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If I post a complaint about your brand on Twitter, how long will it take for your company to respond?

On December 12, 2007, Lance Campeau posted a 4-minute video about his Panasonic video camera on YouTube. The video slams Panasonic’s customer service and commitment to quality and has been viewed by more than 3,000 people.

A couple dozen people have chimed in with their own (negative) thoughts about Panasonic’s service. As of September 2008 – nearly a year after the original post, Lance writes (on YouTube) that he’s heard nothing from Panasonic on his camera situation.

A lot of companies are hesitant to get involved with social media communities like YouTube, FaceBook, and Twitter and that is a huge mistake. Huge. 

With the new Web 2.0, customers can freely post complaints, gripes, videos, full-page blogs, and more about brands. And the thing about social media is it tends to stick around forever. Remember, the Panasonic YouTube video was posted in December 2007.

I’d bet the farm that Southwest Airlines wouldn’t let a YouTube video complaint go unanswered for more than a year. Paula Berg of Southwest Airlines says, “We monitor more than 100 travel and airline industry blogs a day. We also are very active on YouTube, Twitter, and FaceBook.”

After I experienced problems with my Internet for 4 days, I posted a Tweet on Twitter. Within 12 hours I received a Tweet from my Cable Company, Cox Communications. The next business day a Tech was at my house and  he quickly got my Internet back up.

Doing business in the social media era means brands must check out chat rooms and blogs and jump in whenever the company’s name is mentioned. It means constantly monitoring YouTube, Twitter, FaceBook, and more. 

Failing to get involved with social media can (will) lead to a viral blog, video, or Tweet that will not only linger for years, but will be far more persuasive than any monetary advertising your company ever sponsors.

Are you monitoring online conversations about your brand? If not, why aren’t you? My blockbuster webinar, “Social Media Is the New Customer Service” will put your company on the fast-track to protecting your brand credibility by listening to online conversations. The live event has passed, but you can download the digital recording right now and watch it with everyone on your customer service and marketing teams. Here are the details:

 http://www.callcenterwebinars.com/socialmedia_rec.html

The One Thing Companies Can’t Cut In This Tough Economy: Customer Service Employees

The One Thing Companies Can’t Cut In This Tough Economy: Customer Service Employees

While staff reductions may be necessary as sales slow in this economy, the people who serve your customers need to be the last staff considered for cutbacks.  This is because customer service employees are in the absolute best position to help you keep your current customers.

You probably already know that it costs 5-6 times more to win a new customer than it does to keep a current customer. A strong frontline keeps your customers.

BusinessWeek (March 2, 2009) reports cutting back just 4 Call Center Reps out of 3 dozen can send the number of customers put on hold for 4-minutes from zero customers to 80 customers. Do you really think 80 of your customers are willing to hold for 4-minutes every single day?

And not only are long hold times a problem (and that is a BIG problem), but the fact is, 60% of consumers prefer speaking with a live agent. Consumer interest in speaking with live people is so strong that a few years ago a man named Paul English founded the “gethuman” movement with the sole objective of restoring personal contact in customer service.

Gethuman.com is a pretty cool website. It is a database of secret phone numbers and shortcuts to reach a human at 500 major corporations. The first time I used it I’d just received an email alert on my BlackBerry from American Airlines that my flight from Columbus to Tulsa had been cancelled. I immediately called the toll-free number listed on the email message, but I could not get a live person to save my life. I remembered the gethuman movement and pulled up the website. There I learned that to get a live body at American, I just needed to hit “0” at every single prompt, ignoring all messages.

If a website exists for the sole purpose of showing consumers how to get in touch with people, what does that say about customer service today?

Bottom Line: Yes, times are tough for a lot of us, but the frontline is not where you want to make your cuts. You need to safeguard your service in this economy. Find other areas to make cuts and don’t cut from the frontline. You need the frontline to serve your customers and to keep customers from even thinking about defecting to the competition.

 Many of the major airlines are charging for checked luggage and Talbots has stiffened rules for returns. These are the kinds of cuts you need to creatively search for. The frontline is not where you need to make cuts.

Need help brainstorming areas to make cuts that don’t include the frontline?  Check out my friend John Storm of Brainstorm Network. He’s masterful at helping companies come up with ideas for profit generation, cost-reduction, and innovation.

 

How Being “Gumby” Can Transform Your Service Culture

Master Customer Service Course Myra Golden

Have you ever shopped at the Container Store? If you’re working in customer service, and you want an enlightening (and thought-provoking) benchmark for your company, I urge you to get out and visit a Container Store this weekend.

The Container Store is a leading retail chain specializing in home organization products, such as wire shelving, plastic shower totes, shoe bags, food packaging, knife and peg racks, and bins.

Over the past four years the company has expanded throughout the United States , maintained infinitesimal turnover that is unheard of in the retail industry, and ranked 1st or 2nd on Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For.

How do they do it?

Every Container Store employee is strategically trained to think flexibly to solve customers’ organization problems. And the company does this with an air of excitement by using the 1950’s Gumby clay-figure TV star.

“Being Gumby”—bending over backward to please customers (and co-workers)—is highly prized at the Container Store. (So is training—Container Store employees average 162 hours a year!)

Get this…I read in Fortune Magazine that at a Container Store in Dallas, there’s an IT manager, who is also a part-time yoga instructor who teaches free weekly yoga classes to her staff. Her colleagues have responded enthusiastically since the classes began two years ago; 25% now join in the bending and stretching. “It’s a good mental practice that can be applied to physical purposes,” says Betty Murray, the IT Manager/Yoga Instructor.

Being Gumby is about doing whatever needs to be done to serve a customer, help a co-worker, or complete a task. It’s about not getting “bent out of shape” when a customer makes a request of you that you’d rather not do. And it’s also about bouncing back quickly after having a tough encounter with a challenging customer.

The Container Store constantly reinforces the Gumby culture by having a 6 foot tall wooden Gumby in the lobby at the company’s headquarters and giving away the annual Gumby award to the employee who exemplifies flexibility.

Get your employees to adopt the flexibility of Gumby and your company will be well on the path to delivering Beyond WOW service!

 Sources Cited

Christopher Tkaczyk, 100 BEST COMPANIES TO WORK FOR
FORTUNE, Monday, Jan. 12, 2004

We are best known for our classroom training – and it is amazing! Our customer service training is led by the industry’s best trainers…experienced, engaging, and energetic. If you poke your head into a Myra Golden training session, you know this training is different. Participant involvement is astonishing. People are having fun and they are completely engaged. Most importantly, the participants are learning real-world strategies that will absolutely empower them to deliver exceptional customer service. Every one of our customer service training sessions is custom designed to meet our client’s objectives and every session delivers a measurable return on investment.

We also offer train-the-trainer (T3) programs to equip your corporate trainers to deliver our renowned customer experience training in your organization. Please call us at 918-398-9368 to discuss bringing our T3 program to your organization. Learn more:
Customer Service Training – Classroom

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