Customer Service and Social Media

How does social media impact your Customer Service?

Recently, I ordered carry-out from a local Mexican restaurant. The customer service wasn’t the best. I want to show you the impact of social media as a result of my poor experience.

I have written about customer service before, as it relates to my life and social media. You can read one post here that is a great example of how it can be done. Another article is here.

Before the days of social media, if you were happy with what happened at an establishment, you might tell 2 people. If you were unhappy, you might tell 10 people. Your circle of influence wasn’t that large. If you were really unhappy, the time frame of your sharing might be longer, so the number might rise to 20 or 30 people who heard about your bad experience. Once social media came around, that number that you reach is as broad as your knowledge of how to post a review about a business on the variety of social outlets where they can be found, or haven’t found yet.

Let’s go back to my sad story. Early this year I chose to go gluten free on the advice of my wheat-995055_1280homeopath. That means that I avoid wheat, barley and rye. I have found that I do react negatively if I ingest one of those. There is this thing called cross-contamination where even if I don’t actually eat it, if it touches the food I do eat, it can cause me distress as well.

All of that back story to say this – I ordered enchiladas to go (corn doesn’t affect me). I got to the restaurant. I gave them my order number. The lady checked my ticket. There was only one order waiting. She grabbed it and bagged up my chilies, chips and salsa, and my dinners. I paid my bill and left. (Notice I did not check inside the container.)

When I got home, 20 minutes later, I unpacked my order, opened the container and saw burritos. (Made with flour tortillas – flour is bad for me!) I called the restaurant. They immediately knew who I was because I got another persons order that was very similar – two meals, chips and salsa. They told me I was welcome to come back to get my order. I said, I would prefer not to drive round trip another 40 minutes. I asked if they would provide a credit the next time I was in. The young man told me “We can’t give you a credit, because you would get free food.” I told the young man, I would probably not come back – EVER.

I posted in a Facebook group called What’s Happening in Elgin. I gave them a negative review on Yelp and Google. I am writing about it here on my blog and will share this on Pinterest, Facebook, G+, and LinkedIn.

Now, here are my observations.

  1. People can be rude and crude. You may use foul language in person, FB cs 2but it should not be used to make a point in a public forum. You never know who is going to read your post. If you don’t care how you sound to others, that is fine, but it can come back to bite you in the behind. Would you want your grandmother to read what you wrote?
  2. People stick up for the underdog – not always seeing both sides of a story.
  3. Arguing on social media never usually works out. If someone complains in a public forum and you are the business, you should always take it off-line as soon as possible. You can respond by saying, please call me at xx number at your earliest convenience, I would like to resolve this matter.
  4. There may be a cultural difference or a generational difference between how people perceive good customer service or good will. Many of the people in the Facebook thread thought that it was totally my fault for not checking my bag before I left OR the offer to come back and get my original meal was dealing with the situation properly. The fact that I should have been overjoyed at the chance to drive back to pick up my meal was what they considered good customer. Would they have made me a fresh meal or would I have been given the original meal (which by the time I got back home the second time would have been over an hour old).
  5. If you “react”, wait before you post. Apparently the owner’s wife posted a negative FB cscomment in the thread, changed her mind and deleted it, but not before someone got a screen shot and reposted it. AND refer to point #3.
  6. Sometimes,FB cs 5 apologizing is all that it takes to right a wrong. While the owner of the business never actually apologized, the owner of the sister business sent me a private message. Refer to #3 above. I responded to her as soon as I saw the message, assuring her, that her facility was not in question. While this did not make up for the fact that I never heard from the business itself, it gives me faith that some people do pay attention to social media and what it can do to their business. Perhaps if I hear from the actual business owner, I might go in and take down my reviews.
  7. Posting an opinion on social media does not mean you are trying to close a business down. Remember my comment from earlier about telling 10 people if you are upset? Now, posting to social media about your experiences is the norm. Peer recommendations fuel whether you are going to use a product or service. Peer recommendations get you FB cs3everything from a new dog groomer to a Mexican restaurant. Many people ask how to do things, where to find things, sell items, or buy items. This is evidenced in the decline of classified advertising in newspapers. When was the last time you bought an item because of a commercial you saw? When was the last time you ate at a restaurant because you saw that a friend of yours had checked-in. The power of social media to drive people to a business is growing exponentially.
  8. People care. One person made the comment that this isn’t Chicago, no one cares aboutFB cs4 my reviews. I advise people all the time to check their reviews. If they have a negative review about their business, they need to work on getting others to add positive reviews. If you are not concerned about what is showing up on the internet, then you aren’t concerned about your business. Google reviews show up in Google searches and Facebook reviews show up in Bing searches. Yelp has a growing following. Reviews on platforms like Urban Spoon or other new platforms, may be out there and you don’t know what people are saying about you.  My answer to that particular poster that no one cares about my review is – you don’t know who I know. You don’t know my level of influence – my Klout. You don’t know who might see my comment and change their mind based upon my words or someone else’s opinion of a business you are about to frequent. Just because the place is a small local establishment, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t care about what people are saying. “They don’t need you” as one poster says, may be right, but if enough of me’s get treated improperly, it will have an effect upon that business.
  9. One comment can go viral – be ready for damage control. Again, refer to #3 above. SM commentsThere was an incident a few years ago where a singer’s guitar was damaged by an airline. He wrote a song and posted it to YouTube. Over 15 million views later, this is a great example of what can happen if you don’t care of business. Now my small local post only garnered a fraction of that kind of response, but it is still a relatively significant number compared to when something goes right.

Does what people might say about your business on social media impact your customer service?

Overall, this was a good exercise to see how social media and customer service work together. As some of you know, I speak publicly. I tell a story about my experience with a “utility” provider. I tell this story at least once a month for the last 3 years. This story is going into my repertoire as an example of how to control your reputation. A little positive public relations can go a long way!

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Do you own your LinkedIn profile?

LinkedIn Profile – is it yours or not?LinkedIn connections from your profile

Years ago as LinkedIn became more popular, I noticed people who left their jobs and abandoned their profiles. In some cases, it may have been a non-compete situation, or it may have been a lost password. Some folks just didn’t know that they could add new work experience to their existing profile.

Now that LinkedIn allows you to start a profile at the age of 14 in the United States, individuals who start at that early age will definitely own their profile.

“Minimum Age” means (a) 18 years old for the People’s Republic of China, (b) 16 years old for the Netherlands, (c) 14 years old for the United States, Canada, Germany, Spain, Australia and South Korea, and (d) 13 years old for all other countries. However, if law requires that you must be older in order for LinkedIn to lawfully provide the Services to you (including the collection, storage and use of your information) then the Minimum Age is such older age. The Services are not for use by anyone under the age of 13.

Who owns the contacts on your profile?

If you have been using LinkedIn for a number of years and have built your connections up, you may be a valuable commodity to an organization who wants to broaden their reach. Personally, I worked for an organization where one of my major duties was to network and spread the word about the services offered by that organization. Everyone I met was added to my LinkedIn connections if they had a profile.

If your company relies upon you to be their data collector, shame on them. They should employ a CRM of some sort to track their clients, not your LinkedIn profile. In my case, not everyone I met was because of the organization for which I worked. I was involved in community organizations, a family business, and other activities where I met people besides on the job.

The biggest reason you need to be aware of company policy for any organization for which you work is what they deem as appropriate use for their clients in your contacts. This news item from February 2015 on a Fox News Station in St. Louis reminds us to read what you are signing when you enter into an employment agreement with any company. Know whether your clients can be your connections. If you bring a robust profile with you, your profile is yours, but the connections you gain related to your employment may become the non-compete property of the company.

Fortunately, with the tagging function in LinkedIn, you can easily tag any new connections with a tag related to that company so you know down the road what you can or cannot do with that connection.

It is a different situation if you are managing company profiles. Whatever the contacts are that follow a company social media profileIf you are personally

This brings up another question: What happens to your contacts if you bring contacts to the table when you are hired? I asked Jim Voigt of Lavelle Law to help me out with an answer. Here is what he offered:

  • In the rare situation where you actually have an employment contract, the use of your contacts should be spelled out;
  • If there is and employer handbook, you need to review it to see if your employer is making a claim to your contacts – read it!  Even if that claim is made, it does not mean the employer will prevail.  But it is at least good to know that your employer considers your contacts to belong to the company so you can head off misunderstandings early.
  • Whether an employer could legitimately make a claim to your contacts would very much depend on the circumstances.  Were you hired specifically because you had several, or perhaps certain key contacts?  Were you separately paid for those contacts beyond your regular salary and benefits?
  • Analysis in any potential law suit will be very fact specific.  If an employer is making a claim to your contacts, it would be worth your time to at least talk it over with an attorney.  Most attorneys offer a free initial consultation.

Here is my profile tip to you:

Make sure you have at least two email addresses associated with your LinkedIn Profile. People will often invite you to connect based upon the email address that they have for you. It isn’t the correct way, but it happens. When you have a work and personal email address, you will always have access to your account. If you get terminated, just go into your account and switch which email address is your primary email address.

Let us know if you have any social media needs with which we can assist you!

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B2B vs B2C – Images

B2B vs B2C – Images

Continuing our B2B vs B2C discussion, our topic in this post is Image sites. The biggest names include Instagram, Flickr, Picasa and Pinterest.  Pinterest is big enough to warrant it’s own post, it will be next.

People are very visual. When I read the paper or a magazine, I scan the headlines, look for B2B vs B2C - imagesimages and if either of those things grab my attention, then I might read into the article a bit further or the whole thing. A picture draws the attention of a reader – that could be why picture books are so popular with small children.  They can’t read the words yet, but bright colors and imagery draw their attention.

Image sites all  you to have images posted, sometimes into photo albums that may (or should) include backlinks to your website.  According to an article from MediaPost, 70% of all interactions on social media sites now involve pictures.

How can that help your business?

B2B – Many vendors will post images of their products so that businesses that purchase will see the item. Consider showing the item in “action”. Share images of company events, participation at trade shows, or internal employee recognition occasions. Include links to images in your white papers and definitely in blog articles. Use images to announce new products, especially in press releases.

B2C – Image sites are much more suited to consumer sites. Take for example a restaurant or a bakery.  How many people post photos of themselves in a new outfit and take the store in an Instagram post. That is one of the reasons why Instagram now has 200 million users who have posted 60 million photos a day. Once you have found your platform of choice, encourage customers to share their photos and tag your business in them. While we didn’t mention Facebook as a photo platform, it is a huge player in images and probably one of the main reasons Instagram was snapped up. Share product images, people enjoying your products or services and participation at community events.

In my opinion, the clear winner in this category is B2C.

Why | Blogs | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Video
Google | Image | Pinterest | Location Sites | E-news

 

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B2B vs B2C – Blog

B2B vs B2C – Blog

In our first article, we talked about why you would want to use different platforms for your business. This article will talk about the difference of B2B vs B2C – Blogging.

Blog stands for the weblog. One of the most important things that you can do is have your blogB2B vs B2C blogs - Time2Mrkt attached to you website.  Having the blog physically on your website helps keep readers on your business site. If you cannot, for some reason, have your blog on your site, you should at least create content that will allow you to link pages from your site within your blog articles. One of the major platforms that allows you to incorporate a blog into your static website is WordPress. Some of the other sites in the image to the right are sites that you can host a blog, but it is not ON your website.

One of the best things about a blog is that it allows you to build thought leadership and brand awareness. It can also help you advocate for a cause.

B2B – Use a blog to provide information on your products or services. Here is where the thought leadership comes into play. Your blog could include how-to’s, client testimonials, you opinion on other thought leaders articles. Offer best practices or case studies.

B2C – The blog becomes a repository for successes, interesting ways to use your product, create a contest or share results. Do you have a project coming up that you can share the step-by-step process?

In general, I think the blog is more advantageous to a B2B business but everyone can benefit in some degree.

Why | Blogs | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Video
Google | Image | Pinterest | Location Sites | E-news

 

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