Sunday, August 22

Considering Customers: Fresh Content Project

When you really stop to think about it, most customer communication is remarkably backwards. Most of it seems to run contrary to face-to-face communication. Sure, when customers call or are standing at a counter, customer service agents tend to ask questions. Did you find everything okay? Can I help you? What else can I do to make your stay with us better?

Take these same organizations online and all the questions evaporate. Suddenly, every customer contact becomes: let me tell you more about me, my product, my organization, and how great we are. The same holds true when the media calls. Questions are quickly answered with statements: let me tell you more about us, our policies, and what it is we want you to know.

It's weird. And I'm not the only who thinks so. All five of these posts carry a warning against making the conversation about "you" when it really ought to be about "them." Imagine what might happen if more of this communication focused on serving customers instead of the organization.

Best Fresh Content In Review, Week of August 2

• Emotions, Trust, and Control at the Heart of the Customer Experience.
Valeria Maltoni shares some insights on how service organizations can make customer experiences more positive by considering how CRM can create a customer advantage. Among the points: professional appearance, clear communication, active involvement, likability, willingness to take the high road, and follow up can all contribute to better customer service. But most importantly, she also reiterates that setting customer expectation is invaluable. It sets a foundation for stated excellence.

5 Reasons Why No One Is Reading Your Email Newsletter.
Sean D'Souza pulls out all the stops in pinpointing why many e-newsletters aren't read. His list of reasons include that the information isn't helpful, the voice isn't compelling, they don't tell any stories, they don't have a specific frequency, and they contain half-hearted calls to action. All of his points are true, with several that overlap. For example, many of the e-newsletters I receive talk mostly about themselves without any attempt to sell anything. No surprise, agency newsletters are among the worst. Most recap how great they are, demonstrate how little they understand about the tips they share, and never provide anyone a compelling reason to call them. After three issues like that, we mark them spam but the agency won't even know it.

Community Is About People And Interest, Not Technology And URLs.
Almost every ad agency, public relations firm, and social media consultant sells social on its ability to create a community. Then, they go out of their way to fill Web sites and social networks with people who never visit again. Why? They don't know anything about building an online community. Francois Gossieaux understands this fact well enough, reminding organizations that people are less interested in them than some common interest between them and the product or service. Exactly.

JetBlue – Right Things, Wrong Ways.
So, some flight attendant has a meltdown, berates a passenger, steals some beer, and jumps down an inflatable slide to exit the plane. For most companies, this is a no-brainer crisis communication scenario. Unfortunately, JetBlue isn't most companies. Its track record for crisis communication sucks. This time around, it turns the flight attendant into a folk hero and ends up eating crow. Mike Schaffer picks up two of the most obvious mistakes — waiting the next day to suspend the attendant and commenting that they "weren't going to comment." Ho hum.

Do Websites Still Matter?
Using an article by Pete Blackshaw, editor of Advertising Age Mobile, Shane Kinkennon addresses the growing trend that most organizations are using their Web sites as a home base and their outreach on rented space. Kinkennon reinforces the idea that the problem isn't the Web site as much as it is the communication most organizations put up on their Web sites. It's generally not engaging, participatory, or helpful beyond recapping product specs and providing contact information. It's a good point. Web sites will matter, assuming they do something other than talk exclusively about the organization.

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