Us Media Radio: Where Relationships and Technology Collide

podcasting(reprint from Ohio Web Writer, my other site)

Starting this coming Tuesday, November 2, 2010 at 10am est a new radio voice will be heard.  Actually, two voices.

Candace Benson of Camp Tech will be sharing her views from a technical perspective and yours truly from AllWrite Ink will be covering the customer relationship perspective.

Us Media Radio: Where Relationships and Technology collide happened by accident.

Two weeks ago Candace and I were in a meeting and someone mentioned that since the movie The Social Network hit the big screens, there have been new lawsuits against Mark Zuckerberg for invasion of privacy. Candace was appalled. “How can he possibly be held responsible for something that a person voluntarily signs up for?”

“Easy,” I countered. “He made it so difficult to actually make sure your privacy was protected by hiding all of the functionality in difficult to find places that people thought they were safe and private when in fact, they weren’t.”

The conversation went down hill from there.  Candace standing shoulder to shoulder with Mark Zuckerberg and me – representing the privacy of 500,000,000 friends. 

“Stop!” I said, “Before we harm our friendship.  This should be a radio show!”  And thus, Us Media Radio was born.

Every Tuesday morning from 10-10:30 EST we will share thoughts on how technology is making it possible, exciting, easy and potentially dangerous to connect with customers, peers and industry leaders. Speaking of industry leaders – most weeks we will have a guest on – a “subject matter expert” that will share their views on a particular brand of social media or marketing technology and Candace will ask the technology questions while I defend the rights of the customer.

The boxing gloves are on – hope you’ll tune in!. Call (805) 285-9848 this Tuesday at 10am EST to listen to us debate the movie The Social Network and Facebook.  Mark Zuckerberg – are you available?  Call in and meet your newest best friend – Candace Benson!

Starting this coming Tuesday, November 2, 2010 at 10am est a new radio voice will be heard.  Actually, two voices.

Candace Benson of Camp Tech will be sharing her views from a technical perspective and yours truly from AllWrite Ink will be covering the customer relationship perspective.

Us Media Radio: Where Relationships and Technology collide happened by accident.

Two weeks ago Candace and I were in a meeting and someone mentioned that since the movie The Social Network hit the big screens, there have been new lawsuits against Mark Zuckerberg for invasion of privacy. Candace was appalled. “How can he possibly be held responsible for something that a person voluntarily signs up for?”

“Easy,” I countered. “He made it so difficult to actually make sure your privacy was protected by hiding all of the functionality in difficult to find places that people thought they were safe and private when in fact, they weren’t.”

The conversation went down hill from there.  Candace standing shoulder to shoulder with Mark Zuckerberg and me – representing the privacy of 500,000,000 friends. 

“Stop!” I said, “Before we harm our friendship.  This should be a radio show!”  And thus, Us Media Radio was born.

Every Tuesday morning from 10-10:30 EST we will share thoughts on how technology is making it possible, exciting, easy and potentially dangerous to connect with customers, peers and industry leaders. Speaking of industry leaders – most weeks we will have a guest on – a “subject matter expert” that will share their views on a particular brand of social media or marketing technology and Candace will ask the technology questions while I defend the rights of the customer.

The boxing gloves are on – hope you’ll tune in!. Call (805) 285-9848 this Tuesday at 10am EST to listen to us debate the movie The Social Network and Facebook.  Mark Zuckerberg – are you available?  Call in and meet your newest best friend – Candace Benson!

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Building Customer Relationships – New LinkedIn Group

 

 

Build Customer Relationships

I once heard someone say – if you can’t find exactly what you want – build it yourself. I love the lively discussions that happen on LinkedIn in the various groups. I belong to several; local groups with a variety of business types and industry specific groups for speakers, writers, customer service and HR professionals.

I have answered questions and joined/started discussions but I felt like something was missing. We talk about CUSTOMER SERVICE but I didn’t see a group that dealt with the “relationships” we have with customers.

Customer service is what happens the first time we see the prospect and hopefully turn them into a customer. It is all about that experience. But what about AFTER the sale?

So today I started a new group called Build Customer Relationships with the goal being the creation of a platform where we can share ideas for how to keep that relationship alive once the customer walks out the door so they Remember – Refer and Return.

I started by asking – What is the most important part of building relationships?

Zane Safrit • The most important thing? How do you build a sustainable business without building customer relationships? Riffing quickly here we can see our economy’s performance over the past few years reflects a lack of customer relationships and the investments in meaning, purpose, engagement, leadership required to build them. It is possible to see our economy’s recovery dependent on resuming that primary purpose of a business: to create customers.

Ivana Taylor • Well – you have to give yourself credit too. Building customer relationships is like motherhood, America and Apple pie. Yet we still think it’s more important to bring NEW customers on (and it is important) but then ignore the customers that have been with is.

So the most important thing in building customer relationships might be just to STOP IGNORING your existing customers and treat them with love and attention.

Jay Izenman • This is it, Answer the phone!! There is no better thing to build a customer relationship then answering the phone, getting back to people and just making them feel wanted as a customer. If you don’t talk to your customers, you will have nothing to build. And thats it in a nutshell…

Mike Link • In my experience, I have found that the ball is dropped after the sale. Too many sales reps out there think their job is finished as soon as they make the sale. Big mistake! To build and maintain customer relationships, the communication after the sale is just as important, if not more important, than the actual sale itself.

Those aren’t the only comments – others mention that building relationships requires trust, honestly, integrity and so much more.  All good conversations.

I hope you will consider joining Build Customer Relationships. The discussions are monitored and I’m requesting that we use the forum for discussion not as a sale platform.

What do you think is the most important component to building customer relationships?

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Make or Break Moments TV – almost

Have you ever set out to do the right thing, the professional thing and your inner child just took over?

That happened to me yesterday.

I was shooting a series of one minute commercials for different aspects of my business. One of the commercials was actually the introduction for a series of customer relationship building tips.

I’ve written 78 ways to Put Your Customer First and plan to share them, one or two at a time on YouTube. I call it Make or Break Moments TV: Tips to Build Customer Relationships.

It is all still a work in progress, but here’s me, trying to be professional and my inner giggle just wouldn’t quit….

Here’s the deal: when we give in to our inner child, we become more approachable – a person people want to do business with. That is provided you can avoid the dreaded laughing snort.

Okay – look for a more professional kick off to this new resource coming soon. If I could just stop laughing….

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Be Easy to Find: Use Your Name

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When was the last time you “Googled” your name?  What did you find?  A number of references to your company, perhaps some LinkedIn answers, a blog comments or two?

Did you also find a reference to a site that links directly to your name?

Social media has taken over the web.  Business professionals are using their name on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook so that they have one consistent brand image.  Your name and your picture are becoming more valuable than your company name ever could be.

So do you own your name as a URL address?

I have a variety of websites and blogs on the Internet and thanks to a friend of mine – I just recently consolidated them all onto one primary landing page.  The URL address?

My  name:  Deborah Chaddock Brown.

What do people remember most about you?  Your company name or your personal name?  Chances are they remember your name at least as often as your company.  A great way to make it easy to be found on the Internet is to have a landing page that people can visit that will showcase all of your web activity. 

The cost?  It was almost free.  I set up a WordPress.com blog and with the exception of the $9.95 at Name Cheap to buy my name, it just cost me the time it took to put it together. 

So have your purchased your name as a URL?  What have you done with it?  Share your examples here.  I’d love any suggestions for how to make the site better.

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1 Great Tip for Reaching Customers

textingOn Tuesday I attended the Road to Success Business Symposium at Lakeland Community College. I was invited to speak on Earning Customer Loyalty – a great passion of mine, but the best part of my day was the keynote presentation by Anita Campbell of Small Business Trends.  She offered 7 trends for small business owners (I wrote about them at Home Based business blog) but one of the trends seemed most valuable for my customer relationships audience.

Create a mobile version of your website.

To be honest I have this on my list of things to do, but it is down at the bottom.  One of those, when I get around to it, tasks that I won’t ever complete.  Until now.  Anita shared these important facts.  There are 280 million computer users in the WORLD.  Those are the people that can view my AllWrite Ink  website and this blog and others that I contribute to.  That’s a nice hunk of people.  And don’t we want to be visible and available to those 280 million?  Of course.

Hold on to your hats.  There are 277 million mobile device users in this country (US) alone.  Almost as many computers in the world just in the US. People who might want to see my website on their handheld but because I haven’t developed a mobile version – they either can’t see it or can’t navigate easily. Wow.

Isn’t the goal to make it easy for our customers/prospects to do business with us?  If more and more use mobile devices to research, connect and purchase then shouldn’t that mean that our priorities need to shift when it comes to developing a mobile version of our website?  You Betcha! 

So what is the first step?  Well, when it comes to social media or technology my first stop is to the source: Mashable.  And yep – I found a Guide offering tips and advice for creating a mobile website.

So what is the one great tip?  Be visible and available to your customers and prospects where they live.  Since more and more are living with their mobile device firmly grasped in their hands; we need to make sure are easy to find and naviagate.

So who’s with me?  Shall we make it a goal to create a mobile version of our primary money-making website by the end of summer, if not sooner?  Okay – it’s a deal.  Let me know how you are doing, what resources you are using and how difficult it is.

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Make or Break Moments on Paper

I had the opportunity to spend the evening with three other women for the purpose of selecting a winner of a $1,000 college scholarship. Jo-Ann McFearin, a highly celebrated and successful Howard Hanna real estate genius, is a customer of mine.  When she called asking me to be part of the selection committee, I jumped at the chance to work with her even though this was a task for which I had no experience.

Thirty-five high school seniors had applied by answering a series of questions and completing an essay.  The forms included teacher recommendations, grade point average and their class standing.

Jo-Ann developed this scholarship as a tribute to her children, now grown and in college, and as a way to give back to the school system that had served her family so successfully.  The chosen candidate wouldn’t necessarily be someone in need or with the highest grade point average.

“I want this award to go to someone with a passion for their chosen career path,” said McFearin.  “Someone who shows leadership qualities but most important is that focus and drive for making something of themselves.”

A quick glance through the applications let us know the process would be difficult as all of the students had a strong background.  We began weeding the candidates out and quickly determined some key elements that led to the final six.

The process was similar to how our potential customers weed us out as they search the Internet for a company to potentially do business with:

  • Neat, easy to read and understand

Is our content easy to follow, are the navigational links in working order, does the layout make sense?

  • Did more than the mininum – the essay required a minimum of 100 words. Some applicants clearly counted and wrote just the bare minimum.

This holds true with our marketing materials and our in person connections: do we just show up – or do we take it to the next step? Is our website just a splash page so that we can say we have one, or is it a resource that provides value to the reader? When prospects enter our location – do we smile and then get back to our busy-work or are we attentive and engaging?

  • Answered the questions – some wrote a lot but totally missed the question

Does our website content sound like a commerical – all glitz and no substance? Do we address the questions and issues that drove the reader to search the Internet and find us to begin with?

  • Well rounded – spending time in after school activities, charitable volunteer hours, community activities, holding roles of responsibility

Are we a company that appears to be just in it for the money? Consumers like to do business with those they share common philosophies. Do we show that we are making an effort to go GREEN or to give back to the community or to mentor young men and women on their path to a career?

  • Showed a passion for their future – the final six applications all had one thing in common – through their words and also their actions (the list of their activities) there was a direct correlation that spoke volumes. These are students who not only have a dream but they aren’t waiting for college or adulthood to start making things happen.  One had started a foundation, one has begun a business, one is already providing counseling to the patients she someday hopes to help as a doctor.

Does our passion come across in our words and actions? We may offer great products and services but are we PASSIONATE about how we help our customers? Is that communicated effectively in our marketing material, website content and our in person attitude?

It was a wonderful opportunity participating in the selection process and the one student who was finally selected as the winner is truly deserving on every level. It was humbling to see how dedicated the final candidates are to others, their family, and their own future.  All of that came across loud and clear on paper.

Do we make the most of our Make or Break Moments on paper (or with our Internet presence)?

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Finding New Ways to Reach the Customer

IMG_4623Have you ever gone on vacation and returned so JAZZED that you just can’t wait to get started on business?  Well color me Miles Davis – I couldn’t be any more jazzier.  A week away from the office and I am bursting with new business ideas that I want to share with you. (BTW -the picture is of my Mom, daughter and nephew having a great spring vacation!)

They are all in their infancy so comments and suggestions from you will only help to make them better:

Put Customers First:  A new online resource.  I have just emailed 35 of the top sales associates and business executives that I frequently work with to ask their opinion about what this should include.  Should it be a website with frequently updated data?  Should it be a Ning – an online community with discussion groups and blog posts and video how-tos?  You tell me.  If you want to participate in the survey – please visit: Put Customers First – the Survey and answer 10 easy questions.

Policy for Social Media: OMG – I had an enormous epiphany this week.  How many companies block their employee’s ability to participate in social networking during the day because they don’t have detailed rules and guidelines for how to participate and what to say?  We need a policy and procedure manual that can be customized for each company’s specific needs and levels of comfort.  Yes – you guessed it – I’m in the process of writing the manual right this minute.  If customers buy from those they like and trust – what better way to get to know them then through social media.  Social media allows your employees the opportunity to show off their expert knowledge – which only reinforces your brand.  But it does require some guidelines.  Visit Policy for Social Media and keep an eye out for the  upcoming manual!

We know that customers sign our paycheck.  But what if you HATE YOUR CUSTOMER?  That question came up at a dinner I attended a few days ago.  I was talking about my Make or Break Moments and the whole idea behind Putting Customers First and someone said:

That’s all well and good but what if you hate your customer?  Then what are you supposed to do?

LOVE IT.  Thus begins my new blog I Hate My Customer – Now What? This in an interactive forum that demands YOU PARTICIPATE.  Yep – I’m giving you a place to write all about those dreaded customers that just rub you the wrong way.  “The customer’s always right – yeah, sure.” Let’s face it – we all have or have had a customer that we couldn’t stand.  How did you handle it?  Visit this new blog and spill your guts!

All in all it was a great vacation.  And to top it off Kevin Stirtz put Make or Break Moments on his 10 top Customer Service blogs!  Woo hoo.  Life doesn’t get any better.

So how was your spring vacation?

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Make it Easy for Customers To Find You

Back SlashedIf customers can’t find you – it is tough to build a relationship. 

I recently learned a lesson from a group of young boys who had developed a band.  They were being interviewed on a radio station and when the disc jockey asked where fans could find them on the Internet they said:

“Just remember BOY BAND.  We are on Twitter @boyband, MySpace and Facebook @boyband and our website is www.boyband.com.”

(BoyBand is just a place holder, that wasn’t the name of the band – I can’t remember the name of the band.)

The point being – they were consistent with their name in every online venue.  Are you using the same name every where or do you some times use your company name or your tag line or your slogan?  How easy to just say “find me at @Putcustomers1st on every site on the web.”

Check out this great tool KnowEm which lists 350 social media sites.  You enter your name and it will tell you if it is available on all those sites.  It is a great way to create a consistent name so customers can easily find you.

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Customer Service Blogs to check out

Glenn Ross over at AllBusiness:  The Customer Experience recently shared nine customer service blogs he likes to read.  He offers up:

  • Amazingserviceguy By Kevin Stirz
  • Business Is Personal By Mark Riffey
  • Customers Rock!  By Becky Carroll
  • CustServ By Meikah Delid
  • Maximum Customer Experience By Kelly Erickson
  • People2People Service By Maria Palma
  • QA QnA By Tom Vander Well
  • Return Customer By Joe Rawlinson (Joe and I both started customer service blogs in April 2005.)
  • Service Untitled By [Well, he never mentions his name so I won’t:-)]
  • I would like to add a couple of my favorites that I follow from the Alltop Customer Service Page:

    Do you have a favorite?

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    Share Your Story on YouTube

    It’s hard to build a relationship on the Internet. You can’t make eye contact.  You can’t ask questions and if you could – you certainly wouldn’t be able to hear the answers.

    Yet the Internet is where our prospects and customers seek information and make decisions about potential vendors or companies with which they’ll do business.

    So how do you tell your story?  How do you communicate your vast knowledge and experience without a bunch of  WORDS PEOPLE WON’T READ?

    YouTube offers a platform to share your story – but you have to be creative if you want to capture the attention of viewers and hopefully create a message that “goes viral.”

    In a recent edition of Advertising Age, Teressa Iezzi of Creativity Online shared the top creative picks of 2009. I’ve talked about one of them in an earlier post – the musical stairs in Stockholm.  But this time I want to share the story of Johnnie Walker in their historical, yet extremely creative video called “The Walk” which chronicles the history of one of the greatest adult beverages known to man.

    You have a unique story as well.  One that people would be interested in hearing.  Have you considered using YouTube to tell about how you got started?  Or maybe your start-up story is ordinary, but how you came to focus on a particular product or service is unique. 

    For more information on how to connect with your customers and share your story using YouTube, check out this video from Small Business Trends by Jim Kukral with 101 ways to use YouTube and this article from Meryl Evans on the 34 ways to use YouTube for Business.

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