Archive for category: Twitter

What a Great Customer Experience Can Look Like

10 Aug
August 10, 2014

A quick post to highlight a fantastic customer experience I had last week.

I tweeted Ann Handley from Marketing Profs to ask if her new book Everybody Writes will be available in Australia at the same time as the US. Sure, I could just buy on Kindle, or order from Amazon, but I sometimes prefer a hard copy and like to support local where I can.

I really enjoyed Content Rules, Ann’s last book, so am naturally keen to read this one.

I could explain the rest of the exchange, but I’ll let Twitter do that:

This to me is a perfect customer experience – a referral from a trusted source, the surprise and delight of a price offer, quick resolution of a small issue and ultimately a sale.

All handled via Twitter. I pay about what I would pay from Amazon, and a local business has a new customer.

Couldn’t have been more straightforward.

What are the lessons here?

  • Always be listening for opportunities
  • Where possible, do something unexpected that the customer will love
  • Always be willing to follow up

UPDATE – Ann’s book is now released, here’s a post from her blog with some links to great excerpts and interviews she has done in support of the release.

PHOTO – Mark JP via Flickr

3 Social Service Tips For Those That Don’t Offer It

28 Jul
July 28, 2014

Despite that fact that social media is becoming the new megaphone for customer complaints and issues, not every business has made the jump to serving customers via social channels.

Many prefer to engage with them through content that promotes the brand and engages people on their pages, rather than supporting it. According to one study, only 39% offer service on Twitter despite 76% of companies actually using it.

The reality though is different – yes, people are talking about you, and that also means people are complaining about you, and people expect some sort of response.

In a separate piece of research, 53% of people who tweeted a company expected a response within the hour. Increasing customer expectations have now grown that to 72% according to research from Lithium Technologies. Both of these were covered in an excellent article on Hubspot dealing with social response times.

Even if you are not using it, it pays to have a fundamental understanding of how social customer service works, and how to deal with it.

An encounter I had with a wine retailer last week on Twitter was a perfect example of a business that doesn’t typically do it.

A bit of background…

Sporadically, and more recently last week, I receive emails from a list that I unsubscribed from about 18 months ago. Usually I just click on unsubscribe, delete and move on, which after the third time I accepted that this was a function that was clearly broken. Once again, breaking up is hard to do.

The last email though got my attention. It was to update my preferences. In it, it had a list of various types of emails they offer, and clearly showed that I was opted out of all emails. Yet they wanted me to check that this is what I wanted to do.

Now, as far as I am concerned, once I am unsubscribed, that’s it. My name is off your list and I don’t want to hear from you again. It shouldn’t be sitting on a database somewhere so I can occasionally hear from you. Yet in this case, it seems exactly that – my name is still on a list.

In my typical first port of call for customer service, I fired off a tweet to them to suggest that they fix the unsubscribe feature before emailing me about managing my preferences for communication.

To their credit they responded, but what followed was a series of tweets that ranged from passing me off to a page on their site to have my query addressed (I don’t want to have to go through an engagement with your account service team to tell your process is broken), to talking to me like opting in and out of email lists is a concept that I should understand, and then suggesting I calm down despite merely highlighting where the problems were.

After this, I looked back over their Twitter stream. They don’t have a separate customer service channel, so this would be the only one that someone can reach them through. It became very apparent that they don’t usually use Twitter to provide customer service other than to reply to praise and basic questions about product, and so my expectations of the exchange lowered.

What it showed though were three things clearly missing from their engagement on Twitter, that I think are valuable lessons for anyone who doesn’t typically offer service through social.

Listen to the Problem

Probably the most fundamental piece of the process is listening, and this doesn’t change for any business, big or small. Not every question is the same, and it shouldn’t be assumed that there is a one size fits all answer.

It took five tweets for them to understand that the issue was with their process of removing people from the list is broken.

It also comes back to the channel – understand that if this is my preferred way of contacting you for resolution, that I don’t want to be pushed somewhere else. Deal with me here.

Don’t Treat the Customer Like an Idiot

During the exchange, I was stepped through the process of how to click an opt out link, and then I “won’t get them anymore…”. The trail off of the sentence suggests that clicking on the opt out should be the logical thing to do, and why hadn’t I thought of it.

Give you customers credit for understanding how processes work. Often times, they are highly digital savvy (if I can work out Twitter, I get email) and familiar with a product that they know more than the person on the other side of the keyboard.

Never assume the problem belongs to the customer alone. Every business has pain points.

Don’t Go on the Offensive

Probably the most important thing is not to lose your cool with the customer. Despite a rational description of the problem and where it was going wrong, I was told there was “no need to get aggressive”.

Nothing will make a rational customer more annoyed than being talked down to.

Remember, today’s consumer has more power than ever before – the power of reach, the power of a voice, and the power of choice with their wallet.

What Next?

So in the end I was removed from the list. I got my outcome, but in a process that took longer than it should have.

While social may not be your primary service channel, or even one you plan on using, understand that people will reach out to you there. Being prepared to deal with it will make for a better customer experience. A happy customer is more likely to come back, and most importantly in the social, more likely to recommend your brand.

UPDATE: CoSchedule has just published a fantastic piece about this very topic, which I think is a must read. Check it out here – Responding to Customer Complaints with Social Media.

Want some more ideas? Here’s a great post from The Next Web on Awesome Customer Service on Social.

PHOTO – 10ch via Flickr

Where Twitter Needs to Take the Mute Button Next

13 May
May 13, 2014

Twitter released their latest feature tweak to everyone this morning with the Mute button.

Understandably this started the debate around how it differs from just unfollowing someone, with most agreeing that it’s a temporary way to remove someone from the feed. The problem I foresee with temporarily muting is forgetting to turn it back on. Unless it’s a strong connection, then there is every chance it will slip your mind and that person will remain hidden.

Where it needs to evolve to in order to be a truly useful feature is being able to mute at a conversational level. There are a number of apps already doing this (such as TweetBot), but this is only at the mobile level.

Now that we’re talking about a true cross device feature, Twitter has the opportunity to really make an impact on the way people manage their feeds.

As an example, given the strong connection Twitter has around sports and television, being able to mute hashtags or keywords, and being able to set the period which they would be muted for, would minimise the chance of spoilers.

When it comes to breaking news, the feed can be narrowed to a smaller number of outlets to prevent a feed of the same story.

For brands, in my view the mute function’s impact is the same as an unfollow, so being able to mute campaign based activity that uses a specific hashtag or during certain periods of time, and automating the process of when that applies gives a chance of still being a useful voice in the feed.

Photo – dgies

5 Tools and Tips for Managing Social Throughput

12 May
May 12, 2014

I was asked the other day how I manage to consume so much information via social and find things that I think are worth sharing back out across platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn.

The flood of information now coming via the web and social is something we all manage in our own way, so here are a few tools and methods I use to manage the flow of information both ways.

TweetDeck

It has its shortcomings for many people (layout challenges and no mobile app to name two), but for me Tweetdeck is one of the best ways to manage the Twitter content. Managing a number of accounts as I do, it’s easy to have them all in one place and the tools I need to manage them available in browser and on desktop.

A few tips:

  • Get your columns in order. In general, I have two for each account I manage – stream and mentions. Then a column for related search terms, indirect mentions (those that don’t use the @) and misspellings. Then some of my lists, and then an additional one for any hashtags I want to track use of.
  • Move your columns around using the settings diagloue in each one. One of the shortcomings is the layout (you’ll need to scroll left and right to see all columns, rather than tile them), so bring columns to the left that are the most important, or the ones you need to be watching closely at a point in time.
  • While you can manage multiple accounts, make sure your default account is set to the one you use the most. It sounds obvious, but that way any actions you perform, particularly as you favourite and RT content, come from the right account. Nothing worse than a tweet going from the wrong account.

Twitter Favourites

While not necessarily a tool, the Favourite function on Twitter seems to mean different things to different people using the platform. Personally I prefer to use them as a basic bookmark that allows me to capture someone’s 140 characters in my fast moving feed.

Once I have had a chance to come back and read them, I will often unfavourite them and move them into somewhere else if I find them worthwhile enough – maybe add the article to Pocket, Share it out via Buffer or make some notes on it in Evernote.

PocketPocket

Everything I find interesting from a site / article perspective and think could be useful later goes into Pocket. I use the browser plugin on both Safari and Chrome to capture and categorise anything I find.

One pitfall if not used to its full potential is that it’s very easy to clip and forget content, and before you know it, you have thousands of articles with no idea of why you captured them in the first place. So:

  • Make time regularly to clear out / tidy up your Pocket. I do it twice a week.
  • Use the tag function, and be consistent with the tags you use.
  • Set it up on your phone also. It takes some fiddling on an iPhone to get it done, but the amount of content I find while mobile browsing makes it worthwhile.

Evernote

Evernote has become something of an indispensable tool for me.

I use it across both desktop, web and mobile (depending on the situation) to capture pretty much everything – meeting notes, ideas, photos of things I think will be interesting to share or write about, blog thought starters, or article snapshots that I want to mark up with my own thoughts.

There’s plenty already written about this amazing tool, so here’s three tips to make it easy:

  • Make sure you use the notebooks – you can spend forever trawling your Random Notes, make it easy on your self.
  • Use tags to make it easy to search and group notes
  • Go Premium. I’ve been using it for years, and the additional features come in very handy when you reach a mass of content.

BufferBuffer

Once I have found and captured interesting content via any of the above, Buffer has become an output tool I use pretty regularly. I’ve always been on the fence about scheduling of content (and if I was honest probably erring on the side of “don’t”), but Buffer has made it very easy to do, and with a greater degree of flexibility than most. There’s nothing more annoying to have a Twitter feed flooded with a dozen updates from the same person, wallpapering your feed. Buffer helps avoid that occurring when you share.

There are also decent anaytics attached to it to measure the performance of what you share.

A few tips for using Buffer:

  • Work on the times to share. Buffer will pick times by default, and will schedule your content accordingly. Experiment with adjusting these times to see what if any impact they can have.
  • Don’t add time sensitive content to your Buffer. For example, if I wanted to share an update about Twitter’s share price, adding it to my Buffer would put it in  queue and potentially make it irrelevant by the time it publishes. Try using the Share Now function within and only buffer evergreen content.
  • Make sure you also move your messaging around once you’ve buffered it. I have at times found that a number of updates I have queued up one after another are similar in tone / topic. Drag and drop them to mix it up.

These aren’t the only tools I use, but form the most common ways I consume the flood of information out there.

So what about you? Any tools you use to manage the flow of information?

PHOTO – Iain Browne

The Challenge of Hashtags

29 Apr
April 29, 2014

For anyone on Twitter today, the funniest hashtag going was #askDerekAcorah. Although Acorah has since said he had nothing to do with it, and thought it just as funny as everyone else, it highlights the pitfalls of trying to build interaction around a brand or personality based hashtag.

It seems every other week, we watch the Twitterverse turn on a person or organisation who hasn’t thought through where it could go wrong.

Last week, the NYPD ran foul of some of their citizens with the #myNYPD campaign (and it appears they are about to make it worse…)

A month, ago, Jenny McCarthy made the mistake of trying to build a conversation around #JennyAsks

The list goes on – #askJPM, #QantasLuxury, #McDStories, to name a few.

No one brand has a 100% happy customer base, and Twitter is a megaphone in equal parts for the fans and the detractors. Hashtags on Twitter had their origins with the users (it wasn’t until two years after Chris Messina suggested it that Twitter began to hyperlink them to bring conversations – and criticisms – together), and that balance of power has not shifted.

As a rule of thumb: 

If you know your customers have pain points – and most brands do – then focus on building an effective customer service strategy through the platform, rather than trying to generate engagement and buzz for the sake of it.  Delivering exceptional value for customers by addressing their needs will drive awareness in itself.

PHOTO – Theo