Customer Service

Last Thursday I had a meeting with the someone in downtown Troy New York, to talk about the work we’re doing with I had just eaten quickly before the meeting and I stopped into the Illium Cafe to pick up a pack of gum, or some mints to help ensure my speaking was well received. :-)

I noticed right away that they had none available at the usual spot. I told the ladies behind the counter that I was running to meet with someone, and I was looking for some gum or mints, but didn’t see any out. They apologized and informed me that they had just run out. HOWEVER, in the exact same response, the manager Beth Duval went to her own purse and then handed me some gum of her own!

Two things companies can takeaway from this:

1) Go above an beyond, and meet a need in an unexpected way. Meeting a need in an unexpected way is a powerful thing. The positive shock/surprise makes the experience with your brand that much more impactful. It’s hard to forget, and it’s a great way to generate positive word of mouth.

Rather than repeat it, here is a great post by Maki over at Dosh Dosh that gives an excellent explanation of the cognitive cause of surprise, and how it effects one’s behavior.

Look for ways that you can do something for your customers that meets a need in a way that they would not expect.

2) Remember to nurture the individuals who are already talking about your company/brand, or that you know are repeat and happy customers. Going above and beyond for these people in particular is important, because you might just do the one thing that makes them “tip”, and do something above and beyond in return. (Like me sharing my great experience at the Illium Cafe in this post)

In trying to build word of mouth, many times people think they need to do something big or crazy to appeal to a mass crowd of people who have never heard their message. This has its place, but don’t forget to focus on the individuals who are already talking about you.

Not everyone will communicate their experience with your brand, but nurturing your repeat and happy customers is never a bad thing.

Bravo Illium Cafe, and keep up the great work on all fronts!

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I thought this was an excellent quote by Yihong Ding, found in this RWW post about the value of Community Managers:

“As we know, most of the Web 2.0 companies are built upon user generated content. Philosophically, User Generated Content is embodied human mind. This embodied mind is generally the fundamental asset for the company. Maintaining a proper community so that users may embody their mind with high quality is thus a central issue for the growth of the company. The duty of community managers is to supervise and maintain the high-quality production of the fundamental mind asset used by the company. Therefore, I would say that community manager is a critical job title for most of the Web 2.0 companies.”

This holds true for any company, not just Web 2.0 companies.

Every company today needs to recognize this.  While user generated content may be a core component of many Web 2.0 companies’ business models, the conversation and “content” provided by a company’s users/customers is of the utmost value to all businesses.

Therefore, ensuring that it is sought after, provoked, nurtured and communicated appropriately and applied correctly is of immense importance.

Still not satisfied?

I’ll give you one question: Who in YOUR company is responsible for listening and engaging your community?

If you have to think about it, you’re in trouble.  It’s time.

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photo by kalandrakas

Thinking about doing some marketing?

Here are some absolute basics:

1) Meet a need - Make sure that what you’re marketing really meets a genuine need. If you don’t have a product or service that meets a need, you shouldn’t be marketing.  You should be finding out why you’re doing what you’re doing.

2) Find the people who’s need you meet – If you meet a genuine need, find the people who’s need you meet.  Once you meet a few people’s needs, ask them where you can find more people with the same need.  Where can you reach them with your message?

3) Make sure the people with the need you meet know that you meet their need - Tell them how you meet their need. Show them how you meet their need. Better yet, have the other people who’s needs you’ve met tell them and show them how you’ve met their needs.

That’s it.  Simple huh? :-)

Bottom line is – If you don’t meet a need, don’t bother.

Make sure you meet a need, and then make sure that everyone that has that need knows that YOU meet it.

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I walked into Starbucks Friday afternoon for a cup of tea, and came across this:

I knew what was coming… :-)

Starbucks recently launched a new site called, powered by Salesforce Ideas.

I love it when I see a company (especially a large name company like Starbucks), utilizing technology to listen to and involve their customers in more of what they do.

I thought it was cool that they were populating ideas that were brought up prior to launching the site, like this one:

Please go back to your original idea of an European coffee house and get rid of the
extraneous items like cds, stuffed animals, countless foods and all that factory
holiday junk. I love the original Starbucks better. And Howard Schultz, I love you.

- An idea from our Annual Meeting of Shareholders on March 19, 2008 in Seattle

Jeremiah gave some good quick thoughts here, and Jim Bruene over at NetBanker added some great thoughts here as well.

Great move Starbucks, and wonderful execution on the roll out of the site and marketing campaign. Now the challenge will become being agile enough to respond and execute on the top rated ideas as soon as possible. Do it now, as early as possible. It will really pay off.

I’d love to talk to the individual at Starbucks that was responsible for making this happen.

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