I dig language. I dig analyzing human interaction. And I dig marketing. That actually means every interaction with every business is like a moment in the lab for me.
So I hit a triple play today when I was on the phone with a State Farm customer service rep. The rep told me she wanted to get me to speak to someone from my state. She said: “Let me warm transfer you to someone in PA.”
My prefrontal cortex woke up with a jolt. I have honestly never heard this before.
I knew of course what it meant: to be transferred to another agent with a live agent-to-agent hand off. Of course there should be a word for that!
Shouldn’t all transfers be ‘warm’?
This is customer service gold. Use it — do it! — and your customers will be delighted.
So at the end of the call, when she asked me if I had any other questions, I checked in with her: “Did you say ‘warm transfer’?
Yes, she said bemusedly. She then politely explained what it meant and added: “It’s a Southern thing, I guess.”
Well, that makes it twice as nice.
Really. That’s what it says at the bottom of an email I just received from Starbucks–subject line: “We’d like to know a bit more about you — it’ll only take a minute.”
Actually, here’s the whole thing:
“This email is sent from an account we use for sending messages only. So if you want to contact us, don’t reply to this email – we won’t get your response. Instead, use this web form or mail your comments to PO Box 34067, Seattle, WA 98124-1067. Thanks.”
Where did this marketing convention come from? It is THE MOST NATURAL THING TO DO to hit reply in response to an incoming email. If companies want to hear from us–We the Customer–then why don’t they make it easy for us? Instead they totally buck the way we all operate.
If there has ever been an analog-t0-digital snafu worth solving, it’s the small biz email newsletter sign up form.
How many times have you seen those little note books covered in pizza sauce, jammed-up on the counter, closed or otherwise being ineffective and uninviting? It screams: “We’ll never add these to anything and you’ll never get an email from us!”
That’s why MailChimp’s Chimpadeedoo is my hero. Looky here:
That’s a sweet iPad rendering of their new technology. With auto-sync to their email platform, MailChimp has elegantly left small biz folk with a sweet opportunity: to actually communicate with their clients via email.
There’s no reason anymore not to do it.
Technology that makes things suuuuuuper easy takes the cake every time.
So I went to Chipotle.com looking for info on their West Chester, PA store. I expected a full-fledged site dedicated to my particular local store—with local info, reflecting local culture… Unfortunately, all I found was basically a phone number and a map!
Listen up national brands/big chains: From a customer’s perspective, the local store is THE chain. So when I go to your site, give me an experience that has significance with regard to the local store… before the you give me the “chain” story.
I checked Starbuck’s out too—they do it incorrectly as well.
Are CMOs scared of diluting the BRAND message by offering local content? Are they uncomfortable with the messiness of enabling local managers? Or the expense of that?
Let’s put it this way: If your friend opened a restaurant in your town and he didn’t have a website what would you do? You’d shake him silly? Isn’t that what Chipotle is doing when they send local searchers to the corporate site?
Does anyone know of a national brand that has a local-orientation to their web strategy?
It’s time for some radical thinking about your local newspaper.
Here’s the problem: my local paper is covering things that aren’t that relevant to me—and when it is relevant, it’s not covered exactly the way I want it covered.
What if we flipped the editorial function on its head? What if we employed the Groupon model or crowdsourcing intent from a community?
Specifically, I think it could work like this:
- Allow readers to post story ideas
- Readers could then vote on their favoriate ones.
- Once a critical mass was achieved, the story would be assigned to a reporter.
Of course, the initial posting of the idea could include detail to provide a clear idea of what the story should achieve.
Isn’t this a way for a paper to always remain relevant to its readership? More importantly, isn’t this a way for a community to get what it wants?
I think it’s worth at least a pilot.
When I worked at a local newspaper, I served on the community relations board. It was a way for us to ensure we were serving the community better. This idea is soooo much better. It’s real-time, it’s democratic, and it’s transparent.
Ok, I’m wearing my soothsayer hat and looking into my crystal ball:
I see a time when I can add a to-do item to my iPhone app that helps me organize my life (Things by the way) and I can define it so that it goes off when I enter a particular store or class of store.
For example: I always have a few to-dos related to the hardware store–but they’re never a priority. I’m forced to give them an arbitrary due date just to keep them in my mind. It never works that the arbitrary date is the day I walk into a hardware store!
Now, if there was some real smartness in my phone, it would know when I walked into a hardware store (Home Depot, Lowes, local hardware) and then beep and vibrate like crazy.
That would work for the grocery store or music store or… it would be cool and helpful.
Just decided to go hog wild and get rid of email subscriptions that I haven’t looked at in months. So after unsubscribing from about 10 emails it occurred to me that not one organization said to me: “Hey, we know you’re busy, how about instead of unsubscribing you take a little vacation from us. Say for about 6 months. We’ve got a lot planned and we’d like you to experience it.”
I would have done that 9 times out of 10.
Sure, I’ve seen ‘reduce the frequency’ options, but really when people go for an unsubscribe they’re already kind of annoyed–so going from three times a week to once a week just won’t suffice.
My concept is just “back off!” or “I think we need a little space from each other.”
A big PAUSE button, really.
Anything to lower the unsubscribe rate, right?
Ok, I’m still amazed at the value Google provides, AND how it makes lots of companies (their documentation) look silly.
Case in point: I was trying to figure out how to prevent Adobe from automatically opening pdfs after I create them. I started (of course) by going to Acrobat (Pro in this case) and looking around its menus.
You know, Preferences? Nothing.
Then I tried Google. I searched: “how to prevent Adobe acrobat from opening newly created pdfs”
The first result had my answer. It was Tek Tips. Never heard of it before–basically a poorly designed forum for tech Q & A.
But low and behold there was my answer. In less than a minute.
Note: Adobe wasn’t even on page one.
To be fair, I went back and used Adobe’s help files. I entered my search and hit enter. Nothing happened. Nothing. Fail.
I saw this great sign today on my walk to work. Such a metaphor!
First rule of customer service is to not be grumpy. If you’ve got that, you’re half way to a gold star.
I think a little extra sleep on the part of this sign maker might have yielded something ‘nicer’ like:
- Sorry, you gotta go that-a-way >
- Looks like a door–but not really a door. Try around the corner.
- Sorry! Entrance is actually over there >
I went the extra mile and added a bit of play–always a good idea to try to make someone smile a bit right before you start dealing with a customer service issue, no?
Customer service is about empathy–just inhabit your customer’s mental state and you’ll make friends and provide exceptional experiences.