Posts Tagged ‘customer service’

Respect Yourself


A re­cent Los Angeles Times busi­ness col­umn looked at a new com­pany called ReviewerCard that is­sues IDs to “pro­lific on­line re­view­ers” to pre­sum­ably help them get bet­ter ser­vice from ho­tels and restaurants.

According to the snake-oil sales­man “en­tre­pre­neur” be­hind this ven­ture, peo­ple who “post lots of re­views on web­sites such as Yelp or TripAdvisor don’t get enough re­spect from the busi­nesses they write about.”

Um, what?

A le­git­i­mate re­viewer does not ask for re­spect. They as­sume it will be given to them be­cause they are a cus­tomer. And if it isn’t, that will be re­flected in the re­view they write.

A le­git­i­mate re­viewer will not de­mand good ser­vice – they will ex­pect it. And if it is lack­ing, this too will be cap­tured in their review.

And a le­git­i­mate re­viewer will not an­nounce their pres­ence by wav­ing a card and de­mand out­stand­ing ser­vice or free up­grades. That’s not what re­view­ers do. It’s what ass­holes do.

I al­ways thought that the point of a good re­view is to re­main anony­mous so you DON’T get pref­er­en­tial treat­ment. That way, you can write a re­view that ac­cu­rately re­flects the ex­pe­ri­ence that every cus­tomer will get.

What the ReviewCard of­fers, in my opin­ion, is the op­por­tu­nity for sub­tle black­mail. By waiv­ing this card in a staff member’s face, you’re im­plic­itly say­ing “Give me pref­er­en­tial ser­vice or I will write a nasty re­view.” That is not how this re­view thing works.



Can’t get no sat­is­fac­tion? Try this.


Get Satisfaction bills it­self as a “di­rect con­nec­tion be­tween peo­ple and com­pa­nies that fos­ters problem-solving, pro­motes shar­ing, and builds up re­la­tion­ships.

Get Satisfaction was cre­ated as a place where cus­tomers and com­pa­nies can come to­gether to an­swer each oth­ers’ ques­tions: ques­tions about ship­ping, pric­ing, ful­fill­ment, the prod­uct it­self, and myr­iad other de­tails. By putting all of these con­ver­sa­tions in one place — and hold­ing noth­ing back — we’ve cre­ated a new way to not just han­dle cus­tomer ser­vice, but to ex­plore all the things we col­lec­tively love and hate about our fa­vorite prod­ucts and ser­vices, and the com­pa­nies that of­fer them. [Italics mine]

This hits all the cor­ner­stones of what good pub­lic re­la­tions are built on – re­la­tion­ships, con­ver­sa­tions, con­nec­tions. Sites like Get Satisfaction fa­cil­i­tate dis­cus­sion be­tween an or­ga­ni­za­tion and its publics. Where brand mes­sag­ing once flowed top-down, it is now a two-way discussion.

While most cor­po­ra­tions are wary of be­ing trans­par­ent, it is only a mat­ter of time be­fore trans­parency is thrust on them (if it hasn’t hap­pened al­ready). We are liv­ing in a time where con­ver­sa­tions are hap­pen­ing about com­pa­nies – doesn’t it make prac­ti­cal busi­ness sense for them to lis­ten, join in and learn from their customers?

Some al­ready do; it is not sur­pris­ing that the first ones on the band­wagon are or­ga­ni­za­tions op­er­at­ing in the so­cial me­dia space. Twitter, along with PBWiki and Seesmic, is just one of the com­pa­nies who “get it.” Twitter has 10 of­fi­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tives (in­clud­ing their chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer) and four em­ploy­ees “lis­ten­ing and par­tic­i­pat­ing.” Their pro­files also in­clude other ways to reach them: their blogs, Twitter or per­sonal websites.

Questions and prob­lems ap­pear to be an­swered rea­son­ably quickly. If they aren’t, the void is filled in by other users. So, not only are sites like Get Satisfaction fos­ter­ing dis­cus­sion be­tween com­pa­nies and their cus­tomers, com­mu­ni­ties of users are be­ing formed as well. Got a prob­lem? Chances are good that some­one will help you. If this doesn’t make you feel in­cluded, I don’t know what would.

(Side note: There have been heated dis­cus­sions on Get Satisfaction and other sites about a prob­lem posted by Ariel Waldman (“Twitter re­fuses to up­hold Terms of Service”). Twitter’s reps were en­gaged with Waldman from the be­gin­ning. Whether their de­ci­sion was right is de­bat­able and the sub­ject of an­other forum.)

The other com­pany I am fol­low­ing is Dell. Not that there’s much to fol­low. The com­pany has no of­fi­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tives. This is ironic since Dell has worked very hard to re­pair the dam­age their cus­tomer ser­vice suf­fered a few years back (any­body re­mem­ber DellHell?).

That isn’t to say they aren’t re­spon­sive; a prob­lem posted ear­lier this month was com­mented on by a Dell com­mu­nity li­ai­son for laptops:

My name is Bill Bivin, and I work at Dell. I am the Community Liaison for lap­tops. Has any­one at Dell yet re­solved this for you?

Why isn’t Bivin an of­fi­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tive? Why hasn’t Dell “spon­sored, en­dorsed, or joined the con­ver­sa­tion yet[?]”

Overall, the site is easy to nav­i­gate. Not only was I able to sign up within min­utes, I have even posted a few replies. (I dare any­body not to throw their two cents in on the Waldman is­sue af­ter read­ing all the posts.) Get Satisfaction also has po­ten­tial for other uses. For ex­am­ple, Twitter uses the site to up­date its users on shut­downs or other tech­ni­cal dif­fi­cul­ties. How about open­ing it up to not-for-profits, pro­fes­sional as­so­ci­a­tions or gov­ern­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions? Can you imag­ine post­ing a prob­lem about your garbage pickup or prop­erty taxes and hav­ing a city coun­sel­lor respond?

Get Satisfaction rep­re­sents a new kind of cus­tomer ser­vice – in­ter­ac­tive and dy­namic – that gives a pow­er­ful voice to consumers.

The peo­ple have spo­ken. And they ex­pect to be lis­tened to.

Update: Dell now has a rep­re­sen­ta­tive up on Get Satisfaction. (It’s a start.) Did I have any­thing to do with it? I’d like to think I played a small part.