Thursday, July 18, 2019

What Great Customer Service Looks Like...

My previous post shared an example of poor customer service. This post--which details correspondence with ROAD iD concerning a mistake that's 100% mine--is a complete 180.

We should be as quick to recognize outstanding customer service as we are to complain about poor customer service.

From ROAD iD (Paula Hook): Jul 17, 9:17 AM EDT

Thank you for your kind words, and for making others aware of Road ID. It's great to get positive feedback from highly intelligent people like you. We find that it's much more fun to do our jobs well (and collect compliments) than it is to do our jobs poorly (and collect complaints). We're happy to know your experience has been a good one. If I can be of further assistance, please let me know. 

Be safe out there,
Paula Hook
From Bruce: Jul 16, 10:59 AM EDT

Paula, hi. I just tweeted (@brm90) to compliment your awesome customer service. The ID I ordered was for a friend but rest assured I am going to reorder the correct size (19MM faceplate) for me soon. Thanks for your time and consideration.
From ROAD iD (Paula Hook): Jul 16, 10:07 AM EDT

We certainly understand that mistakes are very easy to make - heck, we even make them on occasion. So, instead of having to order a whole new ID, we would normally remake the ID for a small processing fee of $5 plus shipping. When reviewing your account, however, I see that you've already placed a new order. Because of this, I have issued you a refund of $12.50 for the new ID.

If I can be of further assistance, please let me know. 

Be safe out there,
Paula Hook
800-345-6336 |
From Bruce: Jul 12, 11:56 AM EDT
Hello, I recently mistakenly ordered the wrong size replacement faceplate for my 19MM silicone clasp RoadID. I've had the RoadID since you guys started making them and finally moved, so I had to update my badge info. Totally my error (ordered the 13MM faceplate). Any chance you could help me out with the right size? Thanks very much in advance.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

When Accountants Dictate Customer Service, Customers Suffer

I visited a local Jiffy Lube this morning for an oil change. They're quick, efficient, they explain things in easy-to-understand terms, and they offer a veterans discount. I like the way staff interacts personally with customers and how they know, track, and share the history of my vehicle.

Jiffy Lube has a new "greeting policy" that decreases personal interaction and attention. And while it may more efficiently utilize employees, the new policy potentially endangers customers. More on that in a moment. 

Marketers think: "Good place to welcome customers."
Accountants think: "Unnecessary expense."
But first, as a marketer, in addition to creating content that meaningfully, memorably and measurably engages customers, I scrutinize the processes to which our marketing directs customers. 

Before promoting a product or service, I try to understand how, when, and where customers engage with the products or service. The critical mass (energy) produced when content and process collide generates decisions. Some questions I ask colleagues:
  • How and where do we meet prospects and customers (digitally or physically)?
  • How do we shepherd prospects through the sales funnel (digitally or physically)?
  • Where can we enhance our service to make sales more personal and less transactional?
  • Are the costs of these enhancements worth our investment of time, treasure, and talent?
From this perspective, Jiffy Lube's new policy doesn't improve customer service. In fact, it makes it worse.

In the past, a greeter/worker would welcome you outside, ask the services you want, and escort you inside, handing you off to a team member at the front desk. The new policy has greeters direct customers to check in at a computer inside the work bay. 

Beyond the fact that the work bay is (compared to the inside) dirty, loud, and subjects customers to the weather (hot in summer, cold in winter), it's also potentially dangerous: Oil is slippery, right? Did the bean counters consider how favorably working women in heels or men in dress shoes will view going into a work bay? What about the kids? What do they do while mommy and daddy are checking in? Does Jiffy Lube really want kids messing around in the work bay? 

Customer think: "Dirty."
Accountants think: "Money
I'm thinking the new policy has to be the brainchild of bean counters and profiteers who prioritize staff efficiency over customer service. Sure, checking in customers in the garage keeps staff working on cars and not manning desks. Sure, you'll probably make more money keeping staff busier. 

From a marketing perspective, this move erodes an important (but unquantifiable) customer service and interaction point. But even worse, from a customer's perspective, it's potentially dangerous. 

Suggestion: "Red Carpet Service".

Instead of checking in customers in the garage, install a red AstroTurf carpet from the covered greeting area that leads inside to the service desk. 

A greeter/worker welcomes the customer, and--while genially escorting them inside (perhaps with a branded umbrella in case of inclement weather--asks the services they want. He/she then checks his/her customer in at the computer. This creates a more personal, safer, and seamless customer engagement experience.

A comprehensive national marketing and advertising campaign could promote Jiffy Lube's new "Red Carpet Service" and highlight the services Jiffy Lube already provides: Quick oil change, check/refill fluids, check/refill air in tires, check wipers, etc. Throw in a couple discounts to entice customers to "Experience-Our-Red-Carpet" service.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Share Specific Value to Help Your Job Application Stand Out

While unemployment hovers at historic lows, the pursuit of senior positions remains extremely competitive. When I apply for leadership roles, I go out ot my way to distinguish myself from a burgeoning pool of qualified candidates. 

In addition to being more selective about the senior marketing and communications positions to which I apply, I'm devoting more time and attention to my application packet--especially my cover letters. This post describes one such example.

(What's a Social Media Producer? 
Discover here.)
Among the applications I submitted this short work week included one to Boston's Channel 7 WHDH to become their Social Media Producer. Here's the position description. 

To underscore my interest in the position, I shared in my cover letter the following directly relevant example of social media knowledge and expertise I offer WHDH. 

"In the battle for Boston TV audiences' social media hearts and minds, I analyzed WHDH's current numbers (as of 7/3 PM) and generated a table that compared WHDH's Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram numbers with selected competitors WBZ, WCVB, NECN, and NBC10.

BostonTV Social Media
Likes (IG = posts)
WHDH Twitter (@7news)
316,000 (1st)
3,983 (1st)
WHDH Facebook (@7news)
450,558 (3rd)
449,108 (2nd)
WHDH Instagram (@7news)
58,500 (2nd)
2,852 posts (2nd)
WBZ TW (@wbz)
WBZ FB (@CBSboston)
469,637 (2nd)
431,358 (3rd)
WBZ IG (@wbztv)
21,400 (3rd)
1,892 posts (3rd)
WCVB TW (@wcvb)
277,000 (2nd)
3,963 (2nd)
WCVB FB (@wcvb5)
801,080 (1st)
829,251 (1st)
WCVB IG (@wcvb5)
67,400 (1st)
3,682 posts (1st)
661 (3rd)
NECN FB (@necntv)
NECN IG (@necntv)
1,709 posts
NBC10 TW (@NBC10Boston)
NBC10 FB (@NBC10Boston)
365,838 (4th)
364,837 (4th)
NBC10 IG (@nbc10boston)
1,922 posts

The numbers in the table indicate that WHDH has prominent market share on The Big Three social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram):
  • On Twitter, WHDH leads selected competitors in Followers and Likes (aquamarine)
  • On Facebook, WHDH ranks 3rd (yellow) in Followers and 2nd in Likes (green)
  • On Instagram, WHDH ranks 2nd (green) in Followers and Posts
Further analysis of the numbers reveals:
  • WBZ ranks in the top three for all categories
  • WCVB leads the group in Facebook Followers and Likes--almost doubling WHDH's numbers on the social media juggernaut. 
  • WCVB also leads the group in Instagram Likes and Posts
The chart reveals surmountable numbers gaps--which as your Social Media Producer, I will work to close by applying my social and digital media content development and disseminations skills."

Eschewing standard self-promotional cover letter language, and knowing the beleaguered HR manager will receive dozens--if not hundreds--of applications from qualified candidates, I tried to convey specific examples of the relevant knowledge, skills, and abilities I offer WHDH.

In this highly competitive job market, my experiences have taught me the necessity to provide measurable and memorable value up front. 

Stay tuned to find out if my efforts spark a response from WHDH. 

Monday, July 1, 2019

Powerful Images from DMZ Produce Powerful Perceptions

The President's visit today to one of the world's most tense borders is an interesting juxtaposition to America's current debate about border security. But this isn't a post about politics. Rather, it's about advertising and the power of images to forge perceptions. (It also draws from my personal experiences stationed at the DMZ in the U.S. Army.)
On the left is an image of the DMZ Panmunjom "Peace Site", looking from the so-called DPRK ("Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea) looking to South Korea (Republic of Korea). This is the standard configuration of hand-picked North Korean soldiers at the border.
The KPA (Korean People's Army) soldiers in Panmunjom are hand-selected for their physique, height and military bearing. They are fed better and more than regular KPA troops. At the DMZ, they are supplemented by dozens more, hidden in the building at the top of the stairs in the photo at right. The soldiers record every minute of every visitor at the site.
Even if they could afford to visit, most NK civilians can't go to Panmunjom. Only the Elite of the Elite may visit; when they do, they are ringed by KPA soldiers to prevent them from defecting. By comparison, the DMZ is one of the ROK's most-visited tourist destinations.
After visitors on the South side sign a form stating they will not make any offensive gestures nor take any photos, they are escorted into the Peace Building (where the Armistice was signed in 1953) by ROK soldiers in dress uniforms.
Neither ROK nor U.S. soldiers are permitted to visit the DMZ in ACUs--Army Combat Uniform--as the NKs would interpret this as a provocation. Visitors either react with stunned silence or giggle nervously as two pairs of ROK and KPA soldiers glower at each other from each side of the room.
On the right is a press pool photo of President Trump and Kim Jong-Un, looking North into the DPRK. No soldiers, no uniforms, no visible military presence at all. It appears like just another photo opportunity between two state leaders--and most Americans will see this "advertisement" and accept it as reality.
In my experience, the moment VIPs departed, trailed by their entourages and the media maelstrom, soldiers on both sides returned to the watches they have stood since 1953.
That's the reality at the DMZ, and it's going to take far more than words and handshakes to achieve a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.