Tag Archives: linkedin

Why culture is important to customer service – vonage example

Unfortunately I had to have our Vonage phone line canceled today. I was a big supporter of Vonage when they first launched, I felt they had a great value proposition – fixed price unlimited calling nationwide with low cost international calling and lots of cool online features to manage voice mails and call forwarding etc. I thought this was innovative new approach in a market dominated by monopoly style businesses.

But it seems at least for us they could not deliver on the basic need of a clear high quality call. So I asked our office manager to cancel our service.

What happened next was not an AOL type experience like below……

But it was unpleasant, the agents are obviously trained to try and retain you as a customer so they try and diagnose the problem and send you to customer support if its technical or offer a reduced rate. Meanwhile our office manager was getting frustrated just trying to get one of a thousand tasks done…

I think companies should really rethink this strategy, are there better ways to deal with exiting customers? Yes some can be saved but how do you treat the ones that just want to cancel?

Companies have two options:

1. Try as hard as possible to aggressively salvage the customer through different offers and risk leaving customers with a bad taste in their mouths

2. Just ask the customer permission to understand why they are canceling, if they are irritated just thank them for their business and process their request as fast as you can at least the customer does not feel like they were held hostage and if the customer divulges honestly why they are leaving the company has a chance to fix it.

These are really difficult areas of customer service to manage but ultimately the culture of the organization determines the tone that is set in all customer dealings. If the culture is one that supports a primary focus on delivering value for customers then when it is clearly not delivering it will take those opportunities as a chance to improve.

What do you think, does culture impact customer service?

Here are some great sources of information on building a customer service culture:

From: Customer Service Zone, Inc. Magazine and  Businessweek

#ims09 Inbound Marketing Summit Highlights – San Francisco April 28-29 2009

I was lucky enough to have some time to attend a number of the sessions at the Inbound Marketing Summit run by Chris Brogan . I did not get to every session due to some client commitments but I was impressed by the sessions I did attend.

Here are my key takeaways organized into several themes:

Content Marketing: David Guarnaccia from Sitecore presented on persuasion in content marketing, my takeaways were:

  1. The website is part of your sales force and should be treated that way (we can do some more work on that…)
  2. A reason for advertising ineffectiveness is a lack of consistency and continuity – there is a disconnect with what’s offered and the reality of what people get from a business
  3. There are some advanced techniques that allow you to use rules based on web behavior to provide a more customized web experience for users, one example is Tom’s hardware which can direct users to useful content based on how they arrived at the site.

The Changing Marketing Landscape: Brian Halligan from Hubspot gave a interesting presentation on why outbound marketing is dead. Key takeways:

  1. Outbound marketing is dead..well not completely but certainly the mass media model is far less effective for marketers than ever before
  2. Being found is more critical than ever
  3. Drawing customers in by providing valuable content that addressed their pain points – be “remark” able to coin Seth Godin

Online Product Launch: Loic Le Meur from Seesmic presented on his learning’s from launch many online products over the years (the link is his story on funded Seesmic worth reading). Key Takeaways:

  1. Get to market as fast as possible – launch, listen and watch behavior then move forward fast
  2. Look especially for negative feedback as this can drive improvements and highlight weak spots
  3. If you are not being talked about (good or bad) there is a problem…

New ways to develop customer insight: Justin Levy led a great panel discussion on how social media can provide companies with deeper customer insights, my takeaways:

  1. Millions of conversations are happening that relate to you or what you offer, that is a source of information you cannot risk not working out how to harvest
  2. It really is a marketers dream, most marketers are sitting in their offices wondering what customers are thinking or how they will behave, the social media landscape provides the answers. A simple ROI is the cost savings in market research…..
  3. Insights are being used across the business not just marketing and PR but also to deal with customer service issues (think Frank at comcast) as well as internal collaboration and networking

The Changing Media Landscape: Paul Gillin gave a great presentation on how the print and TV media are continuing to lose control, my takeaways:

  1. Daily Newspaper reader demographics in the US – ave age 57yrs
  2. Media does not control the message anymore and looks to the web for story ideas and sources, journalists google rather than go to their blackbooks
  3. Customers need be listened to and allowed to shape strategy – Is twitter the new newspaper?
  • Implications – media is in the hands of individuals, customers will speak up, companies will be forced to listen

World’s Best Viral Video?

I have been reflecting recently on viral marketing and it’s capacity to build global awareness almost instantly…

Like every great marketing technique there is a formula:

It has to be interesting and in a way that really stands out whether its wacky, creative, controversial, unexpected or inspirational.

This is one of my favorites (maybe the world’s best? – that probably depends on your criteria…..), it connects with viewers emotionally with a simple powerful idea that connects people around the globe…enjoy!

Why culture is critical to being customer-centric

I came across this short video of Forrester researcher Peter Kim today which outlines their view on what it takes to make customer-centric real:

While I agree there are 3 ingredients to making customer centric real for customers, the cultural aspect is by far the largest challenge. Metrics and technology are enablers of culture change but ultimately people have to believe that the purpose of their organization is to create value for customers and as a result generate profits rather than the other way around. Without this mindset built into to the dna of the organization the goal of customer-centricity will always be off in the distance….

Best Buy, GE & EMC: Using Social Media to change their internal cultures

I just read a great post by Jeremiah Owyang that included this video on how best buy are using social media in a variety of ways to positively impact on their culture:

I think a key point here is that to be successful in social media, the underlying values of the users need to be about adding value, being transparent, being authentic. When these values filter into the broader organization great things can happen, new ideas evolve, changes happen faster, customer service gets better. In fact increasing Iam seeing examples of how social media can be a key enabler of what we at MCS call marketculture.

Another example is GE which uses SupportCentral as a internal tool that has been ahead of the curve since 2000 according to comments by a reader on a recent McKinsey article. Anna All also references GE in this great article about its impact and Chuck Hollis from EMC illuminates us further with his first encounter with the system.

Which tools do you think are having the greatest impact on your corporate culture?

Why culture inhibits social media success in big business

panel-discussion

There was some great discussion last week at the Web 2.0 conference on “Why social media fails and how to fix it”. The panel included Charlene Li, Peter Kim and Jeremiah Owyang all noted thought leaders in this area.

The component that stood out for me was the inhibitor of organizational culture. We do a lot of work in this area and it comes up time and time again in relation to many changes that affect companies and large companies particularly struggle to change quickly because of embedded cultural traits.

Gary Hamel adds a different dimension to this conversation in a great post on the WSJ Management Web 2.0 called “The Facebook Generation Vs Fortune 500” where he outlines the differences between the online culture of generation f (and I think X and Y) and the traditional corporate culture which are almost polar opposites. I think this goes some way to explaining the cultural resistance, to summarize some of the best ones:

  • Ideas compete equally
  • Contribution trumps credentials
  • Hierarchies develop are not dictated
  • Leaders serve rather than preside
  • Tasks are chosen, not assigned.
  • Groups are self-defining and organizing.
  • Resources get attracted, not allocated.
  • Power comes from sharing information, not hoarding it.
  • Opinions compound and decisions are peer-reviewed.
  • Intrinsic rewards matter most.

If you combine Gary’s observations with the inherent values of the social web which are being reinforced as key influencers (See Eric Brantner on social media etiquette and Chris Brogan on Etiquette in the Age of Social Media ) propose ways to approach social media you end up with values like:

Transparency, Share and Collaborate, Respect others, Always add value…. or even better put them into practice like Tony from Zappos has done here.

Many of these values seem to disappear in the politics of large organizations. I see social media as a real change agent that forces management to reflect on the way they treat employees, customers and suppliers. Are they holding customer’s hostage? or are they trying to create value for them?

Its not all bad for big business, in fact we think its great for big business and some of the greatest corporates are embracing social media, see this presentation by Adam Christiensen of IBM because ultimately social media will help organizations become more innovative.

What do you think, will corporate cultures be positively changed by social media? How?