Category Archives: Direct Mail

Customer Service Stabbed Marketing in the Office with a Knife

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Do you have a clue what is killing your marketing efforts?  Whether you are a small business or large corporation, it is likely at least one of these customer service issues is planning the death of your marketing dollars!

Recently, I had occasion to travel across several states on business and pleasure.  Traveling provides a unique opportunity to view the world of customer service from the good, the bad, and the ugly.  While noting that the holiday season brings out the worse in both customers and customer service, it was particularly apparent that most companies do not take enough time to think through the rationale of integrating customer service into the marketing department instead, as is traditional in most case, into the sales department.
 
As an even bigger offense, if for some unfathomable reason, customer service is a department unto themselves because the divide between performance and evaluation increases at alarming rates.  Without doubt, more marketing dollars are needlessly wasted each year on ineffective customer service than any other marketing endeavor.  Clearly, the most preventable cases the murder of marketing dollars is easily fixed by addressing these five customer service issues:

Man-Handling:  Many times, service representatives react with overzealous pressure on customers.  Upon asking to be left alone (clearly) to browse for shoes, I was continually followed and addressed by a sales person.  When I requested, pointedly, that the sales lady go away, she did only to be replaced by another salesperson from the same charm school.  As a result, my shopping experience was ruined and I left the store.

Cow-Towing:  For some service reps, good customer service is equated to bowing and scraping before the buyers.  The buyer feels horrible that the company or the service individual is fawning over them like an entourage following the diva of the week around the store.  With a strange mixture of discomfort and annoyance, the customer exits the store as quickly as possible.

Passive-Aggressive:  Interestingly enough, in the past few weeks, I have encountered this behavior in several professional settings. When asking for a call number in the library, the Librarian literally snatched the paper from my hand to go get the book from me with a curt, “that is my job!”  As I stood in shock staring at her back, it seemed an odd sense of customer service that resounded of policy filtration.  In another case, I was seriously asked, “What do you want?”  Looking around a large, brand name bookstore, I humorously ordered, “a double cheeseburger with fries and a chocolate shake.”  In both instances, marketing dollars are wasted as customer service is isolated from the rest of the company structure.  NOTE TO CUSTOMER SERVICE WORLD:  The customer does not care if YOU are having a bad day, so that excuse does not fly for me.

Know-Nothing:  In contrast, customer service employees that know nothing about the product or services offered by a company are the worst waste of marketing money.  When customers fill the store seeking details about services or directions to products, a customer service representative should at least have general knowledge.  If the product or service base is so large that no one could have a strong working knowledge, the product specialist should be assigned to aid the customer.  I watched as a bookstore employee advised a beginning PhotoShop7 (yes, I know….groan from the audience….PhotoShop7!) to buy the PhotoShopCS3 Bible because it was about the same thing.  Needless to say, I stepped in to advise her to look online for a copy for a Dummies or 24-Hour book appropriate to her version of Photoshop.  “What’s the difference?” she asked me politely.  “About $75, years of needed Photoshop experience, and the frustration of trying to follow a book that does not represent your software,” I replied with encouragement.

Techno-Interruptus:  Shopping for a new cell phone urged me to add one more criminal act of marketing murder to the sphere of customer service.  Although I do admit that technology is a wonderful thing for business, it might well be the worst thing ever created for customer service.  Encountering service reps texting or talking about a party on their cell gives the worst impression of a company and completely sends me toward the door.  If that customer service rep adds a deep resounding huff of “you are bother me” to the mix, then I might ban the store from coast to coast from my shopping experience.

In most cases, customer service initiatives can enrich the return on investment for every marketing dollar spent by a company.  Marketing expenditures can lead to increased sales and heightened positive brand awareness with the help of informed customer service force as part of the marketing team.

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5 (FREE) Time Saving Social Media Tools

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“Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”—Chinese Proverb

So many times, people embark on social media marketing with the idealist understanding that it is as easy as tweeting a thought in 140 characters or posting a few words to followers every few days.  In reality, social media marketing involves more hand holding than direct marketing.  Why, then, are literally millions of businesses joining the social media movement every year?  Because, quite literally, companies can reach out to potential clients with less cost (provided they understand the time vs. money formula of social marketing) and gain market share through brand exposure.

Besides the afore mentioned misunderstanding about the true investment in time for a successful social media campaign without remembering that time is money, people often feel overwhelmed by the sheer complexity of managing multiple social media streams scattered all over the webosphere!

As a social media marketer, these are a few there tools I use to make m y life much easier! 

•Seemic (http://seesmic.com):  This is one of my favorites.  If you have a Facebook and Twitter account, the split screen view of Seemic makes it easy to follow what is happening in each account.  With the ability to add any pages you manage on Facebook and directly post / report information in one screen, my favorite thing about Seemic is that I can post to Facebook and Twitter at the same time!  Of course, that means that you have to limit the Facebook post to 140 characters, but what a time savings it is to have one place to call home for your Facebook and Twitter accounts.  If, like me, you have several accounts for each (Magic Marketing USA and Networking in High Heels), then the ability to import all of those accounts into one places brings order into chaos.

•TweetDeck (http://www.tweetdeck.com):  If you are truly wrapped up in the tentacles of social media, then TweetDeck is the application for you!  With the same multiple accounts split screen view, TweetDeck brings the management of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and mySpace within easy grasp.  The main difference between Seemic and Tweetdeck is user preference.  If you are limited in your interactions to Facebook and Twitter, the Seemic is amazing at delivering both of those to your virtual doorstep.  If you want to include outside accounts like LinkedIn and mySpace, then Tweetdeck gives you all of that in one simple place.

•Social Oomph (http://www.socialoomph.com):  All I can say is OMG!  When I first tried Social Oomph (which was TweetLater to those of the old school of last year!), I thought I had died and gone to Twitter management heaven!  Although this application is only for Twitter, Social Oomph gives you the advantage of customizing a message to send to everyone who follows you, lets you decide how to accept followers, and…ready for this?  Social Oomph lets you schedule tweets!  While I definitely DO NOT suggest that anyone spam their Twitter list, there are many times when I want to share what I am doing with others without stopping several times during the day to put it in 140 characters.  When I am traveling, this is the perfect way to let people know where I will be or send out reminder tweets about upcoming events.  Remember, NOTHING replaces actual interaction with the people in your social media sphere.

•SMS (your cellphone!):  It is safe to say that almost every social media application these days has a way for you to update your profile or status via your cell phone or smart phone.  While it can definitely make life easier when you can just text in 140 characters or do a quick update to your FBP (Facebook profile), it is addicting too because it connects you every single minute that you carry your phone.  Mostly, this has been responsible for the incidents of texting updates during church or in the bathroom.  If you are going to take this route, then please be conscious of the people around you before your spouse reaches over and drops your phone in your water glass at dinner (I swear…I saw this happen!).  And, realize that NOT EVERYTHING needs to be shared.

•Automatic Updates:  There are positives and negatives to completing the circle of social media.  If you enable automatic updates in your social media accounts, then you should be aware that mean EVERYTHING you tweet, blog, and post hits every possible avenue immediately.  In creating 360 degree coverage of all of your materials, promotions, and ads, this is the quickest way to make sure all bases are covered.  BUT…and this is a biggie…be sure that you really want everything to feed directly into your accounts especially if some accounts are for business use and some are for personal use.

Quick point in fact:  Before I go on, I want to make sure that it is clear to every breathing person on the web that Facebook has business accounts and, if you are using Facebook for business, this is the type of account you should be using!  There are many reasons, but transparency and market segmentation are two of the biggest reasons.  My next article, Facebook for Business: Fan or Friends, will explain this in depth, but using a personal level Facebook account for business not only violates Facebook TOC, but it also isolates you from the privacy protection and promotion of your business.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program, automatic updates can be set up for bring blog posts into your LinkedIn account, share LinkedIn updates on Twitter, and add a tweet your Facebook entries and blogs.  The one exception is, in a business account, Facebook does not update to Twitter.  As of now, Facebook only updates Twitter if you have a personal account.  Solution?  See above for one of the great FREE applications that allow you handle all of these tasks in one place!

Although there are tons of other applications and time saving tips for social media management, any these will get you started.  As they are all free, I suggest that you try each one on for size to see what works best for you.  The most important part is to save time and produce quality information to connect with followers, friends, and fans.   Even though most of these applications might sound difficult, they are each easy to install with a wizard that walks you through it.  Since it is easy and FREE, what else could be better?

With the time you gain, check out our new group, Networking in High Heels, at www.networkinginhighheels.com.

Social Media Mission: Come one, Come all

Advertising, Blogging, Business, email marketing, facebook, linkedin, Marketing, project managers, return on investment, roi, social media, social networking, twitter, Viral Marketing, virtual assistants, wordpressIn my new capacity as Social Media Marketing Examiner (http://www.examiner.com/x-8932-Social-Media-Marketing-Examiner) for Examiner.com, my task is to write several times a week on the benefits and pitfalls of social media marketing.

Cue scary music (DUM DUM DUMMMMM is heard the background!)…

So, here is our mission if we chose to accept it:

The rules are several times a week I have to post something informative yet bite-size for readers to enhance their understanding of social media and marketing!

I am so looking forward to this ride into social media marketing.  Join me wont you?

Our first trip…for your enjoyment…is called Twitter Talk 101.

Let’s see if we can get some REAL answers and please…and talk back to me.  Let me know what I can answer or help you understand.