going to have to speak with a customer service representative. Ouch.

Thankfully, I realized a few years ago that customer service representatives are humans. (Profound, I know). As such, I try to treat interactions with customer service representatives as I would any other client or acquaintance I meet.

Just like any introduction, the first thing we do is say hello and exchange names. Thus, after getting off hold (the typical 45 minute wait), I obtain and remember the name of the person with whom I am speaking.

“Hi, thank you for calling Broken GPS, Inc. This is Josephine, how may I help you today?”

“Hey there, Josephine! How is your day going so far?”

…This is typically where a stunned pause takes place…

“…Um, well, I’m doing alright, how about yourself?”

“I’m doing okay. I’m sure it’s been another long day, huh?”

…This is where they realize I actually, genuinely, care what they have to say.

“Um, well, yes, it has been a long day. Thank you for asking. But, what can I do to help you?”

…Note that by this point, the tone of their voice has changed completely. Just as I genuinely cared about establishing a positive working relationship with Josephine, she also genuinely wants to do her best to help me.

…This is where I instill my three rules for solving whatever problem I’m having with the company/product/bill/etc.  in question:

1. Recognize that it’s not Josephine’s fault that my product is broken and that I’ve been on hold for far too long.

2. Understand that Josephine has typically annoying company policies that will limit the amount of help she will be able to give me, because she has to follow them.

3. Know that I can not get any resolution on the situation without Josephine’s help.

In other words, I’m going to catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Hopefully, Josephine doesn’t have 1,000 eyes or 6 legs. But even if she did, I’d still need her to be on my side to help me resolve my situation.

After a deep breath:

“Well, Josephine, I was hoping we could work together to figure out a way to solve this issue I’m having with my GPS which happened to stop charging a few weeks ago…”

Being genuine in my interactions with customer service representatives has been a mutually pleasant experience (note: except for long hold times), and has typically led to getting the problem resolved (in the way I wanted it to be resolved).

If at any point there seems to be a difficulty or lapse in communication, I try to make a comparison we will both understand:

“You see Joesiphine, it’s as if my GPS was like a Happy Meal, except I didn’t get the french fries, but I got two toys…”

I mean, who hasn’t been to McDonalds?

Anyway, while I was on hold, I had a lot of time to think about companies who are using social media to their advantage. I also had a fair amount of time to listen to the elevator music version of ‘Reflection’ from the Disney movie ‘Mulan’ and finish my goat cheese enchiladas (they were delicious, thank you for asking).

Point being is there are several advantages to using social media within a customer service realm:

1. Proactive is Powerful: Instead of companies having to be reactive in their approach with customer service, companies who use Twitter to proactively search and resolve customer complaints almost put the company in charge of the situation. They are able to resolve situations before they get out of hand.

2. Enhanced Online Reputation: Also, I’m willing to bet that because they conduct the customer service through a social media platform, the company is more likely to have the individual who ‘complained’ about the service turn around and speak as an advocate of the company once their issue is resolved. In essence, the company has a greater opportunity to have a larger, more positive, digital word-of-mouth conversation. Social media makes it possible for individuals to interact with a brand and then disseminate their (hopefully) good experiences with the company to their friends and followers. The potential for having an increase in brand awareness through social media customer service is profound.

3. Genuine Human-to-Human Connection: It’s beginning to bring us back to genuine human interaction. Companies and brands can humanize their brand and make it easier for people to identify with who they are.

image via active rain

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The Blog-off contest at Community Marketing Blog ended on the 30th of May.

Over the course of the two week competition, I ended up posting 3 times. These posts ranged in scope. One covered mobile advertising (or ‘app’vertising). It discussed the recent trends in the mobile marketing industry and how companies can increase brand awareness through effective mobile applications.

The second post talked about journalism in the social media era. I talked about how traditional journalism is being replaced by citizen journalism and how I thought this was a good thing in terms of marketing and branding campaigns. Citizen journalism increases transparency and strength of message from influencer bloggers.

My third post talked about the importance of digital monitoring due to digital WOM (word of mouth). It also touched on how companies must understand their online digital conversation before they engage their customers online.

I learned a lot from this competition. I’m proud of the conversation that was generated in the comments as well as how many people read the posts!

In my next post, I’ll talk about some of the ‘blogger best practices’ and my strategy for the competition.

Also, I’ll write a post and let you know who the winners of the contest are. If I am picked to be a permanent writer to the blog, I’ll have a press release with my bio sent out to 1+ million people on Linked-In and other prominent industry blogs. It will be very exciting.

Notice: This blog is not politically affiliated. This blog post does not support nor condone the political initiatives of any political party. This post is using the Web 2.0 features of the present administration as a positive case study of new media use.

Now that stakeholders have the opportunity to engage with one another on the Digital WoM forefront, it is the responsibility of the company to react to what the stakeholders are saying.

It is important to note that by “react” I don’t mean ‘talk back to’ or ‘defend your company’ to these stakeholders. By “react” I mean be cognizant of the stakeholder’s concerns and allow these concerns to be an element of future decision making.

Take for example, the Obama Administration. Obama understood that his stakeholders wanted an increased voice in the government. His campaign acknowledged this desire and encouraged individuals to add their own unique perspective on his campaign platforms through the submission of user generated content (UGC) on social media platforms.

Following his election into office, he established a White House blog that allowed for users to submit their opinions. He promised that the government would increase communication, transparency and participation. So far, the Administration has sought to uphold this goal, despite a few set backs.

My point? If the obsolete, stagnant and Mezosoic-esque government (see fig. 1.1) can acknowledge the needs of its stakeholders and respect the voice of its public, why can’t you learn about the platforms and their implications for your company?

Fig. 1.1

Fig. 1.1

Uncle Bob: Hey Meg.

Me: What’s up?

Uncle Bob: What’s Twitter?

Companies all over are asking themselves this very question. And that’s a good thing.

twitter-future-man-cartoon-med

With millions of people on the Web every day, there’s no doubt that people are talking about your company; their experiences, their praises, their critiques, their general opinion about your awesomeness, etc.

In sum, the digital word-of-mouth (WoM) conversation is already out there. Which is why it’s great that companies are echoing Uncle Bob when they ask, “What’s Twitter?”

It’s a difficult task to learn about new platforms that are revolutionizing the way companies do business. Especially because the new media industry moves so quickly.

If your company isn’t already in the new media space…how can you catch up?

The first step would be to learn a) What new media is, and; b) How the ‘important’ platforms function. This step takes time, but as with every new venture, it starts with a single step.

It’s important to note that it could be potentially devastating to your company’s brand to join the platforms and start using them, especially if you don’t know with whom you are conversing.

That’s why it’s great to ask questions.

UPDATE: 05.05.09, Ragan.com (a prominent communicator guide) posted an article by Geoff Livingston at The Buzz Bin on how to introduce your company to social media. The post sites that forming an internal blog to share and recommend sites privately may be a good way to become familiar with the sphere.

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Word-of-mouth (WOM) is the strongest influence on consumer purchasing decisions. Take for example a conversation you had with Uncle Bob last Thanksgiving:

Uncle Bob: You know what really grinds my gears? Nationwide Oil Change, Co.

You: Why, Uncle Bob?

Image of "Uncle Bob"

Image of "Uncle Bob"

Uncle Bob: Well, there was just nothing special about my oil change from last week. I took my car into my local branch for their signature service but they took nearly 6 hours to give me my car back. It was quite a horrible experience.

Now, apart from Uncle Bob’s Minnesota accent, there’s just nothing funny about this story–especially in terms of Nationwide Oil Change Co.’s bottom line.  While you had no personal interaction with Nationwide, you’re less inclined to frequent the store. The next time you need your oil changed, you’re more willing to try out the no-name shop as opposed to the large oil change chains (say that 3x fast).

New media tools such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are creating new ways for customers to disseminate WOM. These tools, then, could have potentially damaging reputational implications for your brand, even if 9/10 customers have amazing experiences with your company.

One customer with a poor experience could tweet about it and could potentially reach hundreds of people. These people could become less likely to invest in your brand because ultimately, they trust their friends’ opinions over paid advertisements.

The point is, new media is changing the way companies interact with their key publics. There has been a paradigm shift from one-way traditional advertising and marketing to a more dynamic and integrated approach. Companies must leverage their online presence to engage with their public and increase brand recognition.

Of course, nothing in life is that simple. Which is why I’m writing this blog. I’d like to help de-mystify the new media space as well as analyze new trends and platforms from a reputation management standpoint.

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