Archive for March, 2011

Customer Service: Times They Are A-Changin’

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

By Jan Carroza

When 75% of its business comes from repeat customers, it’s no wonder that Zappos is a great role model for customer service.

Channel choices for customers to reach out are exploding and customers are taking advantage of them to post public reviews and ask questions. Expectations for a new standard in response are elevated by both merchant and consumer. Bob Dylan’s lyrics may talk about change with more poetry, but it’s definitely coming for the customer experience.

The consumer wants answers that are:

Fast Accurate Consistent Complete

In all the channels where they want to be (social, website, call center)

On top of that, 77% expect incentives from online engagement, according to eMarketer.

Merchants also have a vested interest in great customer service to:

  • Increase the # of sales
  • Increase the average sale amount
  • Reduce demands on resources (staff, IT, etc.)
  • Improve reputation
  • Increase customer satisfaction
  • Give feedback to improve/add products/services

How’s It Working for You?

If  9 examples of household brands handling customer service in a Fortune survey, while not statistical, reflect in a small way how merchants are doing, there is a lot of room for improvement.

It’s interesting that these 9 tests were Twitter vs. website live chat and call center scenarios. Most often, the call center, the oldest of the forms, was the most responsive channel. However, the response times and answer completeness could generally use improvement.

Steps to take towards improvement

1)      Track and report interactions and share with other departments: sales, product development, operations and finance.

2)      Empower customer service staff with a choice of tools: discounts, coupons, special offers and decision-making authority, no matter how limited, to grant instant gratification.

Interesting Reaction: Chief Customer Officer

A delightful direction companies have taken in response to marketplace pressures in an economic downturn, customers in open social media spaces and competition is to develop a new C-Suite executive role: the Chief Customer Officer. Forrester Research cites the “desire to accelerate growth and response to rapid growth” as two more reasons for this move.

A quote from a Boeing exec sums up current corporate culture in a nutshell. “We knew we needed to change our culture to better serve the one reason we exist – our customers. Our operations departments were focused on products, our finance teams on collecting payments, and our sales and business development focused on short term revenue goals.”

No one was minding the customer.

It’s laudatory when companies make the commitment to a senior position and give it the punch of authority.

Clearly a lot of forces are bearing down on these efforts to improve customer service. The transparency of the social media movement is bearing a lot of fruit, but it’s a process that will continue to get more interesting. I’ll enjoy watching the progress.


Updated Your LinkedIn Profile Lately?

Friday, March 11th, 2011

By Sharon Hill

Most people update their resume when applying for a new job.  I am amazed at the profiles that are not updated when leaving a company and even worse than that, not updated when joining a new company.

Is this you?  You completed your LinkedIn profile awhile back because everybody else was doing it.  You left that company, maybe had a few months of being out of work and then landed a job with a new company.  Did you update your LinkedIn Profile to reflect the change?

As an upper level manager for many years, I would not appreciate a newly hired employee maintaining they were still employed with a previous company. The higher level of the employee the more of an affront this could be to the new company.

When updating your profile to your new job and company, take a few minutes to view profiles of other employees of the company.  This will be your way to fit in the new organization.  Prior to updating, discuss the way you are planning to write your job responsibilities and solicit input from your immediate supervisor or manager.  Does this new company focus on the individual or is the corporate culture more of a team environment?  How important is experience, education and joining groups?  How much personal information such as activities and hobbies is acceptable?

Finally, update the contact information.  Your email and phone number may change and definitely take a close look at your Opportunity Preferences.

LinkedIn contact settings

Having Career opportunities and Job inquiries checked may not be appreciated by your new company.


Is Facebook Getting More Security Conscious?

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

By Sharon Hill

It appears Facebook is offering an increased level of security when signing in.  We have come to expect secure transactions, encryption and certificate notifications when something is amiss.  Not so with social networking.

Much of the early concern focused on what information folks were posting as it related to the personal security.  Example such as tweeting, “I am heading out of town for a few days.”  Combined with previous tweets meant that burglars could follow your tweets instead of following you to uncover information threatening your security.

Then there was the concern about geo-location social networking sites such as FourSquare and the potential of phone stalkers turning into real stalkers.

More recently folks are becoming concerned with the security of the connection and the information that is attached to uploads of pictures using smart phones when the geo-location service is turned on.  The newer versions allow you to turn off the geo-location service when sending or uploading pictures.  With older versions the geo services are either on or off.

With Facebook, you have the capability of browsing Facebook with a secure connection.  Look for the https://www.facebook… (s = secure) instead of http://www.facebook… In order to browse with a secure connection, when logged into Facebook go into Account, Account Security and check the box.

You might as well check the “Send me an email (or text message) when a new computer or mobile device logs into this account”.

Your Facebook load times may be a bit slower, but worth it.  The most popular sites, search engines, browsers and the like are the generally the ones that get hacked, have service interruptions and have security issues. We all know about Facebook popularity so a little extra protection is a good thing.

So you know about inPrivate browsing using IE 8.0 right?