Posts Tagged customer experience


The Pareto Rule is an awesome tool and can be used in many situations. Here Paul Coles shares his insights with how companies focus on the wrong side of the equation at times.

Paul Coles's Blog

When I left university I joined the British retailing institution that is Marks and Spencer, and of the many things that I learned about business, the most precious of all was that you set your business up for the 99% not the other 1%.

I know you are thinking what the hell is this guy talking about? So I will explain. Back in those heady days of the mid ’80s I queried why we were merchandising some of the most expensive product that was prone to shop lifting right next to the doorway. The answer was simple, 99% of our customers don’t steal, so make it easy for them to buy what they want, and don’t ever lose sight of this, setting yourself up for the 1% you will be destined  to fail. This lesson is beautifully illustrated in a great book “Sway: The irresistible pull of irrational behaviour” by…

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foursquare Social Media Ignorance


Image representing Foursquare as depicted in C...

Image via CrunchBase

So tell me what’s wrong with this picture.  I got this email today:

Hi Tim,

If you’ve opened up foursquare in the last couple weeks you’ve probably noticed that we made a ton of changes. We re-imagined the entire app, Extreme Makeover style, to make it even easier for you and your friends to share and save your experiences and find new places to go. We also gave it plenty of design love and under-the-hood tweaks, so it’s not only prettier but faster than ever – hurrah!

Usage Ignorance

Anyone who has me as a friend in foursquare or see’s my Facebook stream knows I use foursquare a lot.  The question is, why doesn’t foursquare know this?  How can I get an email making it seem like I need to be reminded that the screens have changed, the navigation is different, more map features added, and more?  So why is a social media company incapable of using their own data to enhance my relationship?  Why not make me feel special rather then a member of their junk mail list?

Lessons for  Small Business

Even the big boys don’t get it right.  So don’t ever think that you should not try because some major player in your space can always do it better and faster then you.  Often, small business has more chances to beat the larger players at their own game because small business can be more nimble.

So my advice, don’t count out social media in your marketing plan!

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Facebook Timeline Ads: A Gift to Google+


Well this morning I checked my Facebook Timeline to see if my latest social apps are still working.  I don’t want to recommend my clients use these features then only to find out that they are not working. So we test … test … test.  In this morning’s testing I find I have new intruders, dare I say interlopers, in my Timeline stream.

Exhibit One – The Interloping Ads!

Facebook Timeline Ads

Ads Are My Friends

I know this sounds strange coming from a person who counsels small and medium sized companies on how to use internet advertising to their advantage, but putting things in MY STREAM seems like a violation to me.  I fully understand the left or right hand side of the page (depending on which Facebook page you are looking at) will hold their ads.  And i want those ads to be relevant, or contextual, to the content that is on that page.  Actually, I’m counting on it.

I and admire Facebook for allowing me to turn off the setting which shows my name under ads.  Even though I may have liked a product, if I’m not getting paid to promote it, why give them that for free.

What does bother me is showing ads in my stream.  The ads so far have been nothing about me.  Nothing about the story i am trying to tell about me.  So why does Facebook now think it’s going to make me want to use their product more to continue to build that story?

In Walks Google+

I see Google+ as walking away with a win on this.  I think this violation will cause many to search out alternate solutions to telling their story.

What do you think?

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Unclear? Use a Twitter Summary!


English: A Twitter tweet

Image via Wikipedia

Have you ever just stopped and thought, “OK, exactly, what am I doing here?”  Have you ever been asked to explain something and found yourself ramblings and your thoughts came out incoherent and and your thoughts are without any cohesion and almost on the verge of being labeled ‘verbal diarrhea’? (run on sentence intended for effect folks!!)

Force Some Discipline

There is a way you can attack this problem.  This idea comes from a book I’ve recently read call “Drive” by Daniel Pink.  (Good Read! Recommend it!) It’s one of the suggestions in the back of the book which you could easily overlook and just skiip by if you are not careful.

The concept is simple.  Use a tool, like Twitter, to force you to craft a message in 140 characters.  Twitter will only publish 140 characters of a person’s tweet.  It provides a nice clean interface with a gentile reminder of how many characters you have remaining.  It also provides you a negative number if you go over 140 characters, thus showing you how much you have to trim to have your entire message included in the twitter stream.  Twitter simply provides us a clean and straightforward page with the needed feedback to accomplish this task.

Twitter is not the focus

You could use any tool that gives you the feedback to understand how close you are to 140 characters.  Even the 140 characters are arbitrary and simply based on the fact that Twitter has this limitation.  I could also use any word processor that provide the basic functionality of ‘word count‘ .  You could write a simple Visual Basic program in minutes to perform the same task.  The tool is not the important factor here.  It is your ability to boil down your message to 140 charaters.

In the past we’ve talked about using elevator speeches, but this is more intense and to the point.  Only using 140 characters to create focus.

Twitter Summary Application

  • Front Office Staff – image the value you would bring if your responses were pithy and to the point.  How many of us have wished we met some of these staff in our travels.  Only to find out 2 minutes into a question answer session you picked the wrong person to ask ‘where the bathroom was?’ (exaggeration intended)
  • Meeting Prep – Wouldn’t we all like to come into a meeting and with a short burst from the moderator / facilitator know how much I need to pay attention?  In fact, I could then text my assistent to pull me out of the meeting in let’s say 10 minutes.  (Note to self: I bet I could write a quick program so that when I text mesage a certain code to it, it would then rendomly generate a ’emergency text message‘ to my department member’s phones  so I can get them all the hell out of there before they waste another minute not doing their jobs!) (exaggeration intended)
  • Event Planning – When I plan out an event, each hour has something it needs to accomplish.  I would suggest having a twitter summary for each hour so that each hour can be easily reviewed by the facilitation staff and the owner / sponsor of the event.
  • Calendar Management – wouldn’t we all like to look at a calendar event and not ask the question – what in the world is this here for and who authorized it to be on my calendar?  Well a twitter summary would help there also.
  • Instructions to Staff – I’ve also heard this one called ‘commander’s intent‘ as well.  It would be a short burst stating what is the ultimate outcome or goal is for an activity.  Sometimes these are needed so that if something goes wrong, the team, using autonomy, can make adjustments to still hit the mark by the end of the assignment.
  • Classroom Setting – excellent use of a few seconds to start out the class.  Let everyone know what’s going to happen in the class for the next hour to three hours.  (Also see Meeting Prep above – for you resourceful students – but don’t try it in my class – I have you turn off your phones)

Taken to an Extreme

Anything could be taken to an extreme.  For instance, imaging you walk into your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).  You ask, what you believe to be, a genuinely sincere, simple, innocent, open ended question and the response you get from behind the counter is “No”.  Not withstanding it was an open ended question, this all to common event, could simply be all the DMV’s in the world preemptively taking my advice to this pithy extreme before I even make this post available to the public (although I have my suspicions that this is not the case and something else might be going on)   So be mindful that this advice could also be taken to an extreme and you would want to avoid that s well.

Would love to hear how you could apply Twitter Summaries.  Leave a post and let me know.

Good Hunting!

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Make it Easy for Customers


The other day I was helping a new client plan out marketing materials for an upcoming event and asked if he was using QR Codes on all of his materials.  I explained that many people are now scanning them and then using them to do research or deal with retention issues associated with information overload.

The items in your QR Code should be:

  1. Direct link to the landing page for the event or product promoted at that event so the visitor doesn’t have to hunt down what they were interested in.
  2. Your phone number
  3. Your Email Address
  4. other pertinent information that you wanted stored in their contact list
    1. hours of operation
    2. Your name
    3. Your Address
    4. Other web sites you want them to know about (blogs, product micro sites, etc.)

Oh, and if the back of your business card isn’t already in use, put a QR Code there.  It shows you respect their time by having them avoid manually typing the data into their contact database.

Is It Important?

Well if  you don’t think this is important enough to add to your marketing material, maybe this article might change your mind:

Half of U.S. shoppers rely on phones for in-store research

Good Hunting!

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Facebook’s Unfriendly Competition Subscriptions


We all, deep down in our souls,  know that Facebook has destroyed the concept of friendship.   Facebook has cheapened the meaning of the word friend, and yet, unwittingly …  somehow, elevated the concept of  “BFF” (best friend foreveeeeer!!!!)

Just the other day, a long time friend came to me apologizing that she had just recently accepted a long forgotten sent Facebook friend request.  She took five minutes explaining how and why she accepts friends in Facebook and said that my friends invitation was simply an oversight and begged for my forgiveness.  My response: “Oh OK, so how you been this week?”

New Competition: Google+ Circles

Not even out of BETA, Google+ has caused some irritation to Facebook.  You can’t help but seeing reviews on the concept of “Google+ Circles” and your ability to project your information to specific circle of people rather then having it pasted to your entire ‘friend list’ in Facebook.  After all, we segment our lives differently then all or nothing.

Google+ calls them “People”, Facebook calls them “Friends”   I can subscribe to people’s feeds in Google+, and yes even narrow that down by creating a sub-set call Circles.  Now in Facebook I can subscribe to ‘someone’ without being a being a friend.

Facebook has introduced a new look to ‘Lists’.  You could always create friend lists, but most people never used them because they were not the easiest to create or maintain.  Now they are more predominant on the screen and they include showing the number of new updates since last time on.  I will post more on this later.

Facebook’s Unfriendly Subscribe Option

Finally, I can follow a person without giving them the false hope that we have somehow become anything other then an non-friend acquaintance, if that.  My casual hook-up with them is simply a matter of convenience to satisfy my natural curiosity of what they have to offer.    Our relationship simply lasts as long as they provide me what I need, and I can drop them as quickly as I met them.  No emotional strings attached!  How nice of Facebook for finally allow such unfriendly relationships.

Subscription Button Info

Here are some things to remember about this new Facebook capability:

  • a person must turn this feather on to allow someone to subscribe to them.
  • you get to decide how much you want to see from your subscriptions, photo’s only, or how about ‘no more game messages!’ – that’s actually a good thing.
  • If you can’t subscribe to someone, just remember “It’s not you, it’s them” and you don’t have to feel left out, no one can then subscribe to that person.
  • Facebook Pages have gone through a lot of changes expect more changes to come that way as well.
Good Hunting

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Empty Carts Go Here


Prior to reading the sign below, posted in the parking lot of a local super-store, I could only image how many fully loaded carts were left standing at the cart return areas by the patrons of this establishment.  In fact,  if I had not looked up and read the sign I might have done just that.    Thank goodness this company went out of their way to educate me, their slow and stupid customer,  on this critical step in the process … empty the cart first before returning the cart.

IMAG0065

Imagine the full carts left in the lot before this sign was put up!

Doubly perplexed were the gas station operators of this establishment.   Having their customers show up with full gas tanks, only to top off the tank with a few pennies worth of gas, caused them to jump into action and ask for some verbiage on these educational signs for their dimwitted customers.  Obviously, the educational campaign of letting people know that you go to a gas station to fill your car when the tank is near empty was a great public service to the community.

Maybe I’m being to hard on the gas station operators.  Possibly, this was simply a kind paternal attempt to avoid seeing their idiot customers in long lines of vehicles, with bone dry gas tanks, waiting to be filled at the empty cart return areas.  I guess we’ll never really know.

Words Matter – Silly Signs

OK, I’m having some fun with a poorly worded sign.  I had to get it out of me.  After all, we are not talking about a street sign with missing punctuation for brevity being let loose on a unsuspecting neighborhood.  The sign that comes to mind is “Slow Children Playing”.  What a difference a little comma makes.  This sign has often created an instant and deep sensation of pity towards the parents of these slow children, in which the city went out of their way to let everyone know that retarded children can found playing in the upcoming neighborhood.

The words we use matter to some.   I think we don’t spend enough time evaluating how our  statements shape the  opinions of others and assume that everyone has the same point of view or intention as we do.

Sending Messages

So what messages are we sending to our customers?    Does your company have any phrases, tag lines, signs, etc., that could cause a customer to think they are ignorant and  ill-informed persons,  and would remain so if it weren’t for your existence on this planet?

If you have any other examples, please share these examples with me in a comment below.  These (word) pictures make for great presentation fodder when speaking in public engagements.  I would love to hear from you.

Good Hunting!

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Look up!


I ran across this post at “Damn I Wish I Would Have Thought of That!” and thought it was worth sharing.  Sometimes the act of finding a new client is as simple as seeing there is an opportunity to help someone with their situation.

Look up!

May 15, 2011

Our neighbor had their gutters replaced yesterday.

Our gutters are (shamefully) falling off the house.

Why didn’t their gutter guy call us?

Your next customer is closer than you think — if you’re paying attention.

via Look up!.

Good Hunting.

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Marketing Lesson: Smartphones Outsell PCs


According to IDC, smartphone manufacturers shipped 100.9 million devices in the fourth quarter of 2010, while PC manufacturers shipped 92.1 million units worldwide. Or, more simply put, smartphones just outsold PCs for the first time ever.

via Smartphones Outsell PCs.

The above quote should not come as a surprise.  Change happens.  The real question becomes, “How are we preparing our clients, or shaping our projects/campaigns for this shift in the marketing landscape?”

Nostalgic Deja Vu

I was just telling one of my classes yesterday that even though the assignments are focusing on 8×11 documents they need to keep in the back of their mind the fact that their message might be seen on a small screen so always plan ahead.

This problem seems to be resurfacing constantly in the technology sector.  I can remember, in my brief stint in development, which now seems like three lifetimes ago, the revelation that the developers I worked with all had power user machines: top of the line CPU’s, memory maxed to capacity, every bay in the tower loaded with the largest hard drives that could be purchased, the biggest fasted monitor and video board that was sold at the time.  Not a real problem unless you consider the average ‘consumer’ of these developers were running on machines three generations behind, and were loaded with the least possible equipment to save costs for the company purchasing the hardware.

At least we were lucky to have a great software development manager, my brother-in-law, who demanded no code go into production unless it passed a speed test on a machine comparable to what the user base was currently using.  So we always kept a box in the corner of the office with the current configuration our clients had.  This created some awkward moments when the entire development team would watch as one of the developers would run the cpu/memory/video gauntlet with a piece of code that ran like greased lighting on his box.

Some Possible Action Items

Here are some things you should do right now:

  • Test your existing site: get a smartphone, get several with different size screens, and test what you currently have out there being viewed by visitors to your site.
  • Update Project Requirements: only accept work that can be used on a smartphone screen.  It will cost more, but if your site works and your competitor’s doesn’t, well that’s just priceless.
  • Update Your Marketing Plan: Think mobile.  What items in your plan can change now as this wave begins to form, rather waiting until is past you and you are playing catchup.

Let me know if you’ve encountered feedback from your visitors about your site not working on smartphones and what you did to fix the problem.

Good Hunting.

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Customer Experience Investment Opportunities (Revisited)


[Note: this is an older post but the “Ill Advised Investments” example came up in a recent meeting and brought a smile back to my face so I’m recycling the post.  I’ve also added another great quote from Godin as well]

I love the way Seth Godin’s mind works. In a resent post, “How much extra for nice?” brings up the critical point of how much we are willing to pay for better service but reminds companies that creating this environment costs a fraction of what people are willing to pay. The benefits can last longer.

I also read another great thought from Seth Godin as well:

No matter what your job is, no matter where you work, there’s a way to create a project (on your own, on weekends if necessary), where the excitement is palpable, where something that might make a difference is right around the corner.

Hurry, go do that.

Godin in “What are you working on?

Beneficial Investments

In a recent post, I identified three example of customer service excellence. How much money was budgeted to create this customer service environment? These types of examples have a lasting benefit that far outweighs the cost of implementing them. If companies can recognize this before dismissing these opportunities, the rewards have an exponential effect.

Some examples:

  • Hiring the right people
  • Having the right people perform jobs they love to do best.
  • Continuous improvement of the customer experience at all levels of the company
  • Reward excellence and avoid promoting people out of their natural strengths.

Ill Advised Investments

Although I agree with Seth’s premise, as consumers, here are some examples in which we should avoid paying extra to have someone be nice to us!

  • $100 to the Police Officer at a traffic stop – will only produce untold number of stories for your grandchildren around the campfire, sometime in the distant future.
  • $100 to $10,000 to the triage attendant at the local Emergency Room – will get you absolutely nothing at all except a lighter wallet.
  • $100 turned in with your exam – results may vary, but don’t expect them to be positive.

So do you have any beneficial or ill advised investments to share?

Good Hunting!

See also:

Great Customer Service and Peer Recognition

Customer Service Excellence Examples

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