October 23, 2014

Monday Musings: Video, News, and a Question

Today’s post has my first video with my new, fun video camera the Flip Minoin addition to some news to share and a question for my smart readers (that’s you!).  Speaking of Flip, welcome to new readers who have come over from Jim Kukral’s blog (he does a show called The Daily Flip), where he did a podcast interview with me called Do You Have Happy Customers?  If you like what you read here at Customers Rock!, please subscribe to my blog.  Thanks!  Now, on with today’s post.

 

Customer Engagement at FreshBooks

A while back, I wrote about how FreshBooks was engaging customers by taking a roadtrip to a conference in an RV. Along the way, they stopped and had breakfast, lunch, and dinner with their customers.  Very cool.  I was thrilled to be invited to one of their customer dinners when they made a recent stop here in San Diego, CA.  Saul sent me an email and asked if I could join them (I am a FreshBooks customer, too!).  We had a wonderful meal at Buca di Beppo, which serves Italian food family-style on big platters for sharing.  A perfect venue for customers to come together, break bread, and get to know each other.  We swapped stories about our business, about the San Diego economy, and about our new friends at FreshBooks.

The dinner attendees were kind enough to let me take a very short video with my cool new tiny camera (it is smaller than my Blackberry!) around the table, just so you, my readers, could get a feel for this group.  One customer, a friend of mine, was a little shy with the first pass, but he was willing to show his face moments later (see photo above). 

It was a very fun dinner, and I left with both an appreciation for what FreshBooks is doing to engage customers as well as some new friends.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about the video!  The Flip Minois really easy to use, and I think the resolution is pretty good (I promise, my videography skills will improve…).

News: Cool Customer Engagement Event

If you live on the East Coast, or want to head out there in November, you should check out the upcoming Customer Engagement and Loyalty Summit in Miami.  It is taking place November 17-19 and is focused on taking you beyond creating customer loyalty programs to helping you build customer strategies.  Sessions include looking at customer experience in a low-cost environment (Alaska Airlines), learning how Word of Mouth and WOW service go together (Zappos.com), and a panel on quantifying the benefits of customer loyalty to your CFO (lead by Best Buy).  It looks to be a great event.  Readers of my blog can get a 2 for 1 discount if they mention this code: IUS_CR_001.  If you go, let me know what you think of the event.  It sounds great!

Question: Blogging and Customer Service

My good friend Mack Collier asked a great question on Twitter the other day, and I told him I would re-post it here (as so many of you are focused on customer service). Mack is looking for examples of companies that are using their blog for customer service.  I can think of companies that try to share best practices about using their product in their blog, such as ConstantContact, and also companies that answer frequently asked questions via their blog, such as Sony Playstation’s blog.  If your company is doing this, or if you have seen a good example, please send me email to becky at petraconsultinggroup dot com or leave a comment here at Customers Rock!  I will share all the responses I get and link to you, too!  Thanks for your help!

(Photo credits: B. Carroll, piksel)

Re-Experiencing Starbucks: Update 5 – MyStarbucksIdea

paper-cutouts.jpg Part 5 of the Re-Experiencing Starbucks project with Jay Ehret.  Read Jay’s latest post chronicling his recent trip to Brazil and the contrast between Brazilian coffee houses and Starbucks (what a contrast!).   Obrigada, Jay!  (Thank you, in Portuguese.)

Shortly after my last Starbucks update, Starbucks announced “…new strategic initiatives to transform and innovate the customer experience” at their shareholder meeting.  For a quick run-down of those ideas, see Jay Ehret’s post on the announcement.  For a more in-depth analysis of those ideas, and whether they will really impact the customer, see John Moore’s post.

Controversy

The most controversial initiative is Starbucks foray into the world of social media: MyStarbucksIdea.  Launched about 10 days ago, it is a website where customers can go to share ideas for improving Starbucks, vote on ideas from other customers, and then hear back from Starbucks on which ideas they are considering and/or taking on board.  There are a group of Starbucks partners (employees) who are responding to and interacting with these ideas on the site. 

Is It the Right Thing?

From reading several blog posts on this subject since the launch of MyStarbucksIdea, many bloggers seem to feel this is merely a PR move for Starbucks.  To get a feel for who is griping about it and who likes it, see the AdAge article citing references to MyStarbucksIdea from both camps.  Mack Collier of The Viral Garden wrote a great post comparing MyStarbucksIdeas to Dell’s IdeaStorm.  Mack writes,

“The name is different, but Starbucks has unveiled a new suggestion site that looks an awful lot like Dell’s Ideastorm community. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.”

I agree, Mack!  Dell’s community has been very good at getting their customers to engage and present new lines of thinking.  Dell has been very good at listening to them and responding quickly.

We can spend a lot of time debating whether this was a good idea for Starbucks or whether they went about it the right way.  It may even have been better for them to engage with customers by doing more listening and commenting through other mechanisms that already exist.  Mack goes on to say something similar in his next post on the subject of Starbucks and customer engagement:

“What would be more effective for Starbucks, to start the MyStarbucksIdea where 48 Starbucks employees attempt to engage Starbucks customers via the site, or to have those same 48 employees attempt to engage SBUX customers OFF the site, a la Richard Binhammer? I would lean toward having 48 employees reach out to customers online in THEIR space if those 48 did even half as well in engaging and responding to customers as Richard does.”

What is the Goal?

Perhaps it depends on the goal of this new online community for Starbucks.  Lately, I have been reading my advance copy of Charlene Li and Josh Bernhoff’s fabulous new book Groundswell(review coming soon here on Customers Rock!), and in it they discuss five goals for companies that want to engage with customers via social media: listening, talking, energizing, supporting, and embracing.  I have assumed Starbucks created MyStarbucksIdea for some combination of listening to customers as well as for co-creating (embracing in Groundswell terminology) with customers.  

Starbucks can easily listen in to customer conversations many places online (and offline) to understand what customers want.  They can also engage in many places online to continue a conversation.  By creating the MyStarbucksIdea site, Starbucks sets the expectation that they want to enable a conversation, join in, and connect customers with each other.  Charlene makes a suggestion on her blog that Starbucks should better close the loop on these interactions.  She says,

“Close the loop, and you’ve not only got me hooked, but I’ll walk the extra block in NYC or drive the extra mile to go to you rather than another coffee house.”  

When I started this “Re-experiencing Starbucks” project with Jay Ehret, I sent feedback to Starbucks via their website, some good and some not.  They responded to the good but ignored the rest.  Hopefully on “their turf”, they will be open to all ideas and close the loop on the feedback they are receiving.

Customers are being very active on the site, adding quite a few ideas and doing a lot of voting on others.  The main ideas on the site right now are dominated with requests for free “loyalty” drinks as well as free WiFi.  These are consistent with some of the pain points expressed by customersin a recent global survey, highlighted by Meikah over at Customer Relations, where price was the number one pain point.  Perhaps once Starbucks gets past these long-desired customer concerns, the conversation will blossom into other areas as yet unexplored. 

What do you think?

Go check out the site and let me know what you think.  Is this site a good way for Starbucks to keep an ear open to customer requests?  Will it be effective for co-creating with customers?  Do you think it will succeed?

Starbucks – are you listening?

Related Customers Rock! posts in the Re-Experiencing Starbucks project series:

Re-Experiencing Starbucks

Part 2: Transformation Starting

Part 3: The Training

Part 4: Little Things

Marketing Like a Rock-Star

rock-crowd.jpg Anyone who has ever been to a rock concert has felt the excitement in the air.  Fans are wild about the band’s music, especially when a favorite song is played.  Rock-stars can amass quite a loyal following!

Mack Collier of The Viral Garden has written a great post about how to take some of a rockstars “secrets” and apply it to your marketing.  Here are the six main themes of his post (be sure to go read it first!), along with some of my additional thoughts.

- Join in with your customer community.  Be a fan of your own company and products/services.  Do you use your own products and services?  You need to be part of the community conversation around your offerings.  A great idea is to try and hire some of your fans to work for you!  Coldwater Creek reached out to its loyal customers who live near their retail stores to get extra help for the holiday season.  What better way to ensure your customers are talking to raving fans?!

- View your company and products the way your customers do.  It is too easy to use corporate lingo and assume our customers will “get it.”  We need to look at our company using customer lenses.  This will help us understand what our customers see in our offerings, how they talk about it, and what motivates them to buy and use our products or services.

- Empower your fans to market on  your behalf.  A strong customer strategy will build up customer relationships to the point where customers become outgoing advocates for your company and products.  There have been many reports lately on customer trust which state consumers in particular trust what others have to say about a product more than what that company has to say.  If you are involved in your customer community and are using their lingo/way of thinking, creating customer advocates will be a natural outcome.

- Give customers input, and listen to it.  Engaged customers have a lot of great ideas for product or service improvements.  This is a good area to use social media in order to create ongoing conversations around products.  Just be sure to let customers know their input was heard!

- Have fun with your marketing – and your customers!  Mack gives some great examples here of companies who know how to make their marketing fun for all involved.  Do it in a respectful way, and you could really get customers talking!  How about this idea from David Polinchock over at Experience Manifesto blog on the Volvo “human joystick” game played at movie theaters – by all the patrons at the same time!  Here is a video of the experience:

Finally, use your community like Threadless does.  Mack gives some great examples of this in his rockin’ post, so go check it out if you haven’t already!

Music definitely has raving fans.  Your company can, too, when you decide to talk with your customers instead of talking at them.  Listen to their needs, and create your products and services in such a way that your customers can customize your offerings for themselves.  Hire great people who have a positive customer service attitude and who love your products.  You will then be on your way to having a Customers Rock! company.

(Photo credit: solarseven)

Holiday Reading List: Outstanding Blogs

friends.jpg About this time last year, Mack Collier, blogger extraordinaire, started a list of blogs that were not yet well-read but deserved more attention (this is per Mack – great speaking with you the other day, BTW!!).  I was honored to be one of the original 5 on the Z-list:

Shotgun Marketing Blog
BrandSizzle
bizsolutionsplus
Customers Rock!
Being Peter Kim

The Z-list then went all over the world, and it is hard to say where the final list is these days.  A good, comprehensive listing of great blogs to read over the holidays can be found in the Z-list wiki, put together by Gavin Heaton.  It lists the name of the blog, the author, the location of the author, a category for the blog, and a short description.

Fast forward to this year.  Troy Worman has come up with his list of Outstanding Blogs, or O! Blogs for short.  This list has some overlap with the Z-list, but there are also many new blogs that I hadn’t seen before.  Thanks for the Christmas reading list, Troy!

Here is the O! Blogs list (taken from Drew McLellan’s version), along with some of my favorites at the top:

Becky’s adds:

CustomerU

Experienceology

The Marketing Blog

Shaping Youth

Communication Overtones

They Talk Back

Troy’s list:

  1. 100 Bloggers
  2. 37 Days
  3. 3i
  4. 43 Folders
  5. A Clear Eye
  6. A Daily Dose of Architecture
  7. The Agonist
  8. All Things Workplace
  9. All This Chittah Chattah
  10. Angela Maiers
  11. Antonella Pavese
  12. Arizona High Tech
  13. A Writer’s Words, An Editor’s Eye
  14. Badger Blogger
  15. Bailey WorkPlay
  16. Being Peter Kim
  17. Brett Trout
  18. Best of Mother Earth
  19. Beyond Madison Avenue
  20. Biz and Buzz
  21. Bizhack
  22. BizSolutions Plus
  23. Blog Business World
  24. Bloggers Showroom
  25. Blogging for Business
  26. Blogher
  27. Blog Till You Drop!
  28. Bob Sutton
  29. Brain Based Business
  30. Brains on Fire
  31. Brand Autopsy
  32. The Brand Builder Blog
  33. Branding and Marketing
  34. Branding Strategy
  35. Brand is Language
  36. BrandSizzle
  37. Brandsoul
  38. Bren Blog
  39. Business Evolutionist
  40. Business Management Life
  41. Business Pundit
  42. Business Services, Etc.
  43. Busy Mom
  44. Buzz Canuck
  45. Buzz Customer
  46. Buzzoodle
  47. Career Intensity
  48. Carpe Factum
  49. Casual Fridays
  50. Change Your Thoughts
  51. Chaos Scenario
  52. Cheezhead
  53. Chief Happiness Officer
  54. Chris Brogan
  55. Christine Kane
  56. Church of the Customer
  57. Circaspecting
  58. CK’s Blog
  59. Come Gather Round
  60. Community Guy
  61. Confident Writing
  62. Conversation Agent
  63. Converstations
  64. Cooking for Engineers
  65. Cool Hunting
  66. Core77
  67. Corporate Presenter
  68. Crayon Writer
  69. Creating a Better Life
  70. Creating Passionate Users
  71. Creative Think
  72. CRM Mastery
  73. Crossroads Dispatches
  74. Cube Rules
  75. Culture Kitchen
  76. Customers Are Always
  77. Customer Service Experience
  78. Customer Service Reader
  79. Customers Rock!
  80. Custserv
  81. Craig Harper
  82. Daily Fix
  83. Dawud Miracle
  84. Dave Olson
  85. David Airey
  86. David Maister
  87. David S Finch
  88. Design Your Writing Life
  89. Digital Common Sense
  90. Director Tom
  91. Diva Marketing
  92. Do You Q
  93. Duct Tape Marketing
  94. Empowerment 4 Life
  95. The Engaging Brand
  96. Essential Keystrokes
  97. Every Dot Connects
  98. Experience Architect
  99. Experience Curve
  100. Experience Matters
  101. Extreme Leadership
  102. Eyes on Living
  103. Feld Thoughts
  104. Flooring the Customer
  105. Fouroboros
  106. FutureLab
  107. Genuine Curiosity
  108. Glass Half Full
  109. The Good Life
  110. Great Circle
  111. Greg Verdino’s Marketing Blog
  112. Hee-Haw Marketing
  113. Hello, My Name is BLOG
  114. Holly’s Corner
  115. Homeless Family
  116. The Idea Dude
  117. I’d Rather be Blogging
  118. Influential Marketing
  119. Innovating to Win
  120. Inspiring & Empowering Lives
  121. Instigator Blog
  122. Jaffe Juice
  123. Jibber Jobber
  124. Joyful Jubilant Learning
  125. Joy of Six
  126. Kent Blumberg
  127. Kevin Eikenberry
  128. Learned on Women
  129. Life Beyond Code
  130. Lip-sticking
  131. Listics
  132. The Lives and Times
  133. Live Your Best Life
  134. Live Your Inspiration
  135. Living Light Bulbs
  136. Logical Emotions
  137. Logic + Emotion
  138. Make It Great!
  139. Making Life Work for You
  140. Management Craft
  141. Managing with Aloha
  142. The M.A.P. Maker
  143. The Marketing Excellence Blog
  144. Marketing Headhunter
  145. Marketing Hipster
  146. The Marketing Minute
  147. Marketing Nirvana
  148. Marketing Roadmaps
  149. Marketing Through the Clutter
  150. Mary Schmidt
  151. Masey
  152. The Media Age
  153. Micropersuasion
  154. Middle Zone Musings
  155. Miss604
  156. Moment on Money
  157. Monk at Work
  158. Monkey Bites
  159. Movie Marketing Madness
  160. Motivation on the Run
  161. My 2 Cents
  162. My Beautiful Chaos
  163. Naked Conversations
  164. Neat & Simple Living
  165. New Age 2020
  166. New Charm School
  167. Next Up
  168. No Man’s Blog
  169. The [Non] Billable Hour
  170. Note to CMO
  171. Office Politics
  172. Optimist Lab
  173. The Origin of Brands
  174. Own Your Brand
  175. Pardon My French
  176. Passion Meets Purpose
  177. Pause
  178. Peerless Professionals
  179. Perfectly Petersen
  180. Personal Branding
  181. The Podcast Network
  182. The Power of Choice
  183. Practical Leadership
  184. Presentation Zen
  185. Priscilla Palmer
  186. Productivity Goal
  187. Pro Hip-Hop
  188. Prosperity for You
  189. Purple Wren
  190. QAQnA
  191. Qlog
  192. Reveries
  193. Rex Blog
  194. Ririan Project
  195. Rohdesign
  196. Rothacker Reviews
  197. Scott H Young
  198. Search Engine Guide
  199. Servant of Chaos
  200. Service Untitled
  201. Seth’s Blog
  202. Shards of Consciousness
  203. Shotgun Marketing
  204. Simplenomics
  205. Simplicity
  206. Slacker Manager
  207. Slow Leadership
  208. Socially Adept
  209. Social Media Marketing Blog
  210. Spare Change
  211. Spirit in Gear
  212. Spooky Action
  213. Steve’s 2 Cents
  214. Strategic Design
  215. Strength-based Leadership
  216. StickyFigure
  217. Studentlinc
  218. Success Begins Today
  219. Success Creeations
  220. Success From the Nest
  221. Successful Blog
  222. Success Jolt
  223. Talk to Strangers
  224. Tammy Lenski
  225. Tell Ten Friends
  226. That Girl from Marketing
  227. Think Positive!
  228. This Girl’s Weblog
  229. Thoughts & Philosophies
  230. Tom Peters
  231. Trust Matters
  232. Verve Coaching
  233. Viral Garden
  234. Waiter Bell
  235. Wealth Building Guy
  236. What’s Next
  237. Writers Notes
  238. You Already Know this Stuff
  239. Zen Chill

(Photo credit: elnur)