Tag Archives: Customer Service

How Can Quora Fit Into Your Social Media Marketing Toolbox?

Now that you know all about Quora and how it works, Weber Media Partners gives you three ways that it can help you and your business manage and build its online reputation.

1) Monitoring Your Brand

Quora is a unique way to monitor your brand’s online reputation. The site’s “Account Settings” provide a comprehensive list of options for e-mail notifications. You can choose to receive e-mail messages alerting you to new questions and answers, actions of specific users, and summaries of actions relating to a specific topic. Silicon Valley analyst Jeremiah Owyang recommends tracking brand and product mentions, for it is “likely if one customer is asking questions in Quora, it’s an indicator others are too.”  He further suggests escalating recurring questions or problems to the correct group within the company.

Weber Media Parents agrees, and we would be happy to work with you to develop a Quora monitoring program. We’ll help you identify FAQs, desired product or service changes, potential blog topics, or other industry trends. Contact us for more information.

2) Sharing Your Expertise

You and your colleagues know a lot about your industry – why not share this wealth of wisdom? Since corporate accounts are not possible, companies should instead encourage interested and knowledgeable parties to set up Quora accounts, identify themselves as employees, and comment on questions in their chosen area of expertise. Quora gives employees the opportunity to share valuable information with their contemporaries across the globe, and perhaps even become thought-leaders on a given topic.

These experts can be powerful spokespeople for the company, but they can also cause headaches if they are not given the proper guidelines from the beginning. A meeting among managers and the marketing team to establish ground rules – such as style guides, the discussion of new product details, or non-work-related submissions – is highly recommended before introducing Quora to the social media plan.

3) Responding to Your Customers’ Queries

Quora revolves around questions and answers, making it a powerful customer service channel. Mashable blogger Heather Whaling singles out Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom as one user who is performing this task particularly well on the site. Systrom, who created the popular iPhone photo app, provided in-depth answers to a number of questions about his company. Thanks to his clear authority and knowledge, his responses have shot to the top spot on the pages. By answering his customers’ questions thoroughly and openly, Systrom has both ensured that the correct information is distributed and garnered good will for himself and his company.

The Weber Media team is excited about this newest tool, and we hope you are, too! Share your thoughts on Quora here or via Facebook or Twitter. And please let us know if you have any questions about integrating Quora and social search into your social media marketing program.

Quora: The Social Search Engine

It’s 2011, and Quora has emerged as the latest social media tool that has marketers buzzing. The site, which was launched in January 2010 with Facebook’s former Chief Technology Officer serving as co-founder, has already attracted significant attention from the top social media blogs and from venture capitalists. Quora’s innovative “social search” is being touted as “future of blogging“ and “much, much bigger than Twitter.”

Yet what exactly is Quora, and how can it fit into your social media marketing strategy? Weber Media Partners will answer these questions in a two-part series. Today, we will introduce this increasingly popular new search site. On Friday, we’ll take you through the three ways Quora can help your business.

What is Quora?

Let’s start with the basics. Quora defines itself as “a continually improving collection of questions and answers created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it.” Users can search the site for specific questions, browse questions by category, or post questions that have yet to be posed by a user. All users can also contribute to the answers, responding themselves or “voting up” their preferred response. Registration is free, and it is easy to connect your Quora account to your Facebook and Twitter profiles, and your blog.

Quora is a powerful tool, but it is not the most user-friendly one. The best way to learn is to practice. After creating your account, start following topics of interest to you. To do this, simply begin typing the topic into the search bar and select from the resulting list. Once you follow a topic, questions relating to the topic will appear in your activity stream (similar to your Twitter stream or Facebook news feed).

The next step after selecting your topics is to post answers or questions of your own. Click on the image at right to see an example of a Quora question and answer page. The answers appear on the page in descending order based on user votes (e.g. “up” votes make an answer rise up the page) and the author’s previous record (e.g. the higher their previous posts, the higher their answers appear).

The Quora team is quick to note that it has protections in place to prevent users from “gaming” the system, and thus negating the accuracy and value of its content. In addition to monitoring its users’ submissions, Quora requires you to use your full name to register. While it encourages users to share titles and employers as a way of verifying the source of the knowledge provided, the site does not permit the establishment of business or brand accounts. Quora has been actively removing accounts that violate this policy, including the blog Mashable‘s account. There are currently no plans to add this feature to Quora.

To learn how this new tool can help your business as part of your social media marketing plan, check back with us on Friday for the second half of our Quora series. And as always, share your thoughts here or via Facebook or Twitter.

Businesses Benefit from Strategic Social Media Programs

Bridge to CustomersWhile social networking began as a consumer activity, it has become a crucial component of most business marketing strategies as it allows companies to reach highly targeted audiences with custom messaging to build brand awareness and establish a relationship with the customer who now expect companies to be reachable and accountable.

Business Benefits
Businesses are now regularly using tools such as Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and LinkedIn for hiring, customer support, product development, brand recognition, and, of course, client acquisition and retention. Social media has another benefit: the cost of acquiring customers is significantly lower than placing ads, and creates a lasting relationship.

The benefits of a quality social media marketing program include:

  • Transparent, authentic feedback from your audience
  • Integrates well with conventional marketing programs
  • Reach highly-targeted audiences
  • Improves search engines positioning
  • Lower cost than advertising
  • More long term and wider impact than conventional public relations

Listen first, Act second
Buyers look to objective internet sources to compare business products and services including existing customers who are more than willing to share their experience with these products. Companies can’t control the chatter, but they can learn what customers want.

Brands such as Comcast have made major strides in customer service by listening on Twitter. When their brand is mentioned, they know. When someone has a problem, they help them within minutes. They follow the first rule of social media: listen first, act second. Maintaining a regular monitoring program helps to understand customer sentiment and how it changes as you implement online programs.

Defining Success
Measuring the success of a social media campaign is possible only if you define your targets in advance. Whether they include increased traffic, website conversions or leads, you must have clear targets for successful campaigns, at short-term and long-term time intervals. A few examples of what success might look like include:

  • Gaining a better understanding of your customers
  • Increase brand exposure in ways which were not possible before
  • Reducing costs for achieving the same targets using other marketing tactics
  • Increase sales and conversions

Some great resources to compliment this blog post:

Social Commerce, Social Media Today, November 2, 2010

Content for People, Not Robots, Impressions Through Media, September 18, 2010

Marketing with Meaning: The Importance of Satisfied Customers

bg_book1In his book, The Next Evolution of Marketing, Connect Your Customers by Marketing with Meaning*, Bob Gilbreath discusses the importance of ensuring customer satisfaction. He writes, “In order to communicate meaning through your marketing, you need to look at customer support postpurchase not just as cost center but as the key to ensuring long-term satisfaction and loyalty.”

What’s good customer support? And how can even the largest companies make you feel heard and taken care of?

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Magical Mystery Avatar Starring as Tech Support

have-a-nice-dayIt’s any time of the day. You’re sitting at your computer, staring into your monitor. An error message appears. Something has gone wrong. Terribly, terribly awry.  There’s no company help desk. No tech support person who makes house calls.  There hasn’t been for years.

Now, you search mercilessly on the page for the word “Help” or look for “Contact Us.” You fill out a form, add your name, password, date of birth. A box enters front and center, and orders you to agree by the terms on the page. You know you should read it, but who has time? So, you click, YES I AGREE, and post your problem. Moments later, an email arrives in your inbox.

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The Customer Experience

The impressions made on a customer, whether the business provides products, services or environments, are largely based upon the experience. We have expectations. We should be waited on, greeted, our call should be returned, the product shouldn’t break, the facilities should be clean, the food good and hot.  We’re the customer. Right?

In their recent book, Subject To Change: Creating Great Products & Services for an Uncertain World, Merholz, Wilkens, Schauer, and Verba of Adaptive Path, suggest the experiences are based on six distinctly human qualities:

1. Motivations: Why they are engaged with your offering.
2. Expectations: Preconceptions they bring to know how some things work.
3. Perceptions: The ways in which your offerings affects their senses (see, hear, touch, smell, taste).
4. Abilities: How they are able to cognitively and physically interact with your offering.
5. Flow: How they engage with your offering over time.
6. Culture: The framework of codes (manners, language, rituals, behaviors, norms and systems of belief within which the person operates.

“When someone says they’ve had a good or bad experience, what they’re talking about is how a product, service or environment did or didn’t satisfactorily address these qualities.”

The authors suggest that what matters most to customers is the experience they have with your firm, and for that reason you should have an “Experience Strategy.”

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Brand Loyalty: Truth or Fable

What does it take to be loyal to a brand– a product, service or company? I’ve been thinking about writing this post about a company and product you may have heard of—Apple, and their new MacBook Pro, but initially I was afraid it might sound too–well, evangelical.

I could write about how beautiful the MacBook Pro is, if you also happen to find solid aluminum attractive.  Or the brilliant LED-backlit display.  The smooth glass multi-touch trackpad–not too shabby, either.  Or, how happy I am to have a computer which no longer crashes a few times a day.  These are all fine, and quite GOOD.

My loyalty however, comes from my customer experiences with Apple.  I should make it clear upfront that I’m one of those people who happens to like computers and learning new features, ways to do things, and in this case, a whole new operating system.  (My first Mac since the SE/30!)  Needless to say, I was a great candidate for the One to One personal training programs. A great concept, and well worth it, if you intend to follow through and use them. But that’s only part of it.

You see, what has spoken to me most, is the greeting I receive when I walk through the door of the Apple Store.  The friendliness of the staff, and their excitement and respect for the products they’re demoing for you.  But here’s where Apple really obtained my loyalty–follow-up.  After purchasing the laptop, I received an email within 24 hours thanking me for my purchase.  And, not to hesitate to contact them if I have any difficulty.

Then I went to my first One to One training.  The trainer was great, met me where I was at.  At the end, he made sure I signed up for the next training.  Less then 24 hours later,  I received another email from Apple, “Tell us about your session, we’d appreciate your feedback, let us know.”  The rest is history.  I’m a loyal fan.

Yesterday, while driving, I heard a very interesting interview on National Public Radio, with Martin Lindstrom, the author of Buyology: Truth and Lies About What We Buy.  I wasn’t too surprised when I heard Lindstrom use Apple as an example in his research of a brand which “inspires the same sense of devotion and loyalty in use, as provoked by faith or religion.” (I’ve added Buyology to my reading list–it sounds like a very interesting book.)

So when someone tells you “it’s all about the sale”—beware.  The sale is only a part of the equation.  The rest in my opinion, is how you treat the customer before and after the sale…that’s what makes a brand worthy of loyalty.

Oh, what’s that in my inbox?  Another email from concierge@apple.com reminding me of my next session.  Gotta go—but before I do, I’d love to hear what it takes for you to be loyal to a brand or product?  Or, what about your business or organization, what can they do to elicit devotion and loyalty?

That one simple question: Do you know the answer?

I’m pretty sure we all understand the importance of talking to our customers.  But, how often do you talk to your customers?  Maybe once a year?   Perhaps once a month?   And, how do you talk to them?   Is it a phonecall, some type of survey or possibly an in-person meeting?   Most importantly, what do you talk to your customers about?

Most of us have either been involved in producing or responding to lengthy customer satisfaction surveys that seek to “better understand the customer” and “increase customer loyalty.”   Unfortunately, these same surveys are notoriously ineffective when it comes to boosting customer loyalty - with poor response rates, alienated customers, and lackluster data.

Imagine if you could ask your customers just one simple question that could fuel unprecedented customer loyalty and determine your business’ future.   This concept, termed Net Promoter Score (or NPS) focuses on asking this one question – Would you recommend us to a friend? – in a regular, systematic and timely manner. 

In his new Harvard Business School Press book, The Ultimate Question: Driving Good Profits and True Growth , Fred Reichheld, introduces NPS as the radical new tool that is being rapidly deployed by leading firms to transform ordinary customers into promoters – the drivers of sustainable growth.

NPS is based on the premise that your customers can be divided into three unique segments based on their response to the “ultimate question” given a 0-10 point scale (with 0 being very unlikley and 10 being extremely likely).

  • Promoters – loyal enthusiasts who keep buying and urge their friends to do the same
  • Passives – satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who are easily wooed by the competition
  • Detractors – unhappy customers trapped in a bad relationship

The NPS is the percentage of customers whose answers identify them as promoters minus the percentage whose response indicates they are detractors.

NPS = % promoters – % of detractors

According to Netpromoter.com, efficient growth companies such as Amazon.com, eBay, Costco, Vanguard, and Dell operate at NPS efficiency ratings of 50 to 80%; while the average firm sputters along at an NPS efficiency of only 5 to 10%.  

What is your NPS baseline?   If you have your own NPS stories, we’d love to learn more.

Notes from the field: Service Matters

Waiting In LineWe just got back from a week of vacation in Washington DC. I spent a lot of time thinking about (and experiencing) different levels of customer service, from the public transportation, hotel, the museums and restaurants, there was a wide competency range. Can you imagine what it is like to be a service professional who works in a tourist attraction or hotel? Imagine answering the same questions over and over and doing it enthusiastically.

These experiences are all about perspective. When we check into a new hotel, it is happening for the first time and a new experience to us. For the people who work there, our questions can be repetitive and tiresome.

Unfortunately, the first person we talked to at check in had lost her enthusiasm.

Q: Does our hotel room face the street where the construction is going on?

A: Yes, but this is the city, and the garbage truck comes to the back, so you don’t have a choice but to deal with noise.

Q: Thank you for the hot cookies. Do they have nuts in them?

A: (impatiently) I don’t know, but if you are allergic, don’t eat them.

There were plenty of good experiences as well. The Natural History Museum and the National Zoo had excellent volunteers who walked up to us and started to share what they knew about what we were looking at and answering our questions.

I just read Seth Godin’s post Pretending that you care about the service he experienced in New York City and how he imagined it could have been better.

How do you handle common questions from your customers, employees, and vendors? Are you impatient?

The other option is to do what the security guard at the National Archives did: add humor and understanding. He spent his day entertaining the masses while he herded us through an hour of waiting in line. We learned where to stand, how best to see what we wanted to see, and laughed through it all.

Through our professional interactions, remember that we are just as human on weekdays as we are on the weekend, and we can all use a laugh just about any time.