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Friday Fun: Bathroom BlogFest 2010 Stuck in the 60's


Friday Fun is Diva Marketing's virtual happy hour from cosmos to Jack to lemonade. A waiting for the weekend 'playground' time to be sophisticated-silly. Or sometimes just plain silly.

Bathroom fest 2010
Today's Friday Fun is dedicated to the Bathroom BlogFest 2010.

Now in it's 5th year, the Bathroom BlogFest is a fun way to call attention to the .. The Loo. This year CB Whittemore, Susan Abbott and Stephanie Weaver, the creative minds behind this week of posts, thought it would be fun to spoof the 60's a la Mad Men. By the way, don't you just Love the logo?!

I must admit I'm not really a Mad Men fan; but shhh! please don't tell anyone .. I am a fan of Doris Day. I love those old movies that she filmed in in the 60's. When CB asked me to play along the image that immediately came to mind was the classic bathroom "feet-to-feet touching" scene with Doris Day and Rock Hudson. It turns out that Pillow Talk was released 10-1959 .. but that's almost 1960.

Looking at the image with 21st century eyes it seems wistfully innocent. And it is. Can you imagine the scene with Lady Gaga?

But look a little closer and you'll see the elegance of the composition of the image. The stark, white bathtubs are set against a gray wall for Doris Day and a white tile wall for Rock Hudson. The bubbles in Doris Day's tub along with her blond hair are a perfect foil for Rock Hudson's tanned legs and dark hair. Add to that the understated sexuality (oh! I hope that doesn't attract spam bots) of simply feet-touching-feet against a wall that is really an illusion of reality.  Pillow talk bathroom scene

Since Diva Marketing is about marketing and branding in the social web, if we bring it back to that world, the bathroom scene becomes a reminder that sometimes less is actually more. How many flash graphics, splashy (oops sorry!) YouTube videos or grand Facebook tabs do you really need to connect with your customers?

Isn't that what social media is really all about? The ability to reach out and touch .. maybe not feet-to-feet .. but certainly heart-to-heart with your customers?  Sometimes I can't but think that the elegance of social media has gotten lost in the rush to add "likes" or friends or followers. The next time you want to include the latest shiny toy to your marketing plan, think for a moment about a powerful image from a 1959 .. almost 1960 .. bathroom scene that stole the show.

 Enjoy the other Bathroom Blogfest posts ..

Susan Abbott - Customer Experience Crossroads
Paul Anater - Kitchen and Residential Design
Shannon Bilby - From The Floors Up
Toby Bloomberg - Diva Marketing
Laurence Borel - Blog Till You Drop
Bill Buyok - Avente Tile Talk Blog
Jeanne Byington - The Importance of Earnest Service
Becky Carroll - Customers Rock!
Marianna Chapman - Results Revolution
Katie Clark - Practical Katie
Valerie Fritz - The Awarepoint Blog
Nora DePalma - American Standard’s Professor Toilet
O’Reilly/DePalma: The Blog
Leigh Durst - LivePath Experience Architect Weblog
Iris Garrott - Checking In and Checking Out
Tish Grier - The Constant Observer
Renee LeCroy - Your Fifth Wall
Joseph Michelli - Dr. Joseph Michelli’s Blog
Veronika Miller - Modenus Blog
Arpi Nalbandian - TILE Magazine Editor Blog
Maria Palma - People 2 People Service
Reshm Bachwani Paritosh - The Qualitative Research Blog
David Polinchock - Polinchock’s Ponderings
David Reich -My 2 Cents
Victoria Redshaw & Shelley Pond - Scarlet Opus Trends Blog
Sandy Renshaw - Purple Wren
Bethany Richmond - The Carpet and Rug Institute Blog
Bruce Sanders - RIMtailing
Steve Tokar - Please Be Seated
Carolyn Townes - Becoming a Woman of Purpose
Stephanie Weaver - Experienceology
Christine B. Whittemore - Flooring The Consumer
Simple Marketing Blog
Ted & Christine B. Whittemore - Smoke Rise & Kinnelon Blog
Linda Wright - LindaLoo Build Business With Better Bathrooms










Customer Service Social Media Style: A Pulse of the Industry View Part 1


What do people do on social networks and blogs? They "talk" of Service_photo_e3mh course! They talk about what is important and what is mundane. More frequently, however,  those conversations are directed, not to friends or family, but to the people who represent brands. These chats are about service and product concerns.

"Social (media customer) service" and the "social customer" are impacting how business is being conducted and will be conducted.

In preparation for the BlogWorldExpo panel I spoke on last week, Creating Customer Loyalty Through Social Media, I was curious to better understand the social customer's expectations of the new social media kid on the blog .. "social service."

So like any good social media diva I dropped a question on a couple of social networks:

More companies are using social media to support their customer service strategies. What are your expectations of "social service?"

30 people responded. While this may not be statistically valid research, the responses from these early adopters provide valid learnings. Many thanks to all who shared their insights.

Interestingly there were a few similarities to the Pulse of the Industry research I conducted on Blogger Relations. The two most significant were:

1.  Customers want to know they matter

2. Customers want to engage with people who want to build trusted relationships

Although social service may not have reached mainstream adoption, those active in the social web have come to expect to be accommodated in this channel.

I expect companies to address my needs in the channels of my choosing. -  Teresa Caro.

It's a great access ramp to getting a problem solved without the typical customer service brush off; however, I think the number of people using Twitter to complain about their cable service for instance, is small compared to the number of people going through the traditional channels. - Marianne Richmond

I think many consumers (those active social media users) have come to expect a response. Smart companies have gotten out in front of the customer service through social media curve and have spoiled the public into thinking that all companies should respond that way. - Jason Falls

The benefits of social service were varied and ranged from building relationships, building trust to gaining a competitive advantage, increasing personalized service and saving money (from responses seen by others who have similar concerns).

When combined with traditional marketing, social-driven customer service can be a force for more credible problem-solving, less expensive customer service, product ideation and customer lifetime value. - Dennis Dunlap

Gives us an opportunity to answer a question or solve a problem while reinforcing in a broad forum, our willingness and desire to do so. - Brendan Hurley

Real time brand building, loyalty extending and responding time enhancer. - Jody DeVere

Responses fell  into nine broad topics:

i. I Matter

Social Service comes down to one thing: treat me like a person. I am a valued customer, not just a user. - Michael Rubin

Positive, direct honesty from service provider; not just one-way marketing communication speak. - Jake Aull

Social networks give companies an incredible opportunity to make things right and retain their customers, turning them into brand ambassadors. - Elaine Fogel

Loud and clear people want to know that they are important to your organization. Notice me, talk to me, acknowledge me was the the mantra for many.

Too often it seems that social media service reflects the philosophy of George Orwell's Animal Farm .. some people are more equal than others. The more Followers, the higher your Google ranking .. the more likely you are to capture the attention of a brand.

Lesson learned: Your best customers may not appear to be social media 'influencers.'

Challenge: How do you scale social service to acknowledge all or most people who take the time to engage with you?

 ii. Real People

How well they can embody your brand's spirit and use common sense vs. a script goes a long way. - Mary Hunt

For all this to happen, all staff have to know the game thay are now in. May be (probably will be) need for cultural change. Snooty waitpersons whose idea of fun is to insult the customer need nto apply. - Des Walsh

I expect a company to show the social customer service by putting a person out front, not an anonymous company reply, who understands the brand. - Rob Peterson

I would expect proactivity, not just reactivity, and a more "human" less scripted and fake exchange. - Debra Semans

As with every other use of social media, our customers expect to use this channel talking people-to-people Not person-to-logo. There is little patience with those companies that are using social service as another messaging opportunity.

Those reaching out through the social web to solve a problem or ask an important question, don't want platitudes. These people are using social media to build long-term, trusted relationships with the people behind the brands.

Lessons learned: Customers expect personal conversations that are not scripted.

Challenges: Knowledgeable people placed in positions where the exchanges take both the customer and brand values into consideration.

iii. Understand the Social Media Culture

She obviously had no idea what Twitter is. I was not submitting a complaint to BofA I was mad and I was vetting to my friends and followers. - Sally Falkow

Social media is the only strategy (yes, I do think it is a strategy, but that's another post for another day) that I know of that is built on a culture. e.g., value driven, transparency, authenticity, conversations versus messages and throw in a some passion too.

If the people participating in social media don't understand the vernacular of the platforms there is a disconnect between the brand's customer service reps and their customers.

Lessons Learned: Customer service reps engaging in social media must understand the cultural norms and response/engagement expectations.

Challenges: Providing the right training for all employees who interact with customers in all service channels.

iv. Response Time

We live in a 24/7 world. Companies simply can't wait to respond. - BL Ochman

Set the expectations by listing response time on the selected social media touch points could be a solution. - Rajesh Lawani

Social media customer service is held to a higher standard than traditional customer service channels. Customers want Fast response and problem solving. However, there is no standard to what is meant by "fast." Fast ranged from 3-4 hours to within a day.

Lessons Learned: The bar is set higher for social media responses than for traditional channels.

Challenge: In order not to disappoint, customer expectations must be managed. The extent of resources (people, processes, technology, finances) will of course, impact response time.

v. Non Presence

Some of my favs are not on Twitter or Facebook yet, or their presence is silent on those sites. I'm beginning to question their commitment to me as a customer. - Yvonne DiVita

Not engaging with your customers in the social web is beginning to hurt brand goodwill. As Jamie Turner puts it, " Using social media as a customer service tool isn't an option anymore." 

Lessons Learned: Organizations that are not listening and engaging with their customers in the social web are missing opportunties to expand the brand experience and create brand champions. 

Challenges: It's critical that resources are in place if you plan to scale listening and engagement in social web conversations. As important is determining who will listen, how will they listen, what will they listen for and who, how, what will they respond to in the digital worlds.

vi. Keep Promises

Customer service cartoon
One time a brand did interact; they promised something that they never fulfilled so that just reinforced my annoyance with the company.
- Laura Bennett

Although the social customer service tweet or Facebook status update is directed at One person thousands maybe listening. The social service channel becomes a public exposure of how your company handles problems and relates to customers. You can WoW or your can stumble and fall.

Lessons Learned: A broken promise or a brush off response can result in more than one 1 lost customer. Promises kept can result in a new brand champion who influences segments you many have access to at this time.

Challenges: Servicing the individual customer, on a personal basis while being aware of the immediate impact on many.

vii. The Social Customer

I want to bear witness to change. - Jane Genova

A Tweet reply from a real person, with an invitation to DM them for follow-up assistance. - Debbie Weil 

I do expect that if they offer an outlet online, they should be able to back it up online. If I mention something in a post or a tweet - it's always nice to have them acknowledge it - even if I didn't @ them or use a #. If they ask if they can help me, don't disappear after I say yes, here's the problem. - Sue Rodman

The social client can be vastly different from a client that utilizes other channels. The issue types that are observed via social media sites also tend to be ones that are escalated and to add to that tension, now the whole world is watching to see how you answer. - Bianca Buckridee

I do not want push communications through social media channels regardless of how they set up the use of these tools internally. If you put your brand out there, you should be ready to engage on all levels. - Donna Tocci

The social customer is not only an early adopter but sophisticated in terms of understanding how to leverage technology and the social web.

Although conversations may begin online as CK Hurley says, " I don't mind moving off social platforms (such as Twitter) on to email/phone as that's many times necessary given space limitations and sometimes it's necessary due to regulated industries."

 viii. Impact on the Enterprise

All the well-intentioned listening in the world won't make a difference unless you fundamentally change the way your company does business and start respecting your customers giving them a voice and a chance at a satisfactory experience. - Alan Wolk

The customer service companies that utilize Facebook Open Graph to segment their messaging will be ahead of the game in proactively using social as a service tool. - Erika J. Brookes

Customer Service Reps: As we discussed above not only will social media reps require additional training in how to communicate in the social web e.g., no messaging allowed!, but understanding the culture is as important.

Infrastructure: Are the right processes and systems in-place including cross department communication? Has the impact on resources been analyzed? Are service levels across ALL channels consistent?

Lessons Learned: Social media impacts all aspects of the enterprise especially those who have contact with your customers.

Challenges: Change in the internal culture to allow people to not only participate in the social web conversations but to empower the customer service reps to publicly respond and WoW. 

viii. Companies doing it right

Dell, Southwest, Comcast, Best Buy, AMC, Marriott, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Whole Foods, Jet Blue

We're in the business of making people happy and exceptional customer service from real reps in a totally unscripted environment makes people happy. - Melissa Lacitigonola

ix. Companies doing it wrong

Bank of America, Schwab

But at the end of the day does it really matter which channel you use to service your customers? The goal is consistency across all channels. As Dan Dooley put it, "The key driver is to not distinguish "social" customer service from any other - it's all social, it's all service."


Creating A Two-Tiered System of Customer Service 

Social Media Mission Control, THe Contact Center Must Evolve 

The Social Customer Engagment Index White Paper

Using Social Channels To Show Customers You Care

 Pink boa Toss of a pink boa to:

Dennis Dunlap, American Marketing Association

Yvonne DiVita, Lip-sticking

Laura Bennett, Embrace Pet Insurance

Rob Petersen, Barb Raisers

Jane Genova, Speechwriter Ghostwriter

Teresa Caro, Razorfish

CK Hurley, CK's Blog

Alan Wolk, Alan Wolk

Erika J. Brooks, Virture

Jason Falls, Social Media Explorer

Rajesh Lawani, BlogWorks

BL Ochman, Whatsnextblog.com

Marianne RIchmond, Resonance Partners

Des Walsh, Des Walsh dot com

Debbie Weil, Debbie Weil

Sally Falkow, Meritus Media

Donna Tocci, Ingersoll Rand

Melissa Lacitgnola, Zappos

Sue Rodman, Field Trips With Sue

Mary Hunt, In Women We Trust

Michael Rubin, Michael E Rubin

Elaine Fogel, Solutions Marketing and Consulting

Brandan Hurley, Goodwill of Greater Washington

Jody DeVere, Ask Patty

Jake Aull, Zen of Brand

Bianca Buckridee, Sun Trust

Jamie Turner, 60 Second Marketer

Dan Dooley, Mullen

Brent Leary, The Social Customer

Tom O'Brien, MotiveQuest

Debra Semans, Polaris Marketing Research

Rockin' With Social Customer Service


Two years ago Becky Carroll, Customers Rock, invited me, along with 
Tony Hsien, Frank Eliason and Brian Solis, to participate on a BlogWorld Expo panel about a fairly new, innovative use of social media. Fast forward 24-months and "social service" is on its way to becoming the new darling of social media.

Becky thought it would be fun to do an encore of that panel: Act 2 of Creating Customer Loyalty with Social Media, A Look 2 Years Later I am at #bwe10, Las Vegas, with Becky Carroll, Frank Eliason and this time representing Zappos -- Melissa LaPointe.

As I told the packed room (thanks to everyone who attended!) in 2008 we were so innocent .. or perhaps a better word might be naive.  Although in 2008, we were seeing an up-swing in the use of social networks, today participation has escalated to include segments and "tribes" that were just tip toe-ing through the social web. Add to that more shiny toys to play with like FourSquare and apps and peer-to-peer on-line engagement is on a course that will take us who knows where!

In thinking about adding social service as an additional avenue to support customer care, consider a 2-sided model: internal (company) and external (customers). Balancing expectations for both sides of this see saw ride is not always simple. However, when it comes to digital social customer service it is critical to get right.

From the perspective of the company

It's very clear that my pal Shel Israel was spot on when he told me in 2005 that social media cannot be contained in one corporate silo. Conversations that impact the brand continue to evolve on social networks.

Don't be fooled by what might appear to be seemingly casual chats. These conversations can impact brand goodwill and every aspect of the enterprise, especially those that interface with our customers.

Even the first step of a social media strategy, listening, grows more complex. There are many decisions must be reached and questions answered. Who takes ownership of the listening and of the direct customer engagement? Will you be proactive or reactive? What do those terms mean to your company? Who will take ownership of what? How will internal communication be structured? Organizations are exploring involving multiple departments. What that looks like will differ for every organization.

From perspective of the customer

I was very curious to understand what this new channel of service meant to people. Were expectations different in new media versus tradtional call centers? I dropped a question in a few social networks and received some fascinating responses. People expect a human approach not a logo response.

Although a company (or a person from the brand) may respond directly to a customer, in what may appear to be a 1:1 conversation, the brand experience extends to whomever maybe watching the exhange. The digital brand/customer service experience is more reflective of the in-person "corner grocery store" exhange versus that of eMail or the call center. 

More on the Pulse of Social Service next week. In the mean time, think about what Dennis Dunlap, CEO American Marketing Association told me ..

Done well a social media customer service approach can augment strong phone, email and online support.  But it requires a commitment to managing heightened expectations of customers engaging in digital channels.

Customer service has sure come along way bebe from when, in another life time, I was a rep for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts!


Being At The Social Media Party You Could Not Attend


I am still learning. ~ Michaelangelo

GraduationCapToss Tossing our graduation caps into the air doesn't mean our education is over. Instead it signals a different type of learning. It's a learning that we now pursue without the structure of a formal syllabus .. which is constructed by someone whose ideas of what we need to know may not be the same as our own.

Especially in a field that is emerging, like social media marketing, it's important to learn from peers who are willing to share real life experiences. Traditional books, publications and industry associations were always the main stay. Then the world wide web added articles and content we could access 24/7/365.

However, it's the social web that is the game changer. Social media is providing peer-to-peer exchanges, through tweets, blog posts/comments and status ups.

We now have access to, dare I say the word .. industry experts. Frequently, these "pros" (in the truest sense of the word), who we might have seen at a conference or read their books, are giving us more ... free and freely. Via social web content they are providing additional value; often they join in community discussions and answer specific questions. 

One of my favorite ways people are creating nontraditional learning experiences is sharing information from conferences through tweets, blog posts, Facebook updates, etc. Call it being at the party you couldn't attend

Tweet_laurencoppage feeling like there

Recently I had the honor of chairing the AiMA (Atlanta Interactive Marketing Association) social media meeting. For a fun learning, along with a bit of wrap around content, here are some of the tweets that were shared from the event. #aima

Ed Garston, head of electronic media for Chrysler, and Rick Short, marketing communication director at Indium, a global B2B company, not only presented innovative campaigns and uses of social media but shared results. 

Tweet jumboshowjoe prominentplcment case sutdy

Social media is different than traditional or Interactive marketing. It's based on a long-term customer-brand, value proposition, delivered through digitial conversations in public forums. Success comes through understanding how to represent your brand promise within the unique culture of social media.

Tweet julie _ sm respectful not over market

However, getting started, either in a business-to-business or business-to-consumer environment, can present a challenge if management and/or your employees don't understand the benefits. Ed and Rick shared a few practical suggestions:

Tweet kyharrison grow web presence into community

Tweet mastermindings sell internal

Tweet chandrathompson competition

Tweet lynnrfrances _ answer today to questions tomorrow

Twitter toby_ chrysler recap

Tweet rebeccachander _ part of campaign not entire campaign

Tweet rmcferrin jmarie83 _ presence established

As our speakers reminded us, at the end of the day, it's not about playing with new shiny toys but about producing business results based on goals and objectives. 

Tweet cmorocks doncare about sm about $

Tweets also provide an opportunity for community members to contribute their own thoughts to the digital stream, often resulting in virtual sidebar discussions.

Tweet oliviapatrick _ comentary

How are you continuing your learning?