Category Archives: Communications
Let’s face it, the purpose of 1-800 customer support lines are to do everything possible to prevent you from getting customer service. Companies have come to the conclusion (erroneously I think) that somehow talking to customers is a bad thing. They base this belief on the fact that every time they talk to you, it costs them money. That may have made some sense back in the olden days and I would argue that avoiding conversations with your customers is unwise and potentially risky. Why do you want to talk to your customers?
- Customer feedback, when aggregated, can give insight on common problems they face with your product, business, website, etc. In a sense, each conversation becomes its own focus group study. Who wouldn’t want feedback from the very people that are buying and using their products and services? At the very least, it gives the company direction on what issues are most common, what they may need to correct, and in what priority.
- Message Control: If companies won’t provide the customer an outlet to reach them, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yelp, and the hundred other social networks most certainly will. By having a simple and convenient way for me to contact you, I might just not tell my social networks how much I hate you. And inversely…
- My boyish naiveté often gets me in trouble but I have this weird belief that your job as a company doesn’t end after the sale, it begins. Fostering a positive relationship with your customers not only increases the chance of them doing more business with you, it creates an army of advocates of your company and brand that extend across those same networks they might have vented on. And believe me advocates work cheap (note: adversaries also work cheap and often with more vigor and venom)
So in the spirit of pretending to give a crap about providing your customers with good (Note: I didn’t even say ‘great’) customer service, here are the Top 12 Pieces of Advice for Companies that use 1-800 Customer Support Lines:
- Make your phone tree a phone shrub. If it takes me more than 30 seconds to get where I want to go, you’re doing it wrong.
- Don’t tell me that my call is important & then put me on hold for 17 minutes
- If the hold time is 17 minutes, don’t have a 1-800 line. Just send a guy over to punch me in the face, its less painful for me.
- If you insist on putting me on hold, tell me how long I’ll be on hold.
- When I am on hold, DON’’T hammer me with promotions or ads for your products. And for God’s sake don’t hammer me with Musak Hammer me with some Metallica. . Hint: Make my wait as entertaining or painless as possible.
- If I ask the same question everyone else asks, fix that problem until we don’t ask the question anymore, ok Sparky? Fix the most common problems and I guaran-effing-tee that we won’t call you as much.
- If your Operators name is Maruf and works in the Bangladesh Call Center, tell him not to say his name is “Bobby”. I’m good working with Maruf and your not fooling anyone.
- If my call gets dropped for any reason, call me back. Immediately. Sooner if possible.
- I should only have to give you my information once.
- I know I can find answers to your website, but right now I wanna talk to a person though. Make that simple to do.
- If you offer “Do It Yourself” products, make sure you have phone support on weekends. I mean when do you think most “Do It Yourself” projects are done?????
- Don’t grade your operators on how quickly they can get me off the phone, Grade them on my delighted they make me. Trust me this works.
- Extend you customer support model beyond the phone. If don’t offer chat or social media support you’re behind the digital curve. Email/Support Forms? C’mon, we all know that’s the black hole of customer service Hell and if you can’t get back to me with some kind of response within an hour don’t bother with it.
It’s really that easy. We aren’t asking for much. And if you do take care of us, we’ll take care of you.
Granted she is just the smokin’ hot young actress from the Twilight series, but if the acting thing doesn’t work out Kristin Stewart might have a career as the world’s great Crisis Management Consultant. No really, I’m serious about that. Witness her recent scandal where she was caught canoodling with the very-married and 20 years her senior, director of the Twilight series, Rupert Sanders.
Her response to the allegations were straight from the “Here’s how you handle a crisis” playbook. Let’s take a look:
On July 17, 2012, the actress was caught by photographers in a series of steamy rendezvous with her Snow White and the Huntsman director, Rupert Sanders, 41 and on July 24th those photos were splashed across the pages of US Weekly.
On July 25, 2012 Stewart issues the following statement to People Magazine:
I’m deeply sorry for the hurt and embarrassment I’ve caused to those close to me and everyone this has affected. This momentary indiscretion has jeopardized the most important thing in my life, the person I love and respect the most, Rob. I love him, I love him, I’m so sorry.
So what did she do right?
1. She responded quickly. Rather than let the media or tabloids (are they the same things?) drive the narrative, she immediately responded to the allegations. By owning the story you own the direction it takes. Typically, companies will adopt the “close your eyes and cover your ears” response and hope it will all go away. As John Edwards will tell you, it doesn’t always happen that way
2. She told the truth – Many crisis experts will recite the adage “it’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up.” Isn’t that right President Nixon? Rather than to the typical knee jerk “The allegations are totally false and I will work aggressively to clear my name” routine, Stewart admitted to the affair and in doing so neutered the story in its tracks. Is any of this making any sense to you U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner?
3. Her statement was brief and to the point. Rather than write a soliloquy explaining herself she stuck with a simple, matter of fact admission. No excuses. No detailed explanation. This is in contrast to the epic Tiger Woods’ explanation of his sordid affairs which almost needed commercial break s it was so long.
4. She apologized – There was no finger pointing, no scapegoating, just a simple admission and apology. She didn’t even name her canoodling partner. Is this making any sense Time magazine writer, Washington Post columnist, and CNN host Fareed Zakaria?
5. She was sincere – Her statement is an obvious heartfelt apology. This wasn’t something run through her publicists or legal team and it shows. Any of this sinking in Rush Limbaugh?
Of course, her perfect response to the allegation put her “team” into panic mode as they worked to downplay and even deny the affair, which only served to bring focus back on the rumors when Stewart had effectively squashed the story. This brings us to another rule of crisis management:
6. Manage the crisis through a clear and consistent message – preferably through a designated spokesperson. In this case Stewart was that spokesperson. By contradicting her statement they have only reignited the scandal and begged the media to wonder what really happened. Way to go overzealous publicist people.
Has she taking her lumps? Of course she has and so will you. But she minimized the damage by following a perfectly executed crisis management plan. And if losing that douchebag Robert Pattinson is part of the punishment then I would say she’s already way ahead!
So say what you will about Kristen Stewart’s acting chops, but if you’re ever in need of a good Crisis Communication Consultant give the Trampire a call because she probably handled her crisis better than you’ll handle yours.
Men don’t care what’s on TV. They only care what else is on TV. – Jerry Seinfeld
Recently Jeremiah Owyang (@jowyang) tweeted a photo from the stage of his panel at SXSWi. His intent was to show the throng of people who had showed up for his early morning panel. I’d like to discuss how attending a 9:30 a.m. panel classifies one as a “morning bird”, but that post is for another day. What struck me about his picture is the fact that not one, let me repeat that, “NOT ONE” of the people pictured in his audience is in a conversation with their neighbor. Seriously, look. Everyone’s attention is focused on whatever is happening on their mobile device. Here we are at SXSWi – the “i” stands for “Interactive” by the way – and there isn’t one person “interacting”. An entire conference focused on how to engage with people, communicate your message, develop your digital listening skills, and we have an audience doing none of that…
I’ll admit that I am being hypocritical here, and I am as fused to my phone as anyone. Hell, I’m not even paying attention to myself as I write this because I’m more curious as to what’s going on in my Facebook news stream. But this photo is stunning to me. When did we become so adept and aware of the importance of communication yet completely lose the ability to communicate?
Everywhere I go, I see the scene in Jeremiah’s audience playing out. In airports, malls, family gatherings, and most frighteningly, behind the wheel of cars!!! We have become so consumed with consuming the world within our mobile devices that we no longer notice the real world go on around us.
Technology allows us to do magical things that we couldn’t have dreamt about even 10 years ago. And that is a good thing. But it has also made us slaves to those things. Paraphrasing Seinfeld, we don’t want to know what’s going on around us; we want to know what’s else is going on.
I got an idea. Let’s take some time everyday and look for opportunities to engage with the people around us, you know, like in the olden days before iphones, when we really communicated with each other. Next time you’re in the audience at an event, waiting for Jeremiah (or whomever) to tell you how important it is to communicate with your audience…communicate with your audience – those people around you – ya, that guy sitting right next to you. Stop tweeting, stop checking in, stop posting, stop texting, and stop browsing because that guy right next to you has a fascinating story to share, and so do you.