Customers Rock!

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

Archive for February, 2007

Great Customer Service Tips from the Carnivale

Posted by Becky Carroll on February 27, 2007

carousel-horses.jpgThe Carnivale of Customer Serviceis going on again over at CustomersAreAlways.  Maria Palma does a wonderful job, as usual, of collecting posts on customer service that make me think.  Plus, she has included one of my recent posts, Customer Language, in the Carnivale!  Here is a short preview of what you will see when you go.  Be sure to tell Maria I said hello!  😉

The first entry comes from The Fish Creek House, a Bed and Breakfast inn located in Montana.   It is a 13-step checklist on customer service for innkeepers.  However, I found a number of the steps equally applicable to other businesses as well!  A lot of them have to do with understanding the customer experience.  Our blog host explains you should frequent your inn (or place of business) as one of your customers would.  I especially like this item:

11. Run your inn to suit your guests-not the other way around. Your policies should reflect the needs of guests before those of innkeepers (i.e. breakfast menus and serving times, check-in times, cancellation policies, and so on).

The next Carnivale entry comes from Service Untitled with an overview of some great posts from Seth Godin on customer service.  He highlights Seth’s post on apologies (which I also linked to awhile back here), as well as a post on re-thinking customer service (also from Seth).    Seth recommends avoiding real-time calls so one can better plan for asynchronous service.  I think that is an option for some types of service, but in other instances, a quick response is necessary (ie. business is losing money for every minute they are without a technical solution).  What might work would be a combo of this: provide asynchronous service gratis, then charge for immediate service.  What do you think?

The third entry is from Meikah at CustServ.  In her post, she shares insights gained from the recent Business Weekarticle on top customer service companies.  Meikah points out that a lot of their success comes from going “back to basics” for customer service.  She says,

All it takes is to listen, be attentive to the customers’ needs, and to always let that human nature in you reach out, which is innately helpful, compassionate, and empathetic.

Her insights are great as well.  Side note: Business Week originally had JetBlue on their list, then pulled them off after the recent bump in the road.  The poll on Business Week’s site asks whether readers feel they should have done that.  Over 80% of readers voted that Business Week should have left JetBlue on the list.  I agree!  Yes, they had a very poor experience for their customers, but I don’t feel this has completely negated years of excellent operations, customer service, and comfy planes.  I will fly them again, as will many others I have spoken with.

The fourth entry comes from Phil Gerbyshak at MakeItGreat!, where he posts on the use of response in customer service.  Phil, I think you are becoming a customer service blogger!  Check out his post for more details.

Finally, the last entry was mine, already mentioned above.

Be sure to go over to Maria’s Carnivale, check out the posts, and definitely stop by her other booths.  She has just done some great posts on Starbucks, irate customers, and customer service dreams!

(Photo credit: dbviragoat


Posted in Carnivale of Customer Service, Customer experience, Customer service | 10 Comments »

Nintendo Has the Last Laugh

Posted by Becky Carroll on February 26, 2007

video-game-kid.JPGBack in December, I discussed the battle for the gaming console customer.  I felt that Sony had not been paying attention to their very large installed base, and Microsoft had done some reaching out to existing customers.  These two new consoles were mostly focused on awesome new graphics capabilities.

Along came Nintendo.  My December post had links to interviews with Nintendo execs who discussed how they took a fresh approach based on customer needs.  They kept in mind that the number one reason any gamer wants to play is fun.  If it isn’t fun, it isn’t worth the time. 

Doug Meacham does a great job of challenging retailers in his recent post, saying that retailers were counting on a better showing from Sony.  He gives four early indicators for retailers that they could have used to see this “revolution” coming.  I especially like his fourth indicator:

Nintendo’s disruptive shift that focuses on the experience of the gamer

I think this was the biggest indicator that Nintendo would be the clear winner.  Nintendo’s decision to approach the business from the players perspective and make a product that truly engages the player (at half the cost of a PS3) was disruptive. 

I couldn’t agree more, Doug.

Now, Nintendo has the last laugh. 

See this cool animation from my new blogging friend and animator Will Reinhardt at Calico Monkey; it says it all!  Click on the icon at left to go to the page, then press play to see Crazy Wii.  Or, see it here.

Posted in Customer experience, Gaming | 6 Comments »

Stories and the Personal Touch

Posted by Becky Carroll on February 23, 2007

paper-cutouts.jpgMy inspiration today comes from the Marketing Profs:Daily Fix blog.  Two posts in particular caught my eye, and I saw them as related to each other.  They are both about how being personal makes a huge impact on our emotions.

In the first, Andrea Learned shares how the Wall Street Journal is using stories in their new Journeys ad campaign.  Andrea also shares three elements of the ad campaign that any brand could use as they look to connect with their customers: celebrities as regular people (hey, the NHL is doing that one, too!), simple but compelling design, and a feeling of being genuine.  Andrea notes,

I have found it fascinating to observe as brands have started to mine their existing content, customer base, blogs, YouTube and employee files for new and interesting angles on their work, products or services. 

I have also noticed that quite a few companies are mining their customers for stories lately.  Not just the SuperBowl ads, but real customer stories to put in their own communications.  Lands’ End has been doing it for years in their catalogs.  Disney does it as part of their DisneyInsider e-newsletter to season passholders.  ProFlowers recently started soliciting stories to include in their newsletters.  Of course, one of the kings of customer stories is Jones Soda (thanks, Jordan!) with their customers sending in pictures that they put on the actual soda bottles in stores.

In the second related post today, Tim Jackson shares about his recent trip to Taiwan to visit with his factory and old, new, and potential vendor partners.  He was impressed by the way these people showed him they cared about earning his business through personal interaction and relationship building.  (I am sure it meant a lot to them, as well, that Tim made the long trip from California!)  Tim says,

…all the money in the world thrown into expensive advertising can easily be defeated by “the personal touch.” Getting involved with your customers on a personal level will almost always yield positive results, especially if you take the time to listen to what they are saying to you and you learn what their needs are.

Tim has hit the nail on the head here.  Showing customers you really care is gold.  It can’t easily be faked, because, just like Fools Gold, you can always see it is just a little bit too shiny.  Building business by building relationships may seem like the old-fashioned way of doing things to some, but perhaps it is the key that many are missing today.  As Tim mentioned in the comments to his post (and I have mentioned before), the little things can make all the difference in cementing these relationships.

That is what is in common with these two posts.  It is all about being personal.  We are always fascinated with stories about the personal lives of others.  And who doesn’t feel good after talking about themselves for awhile?  One of the methods I learned many years ago for ensuring someone feels good about a conversation is to help them talk more about themselves.  They walk away feeling like they were actually heard by someone else. 

Many customers want to be treated personally and want to be heard.  Social media is beginning to allow that conversation to take place.  Now is the time, as marketers, we need to step in and get that conversation going.  Let our customers talk about themselves for awhile.  And to borrow a line from Tim, “It might not produce an immediate result, but it might just pay off in ways you never expected.” 

I predict that those companies who are willing to invest in the conversation will find it pays off in the end.

Posted in Customer experience | 8 Comments »

Xerox – Dedicated to Customer Experience

Posted by Becky Carroll on February 22, 2007

xerox-3.jpg“Xerox is dedicated to a great customer experience.”  This is according to their CEO, Anne Mulcahy.  For a technology company, nowhere is this more important than in customer service and support.  I recently interviewed Bill Steenburgh, senior vice president Xerox Services, to learn how Xerox uses certification to focus on customer experiences.

Customer service and support is among the top 3 considerations for B2B companies when purchasing technology.  Xerox recently became the first company to earn back-to-back recognition for their Enterprise Document Management Solution customer service and support in North America under the Certified Technology Service and Support program.  The program was jointly developed by J.D. Power and Associates and the Service and Support Professionals Association(SSPA).  I read about this from the SSPA, then I read this post by Meikah over at Customer Relations which has a short Xerox customer testimony.  I asked Bill how Xerox accomplished this distinction.  (Note: Joanne Weigel of the SSPA helped fill in the details on the JD Power certification process.)

The Best Possible Experience

“Do what’s right for the customer — that’s our grounding principle.”  To support this principle, Xerox communicates the following four themes through which they focus on the customer:

  • Dedicated to a great customer experience
  • Your experience, our priority
  • Unmatched breadth and depth of support capabilities
  • Convenient, fast, reliable, and responsive

According to Mr. Steenburgh, while the J.D. Power certification was awarded to the delivery of service and support, Xerox focuses on the complete customer experience in all of their activities.  This includes the product and service experience, cradle to grave.   All customers will benefit from the improvements which come from Xerox’s certification.  He says,

“The rigorous evaluation to become certified continually raises the expectations for technical service providers to deliver an outstanding customer experience.”

The Process 

In order to achieve certification, Xerox went through a two-phase process.  The first phase was an audit to look at how Xerox runs their support operations.  The second phase was an independent survey of Xerox customers, based on recent support interactions, with results benchmarked against competitors in the same industry.

In the first phase, Xerox had their support centers put under the microscope.  Over two to three days, auditors physically visited the support centers and reviewed everything, soup to nuts, comparing what they found against a list of support best-practice criteria.  The review included evaluation of areas such as in-house and partner call center operations, call listening, call center metrics, internal talent, agent retention, back-end processes, and field operations among others.  Interviews were conducted with first line managers as well as individual contributors to confirm the operational processes which had been outlined by senior management.  The audit process was quite intensive!

Why Did Xerox Pursue Certification?

I asked Steenburgh why Xerox chose to pursue the J.D. Power certification.  The following are Xerox’s four reasons, in his words:

  1. Improve our processes.  To prepare, we had to internally review our service delivery processes in over 300 separate categories.  We thoroughly assessed ourselves and utilized LSS (Lean Six Sigma) to improves our processes and challenge ourselves where our practices did not align with the processes.
  2. External benchmarking and validation.  J. D. Power rigorously audited our processes and viewed evidence.  This audit resulted in an external assessment and benchmarked our strengths and developmental opportunities.
  3. Demand Creation.  External validation drives awareness of our service delivery capabilities and created demand for Xerox products and services.
  4. Recognition.  This certification recognizes the excellence in service delivery we provide day in and day out.

The Business of Customers

Excellence doesn’t come by accident.  It is not achieved by call center agents committing “random acts of CRM” or who are extra-friendly.  Excellence is achieved with careful planning and execution.  Steenburgh attributes Xerox’s success in earning this certification two years in a row to the discipline of Lean Six Sigma.  “(We have) strict adherence to processes and procedures that are continually focused on delivering an outstanding customer experience.  Nothing new was developed for this certification; this is the way we do our business.”

One of a company’s goals would be to craft the optimal customer experience at each stage of the customer lifecycle, taking the needs of the customer into account.  Every touch point is an opportunity.  We need to ensure that each customer touch is giving the message we want to give about our products, services, and brand.  This is especially critical for customer service , as it is one of the main points of interaction between company and customer.

How can an organization improve its customer experiences?  Put simply, for each place that customers touch the company, the organization should ask itself what it can do for its customers to help them achieve their goals.  Companies such as Xerox will continue to raise the bar when it comes to expectations of technical service and delivery of an outstanding customer experience.

Xerox is in the business of customers.  What business are you in?

Note: This post is based on my article in the February issue of the SSPA News.  You can find the SSPA’s new blog here.  Welcome to the ‘sphere!

(Photo: Xerox Corporation)

Posted in Customer service, Customers Rock!, Technical support | 6 Comments »

Little Things Make a Difference for Customers

Posted by Becky Carroll on February 21, 2007

cookie-beaver-creek.jpgWhat can you do for your customers that adds a memorable touch to their experience?  At Beaver Creek Resort in Colorado, they bake cookies!

Beaver Creek Resort is a sports destination offering golf in the summer and skiing in the winter.  It is geared to the vacation traveler who is looking for a luxurious place to hang their hat for the week.

However, it is the little things they do for their customers that earned Beaver Creek Resort the 2006 Best Overall Customer Service Program award from the National Ski Area Association

Beaver Creek Resort thought through the customer experience of someone coming to ski for the day.  What are their challenges, and how can we help? 

“My skis are heavy.”  Beaver Creek Resort has people who can carry your equipment for you.

“I have never skied here before, and I don’t know where to go.”  Beaver Creek Resort offers free Mountain Welcome Tours to newcomers.

“I can’t find a table at lunch, and I’m starving!”  Beaver Creek Resort has ‘Greet and Seat’ hosts, dressed in Western garb, who use radios to help you find an open table.

“Wow, that day of skiing was fun, but I am tired and a little cold.”  Beaver Creek Resort has a special Cookie Time.  At 3 pm each day, skiers are offered warm chocolate chip cookies by volunteers as they come off the slopes.  They even sponsor an annual contest for the best chocolate chip cookies.  The winner’s recipe becomes the signature cookie recipe for Cookie Time that year.

Yes, some of these ideas require extra staff to accomplish; Beaver Creek uses both paid and volunteer mountain hosts.  Some of these ideas are as simple as providing cookies.  All together, however, these “little things” make a big difference to anyone skiing at Beaver Creek Resort.  Potential problems have been addressed for them in advance, and skiers can come and have a memorable day in the snow.

Usually, there are small things we can do for our customers that can have a large impact on their current experience, as well as on future experiences when they come back for more.  How do you want your customers to remember their experience with your company?  What customer need can you meet?  What is your “chocolate chip cookie” that you can provide to make their experience more positive? 

I challenge you to build a “chocolate chip cookie” experience into your strategic plan for interacting with customers.  Be specific about it.  Don’t just let it happen randomly.  Deliberate planning makes good customer service into a great customer experience.

(Photo: Beaver Creek Resort)

Posted in Customer experience | 5 Comments »

Updated Z-list or Z-list 2.0

Posted by Becky Carroll on February 20, 2007

keys-heart.jpgWhen the Z-list was re-vitalized a few weeks ago by Maki, I found myself gazing into an entirely new set of blogs.  Some of them were very similar to my interests, some of them weren’t.  I also found it was hard to dig-in to the Z-list because it had expanded so much!  Then I noticed that Gavin Heaton was thinking about trying to organize it somehow, just as I had been thinking.  Sharon Sarmiento joined us, and we have now produced Z-list 2.0!

What, you might ask, is Z-list 2.0?  We took the last known version of the Z-list started by Mack Collier, added on as many of the new entries as we could track down, and then did a 10-word “description” of each blog.  After combining our work, we categorized the blogs by type.  At the end of this post, you will find the Z-list 2.0. 

We also created it in a Word version and in an Excel version for easier sorting.  I, for one, find this very helpful.  Now I can go and look at all of the marketing blogs, or all of the photography blogs and dig into those that look interesting.  I can also go and sort by location to find the bloggers in my area.

Gavin is putting this into a Wiki; more on that when it arrives.

I am sure Z-list 2.0 didn’t capture every blog ever to be on the Z-list because there are so many different versions of it!  Each site that posted a list got their list from a different site, as well as added different blogs to it, so the list really ebbed and flowed all over the ‘sphere.  When the Wiki is up, you can add any missing blogs into it, and hopefully, links!

This was a great exercise.  It forced me to take the time to go out to the many wonderful blogs on the list (something I kept putting off before).  I have added quite a few of them to my feed reader, and I look forward to making many more friendships through these new connections.  Thanks for the project, Gavin and Sharon.

All right, without further ado, here is Z-list 2.0.  Scroll down, enjoy, and tell us what you think (many of you already have on Gavin’s blog, so thanks)!

Author Location Category 10 Word Description
Calico Monkey  Will Reinhardt Texas, USA Animation Focuses on
the ToonBoom software to create animation.
Women, Art,
Life: Weaving It All Together
Art Art-focused,
including thoughts on the art that Tammy produces.
Woolgathering  Elizabeth
  Art Looking,
thinking, drawing, being
World Blog Collection ugyen   Blog
listings categorized by type; goal to add 1000 links in ’07.
Blogging Secret Louiss Lim Malaysia Blogging Part
personal but mostly blogging related site.
Blogging to Fame Divya Uttam India Blogging All aspects
of online business from SEO to usability and blogging.
Blog-Op Chris Lodge   Blogging How to
improve your blogging by Chris and others.
Daily Blog Tips Daniel   Blogging Tips to
improve your blogging from tools to design.
Mike’s Money Making
Mike   Blogging Making money
using free blogs.
One Reader at a Time Bob Glaza   Blogging One
blogger’s experiment in building and engaging with online communities.
Ruminate this site The
Maine, USA Blogging Reviews
blogs and sites so that we don’t have to.
SMogger Social Media Blog Linda
Blogging The ethical
use of social media for bloggers and other web users.
SuccessCREEations  Chris Cree Georgia, USA Blogging Blog
Consultant bringing the twin passions of business and blogging together.
Successful Blog Liz Strauss   Blogging The
legendary Liz Strauss, blogger extraordinaire and creator of the SOB award.
Troy Worman’s Blog Troy Worman Jacksonville,
Blogging Focus on
writing, ideas and connections
UK Blogging,
importance of copy in corporate blogging
Eric Rosen   Blogging,
How to
measure reading effectiveness and why it is important in the blogosphere
Dipping into the Blogpond Meg Sydney,
about starting an Internet company in the Sutherland Shire.
BrandSizzle Anne Simons   Branding Broad and
deep insight into the branding process.
Own Your
Mike Wagner Iowa, USA Branding Blog to help
businesses re-imagine their brands.
The Emerging Brand Anna
UK Branding Corporate
branding blog focused on leadership.
The Engaging Brand Anna
UK Branding Using
technology and marketing knowledge to improve business communications.
What is Brand?   Japan Branding Japanese
readers/speakers? Anyone?
Presentation Zen Garr
Japan Business (Site in
English) Tips for great presentations, marketing, and business
Bob Sutton Bob Sutton California,
Business Discussions
of “jerks” in business.
Perspective Niti Bhan Asia Business Health,
wealth and the freedom to choose. 
Archived blog.  New one is
jugaad (
Ramblings from a Glass Half Full Terry
Business Views on
business life.
Simplicity Mary’s Blog Mary
New Mexico,
Business Business
development, marketing troubleshooting
Funny Business Scrambled
Wide ranging
discussion on business with a funny and pictorial approach.
Creative Think Roger von Oech  California,
Fun Ideas to
stimulate your creativity.
The Copywriting
Washington  DC, USA Copywriting Marketing
and SEO copywriting tips.
Brain Based Biz Robyn
  Creativity Tips for
stirring creativity in business.
Experienceology Stephanie
How to
create great customer experiences on the web and in the “real” world.
QAQNA Tom Vander
Iowa, USA Customer
blog on call centers, quality assessment, and customer service.
Shut Up and Drink the
Tim Jackson   Cycling,
irrepressible Tim MasiGuy Jackson and Co’s slant on bicycle marketing.
MineThatData Kevin
Tips for
database marketing from the viewpoint of a DM wiz.
Design Sojourn DT Sydney and
Design How to do
good design and create clever products.
aialone JT (Jon)
Canada Design, tech Design,
innovation, as well as Jon’s cartoons!
Frozen Puck Brock
Canada Eclectic Making cool
stuff with expensive toys
Africa Unchained Emeka
  Economy Discussing
issues and solutions in Africa.
Energy Blog     Energy
information and updates on the Energy generation industry.
Movie Marketing Madness Chris   Entertainment,
with a focus on Hollywood.  No info on
About page.  
gDiapers Jason Oregon, USA Environment Corporate
blog discussing environmental issues.
Time to Budget Mona
  Finance How to gain
financial freedom by controlling your finances.
Soloride Paul
Fundraising A project
raising awareness and funds for children with dyslexia and learning
Girls Swimsuits Preety   Girls The name
says it all, new site, small archive.
Home Business Wiz Barbra
Canada Home
of resources about home business.
Working at Home on the Internet Joe Hauckes   Home
business, Blogging
business entrepreneurs and making money from home
business, Online Money Making
mom-geared work-at-home tips and advice on making money on the net.
Asia Inspection Community     Industrial Blog for
Inspection Engineers based in Asia. Includes job board.
Employment Law Colorado Peter
Law Resource for
employers and employees on Colorado employment law
Leading Questions Ed Brenegar USA Leadership Real life
leadership, organisational tranformation and practical tips for leaders of
all kinds.
Steve Olson   Life Chronicling
one family’s quest for personal freedom.
It Great! 
How to take
your life from good to great by focusing on relationships.
You Already Know This
Jodee Bock Fargo, USA Life
Reminding us
all that what we need to know is already in our minds and hearts.
HolyMama!    USA Lifestyle Funny
perspective on life from a stay at home Christian mom.
My Marrakesh Maryam
Morocco Lifestyle Expatriate
American with an eye for style, architecture and good living
Gangster Sonny     Mafia Fascinated
with all things mafia … from movies to weapons.
Talking Story Rosa Say Hawaii, USA Management Management
and leadership, Hawaiian style.
AENDirect Aen Tan Singapore Marketing Freelance
art director’s view on creativity and advertising
Being Peter Kim Peter Kim Massachusetts,
Marketing Personal
insights from the depths of Forrester (note: this is his personal, not
Forrester, blog).
BizandBuzz  Gianandrea
Rome, Italy Marketing Brand
building and marketing from an Italian perspective
bizsolutionsplus Lewis Green Connecticut,
Marketing A passionate
and respected author, marketer and activist.
Till You Drop! 
Laurence-Hélène UK Marketing Marketing,
advertising, branding, blogging
Branding & Marketing Chris Brown Ohio, USA Marketing Designed for
business professionals with an interest in branding and marketing.
Business Garden   France Marketing French
Buzz Canuck Sean
Word of
exponent of word of mouth from Canada.
Buzzoodle Ron
Ohio, USA Word of
mouth, Marketing
buzz with word of mouth marketing.
A recording
artist, Christine harnesses the power of community to reach her audience.
CKs Blog Christina
New York,
Marketing Clever
strategies, the new best practices, and the smart marketers behind them.
Conversation Agent Valeria
Marketing Connecting
ideas and people—how talk can change our lives
converstations Mike
Des Moines,
Known as the
blogging yoda (for insight not looks), Mike is a conversation generator.
CrapHammer Sean Howard Canada Marketing Marketing
using new media.
Customers Rock! Becky
Customer Experience
the customer experience; its importance for businesses.
Diva Marketing Toby
Atlanta, USA Marketing The Diva
herself, aligning technology, marketing and branding for businesses.
Dmitry Linkov Dmitry
Everyday and
business issues
Drew’s Marketing Minute Drew
USA Marketing,
strategy and passion collide
eSoup Sharon
Alabama, USA Marketing,
marketing, web media, small biz development and other stuff entrepreneurs
ought to know.
Flooring the Consumer C. B.
New Jersey,
Customer Experience
the consumer experience, particularly in flooring (carpeting)
strategy and thoughts on blogging.
Golden Practices Michelle
  Marketing Thoughts on
marketing for professional services firms, including lawyers and CPAs.
Texas, USA Marketing There is no
box. New media marketing strategy thrown together with a few cuss words and a
dash of panache.
Hola! Oi! Hi! Katia Adams New York,
Thoughts of
a Brazilian newly arrived in the US with a marketer’s point of view.
Jeremy Latham’s Blog Jeremy
Marketing A
marketing-business oriented blog on website development.
John Wagner John Wagner Texas, USA Marketing News and
views on marketing, advertising, media, PR and grass-roots communications
Kinetic Ideas Wendy
Oregon, USA Marketing Marketing
tips, ideas, strategies, and musings for small businesses.
Logic + Emotion David
Chicago, USA Marketing The
intersection of marketing, brand engagement and experience design. How to
turn your passive consumers into active brand participants.
Marketing Hipster Cord
Raleigh, USA Marketing Online
oriented blog on marketing and web 2.0 tools.
Marketing Nirvana Mario
USA Marketing How corporate marketers can
leverage the web & social media for better results
Multi-Cult Classics HighJive   Marketing,
Musings on
Multiculturalism in the Ad Industry and Beyond.
Nick Rice Nick Rice Kentucky,
strategy combined with creative thinking and design.
On Influence & Automation Douglas A.
Indiana, USA Marketing A marketing
and technology blog
OTOInsights Jeremi
  Marketing Corporate
blog focusing on using technology to create and sustain customer
Pardon My French Eric
New Jersey,
Marketing Online
strategy and marketing with great case studies of real projects.
Pow! Right Between The
Andy Nulman   Marketing The
importance of surprise in business
Purple Wren Sandy
Iowa, USA Marketing Tools
and techniques for communicating life through print and images.  
Servant of Chaos Gavin
Marketing Gavin’s rant
on the world of branding and storytelling.
Shotgun Marketing Blog Chris
Marketing Musings on
marketing and related ideas.
Small Business Blogging Andy
Chicago, USA Marketing,
Using web
media to market your business
Tell Ten Friends Jordan
Canada Marketing Marketing
using new media to make connections.
The Branding Blog Martin
  Marketing Branding
principals, opinions and prejudices he’s developed
The Experience Curve Karl Long California,
Social Media
Social media
and marketing from an experiential point of view.
The Instigator Blog Ben
Marketing Entrepreneurial
focus on marketing, ideas and building your business
The Marketing Minute Drew
Iowa, USA Marketing Expert
insight into marketing and branding. And Drew loves Disneyland.
Viral Garden 
Alabama, USA Marketing Mr Community
leads the way in using technology to create conversation.
Two Hat Marketing Steve
Marketing Views on
targeted marketing.
Unconventional Thinking Chris Kieff New York,
Marketing The art and
science of growing businesses
Viaspire A biz
  Marketing Marketing
and Communications consulting firm blog
Popcorn n Roses TC Kirkham
and Kim Brown
Movies Movie
industry blog with reviews and musings.
Current World news     News “Breaking”
news across a couple of categories. Small archive.
at Your Fingertips 
News and
tips for making money blogging. No archive.
Blogtrepreneur Adnan UK Online Money
How to be an
online entrepreneur and also build community!
Can I Make Big Money Online George
Brian Manty
  Online Money
Tips for
making money online including research, design and blogging.
Dosh Dosh Maki   Online Money
Trying to
source legitimate methods for making money online.
Internet Bazaar Guhan
Making Money
Tips and
ideas for making money online.
Kumiko’s Cash Quest Kumiko Tokyo, Japan Online Money
Trying to
make money online and sharing the experience.
Million Dollar Experiment heads
Down Under
Rob St
New Zealand Online Money
Can thinking
positively make you a cool mill? Rob hopes so.
Money Spider

Quest to make money on the internet



Online Money Making

Online Money

An experiment about  making money writing, plus some tips

Currently up
to £128, this site makes money by letting out its posting space.

Above Popular Mark   Personal Motivated to
make the world a better place.
Critical Fluff Jayniek Maryland,
Personal Ranks
various things in life with mulligans, crabapples, and pineapples. 
Forged Euphoria     Personal Some
sponsored links.
OrbitNow!  Troy Worman Florida, USA Personal Miscellaneous
The Sartorialist     Photography,
Photos of
fashion on the streets, geared to inspire designers.
Bullshitobserver Todd
  Politics Politics and
Millenium PR
  PR Bringing
business, branding, marketing and PR together.
The New PR Ryan
PR Public
relations in the online world.
Carpe Factum Timothy
Blog that
focuses on the things you need to do to accomplish things. Especially big
Work, in Plain English Penina S
A design and
marketing focused blog on project management. Interesting mix!
turned out David
Religion Minister
blogging to connect everyone with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Evolution…not just a theory anymore Greg Laden Minnesota,
Creation vs
evolution, commentary and archaeology by an independent scholar.
SEO Blog     SEO New site on
SEO and use of blogs to improve rankings.
Flee the Cube ICesar California,
Starting up
a small business in web design.
Community Guy Jake McKee Dallas, USA Social media Online and
offline community building tips and tricks.
A Free and Decent Blog Host Unfathomed_Psyche   Tech Technology
news focusing on blogs and blog software
Billions With Zero Knowledge Austin Hill Canada Tech,
Changing the
world with little bits of knowledge
Connected Internet Everton
London, UK Tech All things
to do with technology, mobile phones and gaming. Darren
Canada Tech,
Tech news,
writing and marketing
Deepak Deepak   Tech Focuses on
the technology of the Internet and loves Google.
MapleLeaf 2.0 Mark Evans  Canada Tech Tech news
stories relating to Canada
Scott Burkett’s Pothole on the Infobahn Scott
Georgia, USA Tech Musings on
technology, IT management, and online community.
Small Surfaces Gabriel
  Tech Interaction
design, user interface design, user experience, usability and social trends
related to mobile devices.
TechBuzz Thilak Mangalore,
Tech Tech new and
reviews written by 17 year old in India. Awesome. Rob
  Travel Design and
photography blog.
Through the Lenses Jas Vancouver,
blog includes stunning shots and photography tips.
Travel And Vacation On Blog     Travel Lightweight
travel guide/destination information on selected cities. Needs more.
The Best Guides to eCommerce with
marketing tools, memes and SEO tips.
Web Metrics Guru Marshall
analytics, in particular for blogs
The Future of the Web Jesse
Canada Web
Use of new
technologies for the web.
Social Media on the
Florida, USA Web media,
social media on the fly

Posted in Community, Memes | 19 Comments »

Friday News from the ‘Sphere

Posted by Becky Carroll on February 16, 2007

global-hello.jpgToday, my tidbits point to two Marketing carnivals, a “geeky” interview, and the latest on the Z-list.  Grab your favorite snack (I just finished one of mine: Bugles!), sit back, and have a read.

Two Marketing Carnivals

I am very late in posting on these, so my sincerest apologies!  First, Peter Kim’s most recent Carnival of Marketing highlighted my post on Marketing Experiences, not Products.  He also refers to his ideas on reinventing marketing to be more customer-centric, which of course, I completely agree with!  I believe that marketing also needs to become more pervasive throughout a company so it can work hand-in-hand with all customer-facing touch points.  Marketing should not be a gate-keeper of information but can facilitate customer engagement.  You can read other points of view in Peter’s Resources on Reinventing Marketing post from this week.  Thanks, Peter!  I would like to be part of this conversation.

Nick Rice has an ongoing Marketing (r)evolution Carnival, and his latest entry has a plethora of posts.  Topics include advertising, marketing, branding, and strategy.   There has been some discussion of the need to add a topic for customer experience from our friends over at Perfect Customer Experience blog.  Anyone care to chime in?  Should there be a separate category, or should it be considered part of strategy/marketing?  Be sure to thank Nick while you are visiting his carnival for all the hard work he puts into making it such a success.  Thanks again, Nick!

A “Geeky” Interview

I just finished reading the in-depth interview of Robert Stephens, founder of Geek Squad (now part of Best Buy) over at Service Untitled.  They have done a fabulous job of documenting the Q&A in this post, this post, and then this post (note: the fourth part of the interview will be coming out next week).  The topics include Robert’s background and philosophy, his thoughts on uniforms, hiring, and customer service, as well as Geek Squad’s challenges and opportunities for improvement.  If you don’t take at least a few tidbits away for your own customer service operation, then read it again!  Well done.

Latest on the Z-List

The Z-list quieted down after the New Year, and I thought, well, it was fun while it lasted.  Plus, I still needed to catch up on all those great blogs I hadn’t gotten around to reading yet.  Next thing I know, Maki over at DoshDosh found it and started it up again in a whole new community!  Gavin Heaton decided it was getting a bit unwieldy and needed some structure; exactly what I had been thinking.  Sharon Sarmiento said she would help us sort it all out, and now we are deep in the Z-list

We should be putting out version 2.0 of the Z-list soon with blog categories and even mini-reviews of each blog.  Stay tuned!

In the meantime, my thoughts about the Z-list are this: I never would have found so many great blogs, and in turn, so many blogging friends, if it wasn’t for Mack Collier.  He got this new community started back in December, and that is the perfect name for it, a community.   Yes, those on the Z-list have seen a rise in their rankings.  However, when you read a little bit closer, you see that the Z-listers are regularly commenting on one another’s blogs, guest blogging on them, and even working together all around the world.  This is what the Z-list is really all about.  It is the great content, plus the great friendships, that have kept bloggers and readers coming back for more.  Thanks again, Mack!

Posted in Customer experience, Marketing, Memes | 3 Comments »

Pizza Customer Woes

Posted by Becky Carroll on February 15, 2007

pizza.jpgPhil Gerbyshak and I have a lot in common.  We both try to blog from a positive perspective.  We both believe in the cool “underground” culture that is blogging.  And we are both frustrated with the pizza chain Papa John’sPhil’s post from yesterday describes his bad experience on Valentine’s Day, which ended up with cold pizza left on his front porch.  Check it out, including the comments because Phil asked for suggestions on how Papa John’s can “Make it Great!”  Yes, this is a departure from the usual positive thinking, but let this be a lesson to all: enough frustration can cause anyone to crack.

Here is my pizza story, along with some tips for Papa John’s. 

The Online Experience

I love it when the online and offline experiences work together.  They didn’t work together for me with Papa John’s.  When I first heard of this chain, I was very excited about being able to order pizza online and have it delivered.  Why?  I don’t have to leave my computer, I don’t have to talk to the teens people hired to work there, and I love using the Internet to make my life simpler.

My first order went fine — pizza ordered online, I could add or remove toppings to half of a pizza at a time, and I could pay cash at the door when it arrived.  Cool!

My second order left something to be desired.  I had some coupons from my first order; they had been glued to the top of the pizza box.  I grabbed the coupon sheet and logged on to the Papa John’s website.  I customized my two pizzas (Family Special: buy one specialty pizza at regular price, get a large with two toppings for $x) and went to the check-out screen.  I looked for a place to indicate my coupon.  There were places to input a “promotion code”, but the coupon didn’t list any codes.  The Family Special was listed, but it was priced $4 higher then my coupon.  As a result, I had to either pay a higher price or abandon my online order; I did the latter (major bummer – this is why I used Papa John’s!).  Where is my phone?

Marketing Tip #1: If you are including a coupon with your pizza, be sure to enable it to work with all of your order-taking systems, including online.

The Phone Experience

I picked up the phone and dialed the local Papa John’s (after looking in the phone book for the number, as it was NOT printed on the coupon). 

Marketing Tip #2: If you are including a coupon with your pizza, be sure to include the local number so someone can easily call you to redeem the coupon.

After momentarily being put on hold, a young-sounding man answers and says, “Papa John’s, would you like to buy our Family Special for $x+2?”  (Translation: $2 higher than the price on my coupon.)  Boy, am I feeling jerked around!  How many versions of this special do they have, and am I getting the best one?

Marketing Tip #3: Coordinate your communications to have the same information (in this case, the same price) in all places you touch the customer: online, phone, print.

I tell him I have a coupon for the same special but for $x.  He tells me to wait, and I can  hear him talking to a manager.  He says OK, but I have to give them the coupon when they get there.  Fine.  He asks for my phone number, and I give it to him.  He looks up my street address in their computer and asks if this is the right address for me – and is my name Becky?  I say yes to both.  Cool, at least they kept my info. 

Then I hear him turn to his boss again and ask whether they will deliver to my street address.  Hello?  You have been here before; how else do you have my address?

Customer Service Tip #1: If you are going to have a conversation about me, at least put me on hold so I don’t have to hear it.

Customer Service Tip #2: Be sure to train your customer service people on great customer service.  Yes, there is a cost involved, but it may keep you from losing customers.

To finish the story, he takes the coupon price (under duress), they deliver the pizzas, my kids are happy, and we eat pizza for dinner.

Final observation:

Think for a moment about my customer needs.  I am ordering online because it is convenient for me.  Papa John’s seems like they are geared towards Internet purchasing of pizza.  Great idea, poor to fair execution.   If the customer has an online “promotion code” from an email offer, then they are set.  If the customer has a paper coupon, they are hosed.  The inconvenience of having to pick up the phone and dial after spending time to order online is maddening.  Papa John’s cross-channel strategy is not working.  Papa John’s has to do more than just offer a web presence in order to be successful on the web; they have to meet the needs of those online customers.

Their website does have a place for “customer feedback”, which they apparently use for both customers and employees.  I will send a link to this post when I fill out their feedback form and see what they have to say. 

Phil, give it a try, and let’s see what we get!

Posted in Customer experience, Customer service, Marketing | 13 Comments »

Customer Language

Posted by Becky Carroll on February 13, 2007

conversation.jpgTomorrow, Americans celebrate Valentine’s Day, a day for expressing love and appreciation.  Here at Customers Rock! our thoughts turn to customers.  How can we express our love and appreciation of our customers?

Some organizations say what they know best, without thinking about using customer language to express their gratitude.  You have seen this many times, I am certain.  They might use “tech speak” in their emails when they answer a technical question posed by a user.  They might use “consultant speak” when they try to sell their services to a potential client (please tell me if I ever start to do this!).  They might even use “blog speak” when they are sharing their passion for blogging with others who don’t read blogs.

Customers, however, don’t care about the latest buzzwords.  They want to hear something expressed in a manner they can understand.  They want to hear their own “language”, and it is about more than just which words are used to convey an idea.  It is about using communication methods customers can relate to.

A book came out a few years ago by Gary Chapman called, “The Five Love Languages.”  It outlined the five different ways people in relationships say “I love you.”   There is a lot we can learn here about how customers want to be loved, too.  I have taken the five love languages created by Mr. Chapman and used a customer perspective with them.

The Five Love Languages

Words of Affirmation: This is verbal appreciation.  For this type of customer, it is important to hear words such as “you are valuable to us”, “you are one of our best customers”, or “we really appreciate your business.”  As long as these words are sincere, and not offered up to just anyone, this language will speak volumes to these customers.

Quality Time: This is spending good time building a relationship.  For some customers, this is very important.  For others, they may not really want to build a relationship with your organization.  However, for those who want a relationship and value quality time, the conversation is important.  For example, these customers appreciate corporate blogs that allow not only allow customers to speak their mind, but someone at the organization takes the time to answer back.  Thus, a dialogue is created, and loyalty is deepened.

Receiving Gifts: For many organizations, they feel the need to send gifts to their best customers.   Is this effective?  It depends.  If the gift is relevant and a good symbol of the product or service, then it could be worthwhile.  The gift may not have to be monetary to be effective for these customers.  Traditional loyalty programs cater to this type of thinking.  For those customers who value gifts, this language will help cement the relationship.  However, this may not be the “language” for every customer.

Acts of Service: This language is spoken by doing something for the customer.  This is for the customer that appreciates great service more than anything else.  “I don’t care about rewards points; just give me good customer service!”  This language can also be spoken as we remember things for and about customers during interactions.  Do you remember my account code, which I just typed in?  Do you remember me from the last time I came into your store?  Acts of service are valuable to most customers, but it is a loyalty key for those who long for this language.

Physical Touch: This one is a bit trickier!  I am going to equate it to face time.  For some customers, email, phone, voicemail, and instant messaging is a great way to update them.  However, they won’t seal the deal until they have had face-to-face contact.  “If you really care about me, spend the time to come and meet me.”  This is especially relevant for B2B organizations.  It can also be important with consumers.  For example, there are those that prefer the grocery store check-out line with a real checker, not the automated self-service machine.

How well do you know your customer’s love language?  Are you flexible enough to speak one way to one customer, and another way to a different customer?  Does your organization track the communication preferences of its best customers?  Have you planned out the customer experience enough to take action on your customers’ preferences?

Ask your organization these key questions in your management meetings this week, and let me know how it goes!

(Image credit: thijsone)

Posted in Customer experience, Customer loyalty | 14 Comments »

Job Postings

Posted by Becky Carroll on February 12, 2007

paper-cutouts.jpgToday’s post is a little bit different for me but one which I am interested in sharing.  As I have been participating in the blogosphere these past months, I have had people coming to me to help them fill open job positions.  I am flattered by this, but I also know it is my great connections via my blogging friends that are helping me help others. 

Below is a job opportunity and a link to a new customer-service focused job site.  If you know anyone who might be interested, please contact me or the person listed in the post.  Thanks for helping highlight the right opportunities to the right people!

Social Media Editor

MSquared Consulting is looking for a really cool consultant, a “Social Media Editor” who has a background in Internet media for a leading Internet company and with experience in social media or a personal/professional blog.  The consultant would work with a major financial services organization and play a pivotal role in the development of new social media marketing initiatives including blogging, consumer-generated media (CGM), wikis and other emerging “Web 2.0” technologies.  

Location: San Francisco, CA, full time for 5 months; possibility of converting to regular hire.

Contact: Jennifer Robinson, MSquared Consulting, at (415) 391-1038.  Alternatively, you can send me an email, and I will give you more details.

Customer Service Job Posting Site

I am part of a team of customer service bloggers that has put together a site for employers looking for customer service personnel.  It is called Customer-Centric Jobs.   If you are an employer seeking to fill a customer-service related position and would like to know more, please feel free to send me an email, and I can fill you in.

(Note: I am not getting paid to post these opportunties, but I believe in the people who have sent them to me.  I may get a small referral fee in some cases.)

(Photo: Stockxpert, uploaded by nosheep)

Posted in Job postings | 2 Comments »