How to provide epic customer service


I’m not really a fan of pointing out FAILS unless they really irk me. Rather than posting precautionary tales of what not to do, I’d much rather point people toward examples of what to do. Coming from a customer service background has given me an affinity for wanting to point out people and brands that get it. The ones that make you feel like an individual rather than one in a giant number of social media followers. Here are a couple that stood out to me this week.

How to provide epic customer service

Misfit Wearables

Anyone who knows me knows I really get into two things: technology and exercise. During SXSW last year, I came across a fashionable and lightweight fitness tracker called the Shine, by Misfit Wearables. I love it. It’s minimalistic and not clunky, attaches nearly anywhere, and I get asked about it by people all the time.

So you can imagine my disappointment when mine suddenly stopped working a couple weeks ago. Meanwhile, a buddy of mine just picked up a high-tech Microsoft band and was trying to get me to convert. When I find something I like, I’m typically pretty loyal, so I decided to post on Misfit’s Facebook page asking for any recommendations on what I could do to try and get my Shine working again.

Their page boasts over 21,000 fans at the time of this writing. That’s no small number. Their posts to page section is a constant stream of comments, both compliments and complaints, and my question easily could have been overlooked. But it wasn’t. Instead, I was directed to private message, where they asked for my address to send me a new shine. No twenty questions, no asking me to send in my defective product. They fixed it for me. In my preferred color. Like customer service bosses. And now I’m writing and sharing about it. Social listening, folks. Do it. Your customers will love you for it and you’ll be respected because of it.

Misfit Wearables fitness tracker wearable technology
My shiny new red Shine

More importantly, they kept me from leaving. Had I received no response, I’d have likely started shopping around for another fitness tracker to see what was out there. By keeping me with them, they kept me from meandering. Nicely done, Misfit.


There isn’t a single bad thing I can say about the folks at Buffer. Their app is solid, their content never ceases to amaze me, and their people are genuinely the nicest on the entire interwebs. When I see their logo, I don’t see a brand. I see the smiling face of someone who genuinely gives a damn. They also happen to lead a weekly #Bufferchat that continually engages and informs their audience around consistently interesting topics.

I recently jumped in to a #Bufferchat that they held. It featured my very smart friend DJ Waldow (who actually inspired my last post), and turned out to be a great discussion. Afterward, I received a DM from Nicole, the Community Champion at Buffer (ps, I love their titles), asking me if she could send me some stickers to show her appreciation of my participation. One thing you should know about me is that I’m kind of a swag whore. Gimme all those things. Naturally, I was geeked.

Buffer social media scheduler customer service
The folks at Buffer are pretty swell. Their sticker game is strong, and they really appreciate their community. Plus, just look at that handwriting!

What I received was a premium-stock card with a handwritten note (in very fancy handwriting, might I add), plus two high-quality stickers. All because I actively participated in a chat. You want to talk about building community and making your fans feel special? Nailed it.

Now, some of this could be chalked up to an influencer marketing strategy. I get that. I’m not what one could call a high level influencer (my followings aren’t that massive comparatively), but I am very vocal about things I’m passionate about. And you can bet I’m going to continue to be vocal about my affinity for Buffer and Misfit.

Good customer service also isn’t just about handing out freebies. The main points of this are to listen to what your customers are saying, solve their problems, let them know you appreciate them in whatever ways you can, and don’t treat them like faceless entities in an online crowd. Hats off, Buffer and Misfit. You won the week.

What are some examples of amazing customer service or community-building that you’ve experienced from a brand? Share your story in the comments below.

Now, go get your social on!

Conversation Economy and the Increased Value of Word of Mouth

I recently read an article on Fast Company, in which angel Investor Peter Shankman laid down a $5,000 donation bet that Yelp’s business model will fail by next year. He asks why, in the “conversation economy” that we live in, would he rely on the reviews of complete strangers when the feedback from his friends on Facebook and Google+ is so readily available. This term―conversation economy―really got me thinking. Though we’ve always placed a high value on word of mouth, social media has exponentially increased that, not only online, but in the real world. I’ll give you an example.

You can't beat these tacos.
You can’t beat these tacos.

A newer coworker at Main Street Hub recently became friends with me on Foursquare. She then began the obligatory creeping my check-ins to see what’s good (her words), when she came across a check-in at one of my favorite local Austin spots―Elaine’s Pork and Pie, and the accompanying photo. She asked me about it as we were getting coffee one morning, and I began the effusive raving that this little spot deserves. Amazing food, sweet service, and cheap prices. While we were discussing this, another coworker overheard the words “Pulled Pork Tacos,” and became interested in our conversation. Another was passing by and asked if we were talking about Elaine’s Pork and Pie, and also began talking about how much he loved the place. Remember those anti-tobacco Truth commercials, where the little asterisk appears above everyone’s head? Yeah, it’s something like that.

More than ever, now that Facebook’s Graph Search and Google+ Local search have incorporated your friends into what you’re searching for online, word of mouth is king. Positive experiences, check-ins, and good reviews from friends of potential customers (with Facebook allowing a star-rating and has teamed up with OpenTable, as well) can turn into real world dollars and ROI for a business’s bottom line. Just the opposite can happen if those experiences aren’t ideal or if poor experiences go ignored. Businesses simply cannot allow themselves to remain deaf and blind to the conversations that are going on about them. Participation is mandatory.

How has this change to the conversation economy affected your business? Have you had a similar experience like the one I describe above? Have you been to Elaine’s Pork and Pie? (If you’re in Austin, ever, GO. THERE.) Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Now go get your social on!

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What Yelp’s New Mobile Reviews Capability Means

Yelp-logoWith their latest 7.0 app update, Yelp asks you to sit down, because this one’s a biggie. In their words you can now “visit any business page, tap “add review” and go bananas.” That’s right―Yelp has added the ability for your customers to write a review in the moment, on their mobile device, via the Yelp app. Please, ladies and gentlemen, don’t go bananas. Yelp responsibly.

A few things that this could mean:

  1. Optimist – More happy Yelpers will more readily share their opinions with local businesses due to the easy nature of typing up a short but sweet review on their mobile device. (bring on the Autocorrect typos.)
  2. Pessimist – Open the flood gates of angry people. Hell hath no fury like a mobile Yelper. Now that people can easily leave reviews in the heat of the moment, without first cooling down and hopefully rationally approaching a situation (or forgetting about it entirely), 1-star review hell will break loose.
  3. Realist – There will likely be some occasional anecdotal instances of both the above, but largely things will remain the same. Elite and consistent Yelpers will continue writing their reviews, possibly more often since they can do so immediately. You may see more people hanging around the table or salon, tip tapping away their experience into their phone, but I don’t expect to see a massive influx of changes to reviews.

Here’s what it should not mean, however. All business owners should not encourage their employees to download the app and write bogus reviews for their business. I have no doubt that Yelp has thought this through, being that it’s taken this long for them to add such functionality to their app, and have put some sort of safeguards in place (geo-tagging or GPS functionality, perhaps?). Don’t be that business. It always turns out badly.

What do you think of this new, obviously overdue addition to the Yelp app? Good, bad, ugly? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Now go get your social on!

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How Converse Won My Love During SXSW

I absolutely love the opportunities that social media can provide us. A mere twenty years ago, it would have been a rare occurrence to connect with anyone internally at a major company. With social, communication lines are more engaging, and often times more human, than ever before. Nothing could be more evident than my experience at SXSW last week.

Converse shoes free from SXSW
This is what free swag can look like!

My girlfriend and I were waiting in line for a Fader Fort show, presented by Converse. She was very excited to catch Solange Knowles (very talented younger sister of Beyonce, who put on a great show). I biked to meet her directly after I got off work, and we joined the forever long line after picking up wristbands. As is my standard, I checked in to the venue. Upon checking in on Foursquare, I was provided with the information of a sponsored hashtag for the event that would allow me the possibility to win some swag. As we social media nerds do, I immediately tweeted using the hashtag to announce my presence at the event, expecting nothing more than perhaps a retweet later or a thanks for enjoying the event. What happened next made my entire week.

Not only did Converse tweet me, they offered me a free pair of Converse shoes. I’m not one who wins things often, so this alone made me geek out. I was instructed to DM them with information so they could provide me a contact. This is where thing reached the level of super awesome. I was given a number to text message, allowing me to find the person who would get me free shoes after we got in. I did, however, I noted that we were in a line that was moving at the pace a snail could have easily topped.

Twitter conversation with Converse
How it all went down.

Rather than giving me a blase “Well, we hope to see you if and when you get in,” Converse obliterated my expectations. They told me to get out of line and meet a guy at the entrance. They were going to let us in, simply because I tweeted their hashtag. There was a strong possibility that we were going to miss Solange’s performance (see a clip below) with the look of the line, and an increasing number of badge holders showing up, but we were able to get in, get settled on a spot, and enjoy her whole performance. My girlfriend was thrilled with the show, and I was thrilled that I got some new kicks. All this thanks to the direct line of communication that social media provides. Guess who could be labeled a brand advocate for Converse now―this kid. Way to go Converse.

Have you had a similar experience, whether at SXSW or otherwise? What kind of awesome interactions have you had with a brand via social media? Share your story in the comments below!

Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on!

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3 Tips for Doing Twitter Outreach Without Being a Creep

By now you’ve probably heard that social media does not follow the Field of Dreams mantra: “If you build it, they will come.” (I know, for all you die hard Field of Dreams fans, that’s not the factually accurate quote. But that’s what it has become in pop culture so bear with me.) Simply setting up your social media profiles and waiting for people to come swarming to them will just not happen. You have to give them a reason to come to your page. You have to seek them out by knowing your business, knowing your customers, and knowing your community. One great way to seek out potential customers is by doing Twitter outreach. I’m not going to go through the use of Twitter’s search features here. Those articles have already been written by much more knowledgeable bloggers to varying degrees. I did recently write a guest post for Main Street Hub, a social media management company that focuses on local businesses, in which I discuss three tips for doing Twitter outreach without coming across as a creep or spambot. Twitter is fraught with both, so differentiating yourself from them is critical. You can read the post here:

What are your thoughts on Twitter outreach? Have you been reached out to or poached successfully? What did the person do that worked, or didn’t? Do you have any more tips to add? Let me know below with your comments. Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on! Follow this blog on Google Currents! Download the app in your app store or marketplace and click here to subscribe.

What the Gym Taught Me About CRM

First off, I’m finally settled into my new place in Austin, TX. I love it here. The company I work for – Main Street Hub, shameless plug –  totally rocks and takes great care of its customers’ social media presence (and great care of its employees). I was able to experience some of the SXSW madness right outside the front door, which was epic. Things are pretty awesome. Now, on to the business at hand.

What the Gym Taught Me About Customer Relationship Management

Going to the gym has its ups and downs. You typically have plenty of options for machines, free weights, treadmills, yadda yadda. Sometimes, simply being amongst others who are pushing themselves can inspire you to work harder (kind of a form of social proof, if you will). If you are like me, you usually end up finding that one machine that works really well, and always bee-line for it when you see it available. Because, y’know, the other one creaks or doesn’t measure your heart rate, or simply looks like it will break mid-stride and impale you. I don’t wanna die at the gym, do you?

So anyway, one thing that really irks me, and this has happened numerous times, is when I go to claim a machine or bench, and some meathead comes up to me and says, “Hey man. I was using that.” Um, no. No, you were not. You were too busy stroking your ego in front of that mirror on the other side of the gym, flexing and grunting. This machine is mine now. You can have it when I’m done, maybe. *Side note: I usually concede if the guy is a big, scary, aggressive type. Remember that time when I said I don’t want to die at the gym?

Now, here is where I make my tie-in. Gym machines are to people as customers are to businesses. They build you up, make you stronger, and if you abandon them, someone else will gladly make use of them.

This is your customer. All alone…Photo by Ambro

It is 6 to 7 times more costly to acquire a new customer than keep an existing one. Imagine how much more that figure inflates when a customer feels abandoned or ignored by your company and has been wooed by your competitor. Social media allows you many opportunities to keep up with your customers. You can keep an eye out for good or bad sentiment and react accordingly; and the point is exactly that – react. Show your customers that you care about their opinions (the good AND the bad) and they will not only respect you all the more for it, you may actually improve their initial sentiment. Use review and recommendation sites, such as Yelp!, Google Places, and foursquare, to maintain your image. Also, use them to check up on your competitors and claim their ignored equipment. When you see bad reviews of your competitors, reach out to those people (steal their machine!). Suddenly, you look like the friendly gym owner who says, “It’s ok, buddy. I’m someone who would love to pay attention to you. Let me show you.”

On that note, however, don’t be a peacock. Don’t strut your stuff once you feel good about your reputation.  Be careful not to get so caught up in your own affairs that your customers become secondary. Don’t be that guy flexing in the mirror because, as I mentioned, you are then no longer paying attention to your machine. And I’m going to come steal it!

Do you have any success stories, either stealing customers or maintaining your customer base? Share your stories below.

Now go get your social on!