Customers Rock!

A blog about customers, their experiences, and how businesses can make sure their customer experiences rock!

Archive for August, 2007

Conversation and Customer Support

Posted by Becky Carroll on August 30, 2007

at-sign.jpg (This is the second part of the article series Conversation: Customer Support in a Web 2.0 World.  Today’s post focuses on the use of blogging and other Web 2.0 tools in customer support.)

Using Blogs to Engage in the Support Conversation
Business blogs are becoming more common, and they can be leveraged very nicely for product support. The biggest potential with support blogs is to proactively share information with customers about upcoming releases, new functionality, and product plans. Customers can subscribe to blogs, so they can become a quick and easy way to get the word out when a fix to a common problem is available. Some organizations with this type of blog are the following:

  • Novell, used strictly for support with multiple authors and categories
  • Dell, used for general company info, customer feedback, and directing specific inquiries to the support site
  • Macromedia, which uses blogs as a quick way of getting hot topic information out to their communities on a daily basis as well as a way to get customer feedback on upcoming product features.  Macromedia includes links to both employee as well as customer blogs on their site.

Blogging can be a very powerful tool for customer support to use with its customers. There are a few areas which should be addressed up front, before starting a support blog.

Authors
It should be decided how many authors will be part of the blog and who will do the writing. It is best to choose authors who have good written skills in addition to a passion for communicating with customers. A product support blog can be written by one author or could have many contributors. It is great to get product development engineers involved in guest posts on occasion, as this is great for customer trust.

Commenting
It is optional to allow comments on blogs. However, the only way a blog can be used as a conversation is when customers are allowed to leave their feedback or questions. That said, it is recommended to refer customers with immediate technical issues to the proper support channel. It is also important to respond to customer comments.Get engaged, be open, and invite feedback and even assistance from your customers!

Simplicity
The best blogs are often those which are the most simple in structure. Blogs with too much information in the sidebars can become confusing. Likewise, support blogs should not be the medium for the marketing department to advertise constantly, although they can be carefully used to educate customers on new offerings in a relevant manner.

Personal Touch
Blogs are a great way to keep the personal touch in conversations with customers. Including photos of bloggers, as well as the right amount of personal information, helps customers put a face with the company and encourages interaction.

Other Tools for Engagement
Communities
Microsoft has created many different communities which incorporate the use of blogs, forums, and wikis. Sean O’Driscoll did a wonderful presentation on this at the SSPA Best Practices Conference. One of their developer communities, Channel 9 incorporates video casts, wikis, forums, as well as a “playground” to engage customers in conversation.

Large communities such as the one outlined above are a great place to find create a strong customer-to-customer support forum. In this case, a majority of customers “lurk”, or only read the online material and don’t actually write any of it. Another idea is to create small communities where customers are more likely to contribute. These “neighborhoods” could be around specific product lines or even better, around the needs of your customers to help them more quickly solve problems in a way that is relevant to how they do business.

Tagging and Context
Customers are looking for fast ways to find what they need on a product support site. Technology available to implement search results is becoming more commonly based on communities. For example, Lithium has technology using the “wisdom of crowds”, where crowds may know the best answers. It is how the community votes that will influence the order and content of search results.

Other technology, such as that from Baynote, creates new keywords for articles as it tracks the terms and phrases customers are using to find their results. They are tagging articles using this “wisdom of invisible crowds”, hence creating community-guided support with little effort from engineers

Start the Conversation
Social media has pushed customer service and support into the spotlight. Customer expectations are high and budgets are strained. Making the most from each customer interaction is critical to understanding customers but also to creating a great customer experience. I think the last point of the Channel 9 Doctrine  speaks volumes about this very topic. I encourage you to take it as your own as you begin to engage in the Web 2.0 support world:

“Commit to the conversation. Don’t stop listening just because you are busy. Don’t stop participating because you don’t agree with someone. Relationships are not built in a day, be in it for the long haul and we will all reap the benefits as an industry.”

(Note: This 2-post series was first published in the SSPA News.)

Posted in Customer experience | 8 Comments »

Conversation: Customer Support in a Web 2.0 World

Posted by Becky Carroll on August 29, 2007

touching.jpg  There is a new dynamic taking place in support. Customer service is becoming very public. The world now hears the details when a consumer has a poor customer support experience as it is bantered about on blogs, parodied in YouTube videos, and finally picked up by the mainstream media. The effects are spilling over into technical support as well. Customer expectations are higher than ever. The need to engage with customers in an honest and transparent way is becoming a business necessity.

As the support industry makes the shift from break-fix service and support to providing value to customers beyond the product purchase price, there is a need to practice the ancient art of conversation.This art has two components: listening and talking. In order for the conversation to be successful, the first component, listening, is really more important than the second. Support organizations have become very good in the art of talking at customers; the art of listening to customers is often less practiced.

The Self-Service Conundrum
While customer self-service is an important aspect of providing support when and how customers want it (in addition to potentially reducing support costs), there is a side-effect. Customer self-service takes away the human touch to the customer, the face of the company. Rather than a back-and-forth conversation about a support issue and its resolution, customers spend time on their own trying to figure out how to get the necessary answer. If they are successful, this can be a great model. If they are unsuccessful, the level of frustration mounts, only to be unleashed on the next unsuspecting CSR that answers the phone or the chat.

Value-added support is about people and continuing to build trust so that long-lasting customer relationships form. Value-added support is not about technology. Technology can be an enabler, and Web 2.0 technologies and social media help put people back into support. These technologies are facilitating conversations: customer to customer and also customer to company (and back).

Reluctance to Embrace
Some support organizations are part of companies that are quickly embracing Web 2.0 and social media. They have built large communities in the past and are re-engaging with those communities through blogs and wikis. Other organizations are starting to dabble in these new methods of communicating with customers. Many are still watching from the sidelines and a little leery of getting involved. At the recent SSPA Best Practices Conference in San Diego, I moderated a sharing session on web self-service, and the conversation turned to Web 2.0. Most of the companies in the room were considering how they wanted to use Web 2.0 technologies in support; only a handful actually had a blog, wiki, or similar social media in use with customers today.

Part of the reason for this reluctance to embrace social media is fear. There is a concern that customers will use this forum to start talking publicly about their issues with the company and all will turn sour. Guess what? These conversations are already taking place on the internet, with or without the company! One just needs to decide whether they want to be part of those conversations, even managing them from the company’s website.

Customer Support as a Conversation
If we are to truly transition support to a value-added model, a key ingredient is building customer relationships. This cannot be done through one-way communications. An ongoing conversation with our customers is necessary, as trust and relationship only take place over a longer period of time than one support interaction. If we just focus on the support transaction, we miss the opportunity for the relationship. If we view each support interaction as one part of an ongoing conversation with our customers and are willing to listen to them, we begin to look at the customer in a different light.

Customers want their immediate problems solved, but they also want proactive support. While the basics of providing customer support are still important, Web 2.0 and social media tools enable a conversation which goes past solving the problem at hand.  Tools such as blogs, wikis, tagging, social networking, and even forums begin to create a sense of community and belonging as they facilitate proactive communication with customers. The potential return for the company is enormous. Transparency and honesty are required to play the game.

(This is Part 1 of a two-part post.  Tomorrow I will publish the second part about using Web 2.0 tools for customer support.)

Posted in Blogging, Community, Customer experience, Customer service, Technical support | 8 Comments »

News and great links

Posted by Becky Carroll on August 27, 2007

global-hello.jpg I have a few pieces of news to share about Customers Rock! and a few links to share as well.

Blogger’s Choice Awards

I just found out, through Google, that my blog has been nominated for three different categories of the Blogger’s Choice Awards: Best Marketing Blog, Best Business Blog, and Best Blog Design.  I am truly honored to have been nominated.  If you would like to vote for this blog, just click on one of the above links!  There are also many great blogs that have been nominated out there, so even if you don’t vote for mine, go out and let others know which blogs you like best. 

Blog Design

Speaking of blog design, the careful reader will have noticed that I made a few changes to my sidebar.  Most importantly, I have now “burned” my feed, which simply means you can use Feedburner to subscribe my blog.  This is an easy way to subscribe, and it allows you to choose which reader you like using.  If you have already subscribed to my blog feed, thank you!!  If not, you can subscribe either via Feedburner or via email (both links in my sidebar).

The main reason I added this link is because of something that WordPress changed: they no longer give me statistics on how many people I have reading my feed.  :-(  Feedburner quickly and easily gives me those statistics but only for those who have signed up through them.

Other new sidebar items include Top Posts, Recent Posts, and Recent Comments.  The Top Posts item has been interesting, as I have noticed a lot of people clicking on those posts now, which exposes many of you new readers to some of my most popular content.

Let me know what you think about these changes – like, dislike, other suggestions?  Thanks!

Unexpected Surprise

Check out this post from Stan Lee at Brand DNA on a good customer service story.  I love the graph he uses, too!  It is a great example of turning around a bad experience with a telco.  Clearly, the customer service rep was empowered to do a few things for the customer, which this rep did.  Keep an eye on Stan’s blog.  He has short posts about advertising, along with videos and a few other tidbits, and I always find something fun (and sometimes a bit shocking) when I read the blog.  You rock, Stan!

Blogger Social ’08

Just in case you thought blogging was only online, registration is now open for Blogger Social ’08!  This is a weekend for bloggers that will be held April 4-6, 2008 in New York City.  The difference here from other bloggers conferences/summits is the focus: the people behind the blogs.  I have done quite a bit of meeting bloggers via telephone since I started, but there is nothing like good old-fashioned face-to-face conversation.  Head on over to the Blogger Social blog listed above, find out more, and make your plans to join us!  Thanks to CK, Drew, Cam, Mike, and Luc for making this happen. 

People Make the Difference

My friend Ryan Karpeles asks a thought-provoking question in his blog post Who’s Conducting Your Company Train?  Ryan shares about his experience with an outstanding conductor on the train that takes him to work: Eric.  Eric makes the difference for commuters daily; see the post to find out how. 

Small, personal touches can make a huge difference.  Like the really nice waitress that always remembers your name when you go in to your favorite restaurant.  Like the unexpected card you receive from a business associate, just to say thank-you. 

The people make the difference.  In order to take care of your customers, be sure to take care of your employees – they are the face of your business. 

Feeling Special

Lewis Green has a wonderful blog post on making customers feel special.  He discusses ways for businesses to differentiate themselves through how they treat their customers, both prospects as well as existing customers.  Lewis, I couldn’t have said it better myself!

Posted in Customer experience | 4 Comments »

Designing the Disney Experience

Posted by Becky Carroll on August 23, 2007

disneyphotoimage11-small.jpg Apologies to all of my readers for the less-frequent posting; I have been traveling quite a bit the last few weeks!  Things are getting back to normal now. 

I was at one of my favorite places recently, Disneyland!  As always, customer service was impeccable, and marketing and branding were perfectly executed in every detail of the park.

It amazes me how differently my kids look at Disneyland and its adjoining park, Disney’s California Adventure.  I love the original Disneyland park, as it brings back memories of going there as a child.  I envisioned where all the rides used to be (Adventure Through Inner Space and America Sings were two of my favorites!).  I took my kids on timeless favorites (Pirates of the Caribbean, Small World).  The Disneyland experience is designed for just this very thing – memories, both old and new.

disneyphotoimage5-small.jpg Yet, my kids (ages 11 and 13) couldn’t wait to get to Disney’s California Adventure!  They love the thrill rides there at Paradise Pier, which is similar to an old fashioned boardwalk (like in Santa Cruz, California) with rides and games.  Disney has also created areas similar to other various parts of California: San Francisco Bay Area, Monterey and the wharf, Napa Valley vineyards, Hollywood (complete with a mini-street that fades in the distance into a backdrop painting – very cool), and the redwoods.

We went back and forth between the two parks all day, along with Downtown Disney (a retail district just outside the parks). 

Here are my thoughts on a few things that Disney has done as they have thought out the experience from their guest’s point of view, along with a few ideas on improvements that could be made.

Time Savers

dscn1596-small.jpg 

  • Disney’s FastPass: This brilliant service allows you to “reserve” a window of time for going on some of the most popular rides.   You get a piece of paper, branded with a logo for each ride, which tells you when you can get it in the special FastPass queue.  This queue puts you on the ride with little to no wait (even if the lines are normally very long!).  This is great not only for a family’s sanity but also for Disney to use in managing their crowds and lines.  I don’t know why other places have not picked this up yet!  (Note: The FastPass tracks your ticket, and you can only have one FastPass at a time in each park, with a few exceptions.  The ticket you see in the photo on the left is one that printed out when we already had a FastPass.)
  • Disney’s PhotoPass: A convenient service which has Disney photographers taking pictures of you/your family all over the parks.  Rather than a piece of paper with a number to look up at the end of the day (at lots of other people doing the same), you get a barcoded card which stores the link to your photos.  You can either have them printed out/put on a CD at the park or access them via the internet when you get home.  The photos of my son and I in this post are from the CD we bought and took home (it was his birthday).

Surprises

birthday-button-1-small.jpg

  • Birthday Recognition: You can see from the photo of my son above (with me, in front of the “Golden Gate Bridge”) that he is wearing a badge saying Happy Birthday along with his name.   If you mention to anyone at ticketing or in the Town Hall that you are there for a birthday, they will give you this button to wear.  Everywhere you go at the park, you are wished a Happy Birthday by Disney cast members!  They almost always use your name, and it makes it feel like you have 1000 friends who remembered your birthday.  I have seen this done for people of all ages (we did it for my sister last year), and some cast members do little special things for birthday guests (special dessert, song, seat on the boat).
  • Hidden Mickeys: Disney afficionados have been so many times to the park that they have memorized every line spoken by every audio-animatronic figure.  What to do to keep them excited?  Hide Mickeys!   Disney Imagineers often “hide” images of Mickey (most often the silouette of the famous ears) as they finalize a ride, providing much fodder for guests as they look for them throughout the many Disney parks.  It helps make Disney fanatics feel like part of the “inside team” when they find them and point them out to the uninitiated.
  • Theming: Disney has even put thought into how one traverses through Disneyland itself.  Each “land” has a different surface underfoot, so you can actually feel the transition from one area to another through your feet!  California Adventure doesn’t do this to the same extent, but one can easily see the transition from one part of California to another by looking at the theming on the trash cans (which are everywhere).  

Convenience

  • Helping Hands on Rides: This has to be the one area that I love the most about going on Disney rides!  On most of the rides where things could easily fall out (rollercoaster and thrill-type rides), Disney has provided pouches on the back of each seat.  The pouches (which close with Velcro for the coaster that goes upside-down!) are large enough to hold a small purse or shopping bag.  No more “could you please hold this for me?” or worrying about what will happen to your bag if left on the side of the ride.  At one ride at California Adventure, the Orange Stinger, shoes could easily fly off, so Disney provides bins around the edges of the ride to store them pre-flight.  I love the idea of pouches and containers for belongings because it really takes the guest’s point of view into account!  Nothing is worse than losing something on a ride or trying to hold it throughout the adventure.

There are many other areas that would merit a mention as well; please add those you have enjoyed in the comments!

Improvement Areas

No one is perfect, and when there are crowds especially, areas needing improvement stand out.  Here are a few places where Disney could do better.

  • Clear reasoning on rules: Over in California Adventure, there is a Challenge Trail with a lot of cool areas where kids can climb, run, and jump.  All ages will love this, and my boys were ready to rumble!  The best part seemed to be a mini-zip line for kids.  We were told it was only for kids ages 12 and younger, so my 11 year old went and loved it.  My 13 year old was very upset (especially when the cast member let my younger son keep going on it over and over again, as there was no line).  When we asked the cast member if it was due to a weight limit, a height limit, or what, she just said the rules stated 12 and younger only.  Suggestion: I understand the need for strict rules (safety) and the need to follow them, but a little more explanation would have helped my son feel better.  Disney is usually very good about explaining things and helping kids feel good about a disappointment, but that was not the case on this attraction.
  • Crowds: Again, I understand that busy seasons are difficult.  However, if there are any parades or fireworks shows going on, it can be nearly impossible to get around the park (especially if you don’t want to see them!).  Disney ropes off certain areas in order to manage the crowd flows, and getting from point A to point B can feel like a mouse in a maze.  Suggestion: When Disney hands out show guides, it would be great if they could put out a little map along with it, showing how to maneuver around the park during these times.  It would great assist some of its most valuable customers, its season ticket holders, who may have seen these show many times and want to take advantage of smaller ride queues.

What other ideas do you have for how Disney can improve its experience?  Let me know!

More Disney Analysis
Doug Meacham asked the above question in June after sharing his Disney vacation tale and had some interesting comments with ideas (I especially liked the one which takes advantage of text messaging to find Disney characters!).   I also agree that Disney could do more for teens.

CB Whittemore had some great insights from attending the Disney Institute in Florida (CB, I am so jealous!!), including a peak behind the scenes and a great explanation of some of the carefully crafted Disney experiences (like red sidewalks).

The blog Passport to Dreams has a wonderful pictorial post on Walt Disney World and how they have created an anti-food court restaurant.  She includes detailed explanations of how the experience differs depending on which window you are near, which entrance you come in, and which part of the park you came from.  A great post!

Finally, in case you missed it, Drew McLellan had a series of posts about Disney and marketing which he put into an eBook back in January of this year called Marketing Lessons from Walt (be sure and go to Drew’s site to download it!).  I like his section on Customer Expectations.

Posted in Customer experience, Customer strategy, Marketing | 7 Comments »

Customer Service Nostalgia

Posted by Becky Carroll on August 21, 2007

blog_hilton_1958.jpg I just had to share this great picture of the call center in the early days!  These were the days where customers were treated with great respect, service was always given with a smile (yes, you can hear a smile over the phone!), and there was always a personal touch.

I saw this pic thanks to Valeria Maltoni, who pointed me to the GetSatisfaction blog (just added you guys to my blogroll!), who got it from The Washington Monthly.  Here is what the text in the picture says:

“This “magic scoreboard” makes it possible for the Hilton Reservation Offices listed below to give you, while you are still on the phone, complete reservation information at any of the 33 Hilton Hotels around the world. You will receive an immediate verbal reply on your reservation request, and a written confirmation will be mailed the same day.

Here are a few more nostalgic images of customer service personnel.

Roadway Shipping service boys serviceboys.jpg

boeing-bunks.jpg Pan Am flight attendant

(Note – These sleeping bunks had two seats that turned into a lower bed, with the upper bed folding down from above, similar to a train.)

Here’s to old-fashioned customer service!

Posted in Customer experience | 3 Comments »

Empathy Matters

Posted by Becky Carroll on August 17, 2007

friends.jpg Marketers work hard to connect products to emotion.  Color, sound, and even smell are among the many tools used by the marketing artist.  When we can actually make a connection to something deep in the human psyche, we are more likely to remember that product or event.

Southwest Airlines does a lot of things right in the midst of a very difficult time for airlines.  Their flight attendants use a good sense of humor when welcoming passengers onto planes.  They author a blog to engage in conversation with customers, such as this fun entry from one of their pilots describing what it is like to set customer expectations through the plane’s PA system.

This past weekend, on a flight home from Chicago, I saw Southwest personnel doing one of the things they do best: treating people as people. 

At pre-boarding time, I saw a young girl, about age 9, getting ready to fly alone.  Her escort (probably Mom) was in tears as she saw the girl onto the jetway to board the plane.  As we boarded the plane a few minutes later, we noticed the young girl huddled in her seat and sobbing into her hands.

Fast forward about 30 minutes.  Southwest flight attendants were taking drink orders from the passengers.  Shortly after that, we got a little “snack box” for the trip – delivered by our young solo flyer!  The flight attendants had noticed her emotion and had engaged her in helping to pass out the food.  The girl was cheerful now that she was busy with an important job, and she was graciously thanked by the crew over the PA system.

I think I smiled the rest of the way home.

Using empathy really does matter, whether we are dealing with customers, employees, or each other.  Taking consideration of the feelings and needs of others makes campaigns and initiatives more effective.  Mixed together with a little kindness, you have a successful recipe for marketing, customer service – and life.

(Photo: elnur)

Posted in Customer experience, Marketing | 5 Comments »

Long Distance Customers

Posted by Becky Carroll on August 15, 2007

fragile.jpg Anyone who has moved away from friends knows it takes a lot of work to keep up friendships over long distances.  The same is true for our existing customers.  We are often so busy looking to get new customers, we forget to tell our current customers how much they mean to us.

Oh, we do communicate with them.  We send them mail about complimentary products and services.  We send them invoices and receipts.  But we don’t often send them a note letting them know we are glad they are our customers.

Here’s an example.  We bought our house in San Diego last year and were represented by realtors who were friends of the family (we didn’t know anyone in San Diego, and they are truly great people!).  The transaction went smoothly, and we had a great big Thank You present from these realtors just after we moved in.  We even invited them to our housewarming party last year, and they came.

We haven’t heard from them since.  We are now long distance customers.

I’ll tell you who we have heard from: the realtor that represented the sellers of our house.  Not long after we moved in, he stopped by in person and introduced himself, letting us know we could call him if we needed anything.  He has stopped by at least once/quarter since then to inform us of neighborhood selling activity and see how we are doing.  He came by again today to chat and tell me that the house around the corner (which he is representing) is now in escrow and at a price which is good for us.

We are not yet his customers.  However, when we decide to move (sometime in the future), his name will come quickly to mind, as he has taken the time to start a relationship with us.

It is in a company’s best interests to keep up the relationship with its existing customers.  Yes, this takes time.  Yes, it costs a little bit of money.  We may even argue about whose job it is to do this: marketing, customer service or sales.

But if we treat our customers like long distance customers, we may find that someone else has stepped in to take our place.  And if it is a valuable customer, you can be sure that someone else has already stepped in.

Reach out and touch a customer – today!
(Photo: andresr)

Posted in B2B Marketing, Customer experience, Customer loyalty, Customer strategy, Marketing | 5 Comments »

Customer loyalty programs revisited

Posted by Becky Carroll on August 13, 2007

happy-customers.jpg I am out traveling, I thought I would share one of my favorite blog posts from the early days of Customers Rock!; it is on customer loyalty programs.  Back to our regular programming tomorrow.  Enjoy!

Loyalty Expectations

As promised last week, today I am posting my top tips for setting up and managing a customer loyalty program.  Loyalty programs are, unfortunately, a dime a dozen these days.  It takes something special to make a loyalty “program” stand out.

Let me briefly define what I mean by a loyalty program.  There are certainly all those plastic/paper cards we carry in our wallets or on our key chains that are one type of loyalty program.  I have been experimenting with my local grocery store to see how well this works by remaining anonymous on their card application (did you know you can do that?).  I also have another card with my info so I can compare offers.  I am not really interested in getting coupons from them, as I can get most of their discounts through showing the card.  It is my belief that these programs are not effective unless the information gathered from the customer is used to add value to the customer’s experience.  If you are not going to do something for me, why would I want to give you my information?  Plus, you are just taking up space on your servers with worthless information if you are not using it appropriately.   See Kevin Hillstrom’s blog MineThatData for more great food for thought (get it?) on multichannel and database marketing.  I like his customer-focused thinking.

Tip 1 for loyalty programs: Make sure your program adds value to the customer experience, and be clear on what that value is. 

Then there are those programs that we sign up for, such as frequent flier/traveller/stay-er programs, where one can earn (theoretically) free trips, free stays, etc.   Southwest Airlines has a very simple, straightforward program that uses flight segments rather than miles.  It is easy to use and easy to redeem; they even keep track of all your Rapid Rewards for you if you have misplaced the award certificates.  They also work to engage their loyalty program customers with things like birthday cards and thank-you cards for your business.  My husband has been a Rapid Rewards member for quite some time, and yesterday he received a 10-year anniversary card from Southwest (it looked like a wedding anniversary card, talking about “walking down the aisle”).  It was accompanied by a coupon for $20 off an Alamo car rental.  My husband received this card with mixed feelings.  It was great that they recognized his longevity with Southwest, as well as the fact that he usually books a rental car through their website.  However, very seldom does he book Alamo; he usually books Dollar.  If Southwest had taken a little bit of time and effort to review their customer data, they would have found that out and sent him a coupon that mattered to him, rather than their current “partner campaign”.

Tip 2:  Use your customer insight to create relevant offers for your customers in order to differentiate your program from others and create customer delight.   It should be for their convenience, not yours!

Finally, there are those loyalty programs that are not really as much of a program as they are a way of doing business for a company.  This blog, Customers Rock!, focuses a lot on the latter type of customer strategies, where customers are at the core of the company.  See C. B. Whittemore’s blog post from Flooring the Consumer on relentless customer focus for a great example.  Hiring a Customers Rock! attitude in employees is a key to this program, as well as the appropriate measures to ensure an organized effort.  Random acts of “CRM” will not further your customer cause!

Tip 3: Be prepared to carry your loyalty program, or customer strategy, through to the end.  It may be worse to start a program, set customer expectations for a great “club”, then stop after awhile, than never to have started a program at all.

Add your own loyalty program tips, and I will publish them in a future post.

Posted in Customer experience, Customer loyalty | 2 Comments »

Women Bloggers and the W-List

Posted by Becky Carroll on August 9, 2007

megaphone-girl.jpg I was honored recently to be named to the Top 20 PR Power Women, which is a list of women who blog on PR and marketing.  The list was put together by Kami Huyse, who brought to our attention that only a small percentage of  The Power 150 top marketing and PR bloggers are women.

My friend Valeria Maltoni felt that perhaps the reason for so few women in the top lists is that they are as yet undiscovered.  She was inspired to create a W-List to help promote these women bloggers.  This is much like Mack Collier’s Z-List from last year (which, by the way, helped publicize my blog quite a bit).  The Z-list was an effort to bring more attention to blogs which Mack felt weren’t getting their due.  One offshoot of the Z-list was the original W-List put together by Tammy Vitale.  This list was an effort to bring attention to women bloggers as well. 

The New W-List

I am sharing Valeria’s new W-List with you.  Regardless of gender, these are blogs which have quality content and provide new ideas.  As with the Z-list, feel free to pay this forward by adding your favorite female bloggers.  To the new W-list (taken from Lori Magno’s blog), I am adding these ladies:

Stephanie Weaver: Experienceology – Stephanie was one of my adds to the Z-list as well, and she writes a great blog on customer experience.

Maria Palma: CustomersAreAlways – Maria writes about taking care of customers and great customer service.

Tammy Vitale: Women, Art, Life – Since Tammy created the original W-List, I thought she should be on it!  Tammy is an entrepreneur and artist.

Michele Miller: Wonderbranding: Marketing to Women – Michele’s blog focuses on marketing to women and how companies are meeting the needs or missing the mark.

Rosa Say: Managing with Aloha – Rosa is inspired by the values of the Hawaiian Islands, and she weaves them together with business concepts to inspire leaders.

Here is the list with my add-ins inserted in alphabetical order.  Visit a few this weekend and expand your horizons!

The W List – Women Who Write
45 Things Anita Bruzzese

A Girl Must Shop Megan Garnhum
advergirl Leigh Householder
Back in Skinny Jeans Stephanie Quilao
Biz Growth News Krishna De
BlogWrite for CEOs Debbie Weil
Brand Sizzle Anne Simons
Branding & Marketing Chris Brown
Brazen Careerist Penelope Trunk

Cheap Thrills Ryan Barrett
CK’s Blog CK (Christina Kerley)
Communication Overtones Kami Huyse
Conscious Business by Anne Libby
Conversation Agent Valeria Maltoni
Corporate PR Elizabeth Albrycht

CustomersAreAlways Maria Palma
Customers Rock! Becky Carroll
Deborah Schultz Deborah Schultz
Diva Marketing Blog Toby Bloomberg

Dooce Heather Armstrong
Email Marketing Best Practices Tamara Gielen
Escape from Cubicle Nation Pamela Slim
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Forrester’s Marketing Blog Shar, Charlene, Chloe, Christine Elana, Laura and Lisa
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Giant Jeans Parlour Anjali
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Learned on Women Andrea Learned

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Water Cooler Wisdom Alexandra Levit
Wealth Strategy Secrets Money Gym author & Founder Nicola Cairncross
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Posted in Blogging, Memes | 13 Comments »

Customer Walls

Posted by Becky Carroll on August 8, 2007

happy-customer.jpg Are we putting up walls between the enterprise and its customers?  Or are we putting up walls dedicated to its customers?

I was in Santa Barbara this week and had a chance to see how one company shares their customers’ voices.  Citrix Online hosted a tour of their facilities for me.  Besides being very employee-centric (one whole wing of their campus was dog-friendly!), Citrix Online is very customer-centric.

Tina Long, director of PR and communications for Citrix Online, walked me past their Voice of the Customer wall.  On it were three large groupings of many signs, each sign a verbatim quote from a customer.  Each quote was also directly attributed to a customer.  These customer quotes were divided up by Citrix Online’s main product lines, each grouping a different color.  It was in an area near the employee break room which gives the opportunity for many to stop and read “the writing on the wall.” 

I love this idea of keeping customer comments visible to all in the organization.  It was inspiring to see the feedback plastered all over the wall!

Do you listen to your customers enough to get these types of quotes?  Or do you aggregate your customer feedback into several large categories so the true voice is lost?

In one of my previous posts, I asked you what other companies do to listen to their customers.  Kevin Hillstrom of MineThatData shared his experiences with some major apparel companies:

  • At Lands’ End, professionals had to help out in the warehouse, or on the phones, during the holiday season and during bad weather. You learn a lot about customers doing that.
  • At Nordstrom, we had to physically work in stores, or take orders over the phone, during major sale events.
  • At Lands’ End and Nordstrom, we learned a lot about customers, by actually spending some time being close to the customer. Both brands are well known for their appreciation of the customer, both brands require professionals to have some interaction with the customer.

When I worked at HP, we learned about the “Day in the Life of a Customer” concept, which was very similar to ethnographic studies.  HP researchers would go to a company which was a customer of HP’s and video tape their business for a day.  HP would then analyze places where they could help make that customer’s business processes easier.

Lego’s customer service team shares customer feedback from the front lines, support, with the rest of the organization in their regular internal newsletter.  The information helps product teams improve their designs as well as highlights any potential issues. 

Some companies tend to hold customer information within their own corporate “silos”.  By this, I mean that departments are not always good at sharing what they know or learn about the customer with other areas of the company.  This kind of knowledge-is-power attitude cannot exist if one wants to create a Customers Rock! company.

Companies like Lands’ End, Nordstrom, HP, Lego, and Citrix Online get close to their customers and share the verbatim “voice of the customer” within the organization to improve products, processes, and ultimately the customer experience.

Where can you improve your customer listening?  Go find a spot to make your “customer wall”, and start the conversation!

(Photo credit: elnur)

Posted in B2B Marketing, Voice of the customer | 12 Comments »

 
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