Handling Customer Complaints Over Social Media

It happens to the best of us. You do your best to offer high quality service and great products to your customers, but eventually you will have a displeased customer. Often this will be no fault of your own. It could be a failure with your shipping company, unrealistic service expectations, or a glitch in coding but in reality the problem isn’t what matters. What matters is how you resolve it. So, what do you do when a customer complains publicly on your Facebook or Twitter?

Customer Complaint

photo credit: Automotivespace via photopin cc

Respond Immediately

No matter what the complaint is, even if you feel it is unwarranted and ridiculous, you must respond immediately. In order to respond immediately, you must be always listening. The complaint might be vague, but you need to respond in some fashion. The spotlight is on you now, and the world is watching.

Be Personal

When responding make sure you address the customer by name. Talk to them on a personal level. Nobody likes talking to a robot. Especially when they are upset. Which response would you rather hear? “Sorry for the inconvenience, we are looking into the issue” or “Hi John, I’m sorry you are having issues accessing your account. We are actively working on getting the problem solved right away. Are you getting any error codes?” Both responses say essentially the same thing, but one will go much further than the other.

Understand the Real Problem

Rarely have I seen an upset customer give all the details necessary of the issue of their problem. Ask probing questions. Dig deeper. The better you understand what went wrong, the more likely that you can fix the issue and turn an upset customer into a customer for life. Often times you will have to take this part private, but that is very easy through DM’s and FB messaging. Worst case, you could always take the old fashioned approach and just email them…I guess.

Make Sure the Problem Gets Fixed

Seems redundant, right? Once you tell a customer you are working on fixing the issue, you should well…fix the issue. Sadly, this is an area that I have seen a few companies fail. They respond right away, get all the necessary info, tell me that they’re going to fix the problem, but then I never hear from them again. The rep must have felt great for putting out a “social media fire” short term, but without fixing the issue, it’s just going to be much worse for the company the next time around.

Keep it simple, Always do what you say you will do.

Have you ever had a customer complain over your social channels? What advice would you recommend for handling an upset customer?

Guerrilla Marketing: Using OSINT for Target Identification

Ok, so I know that’s a super vague title for a blog post. If we are going to talk about Guerrilla Marketing and how to apply it to your business, we need to first talk about how to determine, find, and target ideal prospects. Remember from my last post, Guerrilla Marketing is “Going after the conventional marketing goals but doing it by using unconventional means and a fair bit of imagination.” So, let’s talk a little bit about how to find your targets using Open Source Intelligence(OSINT)

Planning your operation

With the availability of data, acquiring bulk loads of data is the easy part. Segmenting and sifting through that data is the tedious part. A lot of this tedious work can be circumvented if with proper strategy and planning in your war room.

Narrow your Demographics

Let’s say you sell a software that will help small businesses do a better job with engaging on their social media platforms. So who is your ideal customer? Many consultants would say that any small business needs your service because every small business needs to take an active part in social media now days. Yes, this is true on a surface level, but that doesn’t mean that every business out there is your ideal prospect.

If you are having a hard time figuring out how to narrow your focus, simply make a list of who you would really enjoy having as a client or customer. If you really like working with woman owned businesses, make that your first qualifier. We’re gonna narrow it down even further. Say you were in the military and would like to work with Veterans. Great, now we are only going to be looking Female Veteran owned businesses.Now, we are starting to get somewhere, but we need to analyze further. Are you good at selling yourself over the phone? What about webinars? How about face to face meetings? If all of these are equal strengths for you, great, but if not you need to focus on the area where you excel. See where I’m going with this? Just keep brainstorming so you can further refine your target demographics.

Utilize OSINT for Recon

Cool, so now we know that you want to focus on Female Veteran Owned B2C Business that are active but not entirely successful with their social media in a 50 mile radius of your location. There are many tools out there to help sift data for you. Since we are looking for businesses that are somewhat active with social media, the first tool I would use is FollowerWonk. Even their free version can be extremely helpful, so go plug in basic keywords pertaining to your demographic and they will find only twitter profiles that match your query. Best part is they rank them by influence so it’s easy to get a narrow list. If you aren’t finding enough leads through FollowerWonk, I would recommend doing the same search in Twellow. Twellow is basically the yellow pages of twitter. By now you should have a list of people who fit your demographics. Since we are doing Guerrilla Marketing here, we need to now find out who they are as a person. What are their interests, backgrounds, passions? What is going to be an easy door for you to open to them, so they actually pay attention to your offering? Take the people you find and do searches on them in of course Google and Bing, but for better more personal results I recommend using DuckDuckGo and especially Blekko.

Once you follow these steps, you should be able to identify who would make a great prospect for you, and know enough about them to make engaging and conversation very easy. A tool I recommend that everyone take advantage of is Rapportive. Rapportive is a plug in for Gmail that takes the person whose email address you have and finds every social network profile they have and their latest posts. A great tool for building your lead base if all you have is an email address.

I’m sorry for making this such a long post, but now we have the framework in place to effectively build upon and implement our next steps in Guerrilla Marketing.

What are your favorite tools do to find and identify your ideal prospects? Please leave a comment below

Is All Publicity Good Publicity?

Somewhere down the road of growing your business, I’m sure you have heard the phrase “all publicity is good publicity.” It sounds good and makes sense on a surface level, especially since most of us don’t get the publicity we feel our business deserves. Surely, that interview with the local news, Google Hangout, or blog write up will help your business build the brand recognition you need, right? Well, ideally yes but unfortunately I find that’s not often the case. Here’s why:

Control Everything

Working with a wide variety businesses especially tech startups, I see this scenario play out all the time. They work night and day developing awesomeness and finally get a call that someone wants to do a write up on their product! Boom! They get super excited and readily agree. Once the interview is in place and the questions start rolling, they quickly realize how ill-prepared they really are. How do you keep this from happening to you? Find out what their goal is for the interview or write up! What kinds of questions will they be asking? Is there a need, or specific answer to a question that they(the interviewer) is wanting to achieve? Have a list of specific questions that you would like to answer. If it’s a hangout or video that will be published online, is there specific branding imagery that needs to be included, or excluded? I find this last question especially applies to those businesses that are trying to shake up the status quo. If your business or product is at all in the edgy category, you better have ALL your ducks in a row.

 

Don’t be afraid to say NO

As a marketer, I am a studier and enthusiast in the field of Operant Conditioning and more specifically, I’m a big fan of Kevin Keller’s Brand Equity Model. In this model it is theorized that any interaction that the consumer has with a brand results in either a positive or negative change in perception. This change in perception is what directly affects their long term purchasing likelihood. This is why it is critical that any PR opportunities you take part in must only touch on the positive brand points that you identify for your business and no others. Be unapologetic with your core values for public relations. I find this is many times where good PR goes wrong. This is also why having a clear identification of your target market is key. Any PR function should be an extension of your companies marketing goals. If your publicity opportunity doesn’t meet your exact needs, goals, and guidelines; just say no. After all, there’s always more fish in the sea, right?

 

What have been your experiences with public relations? Have you ever had a potentially great PR experience turn into a nightmare? I would love to hear it in the comments section. 

Guerrilla Marketing: Winning The Battle for Attention

Whether you are a business owner or a marketing agency, you need to realize that you are smack dab in the middle of a battle. This battle is for your potential customer’s attention. It’s no secret that we are all constantly bombarded with advertisements. Ads are on the signs of every building in your city, each show you watch on TV, and on pretty much every web page you visit. Advertising permeates our lives. Due to this barrage of ads, people are no longer paying attention. What was the last commercial you saw on TV? You probably have no idea – I know I don’t.

Gone are the days where can you expect that by having a catchy slogan, a promise of being better than your competitors, and a decent sized ad budget cut it. Hate to break this to you, but your potential customers are ignoring you. The only saving grace in all this is that they are ignoring your competitors too. So, let’s take a look at what you can do the break out of invisibility and step into the spotlight.

Guerrilla Marketing

photo: Max Bordonaro

First off, what the heck is Guerrilla Marketing? I think a good basic definition is this: Guerrilla marketing is going after the conventional marketing goals but doing it by using unconventional means and a fair bit of imagination. Sounds simple enough, right?

So, how do you get started?

Know Your Target Market

Who buys your product/service? Where do they eat? What are their leisure activities? What are their habits? What does the world look like in their eyes? Learn where to find your customers throughout each aspect of their daily lives. Find out what the clutter is that you need to cut through. Once you can do this, it will be much easier for you to be effective with guerrilla marketing tactics.

Get Outside the Box

Listen, if you want to grab the attention of your prospects, you have to do something worthy of their attention. This doesn’t have to be crazy or expensive. If you have a Brick and Mortar this is easiest by using your physical surroundings to gain attention. Altering the status quo, even if it’s just chalking your sidewalk can be very effective. What can you do to ensure people take notice that your store is there? Be bold, unafraid, and take a chance

Make Customer Service Your Secret Weapon

Most don’t think of this as a Guerrilla tactic, but it’s a crucial one. This is one of the easiest areas for you to take the lead. You, as a small business, have the ability to offer a level of customer service that no major company can possibly compete with. Want to build fast word of mouth? Offer customer service that is so outstanding that your customers can’t help but spread the word like wildfire.

Create Strategic Partnerships

Chances are that people who make ideal customers for your business also fit the same demographics of other businesses that don’t compete with you. Why not align forces for a special offering? Cross promotion in unusual ways can work miracles for your bottom line.

I know this is a very surface level overview of Guerrilla Marketing tactics, I will be getting a lot deeper into specific uses here on a monthly basis.

Do you use Guerrilla Marketing in your business? I would love to hear what you do in the comments section.

Does Your Business Need an App?

Ok, I have had a few clients recently bring this up with me, so I wanted to publicly address this issue. Understandably, with the rapid growth of Smart phones and mobile technology in general, small businesses don’t want to miss out on the application bandwagon. It has come to my attention that there are many companies soliciting small businesses and selling them on having an app developed. Which has brought up this question; Does your business need an app?

First off, in the interest of transparency, I want you to know I’m a sales and marketing guy. I love tech, and once in a blue moon, I like to pretend I know how to code, but by no means am I a great programmer. I am writing this article from the viewpoint of marketing and new business development, not as a tech writer.

The app market

Last year there were 17.7 billion app downloads with revenue generated over $15 billion, and users spent an average of 667 minutes monthly on apps. These are some “kick ass” stats that sound great, but what do they mean for your business. According to Flurry, mobile apps usage is broken up into 47% gaming and 32% of the time in social networks. This means that the remaining 21% of time spent using applications (140 minutes/monthly average) is the total amount of time and attention that you are competing for against every other app out there.

Your business, and your needs

Let’s take a moment to look at your business model. Do you need to drive people into your store in order to see profitability? How about your website? What chain of events need to occur in order for you to make money? The fact is, that the only reason to have an app is if you have enough quality, original content/functionality that will justify people to continually use it. Period. So unless you can honestly say “Hell Yes my business is a killer content generating machine“, I would steer clear. Here’s why:

Lots of the SMB apps I see lately have features like “Find the store closest to you,” “Stay up to date with our new clothes line,” and even “Check In using our app and get our coupon of the week.” While all of those functions are quite valid and necessary in their own right, is having your unique personal app for your business the best place to fulfill those needs? I highly doubt it.

What you could do instead of an app

Stop trying to reinvent the wheel. Seriously. If you want people to encourage people to check in at your business, then you should probably run a promotion through Foursquare. Want to ensure that people can find your business location that is closest to them, invest in a mobile optimized website. Have a new product line or amazing coupon that you want the masses to use today? Better put it out on your Facebook and Twitter accounts. These platforms are the leaders for a reason. They fulfilled their primary purpose better than their competition which gained them gigantic user bases. Use them right, use them for the purposes they were designed, and you will probably get a decent return on investment.

I don’t want you to think I hate apps, I actually am a huge fan of them, but only when used in a purpose that necessitates their existence. Save your money, and and invest in marketing your business on the platforms where people already are every day. You will be better off for it.

Does your company have an app? Have you gotten results/ROI from it? Please leave a comment below!

Take control! Maximizing offline interactions online

It’s no secret that having a social media presence for your business is important. In fact, in a recent study by Equities, it’s shown that more than 90% of small businesses are using social media as a means to gain new customers. Since that’s the case, what are you doing to bring your offline interactions online?

Questions about taking offline interactions online?No longer is it enough just to have a Facebook page and Twitter account. We have all seen restaurant menus with Facebook and Twitter logos on them, and cleverly displayed social logos on their signage. Seriously, does doing that alone actually drive your customers to your fanpage? I don’t think so. Let’s take a look at a couple ways to better maximize those valuable offline interactions, that until now, have been going to waste.

Clearly Define Goals

First off, why do you want to drive people to your social platforms? What do you want to accomplish by turning these human beings into fans and followers? Is there a specific behavior that you want to encourage or product that you want them to buy? Do you want to remarket to existing customers, or gain new customers? These are a few of the many questions that you need to ask yourself when deciding how to bring your offline interactions online.

By first defining what you would like to accomplish by driving them to your social platforms, you will have a much better time seeing actual results and ROI.

Consistent Messaging

What is your call to action for bringing people to your social platforms? It doesn’t have to be anything crazy, and definitely does not have to be contest or giveaway focused. In my opinion, the food trucks who adopted twitter in 08 and 09 nailed it on the head. Why should you follow them on Twitter? Because, it was the only way to know where to find them tomorrow. If you have a brick and mortar, you don’t have that specific kind of luxury, but you can still drive positive behavior to the social graph through clear and consistent messaging.

Do your customers want to keep up to date on new product lines, discounts, and sales? You can bet your butt they do. So let them know that the best way to get “insider information” and to stay up to date with your awesome business is by liking you on facebook or following you on twitter. If you give them a reason to bring that offline relationship online, and if you stay true on your end, you will have an audience that is far more likely to give you business and to continue doing business with you in the future.

On a side note, make it easy for them to remember how to find you on the social graph. Secure your facebook username and make sure your twitter handle mirrors your company name. This would seem like a no brainer, but I would say 20% of the businesses that I have consulted for missed doing this. Remember, you are bringing offline behavior online, so make it as simple as possible for people to find you online.

How are you bringing your offline interactions online? Please share in the comment section.