Digital Strategy

Storytelling lessons from the3six5

From day one, the3six5 has really been the gift that’s kept on giving. Not only is it a blast to run, but it exposes me to all sorts of fantastic people that are much smarter than me.

Scott Meis, a Seattle-based digital strategist — and one of our 2011 writers — wrote up a blog post outlining some of the storytelling lessons we’ve learned along the way.

Check out his post here.

Digital Strategy

The most important aspect of good customer service

There are a few “top ten” lists out there of what to do in order to provide great customer service, and they all kind of read the same: listen, make customers feel important, apologize, say “yes” a lot, identify needs, et cetera.

As Jerry Seinfeld would say, “yada, yada, yada.” Of course these are all important components, but there’s something missing. Something big, in my opinion, that’s seldom discussed, and worse: seldom practiced.

In my role as Social Media Manager for Sears/Kmart electronics, we handled a lot – a LOT – of customer service issues, stemming from a few things (e.g. e-commerce or in-store experiences, missed installation appointments). Through this, I learned that – assuming the processes are in place – issues can be resolved, but just how they get resolved are crucial to keeping your customers happy and coming back.

I recently experienced a relatively minor issue with a major airline. The issue eventually got resolved, but not before I was made to feel like a complete idiot by one of the airline’s customer service reps. So the issue became a major one, personally, for me, and made me question whether I’d continue to use the airline. (It also inspired me to write this blog post.)

This drives me to my key point: it’s important for brands to understand why customers are complaining, but it’s even MORE important to express empathy and understanding. Thank customers for bringing issues to your attention. Understand and acknowledge just why a customer may be upset about an issue. If they’re made to feel like their complaint is strange, or out of left field, then they won’t be happy.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s still important that their underlying complaints are resolved in a sufficient, timely manner. However, a little bit of empathy and understanding will get the customer service process off on the right foot. The more your customers feel like their needs are understood, the easier – and cheaper – it will ultimately be to resolve their issues.

What do you think is the most important part of good customer service?

Digital Strategy

Work recognized with two 2011 Bulldog Digital/Social PR Awards

I’m not one to hang on my hat on past projects, but I just found out about this from an old co-worker of mine: Sears Holdings Corporation announced that it had won two 2011 Bulldog Digital/Social PR Awards for projects I created and executed while still a company employee. (NOTE: The awards were likely given to Euro PR because I’m no longer an SHC employee.)

The awards are:

  • Best Use of Digital/Social for a Consumer Technology Campaign (Gold) for the Sears Blue Blogger Crew, which we launched at CES 2011.
  • Best Use of Digital/Social in an Arts/Culture/Entertainment Campaign (Silver) for KmartGamer. We launched KmartGamer in 2010 as a low-rent way of connecting with core gamers, and we expanded our efforts into a blog launch, efforts at the E3 convention and much more.

Once again, thanks to everyone who was associated with getting these efforts off the ground, including Ryan Manning, Andy Flynn, Philip Nowak, Scott Murphy, our crew at Euro PR (Kelly Kaufman + Rory Swikle), and Josh Deane with KmartGamer.

For a full list of Bulldog Award winners, click here.

Digital Strategy

Some quick thoughts on the new Twitter brand pages

A couple of months ago, Twitter announced some changes to its brand pages, the biggest of which, I believe, are an expanded header area (fig. 1 below), and a “promoted,” or featured tweet at the top of the page (fig. 2):

These changes — especially the latter — can be critical in attracting new followers during what I call the Twitter “discovery” process for brands. This is when users explore the site to see if a certain brand is active on Twitter, and what its profile looks like. (I’ll often just type a brand name into search, or just type “[Brand name here]”.) This can also happen if someone clicks on a Twitter link promoted elsewhere — a brand’s website, for instance — or through a promoted trend.

Twitter is a conversation-based platform; turning the brand pages into expanded destinations may be helpful during the “discovery” process. Overall, I think the updates miss the mark for brands a bit, especially when a vast majority of the Twitter experience is stream-based.

Personally, I don’t think I’ve ever followed a brand based on how its profile looks. I look at the quality of its tweets (more on that below), its tweet frequency and maybe its follow/follower ratio. Usually, I’ll only follow a brand if it tweets me, which brings me to my point:

None of the aforementioned Twitter brand page changes make me more likely to follow a brand on Twitter. To me, it comes down to what the brand actually says and does:

  • Is the brand listening to the conversation (using a tool like Radian6) and responding accordingly?
  • What is the brand actually doing to get its followers involved and acting on its behalf?
  • Are its posts (and responses) relevant, timely and helpful?
  • When customer service issues happen, are its tweets tied to real actions?

This is what it comes down to for me — how about you? What are your thoughts on Twitter’s brand page updates? Please leave your thoughts as comments below!