Customers Rock!

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

Archive for the ‘social media’ Category

Blogs Hit the Mainstream

Posted by Becky Carroll on July 18, 2008

It seems to me that when the US Army Corps of Engineers is blogging, blogs have hit the mainstream.  There was an interesting article in The Military Engineer, May-June 2008, about Lt. Gen. Robert Van Antwerp, USA, Chief of Engineers and Commanding General, US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and his new blog Corps-e-spondence.  In the blog, Gen. Van Antwerp covers a variety of topics such as flooding in the Midwest, the current state of New Orleans, the water crisis, as well as hiring, leadership, and even baseball (see the picture of him throwing out the first pitch at the Cardinal’s game)!

Gen. Van Antwerp was quoted on why he is blogging in the article, as well as in this video on the Army’s media site:

“This is the way of the future.  We should be out there, too – clearly and openly communicating with the American public every chance we get.”

Is it effective?

The blog seems to be a great way to communicate more about what the Army Corps of Engineers does, as there may be many people that don’t really know what types of projects they take on.  It also gives readers a view into the Gen. Van Antwerp’s leadership tenets and style.  The blog is updated every few weeks, and it is already getting a variety of comments.  It could be improved with more interaction from Gen. Van Antwerp back to his commenters to really create a conversation, rather then just a communication tool.

The Army is blogging – what about you?

Does a blog fit into your organization’s goals for interacting with customers?  Could you use it to better listen to what customers have to tell you?  Perhaps your company could use a blog to create a discussion around certain topics of interest to your customers.    Setting goals before starting a blog is key to making this social media tool successful.

Posted in Blogging, social media | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Teaching Social Media

Posted by Becky Carroll on July 11, 2008

As the astute reader will have noticed, I recently began teaching at University of California San Diego Extension.  I am teaching the class Marketing via New Media.  So far, it is very interesting to hear what the students think about social media, how they view it with a fresh set of eyes, and what the perspective is around the world (several of the students are international).  

In the first class, we discussed what social media is, what it could mean to companies, and what the potential pitfalls could be.  We have had some great debates in class, and through the assignments, about what social media can, and cannot, accomplish.

I decided to start up another blog, Teaching Social Media, to chronicle the experience of teaching this class, in the hopes that others who also teach could learn something from my journey.  I am also using the new blog as a method to communicate with my students, and they with me.  For example, I gave them a homework assignment to create a blog, and I am including their student blogs in my blogroll at the new blog.

I am still going to continue with Customers Rock!, so don’t worry.  There will just be another place to find me if you want to hear more about social media from the student (and teacher) perspective.  Come check it out!

On another note, I have joined Plurk.  Here is my Plurk, and here is my Twitter (for those who prefer the latter).

(Photo credit:kjpargeter)

Posted in Customer experience, social media | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Re-Experiencing Starbucks, Update 7 – Listening to Customers

Posted by Becky Carroll on June 26, 2008

reExperiencing StarbucksPart 7 of the ongoing ReExperiencing Starbucks project with Jay Ehret from The Marketing SpotSurvey at the end of the post - please tell us what you think about the changes at Starbucks!

Slowly but surely, Starbucks seems to be listening.  I blogged about MyStarbucksIdea when it first came out, and there were a lot of improvements to make.  I believe Starbucks has made a real effort over the past few months that they have been up and running with MyStarbucksIdea.   I have seen improvements on both the IdeaSite (new term?) as well as in person.  Read on…

IdeaSite Improvements

MyStarbucksIdea was heavily criticized when it first came out.  The Customers Rock! perspective on it was this – it is good to see Starbucks out there engaging their customers this way.  And boy, have they been engaged!  Thousands of customer ideas have gone on the site, with the majority of the ideas being about the coffee drinks themselves (no surprise here) and then the atmosphere and locations.  What should these ideas tell Starbucks?  First, it should tell them that customers are coming for the coffee, so make sure to get that right.  Second, customers are still in search of what they used to have at Starbucks, that “3rd place” to hang out and relax with friends.

Maybe customers don’t come up with a lot of new or innovative ideas, but the dialogue is a great way for Starbucks to get inside their customers’ heads and see how they think. 

In addition, I am glad to see Starbucks beginning to participate more in the conversation on the site, as well as soliciting direct feedback on how to improve the site.  Be sure to click into that post and read the comments; you can watch a little mini-community forming as you go.  :)

Interaction with Corporate – In Person!

I also had the good fortune of interacting with two gentlemen from Starbucks Corporate recently.  Apparently, part of their role is to go out and visit the Starbucks in their area to see how things are going.  They stopped me on my way out of the line to ask me about “my experience”.  I was happy to share my thoughts with them – about bathroom cleanliness (spotty), about the atmosphere (I like it), about my favorite drink (Passion Iced Tea, sweetened), about how the service seems on weekdays vs the weekends (better when they are busy, I think).  I then revealed that I blog here at Customers Rock! and shared about this ongoing Starbucks Project with them.  They asked me a few more questions before moving on to their meeting with the local supervisory team.

After they left, the employees there thanked me for my kind words and gave me a free drink.  Thanks, guys!

Although I would have loved to see the visitors from Corporate commenting here on my blog, I am pleased to see a team out inspecting the stores and asking customers about their experience.  Kudos to you, Starbucks, for getting out there and interacting face to face with customers.  It is more valuable than you think!

Please Fill Out Our Starbucks Survey!

Jay and I have put together a short survey to see what you, our readers, think about Starbucks and its “re-Experience” project.  Please take just a minute to click on this survey link and fill it out.  You could even win, what else, a gift card to Starbucks!  We will be sure to report the results here soon.

Also see Jay Ehret’s blog The Marketing Spotfor more Starbucks insight on “The Perfect Frappuccino”, as well as Meikah Delid who is keeping her related Starbucks series going with The Sixth Step for Starbucks.  Thanks, Meikah!

Related Customers Rock! posts in the Re-Experiencing Starbucks project series:

Re-Experiencing Starbucks

Part 2: Transformation Starting

Part 3: The Training

Part 4: Little Things

Part 5: MyStarbucksIdea

Part 6: The Card

Posted in Community, Customer experience, Customer strategy, Marketing, social media, Starbucks Project | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Airline Customer Service Makes All the Difference

Posted by Becky Carroll on June 19, 2008

The Airline ExperienceThe airline industry is in quite a mess.  Extra fees being charged for bags have passengers feeling even more “nickle and dimed” than ever.  Fuel costs are driving more people to take their vacations at home.  Cut-backs at airlines mean fewer employees doing more work = grumpy people.  What is an airline to do?

Would you be surprised if I said “Improve the Customer Experience”!  Well, it is not just me saying it this time.  J.D. Power and Associates just released the results of their 2008 North American Airline Satisfaction Study.  Declining customer satisfaction is linked with the level of customer service provided by airline staff, even more than it is linked with concerns over extra fees and prices.  Per the press release:

The study finds that satisfaction with “people” factors—including knowledge, courtesy and helpfulness of reservation and gate agents, check-in staff and flight crew—has declined dramatically since 2007, and is the leading contributing factor to the overall decline in customer satisfaction with airlines in 2008. The decrease in satisfaction with people factors is more than twice as large as the decline in satisfaction with price factors.

The press release goes on to quote Sam Thanawalla, director of their global hospitality and travel practice, who urges airlines to invest in their employees in order to improve the customer experience.

Here is the Customers Rock! take on the situation:

In a tough economy like this one, customers will be very choosy about where they spend their hard-earned money.  If a customer has decided to take a trip, they want to it to be great!  Airlines need to get with the program and look at the experience from the customer’s perspective.  It won’t take much “mystery shopping” to figure out where to find the pain points.  It could be just a few simple things that make the difference, but airlines need to get into a conversation with their customers in order to figure this out.  Southwest Airlines has done an exceptionally good job of this with their Nuts About Southwest blog, even changing some of their policies as a result of customer feedback.  (Fun aside – Southwest just blogged about MyStarbucksIdea, and now their customers are starting to ask for MySouthwestIdea… think it will catch on?)

Yes, the customer experience really does matter to customers, and it matters more every day.  Marketing, customer service, HR, sales – all departments need to put their heads together and figure out how to create better customer relationships via the experience.  Quick – do it before your competition does! 

(Photo credit: egdigital)

Posted in Customer experience, Customer strategy, social media | Tagged: , , , , , , | 17 Comments »

Social Media and Engagement, with Brian Solis: Part 2

Posted by Becky Carroll on May 21, 2008

 This is Part 2 of the guest post by the generous and smart Brian SolisPart 1 covered conversations and the use of social media.  In today’s post, Brian helps us take the appropriate steps to really begin listening, then engaging with customers via social media.  Again, many thanks to Brian for sharing his time and talent with my readers.  Brian, you rock!

Social Media Empowers Customer Service to Build Relationships, Part 2

Sociology provides us with an understanding of how human interaction and the ensuing ecosystem shape individual attitudes and behavior. Sociologists study society and social action by examining the groups and social institutions people form. In Social Media, these communities take the form of social networks and the communal groups within them. People establish associations, friendships, and allegiances around content, objects, products, services, and ideas. How they communicate is simply subject to the tools and networks that people adopt based on the influence of their social graph.

Observation, monitoring and listening tells us everything. We’ll learn where the relevant conversations are taking place, who’s participating, what they’re saying and the tone of the discussions, the specific information they’re looking for, impressions and conceptions, as well as revealing the patterns of behavior within specific communities.

The million dollar question that every business executive needs answered is who’s responsible for managing these conversations and how much time and money will it take?
In order to determine the amount of resources, time and money that are required, It all starts with good old fashioned research along with the new tools to help you get to the answers you seek (see below for a list to help you get started). 

First..

- Identify who your customers are and where they go for information.

- Search for key words: Products & Company as well as competitors and their products and services.

- And, please don’t forget the relationships that exist in the real world. They’re also indispensable for providing feedback and insight now and in the future.

Based on the research results, you can measure the average frequency of relevant conversations, identify the more active hubs and communities, and the context of the conversations in order to determine time and variety of resources required (a community manager is required at the very least.) 

Here’s a formula that I developed based on participation averages over the last couple of years: 

The number of average relevant conversations per day per community.

Multiplied by the quantity of relevant communities.

Multiplied by 20 (minutes required to research and respond and also monitor for additional responses), variable +/- dependent on the case, usually +.

Divided by 60 (minutes)

Equals the amount of time required and in turn, the resources and associated costs required depending on internal labor or external consulting fees. 

Based on the research results, you can measure the average frequency of relevant conversations, identify the more active hubs and communities and the context of the conversations in order to determine time and resources required.

Throughout the research process, you’ll undoubtedly see that relevant conversations occur across disparate networks, are representative of a sweeping variety of related topics that require varying responses, and, that they usually map  to specific departments within your organization (those most qualified to respond), i.e. marcom, product management, customer service, PR, executive management, etc. Having someone keeping a pulse on relevant conversations and in turn feeding them, intelligently, to the right people internally and guiding them on the required response and follow-up makes the interaction more meaningful and helpful and also distributes the responsibility across existing resources. 

Here are some places to start listening (note, these tools are recommended for listening, even though many of them are also used for publishing and sharing content):

Social Bookmarks

  • Ma.gnolia
  • Delicious
  • Diigo
  • StumbleUpon

Crowdsourced Content

  • Digg
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • Mixx 

Conversations

  • Google Alerts
  • Blogpulse
  • Radian6 (paid)
  • BuzzLogic (paid)
  • Ask.com
  • Google Blog Search 

Blog Communities

  • Blogged.com
  • MyBlogLog
  • BlogCatalog 

Micromedia

FriendFeed

Pownce

Tumblr 

Specific to Twitter search:

Tweetscan

Summize

Twemes

TwitterLocal 

Social Networks

MySpace

Bebo

Ning

Facebook

LinkedIn 

Customers Service Networks

YahooGroups

GoogleGroups

GetSatisfaction 

Content

Video

YouTube

Metacafe 

Pictures

Flickr

Documents

ThinkFree Docs

Scribd

Docstoc

Once you’ve conducted the initial waves of research, identified the volume, location and frequency of relevant conversations, and estimated the required resources, you can effectively create an accurate blueprint for engagement. I call this a social map.

The next steps are dictated by the sociological work we’ve done, which reveals the culture within each respective network and how we should participate. Generally, each conversations should be treated as if you were approaching someone in real life whom you greatly respect.

- Start by participating as a person, not as a marketer.

- Talk like a person, not as a sales person or message factory.

- Be helpful and bring value to the conversation.

- Please remember, that during this entire process, you’re contributing to the personality and the perception of the brand you represent.

At the end of the day, we’re all people and thus we should approach conversations as such. It may seem like common sense, but as classically trained marketers, we tend to approach these things with our marketing hat on. It’s the difference between authentic conversations and one-sided talking “at” people we may be used to.

Most importantly, the lessons learned in the field should in turn be fed into the marketing department to create and run more intelligent, experienced, and real world initiatives across all forms of marketing, PR, sales, and advertising. 

In a social world, conversations will take place with or without us and the price we pay for missing them is potentially equivalent to the loss of brand equity and resonance.  Participation is the new customer service and the new art of relationship marketing.  Sincere, informative, and authentic interactions count for everything.  In social media, engagement is the only way to earn customer respect and hopefully their business, loyalty, and referrals as we continue to do what matters to earn their friendship.

Relationships are the new currency in Social Media, and as we all know, relationships need cultivation and value from both sides in order to grow into something of value and longevity.

You can connect with Brian on Twitter, Jaiku, LinkedIn, Pownce, Plaxo, FriendFeed, or Facebook.

Brian Solis is Principal of FutureWorks, an acclaimed PR and New Media agency in Silicon Valley and also blogs at PR 2.0 and bub.blicio.us . Along with Geoff Livingston, Solis recently co-authored “Now is Gone,” a new, award-winning book that helps businesses learn how to leverage New and Social Media.

(Photo credit: wds2007)

Posted in Customer experience, Customer service, Guest bloggers, Marketing, social media | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Social Media Empowering Customer Service: Guest Blogger Brian Solis

Posted by Becky Carroll on May 20, 2008

The Infamous Metro Photo Today on Customers Rock!, I have the honor of having a special guest blogger with us: Brian Solis.  Brian and I met earlier this year at the Customer Service is the New Marketing (CSITNM) conference in San Francisco, where we were both giving lunchtime workshops.  Brian is one of the brightest people I know on new media and how to best engage customers.  As Principal of the PR and new media agency FutureWorks, Brian is constantly breaking new ground in PR-social media relations. 

His post is a two-parter, so be sure and come back to get the second half!  With no further ado, here’s Brian!

Social Media Empowers Customer Service to Build Relationships

Customer service is the new, new marketing and Social Media is facilitating the convergence between traditional marketing disciplines, customer service, with a new proactive approach to relationship cultivation and management.

 Earlier this year I published a free ebook with Becky Carroll, “The Art of Listening and Engagement Through Social Media,” in which we explored how companies can listen to and participate in the various and important conversations that are constantly taking place online.

 We’re entering an entirely new paradigm for cultivating relationships with customers as well as the people who may one day become customers.
Social Media is about facilitating interactions between people online. Just because we have the tools to engage, doesn’t make it any easier to do this the right way. Or, on the contrary, just because we don’t have the tools to monitor and engage in these online conversations, doesn’t mean that they’re not important or actually happening.

You’ve heard that old saying right?

If a conversation takes place online and you’re not there to hear or see it, did it actually happen.

The answer is resoundingly YES! 

If you’re not part of the conversation, then you’re leaving it to others to answer questions and provide information that may or may not be qualified, helpful, or accurate. Or, even worse, you may be leaving it up to your competition to jump in to become the resource for the community. 

Many companies are participating in social networks as a form of proactive outbound customer service with a twist of social marketing such as Zappos, JetBlue, Southwest, H&R Block, and Dell. They’re engaging customers on their turf, in their way, in order to help them solve problems, find information or simply engage them in healthy dialog. 

It’s breaking new ground and it’s setting a new standard. 

Participating in social media is not as easy as simply blasting messages, answering questions, or joining conversations.  We’re talking about people here, and depending on the online network where they’re participating, the understanding of the culture, demographics, and interaction, our approach will vary. 

We’ve all heard the mantras that the customer is always right. I think we can all agree that the customer is critical to our success and their emotions, experiences, state of mind and their resulting influence within their community are imperative to our survival.

Instead of top down communications and focusing on the influence and control of messages and perception, we’re learning that those influential groups of people are now more like peers and therefore require respect, honesty, and support in order for us to earn their trust – and hopefully their business and enthusiasm along the way.

The customer comes first, and if we fuse sociology, social media, customer service, relationship marketing, experiential marketing, and traditional marketing, we’re creating a new formula for outbound influence and fueling a new generation of brand ambassadors and loyalists.

Essentially, social media empowers customers to effectively sell and represent our brand as a powerful and influential surrogate sales force. Similarly, they also have the ability to negatively affect it if they’re left to influence freely without input or guidance. 

The future of marketing integrates traditional and social tools, connected by successful, ongoing relationships with media, influencers, and people. That’s right…it’s about relationships and it’s about people. Relationships serve as the foundation for everything, whether it’s traditional or new media, and the constant reminder that we’re reaching people, and not audiences, will keep us on a path of relevance.  And, each social network fosters its own unique culture dependent of the people who are populating the overall community as well as niche micro communities. 

As such, social media is driven by sociology and the study of human behavior and online cultures and not necessarily limited to the technology that is fueling it.
This is where we start in order to effectively identify the cultures of relevant online communities and listen to and respond directly to the people within them.

Sociology – The study of human social behavior, especially the study of the origins, organization, institutions, and development of human society.

Through sociology and social media, we’re learning to peel back the layers of our target demographics to see the people underneath as well as their online behavior. As such, we’re starting to figure out that we need to humanize our story and the process of storytelling.  And, through observation, we’re able to find our real customers and those who influence them. 

The recognition of people independently from the tools is an important reminder that their interests are at the center of what we do.

Borrowing insight, teachings, and experience from the school of sociology teaches us how to observe, listen to, and analyze the online cultures we wish to reach. 

However, many marketers are merely engaging in cultural voyeurism at best. They look from afar and roam the perimeters of online societies without ever becoming a true member of any society. This means, they don’t truly understand what, where, or why they’re “participating,” only jumping in because they have something to say and have access to the tools that will carry their messages into play. 

Conversational marketing requires observation, which will dictate your engagement strategies. It starts with a combination of social and traditional tools to discover, listen, learn, and engage directly with customers to help, not market, but indeed help them make decisions and also do things that they couldn’t, or didn’t know how to do, before.

Be sure to come back for Part 2, coming soon!

You can connect with Brian on Twitter, Jaiku, LinkedIn, Pownce, Plaxo, FriendFeed, or Facebook.

Brian Solis is Principal of FutureWorks, an acclaimed PR and New Media agency in Silicon Valley and also blogs at PR 2.0 and bub.blicio.us.  Along with Geoff Livingston, Solis recently co-authored “Now is Gone,” a new, award-winning book that helps businesses learn how to leverage New and Social Media.

(Flickr photo credit: joekerstef)

Posted in Customer service, Guest bloggers, Marketing, social media | Tagged: , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Groundswell Book Review – Fabulous!

Posted by Becky Carroll on April 17, 2008

I just finished reading the book Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff (analysts at Forrester), and what a book it is!  I also had the opportunity to interview Charlene about the book.  Here are some thoughts about the book, as well as a few comments from Charlene.  I will post the transcript of the interview with her soon; stay tuned!

Book Review

I do a lot of speaking on how to use social media to strengthen customer relationships, and Groundswell provides a great overview of not just the how but also the why.  The groundswell, as defined by the authors, is a social trend in which people use technologies to get what they need from each other, rather than from, say, corporations.  One of the reasons I like the book so much can be found in this quote:

…here’s the principle for mastering the groundswell: concentrate on the relationships, not the technologies.

This is Customers Rock! thinking, and I love it.  

This is not the book to read if you want to know all the details of the current social media technologies (although there is a nice overview in Chapter 2 – check out the part that describes how each technology enables relationships).  That is part of what makes this book so powerful.  Although technologies change quickly, the strategies outlined in this book are timeless. 

Setting Goals

Charlene and Josh stress the importance of setting clear goals when engaging in the groundswell.  They recommend choosing one of five different objectives, matching the objective for entering the groundswell to the company’s objective.  These include the following:

  • Listening – better understand your customers
  • Talking – spread your message
  • Energizing – supercharge Word of Mouth
  • Supporting – get customers to help each other
  • Embracing – collaborate on your business

There is a chapter for each of these strategies, including case studies of companies who are doing them well.  In addition, there are several examples of potential ROI for these activities (Charlene did note for me that they “threw everything into these business calculations”, so the costs may well differ for you!).   Charlene also told me that they turned away great cases for the book because they didn’t have the data to back up their successes.

Customer Profiles

Another very helpful part of Groundswell is the tables of customers and their “Social Technographic Profile.”  Forrester has done in-depth research around people’s activities online, and the tables outline which people are more likely to watch the online world (spectators) versus actively participate in it in various ways (creators/critics/collectors/joiners).  Here is an example for small business owners:

 

There is also a free tool on the Groundswell site so you can check out what your customers might be doing.  Although it is a little more generic than the tables in the book, it will still give you an idea of what is happening with certain demographics.

Highly Recommended

I agree with Charlene and Josh – the most important part of engaging in the groundswell is setting objectives.  There are too many companies out there trying to “do social media” just because their competitors are doing it.  Groundswell will help your company take the right perspective and set the right priorities.   It will also get you thinking about customer relationships, and any book focusing on that relationship is one I highly recommend.  I am even considering using this book as the textbook for my class Marketing with New Media (UCSD Extension program)…!

Posted in Book reviews, Customer experience, social media | 8 Comments »

Re-Experiencing Starbucks: Update 5 – MyStarbucksIdea

Posted by Becky Carroll on March 28, 2008

paper-cutouts.jpg Part 5 of the Re-Experiencing Starbucks project with Jay Ehret.  Read Jay’s latest post chronicling his recent trip to Brazil and the contrast between Brazilian coffee houses and Starbucks (what a contrast!).   Obrigada, Jay!  (Thank you, in Portuguese.)

Shortly after my last Starbucks update, Starbucks announced “…new strategic initiatives to transform and innovate the customer experience” at their shareholder meeting.  For a quick run-down of those ideas, see Jay Ehret’s post on the announcement.  For a more in-depth analysis of those ideas, and whether they will really impact the customer, see John Moore’s post.

Controversy

The most controversial initiative is Starbucks foray into the world of social media: MyStarbucksIdea.  Launched about 10 days ago, it is a website where customers can go to share ideas for improving Starbucks, vote on ideas from other customers, and then hear back from Starbucks on which ideas they are considering and/or taking on board.  There are a group of Starbucks partners (employees) who are responding to and interacting with these ideas on the site. 

Is It the Right Thing?

From reading several blog posts on this subject since the launch of MyStarbucksIdea, many bloggers seem to feel this is merely a PR move for Starbucks.  To get a feel for who is griping about it and who likes it, see the AdAge article citing references to MyStarbucksIdea from both camps.  Mack Collier of The Viral Garden wrote a great post comparing MyStarbucksIdeas to Dell’s IdeaStorm.  Mack writes,

“The name is different, but Starbucks has unveiled a new suggestion site that looks an awful lot like Dell’s Ideastorm community. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.”

I agree, Mack!  Dell’s community has been very good at getting their customers to engage and present new lines of thinking.  Dell has been very good at listening to them and responding quickly.

We can spend a lot of time debating whether this was a good idea for Starbucks or whether they went about it the right way.  It may even have been better for them to engage with customers by doing more listening and commenting through other mechanisms that already exist.  Mack goes on to say something similar in his next post on the subject of Starbucks and customer engagement:

“What would be more effective for Starbucks, to start the MyStarbucksIdea where 48 Starbucks employees attempt to engage Starbucks customers via the site, or to have those same 48 employees attempt to engage SBUX customers OFF the site, a la Richard Binhammer? I would lean toward having 48 employees reach out to customers online in THEIR space if those 48 did even half as well in engaging and responding to customers as Richard does.”

What is the Goal?

Perhaps it depends on the goal of this new online community for Starbucks.  Lately, I have been reading my advance copy of Charlene Li and Josh Bernhoff’s fabulous new book Groundswell(review coming soon here on Customers Rock!), and in it they discuss five goals for companies that want to engage with customers via social media: listening, talking, energizing, supporting, and embracing.  I have assumed Starbucks created MyStarbucksIdea for some combination of listening to customers as well as for co-creating (embracing in Groundswell terminology) with customers.  

Starbucks can easily listen in to customer conversations many places online (and offline) to understand what customers want.  They can also engage in many places online to continue a conversation.  By creating the MyStarbucksIdea site, Starbucks sets the expectation that they want to enable a conversation, join in, and connect customers with each other.  Charlene makes a suggestion on her blog that Starbucks should better close the loop on these interactions.  She says,

“Close the loop, and you’ve not only got me hooked, but I’ll walk the extra block in NYC or drive the extra mile to go to you rather than another coffee house.”  

When I started this “Re-experiencing Starbucks” project with Jay Ehret, I sent feedback to Starbucks via their website, some good and some not.  They responded to the good but ignored the rest.  Hopefully on “their turf”, they will be open to all ideas and close the loop on the feedback they are receiving.

Customers are being very active on the site, adding quite a few ideas and doing a lot of voting on others.  The main ideas on the site right now are dominated with requests for free “loyalty” drinks as well as free WiFi.  These are consistent with some of the pain points expressed by customersin a recent global survey, highlighted by Meikah over at Customer Relations, where price was the number one pain point.  Perhaps once Starbucks gets past these long-desired customer concerns, the conversation will blossom into other areas as yet unexplored. 

What do you think?

Go check out the site and let me know what you think.  Is this site a good way for Starbucks to keep an ear open to customer requests?  Will it be effective for co-creating with customers?  Do you think it will succeed?

Starbucks – are you listening?

Related Customers Rock! posts in the Re-Experiencing Starbucks project series:

Re-Experiencing Starbucks

Part 2: Transformation Starting

Part 3: The Training

Part 4: Little Things

Posted in Community, Customer experience, Customer loyalty, Marketing, social media, Starbucks Project | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

How do Customers Want to Engage in Social Media?

Posted by Becky Carroll on March 26, 2008

blog.jpg I spoke to a fabulous group of marketers last night at the iMarketers.org meeting, talking about social media and customer loyalty.  Before the talk, I spoke with a few of the attendees about how they were using social media to engage with their existing customers.  As I listened to some of the ways people were working with new media for “old” customers, I started to hear three main themes critical to success.

  • Ask customers – Don’t just assume your existing customers want to engage in a certain way or with certain media.  If the uptake isn’t what you expected, go back and ask your customer/client base whether they use this media.  If so, how do they use it?  If not, why not?  What might get them to use it?
  • Use trial and error- The adage, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” was never more true than in the age of social media.  One example we discussed last night was a sports and social club and their use of Facebook.  Members were definitely engaging through this medium, and the CEO was looking for ways to further get customers involved.  He thought the “Send someone a beer/martini/drink” application would be a perfect fit for this group of active adults, as the club often met in bars after the sports events were over.  It flopped.  However, putting photos of the sports contests and the after-sports happy hours was a big hit!
  • Make a plan- Don’t just blog or start using MySpace because everyone else is doing it.  Social media needs to be as well thought-out as the rest of your marketing mix, perhaps even more so because it is so quickly visible!  Set goals, create guidelines for your internal team, test with customers, and ask for feedback.  In other words, treat social media as a great marketing tool, using the same rigor as you would for direct mail or email (those are still great tools to use).

Do you have any social media tips for how to better engage with customers?  Come on out and share them here!

Posted in B2B Marketing, Customer experience, Customer strategy, Marketing, social media | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

How We Communicate Matters – It Really Does!

Posted by Becky Carroll on March 19, 2008

blah-sign.jpg I spent today with an auditorium full of non-profit marketers as I co-chaired the American Marketing Association’s 10th Annual Cause Conference.  There were many smart speakers who shared ideas about branding, marketing, and even social media marketing that Not For Profit organizations can take back and use immediately in their jobs.  The day’s most amusing speaker had to be Elaine Fogel.  Elaine is a senior contributor for MarketingProfs Daily Fix, and today she previewed her lunchtime keynote speech on marketing mistakes.  See her post for two examples of copy-writing gaffes.

How you communicate with your customers/clients/donors is critical to how they view your organization.  Whether the communication is written or verbal, brand impressions are made at each interaction.  So – take a few minutes to review that email  you are sending to multiple clients.  Have someone else read over your copy for that newsletter article.  Check those call center scripts for plain English!

Make each interaction count.  Your customers will thank you for it.

Fun detour: If you enjoy reading other people’s English errors or just like word play, you should grab a copy of one of Richard Lederer’s books.  His book Anguished English is a riot!  That said, in some ways it is kind of disturbing as well…

Posted in B2B Marketing, Customer service, Marketing, social media | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

 
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