MeasuredUp Customer Service and Small Business Marketing Blog

 Twitter Lawsuit, What Should Business Learn?

July 31st, 2009

Article from PC world about how companies should handle customer service issues and how suing could backfire and make the company look worse.

From Tech inciter. By David Coursey

Horizon Group Management has probably by now figured out that suing a tenant over an uncomplimentary tweet was probably not the best course. If the company had been worried that a tweet about a supposedly moldy apartment would damage its reputation, it has certainly magnified that effect probably millions of times.

Forgive me if, should I move to Chicago, I choose not to rent from a company that describes itself as a “sue first and ask questions later kind of an organization” as though it is a virtue. Moldy apartment or not.

What should businesses learn from this incident?

Read entire article.

http://www.pcworld.com/article/169324/Twitter_Lawsuit_What_Should_Business_Learn.html

 Amazon-Zappos Highlights Customer Service

July 31st, 2009

Article about Zappos and great customer service.  By Elizabeth Blackwell.

At the thestreet.com

SEATTLE (TheStreet) — It’s Business 101: Happy customers become regular customers. And maintaining a core of regulars can be less time-consuming and expensive than constantly marketing to attract new business.

But can a company thrive by making customer service the centerpiece of its mission? Yes, in the case of online shoe retailer Zappos.com, which was recently acquired by Amazon(AMZN Quote). Selling shoes isn’t exactly a game-changing or particularly high-margin business. What sets Zappos apart, and attracted Amazon, is its customer-focused culture and buyer loyalty.

Could above-and-beyond customer service make your business stand out, too?

Read entire article.

http://www.thestreet.com/story/10555441/1/amazon-zappos-highlights-customer-service.html?cm_ven=GOOGLEFI

 FuelNet’s five worst companies for customer service [and what MeasuredUp is doing about it]

May 28th, 2009

From Business Management Daily

“ Here, in no particular order, are the five companies that have consistently failed to deliver quality customer service — along with examples of smaller businesses that do it right.

  1. Bank of America 

    Sample opinion: “If a situation has arisen that you need their help to resolve, forget it — they do not help. They are all about making money, and they seem to forget that without the customers, there will be no money to make,” wrote “Unhappy” on MeasuredUp.com, a consumer feedback and review site.

    The lesson: Making it difficult for customers to do business with you — and charging them money for the “pleasure” — is the opposite of great service. “Great service companies make it easy to do business with them,” Tschohl notes.At Umpqua Bank, in Roseburg, Ore., employees are trained to be “universal associates,” so they never have to pass the buck when attending to customer needs. Many branches have Internet cafés that serve the bank’s own brand of coffee, and tellers hand out chocolate with every receipt. Moreover, bowls of water are set outside for customers’ pets. At TD Bank, in Philadelphia, customer calls are answered by an attentive, knowledgeable staff person after one ring. “You call most banks and it’s push two, push four, push seven, go to hell,” Tschohl notes.

    Role models:

    Greatest sins: Customers at bankofamericasucks.com and other sites rail against BoA’s myriad fees and a bureaucracy that makes even the simplest transactions difficult. Representative Maxine Waters of California, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, recently got put on hold for two hours while trying to resolve an issue with BoA for one of her constituents.

  2. Comcast 

    Sample opinion: “I have never received such horribly incompetent, could-care-less service as I have with Comcast,” wrote “Shabo L” on Yelp.com, an online review site.

    The lesson: Don’t keep your customers waiting, ever. “Every employee should be empowered to make a decision on the spot in favor of the customer — not a day later, not an hour later, but in seconds,” Tschohl says.

    Role model: Northeast Delta Dental, based in Concord, N.H., reimbursed customers more than $80,000 in self-imposed penalties in 2008 for not meeting its own service guarantee. It’s no coincidence the company has a whopping 60 percent market share in New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont — and a 98 percent retention rate. “We turn ourselves in, and we tell our customers what we’re going to do, process-wise, so that failure doesn’t happen again,” says Northeast Delta Dental CEO Tom Raffio. “It costs us in the short run, but in the long run, it builds trust — and we get customers for life.”

    Greatest sins: Sluggish service and lame response to customers’ needs earned Comcast a score of 54 in 2008 — one of the lowest among all companies — on the American Customer Satisfaction Index, a standard developed by the National Quality Research Center at the University of Michigan Business School. A famous online video shows a Comcast technician who fell asleep on a customer’s couch while waiting on hold — with Comcast. “They have unlimited marketing budgets to get new customers because they get rid of their old ones so fast,” Tschohl says.

  3. eBayGreatest sins:

    Sample opinion:

    The lesson:

    Role model:

    What really irks customers of the online auction site are the fees it charges and the total inaccessibility of human staff. “They don’t allow you to talk to a human,” Tschohl points out. “There’s no way to communicate with them. eBay thinks they’re in the technology business, while companies like Amazon.com understand they’re in the service business.”“It took me three days to find a phone number [for eBay customer service],” wrote one customer on the company’s own forum. “Don’t expect results. It’s worse than trying to get an honest answer out of a politician.”Be there for your customers. Great service is about supporting your customers every step of the way.Les Schwab, a chain of tire stores in the western U.S., has a “Sudden Service” philosophy that states, “You come in, we come running.” Employees run out to customers’ cars as they pull in to the store, then spring into action to install new tires in half the time it takes the competition.

  4. Wal-MartGreatest sins:

    The lesson: Creating a culture of great service starts with treating employees well. “Take care of your workers, and your workers take care of your customers,” Yellin explains.

    Role models: Northeast Delta Dental and Umpqua Bank frequently appear on lists of best workplaces thanks to their outstanding employee benefits, and Les Schwab shares half its profits with its employees. “It’s a matter of treating your employees better than anybody else does and offering world-class customer service,” explains a manager of a Les Schwab Store in Concord, Calif. “That is what keeps your business growing.”

    Underpaid, disempowered Wal-Mart employees have a tough time staying chipper these days — and they pass along their misery to the company’s customers. “Wal-Mart built its business on customer service, but they’re in the sink now,” Tschohl contends. “The stores are ugly, and they attract the people with the least amount of money who are willing to put up with bad service.” Adds David VanAmburg, managing director of the American Customer Satisfaction Index: “They are at the top of our list when it comes to value, but near the bottom when it comes to service.”Sample opinion: “The employees are rude most of the time, and none of them help when you ask them something,” wrote “Amber” at ConsumerAffairs.com. “I spend $300 a week in that store. Now they have lost my business.”

  5. US AirwaysGreatest sins: Long delays, surly service, and a lack of personality have helped send this airline to the bottom of the list of companies tracked by the American Customer Satisfaction Index — though the extra fees don’t help, either. “This industry has the lowest scores on our list, and US Airways is at the bottom,” VanAmburg says.

    Sample opinion: “Figure out a way to communicate with customers that doesn’t involve hold times approaching geological epochs, and make your damn computers work correctly,” opined blogger Christopher S. Penn after he was told it would take 45 to 60 days for US Airways to respond to his email request for a refund.

    The lesson: The best service companies are fast, reliable, friendly, and don’t skimp on the little details.

    Role model: Insight Studios, a tattoo and piercing parlor in Chicago, averages five stars from reviewers on Yelp.com, who praise the store for being pleasant and clean, and for offering customers horchata and chocolate when they walk in the door (and a lollipop for their bravery after their treatment is done). You’d never know these folks were paying to get poked. As one happy customer gushed, “I can’t wait to come back in a few months for my next piercing!”

The Road to Customer Satisfaction

Because bad reviews on the Internet can be so damaging, companies are starting to get savvy. In response to its poor reputation, for example, Comcast has installed a team dedicated to scouring the Web for complaints and reaching out to the “influencers” in its customer ranks. And Bank of America now has a team of support employees who can be reached via Twitter. “The Internet is making everybody more accountable,” author Emily Yellin points out. “Companies can’t get away with what they used to.” Growing businesses are wise to stay abreast of their reputation on sites like Yelp, and they can also get customer feedback through such sites as MeasuredUp.com and GetSatisfaction.com. Those two sites not only host online forums for customers to make suggestions or register complaints, they also allow companies to respond to commonly asked questions and create a knowledge base for future customers.’

Click here to read the full article.

 Customer satisfaction improves; shoppers’ favorite stores

February 19th, 2009

An article at Forbes.com confirms that while the economy is still experiencing a downturn, with The National Retail Federation estimating a 2.5% drop in sales for the first half of the new year, the shopping public is exhibiting signs of being more content with the service it receives from certain retailers.

Among ‘America’s Favorite Stores’ are: Nordstrom and Kohl’s. [Search MeasuredUp for Customer Service Reviews of Nordstrom and Kohl's, or write your own review!]

To read the article, which provides an in-depth look at the statistics and shopping habits of America in relation to the economy, click here.

 Don’t underestimate the power of the customer when building your brand.

February 17th, 2009


Monday, February 16, 2009 

 

By Don Morgan 

Last week, I attended a webinar titled “Brand Building in a Digital Age”. I was expecting a “how-to” seminar on incorporating social media and other new technology tools as part of the marketing mix. As it turned out, the webinar was more about the power of the customer and the importance of good customer service in an era of instant access to millions of potential customers via the Internet. But that’s okay, because the webinar did give me some new insights and appreciation for the importance of doing and saying the right things with customers.So what does that say about retailers who loudly proclaim their “once-in-a-lifetime” sale that happens again next week? And again the following week? Are you listening department stores? Or what about the automobile dealers, mortgage companies and all the other advertisers who trumpet their incentives and hide behind the fine print. The old-fashioned notion of caveat emptor (buyer beware) has been replaced by seller beware that you don’t ruin your brand and your business in a blind quest for profit because your customers will tell the truth to the world.The rapid growth of customer review sites like Yelp and Angies List and the emergence of customer feedback sites like Measuredup and Planetfeedback should be enough for marketers to wake up and smell that coffee.The customer is not only in charge, they are in the driver’s seat.

For full article go to marketingthoughtleader.blogspot.com 

 Better Business Bureau complaints up 7% from 2008

February 12th, 2009

According to an annual report released today by Better Business Bureau, consumers filed 891,540 complaints against North American businesses in 2008, reflecting a seven percent increase over the previous year.The report also reveals that BBB Reliability Reports-which are available online for free and contain information on a businesses’ accreditation status, letter-grade rating and complaint history-are increasingly popular as a free tool for consumers to research the trustworthiness of businesses. The four million reliability reports maintained by BBB on businesses across North America were accessed more than 63 million times in 2008, a 15 percent increase over the previous year. The most popular industries researched through BBB are roofing contractors, general contractors, and movers.Read more of the article, from the WPDE News website, here.

 How You Can Stay in Control of Your Brand’s Reputation

February 11th, 2009


Even If You’ve Done Nothing Wrong, One Nasty Complaint Can Taint Your Name

by Keith Goldberg 

 

My initiation into reputation management took place during fourth grade in Mr. Timberlake’s class. For some reason, long since forgotten, I wound up in a scuffle with another boy and, though I don’t believe I instigated the dust-up, Mr. Timberlake wasted no time in grabbing me by the neck (I remember that clearly) and marching me down to the principal’s office.

As I sat in the seat of shame outside of Mr. Stern’s office (what a perfect name for a principal, don’t you think?) the teachers and students who paraded by me cast cold eyes that betrayed their thoughts. “Hmm … the Goldberg kid, thought he was all right but I guess he’s a troublemaker.” By the next day, news of my predicament had spread like wildfire throughout the school.

But I didn’t start it! It wasn’t my fault!

Too bad.

Fast-forward more years than I’d like to admit, and, as a CMO of a major brand, I was so proud of how we were optimizing our search results — especially given the money we were spending. Then, one morning, I logged onto my Mac and was stunned.

There on Google, sitting solidly in the fourth position — right below three killer, above-the-fold search listings for my brand — was a listing titled “customer complaints.” Customer complaints about my company.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Keith Goldberg is senior VP-client strategy at EWI Worldwide. He was previously leader of creative and innovation for George P. Johnson Experience Marketing and senior VP-CMO, GMAC Direct.

I quickly clicked. The list of complaints were unsubstantiated, even comical, and the company they were blasting didn’t sound at all like us. But there was our name, plain as day. Were these really unhappy customers? Was this a sabotage campaign from a competitor? I didn’t know. It didn’t matter.

 

The most frustrating partI kept thinking about the dollars we spent to optimize traffic to our website. I couldn’t believe we had worked so hard to attract thousands of eyeballs and now, when we should be connecting with and converting this treasure trove of customers, a rogue listing was going to raise a red flag to each and every one of them. The most frustrating part was, given human nature, I knew exactly where the vast number of viewers would click first. Argh!

I also knew that if there was a way to measure the amount of marketing dollars wasted, goodwill squandered and customers lost by this negative word-of-mouth, the numbers would be staggering. That was the day I became a believer in reputation management.

Today, when I deploy a reputation-management protocol for clients, it is usually a four-part program (as outlined by the chart below) that begins by analyzing a brand’s true reputation in the marketplace, identifying what reputation mode the brand is in (build, maintain, repair), deploying the appropriate tools to achieve the objective and evaluating success to optimize methods moving forward.

The other key ingredient is vigilance.

In this back-to-the-future, word-of-mouth world made possible by the internet, it only takes one incident to ruin a reputation.

Even if you didn’t do it. Even if it’s not your fault. Too bad.

I learned that the hard way back in the fourth grade.

 

 Is the age of great customer service dead? Not if MeasuredUp can help it…

February 9th, 2009

From Portland Business Journal: Unlock the mystery of great customer service“…to develop great service is no mystery. You just have to follow a few basic rules and then consistently adhere to them. The concepts are simple and have been around for centuries, with people being the main ingredient. Remember: Technology is there only to assist us in the process. Here are the six basic reasons customer service fails: * Employees don’t like what they do. * Not asking enough questions. * No specific training. * Poor listening skills. * Not using common sense. “Click here to read the full article, including detailed discussion on the six reasons customer service fails.MeasuredUp’s number one goal is to help bring back the age of truly great customer service; which is why we’ve created a platform for both consumers and companies where they can connect, share concerns, and solve customer service problems. We give companies the tools they need to ask more questions and be better listeners with Direct Connect. And we give consumers the tools they need in order to help them feel heard with the ability to write a review and/or create a support ticket as well as easy access to other useful consumer resources.We’ve already heard from countless consumers and companies alike that the MeasuredUp process works! You can help MeasuredUp bring back great customer service - companies: register today at MeasuredUp to claim your company profile – consumers: create an account and write your own review about a product or service experience. Good or bad, we want to hear about it!

 Keep in touch with your customers, to keep them – period

February 5th, 2009

From Portland Business Journal an article extolling the virtues of keeping in touch with customers in order to keep them coming back, time and again.The author suggests that companies looking to cut costs without also looking for “ways to improve their business model and become more productive, with better sales and customer service practices” are doing their customers a great disservice and in turn are damaging customer loyalty, and ultimately, the bottom line. His solution: a simple phone call.MeasuredUp understands that it can be exceptionally time consuming for a small business to reach out by phone to each and every one of it’s customers – and that’s why we’ve created the MeasuredUp Direct Connect feature. Direct Connect is a free online service that gives your company the tools it needs to get in touch, and stay in touch, with customers. Direct Connect allows you and your company to communicate with your customers so that you can help solve their customer service problems and consumer complaints quickly and easily, without having to devote endless resources of time and money to the process. Create your company profile on MeasuredUp today and get started using Direct Connect – it’s free and easy!

 Controversy: The Future Agency Of Record Will Be Social

February 3rd, 2009

An article from the OnlineSPIN blog entitled The Future Agency Of Record Will Be Social:There is a quiet battle raging in the advertising industry over who will become the Agency of Record (AOR) for marketers’ social media efforts. With traditional media for delivering advertising declining in reach and effectiveness, and an even greater call for advertising efficiency in a down economy, becoming a marketer’s social media AOR can be a huge win and provide a map to a much-needed new business model and revenue stream for agencies.”Read the full-text here.

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