Tuesday, February 8, 2011

How Easy Do You Make It?

Today we're going to look at three key components of customer contact and ask ourselves: How Easy Do We Make This?

Sharing

You have News - a new product or service, a new hire, a positive benchmark or certification.

How Easy Do You Make It to share?

Can readers share your blog post? Can they check in on Foursquare or Gowalla? Can they review you at Yelp or Hotpot? If you're reviewed in a local paper or interviewed by a Trade magazine can people Digg it, or mark it up on Reddit? Is your headline Tweetable?

The more ways you provide to share your news, the more ways the news can get out. There is no "overkill" when it comes to making sharing easy. Services like Share This make the process so painless that there really isn't any excuse for you to not offer as many ways to get the word out as possible.

Realistically, you can only focus on a few spaces yourself. There's no way to give the same time and energy to every Social Media space on the Internet. You need to budget your time between the spaces that are most critical to your market and most productive for your business. Give your advocates as many  methods to get the word out as you can and you can be nearly everywhere at once.

Reward Programs

You couldn't do it without your customers. You want to tell them that you really appreciate their commitment to  your business.  

How Easy Do You Make It for them to collect their rewards?

Way back in the day, I was awarded a gift card for an outstanding job at a company I worked for. The gift card had a very limited set of stores that it could be used for and many of them were irrelevant to my interests or needs. When I found a store that I could use the card in, I registered on the website as I was instructed to. I picked out an item and got that approved by calling the 800 number, was transfered and hung up on several times. When I got to the store, I had to call the 800 number on the card and get approval for the store location - because that approval only lasted an hour or so, so it had to be done at time of purchase. That completed, I went in to the store, picked out my item and proceeded to checkout...where the card was denied. After being placed on hold three times and hung upon once, I was told that I had to get approval for the *register* I was being checked out by. I did get my item, but wow, what a ridiculous set of hurdles to go through to get a reward! It felt more like a punishment by the time it was all over.

In stark contrast, I recently signed up for a Klout perk. Signed up, filled out the form, the item arrived as described, with no hurdles or conditions. I got what they said I'd get. (As per Perk policy, I would like to disclaim that I was given a free product or sample because I'm a Klout influencer. I was under no obligation to receive the sample or talk about this company or about Klout. I get no additional benefits for talking about the product or company.) Now *this* felt like a Reward. Kudos to Klout for getting it right.



Customer Service

Your Customer Needs Help .How Easy Do You Make It for that person to get their problem resolved?

Anyone who follows my Twitter feed knows that I am a vocal advocate for better consumer communications by companies. I share my experiences, both positive and negative, with customer service calls. Yesterday I had the perfect customer service call with Fantagraphics.  I called the company up, explained the problem, they apologized, offered to send me a replacement and, if I sent the first item back, they'd credit me the postage. Our conversation was not scripted, they did not parrot required lines. I spoke to a person, who fixed the problem.  No hold time, no transfers, no repeated information, just good, solid customer service. It was almost a physical relief to not have to jump through hoops.

It's true that, as a company gets larger, problems need to be handled by more specialized help. Most consumers realize that. But labyrinthine phone menus, customer service levels that can make no decisions or are simply filters for other levels, are a sign that something is terribly out of control. In the Social Media world excellent customer service experiences are worth their weight in gold. An influencer in that field can make or break a company's reputation with a single tweet.

Having a XYZCo_Cares account isn't good customer relations. 

Good customer comunications means making it easy for your customers to like you and making it easy to tell other people why.
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