Say Good Morning

Happy Office Worker

Happy Office Worker (Photo credit: norsez (Thank you for 20,000 views))

Do you have those people at work that come in and cheerfully say good morning to everyone they see? You know when they’re coming; you can hear them chatting with each person they pass on their way in. What about the person who never says anything to anybody, just makes a beeline for the desk?

I have to admit, I vary depending on who the person is and their demeanor. This one lady I work with, who is very nice, would tell you that I hardly ever say hello in the morning and pass her right by. You know why? Every time I pass her desk she looks deep in thought. And to me, the work she does seems complicated, so I never want to break her concentration.

But the security guard at the front desk, he’s not that way. He doesn’t have to, but he’s made it a point to say good morning to every person that walks in the door. Not just half-heartedly, no. Not this guy. Though he’s soft spoken, he makes eye contact, smiles, and says “Good morning!” Then, as you leave his sight, he’s sure to say “Have a nice day.” Every morning. My impression of him over the past months has come to be “what a nice guy.” And now, I catch myself saying good morning to him before he even has a chance to say anything! If you told that to the lady whose office I pass every morning, I bet she would say “Really? Frankie does that?”

So, realizing how I feel when he says good morning, I made a point to share my impression with the nice lady at work that I ignore every morning. We both laughed, and she basically told me that she’s happy to have me interrupt her to say good morning. And now I do. You know what? She probably likes me more now. Why? I’ll spare you all the nerdy social science behind this (that I LOVE), but she probably likes me more because she thinks I like her. It’s the theory of reciprocal liking.

Now, what does this have to do with you? Your customers will like you better if they think you like them. An easy way to make people think you like them is to cheerfully extend social courtesies like saying “Good morning” and “Have a great evening” to your customers. On social, I love seeing the ” Goodnight ‘tweeps, we’re outta here!” posts at the end of the evening and the “Good morning, happy people!” tweets in the morning. They add a sense of positive energy, especially in the customer support arena, where feelings might be more negative. If you also have a physical presence, look up at your customers and say “Good morning, thanks for coming in!” or something to that effect. I do recommend varying the words used; Moe’s may do well shouting “Welcome to Moe’s!” at each customer, but I think personalizing your greeting works better.

So, good evening everyone. Thanks for stopping by the Socially Supportive blog!

Look at me, look at me!

"Here's looking at you, kid."

“Here’s looking at you, kid.” (Photo credit: ⌡K)

One of the most important things we can do to ensure good customer service is to watch it. Literally, to observe the transactions our folks have with our customers. Leaders send memos, make rules, start programs, and then after watching for a bit, let those initiatives be and assume their team is adhering to those decisions. But our teams probably need continual guidance and education to ensure that they fully understand not only the letter of the policies we have, but also the spirit.

Our teams need to be initially inspired with the right guidance on how we want our customers to be treated. We should demonstrate and educate on not only the processes we need to adhere to but also the feeling we want our customers to have as they interact with our brands. But after that first exposure to the concepts, we should continue to check in on a regular basis to help keep our teams on track.

Paying attention to your customer service interactions on a regular basis not only ensures your team has the right level of support and guidance, but also helps limit the number of surprises you may find after weeks or months of being disconnected.

So, have a look at that Facebook page or that forum. Hey, this one applies to bricks and mortar as well, so if you have retail location or call center, pop on in for a visit.

7 Things That Frustrate Customers on Social Media

138/365 Frustrated.

138/365 Frustrated. (Photo credit: martinak15)

You know what frustrates me as a customer of social media? The same things that annoy your customers on social media. Here they are; feel free to channel your inner customer, nod your head and say “me too!” out loud.

  • Ignore me. I’m here, asking you a question or making a statement. If you choose to not answer, I’m likely to feel ignored. I don’t want to be ignored. I matter. Let me know I matter.
  • Make me wait. If I ask a question and you respond quickly with “let me check on that for you,” I’m happy. For now. But don’t make me wait days to answer my question. This may make me grouchy, unless expectations are set up front. Try to set those expectations or check in regularly with updatees. I want to know you haven’t forgotten me.
  • Request that I email you. Yep, I said it. It’s annoying. There are times that I know we need to take it offline. But not every time. And not in every case. If I ask you the address of your store, you can answer me online. I’m impressed anytime I ask a question and get a quick answer online that actually saves me time and effort.
  • Use unnatural language. We’re past that, right? Those scripted phrases from phone calls had their place in a more formal time; however we’re on social media now. Share your personality (within reason) and speak to me as if we’re chatting over a coffee.
  • Argue with me. Especially if I’m already worked up. You may feel that you have proved your point; however I’m still not happy. Better to acknowledge my feelings and understand that I may see things differently than you intended.
  • Go on and on and ON. I’m on social in the first place asking you to engage with me because I’m impatient. Try using journalism tricks to keep your answer clear, crisp and concise. I’m glad you are empathizing with me, but I’m driving/reading/watching TV/talking to my family and my attention is divided. Make it easy for me to understand what you’re saying.
  • Don’t try too hard. Yep, I went there. If I’m on social engaging you, I expect elite service. I want you to know who to reach out to. I want you to think creatively to solve my problem. In short, I want you to make something happen. If you can’t make something happen, I’m probably disappointed and talking bad about you (on social and in person).

Have your own pet peeves? Feel free to add them.

Macy’s Anticipates Customer Need

English: Macy's Department Store in New York City.

English: Macy’s Department Store in New York City. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I got a phone call today. From Macy’s. My girl Macy called me to say that the purchase I made online would be shipped in two separate orders to get them here as quickly as possible. You know, just in case I was wondering how I should expect my order to arrive. By the way, this order was prompted by an email that came to my inbox reminding me of the Super Saturday Sale. I was able to click right from the email to the extra 20% off that was calling my name. I say “reminding me” because Macy’s texts me all the time to let me know when sales are happening. Just like a good shopping buddy would.

Wow, did you get all tangled up in my social relationship with my girl Macy? Are you wondering if I feel bothered, irritated or smothered by this? Surprisingly, my answer is no. Because Macy’s is doing a great job anticipating my needs as a consumer. Of course I want to know when Super Saturday is. Of course I like getting a little phone call to let me know they shipped my order in 2 separate packages. And, conveniently, if you don’t feel the same way, you have the ability to opt out of any of these interactions at any time, with easy instructions through each media channel.

I don’t think each company has to go to this level of support; in fact, that may get to be too many phone calls and emails. However, I think what is important is to find the right mix of social support for your customers. Find out what level of service your customers prefer, and in what channels. Then give it to them. Notice how I classify that email from Macy’s alerting me to sales as a customer support practice? On most planets I think people refer to that as marketing. To me, it’s a great service, because I don’t have to check the site or read the newspaper or even watch television to find out about upcoming store events. I just look at texts or emails.

I hope this sparks some ideas. The more we get ahead of customer need instead of running behind it, the better off we’ll be. Need anticipation is a great way to reduce customer effort. So, feel free to put yourself in your customer’s shoes, and see if you can do some of the work for your customer by anticipating their needs. And Macy’s, if you’re listening, keep texting, emailing, and calling. Just don’t tell my husband.

When Disaster Strikes

 

Lightning strikes over downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Lightning strikes over downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In customer care, we are used to providing a supportive role to our customers, our brand, and our organization. When crisis strikes, the best thing we can do to assist is to continue providing support.

I’m reminded of this with the recent tornados that swept through Oklahoma. Having lived in the Oklahoma area, I am compelled to help in any way I can. But, having lived through these kinds of events, I also realize that too much help is not really help.

Any recent natural disaster research can tell you that assistance is only beneficial when the right help is provided at the right time. For example, if too much water or too many bandages are purchased and trucked in, this can cause a shortage of other much needed supplies.

A good plan is to make the best decisions possible with the data currently available, remain flexible and divide tasks early among groups to cover as much ground as possible. The trick is making sure communications channels remain open across all groups to avoid information silos. This can be challenging if one point of contact from each group is not quickly identified. Uncoordinated information can cause false or stale data to be distributed. Lack of information can mean the right people don’t have the latest intelligence. This can become damaging quickly in social media if incorrect data is supplied to customers.

So, here’s hoping everyone is safe in Oklahoma tonight. And here’s hoping these words can provide benefit to others coordinating efforts.

Fix the Process

English: It's a simple picture of a magnifying...

English: It’s a simple picture of a magnifying glass. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you ask me, social media is like a magnifying glass, or those 10x magnifying mirrors women use to apply makeup in the morning. If you’ve ever used one of these, you know that you might feel like you need a good therapy session afterward.  Every problem, every blemish, everything that you’re already so self-critical of about yourself is made larger than life and reflected back at you.

Every flawed customer interaction can be magnified and served back to you as customer complaints on social media. And savvy executives are watching their own social spaces (go, you savvy execs out there!). This real-time access to customer experience and opinion is just what  companies have needed. But, if you’re running customer care for these spaces, oh boy, get ready.  The pressure is on to answer customer complaints, and fast.

Companies can rush to silence complaining customers by providing relief to just those customers that voice concern; however, without real change, those complaints will just continue to arrive on corporate social media properties.

So, how do you get to real change? Investigate, determine root cause, and correct. For example,  if customers complain about products arriving late, certainly help those customers that complain first, but then also dig deep to find causes and find out how often it happens. Do you have a call center? Chat reps? Do they get the same complaints? How many? And for how long? Was a policy or process change enacted around the time that the complaints started? Or has the process always been this way? Is there a reason the process has to remain in its current form, or is there a potential change that could produce an improved customer experience?

All this investigation requires an organizational culture that can collaborate and is open to change. Launching social media was a pretty big change a few years ago, so if you’ve been around a while, chances are you have a culture that can withstand some policy investigation (I hope). All this detective work takes some time, usually on the part of your social customer support team. First, they have to dig to the root of the issue for the initial customer, and then, they have to ask for other departments to pitch in and provide data on past complaints. Some departments may not want to share that they’ve had a number of complaints on an issue, but if the culture is really about improving customer experience, and you approach the request right, you might be surprised to find that the department is glad someone else noticed there was an issue (“finally” might be a word you hear once or twice).

So, if you’re up for it, give it a try. Be nice (No finger-pointing. We’re all in this together!) and use all your social charm inside the company to see what you can get done. It feels really good when you know that future customers won’t have that same-old issue anymore now that you’ve used the data from social media to solve a nagging process issue.

Say Cheese, Team!

Limburger cheese

Limburger cheese (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Speaking of personifying brand image, a great way to do this is with photos of your support team displayed proudly on your customer support tab. I’ve seen this done a few ways.

One popular choice is a static group shot depicting the entire social media customer support team. These look good, and I think customers may perceive a sense of closeness among team members. The image can convey to a customer “We are a close team, and if another team member helped you before, I can pick up seamlessly where she left off.” On the other hand, any team turnover on the team causes you to break out the camera again.

Another approach I’ve seen is  individual head shots of each team member. Some layouts allow the visitor to click-through to different team members, while others automatically scroll. Sometimes short bios are included, but I’m not convinced these are necessary. I think I like it better when the agent’s name is displayed simply with the head shot. With individual shots, I think using the same background for each photo helps add a consistent feel.

In either case, I think reps wearing crisp polos in company colors with the company logo adds a nice touch. It helps team members look pulled together. Professional photography looks best, but if that isn’t practical in keeping up with each team member, try to develop consistent guidelines around how to shoot the pictures. Use the same location, the same chair, have the photographer a set distance from the person being photographed, etc. Also, I would recommend getting formal releases from each employee and keeping them on file.

So, grab your team, grab a camera, and take some photos. Happy snapping!

Delta Orders Pizzas

English: Delta Airlines Cookies snack.

English: Delta Airlines Cookies snack. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut (Photo credit: PatrickOhnewein)

Delta used its Facebook account to showcase customer care that exceeded normal practice. During a three-hour wait on the tarmac caused by weather delays, airport employees ordered pizza for passengers waiting on the airplane. NBCNEWS.com’s Ben Popken reported the flight left Boston headed to Atlanta Monday night, but had to divert to Knoxville due to weather in the Atlanta area.

Delta shared the link to the story on their own Facebook page today, with this comment: “30 pizzas on us. Big props to this Delta crew for thinking on their toes – and with their stomachs: http://on.today.com/16K8tuE“.

Within two hours, the post had been shared over 200 times and received 147 comments, with sentiment trending toward positive.

Now, this story isn’t exactly social customer care, but it does speak to great customer service in the field that can produce social brand ambassadors when posted online.

What do you think about this?