Key Advice Blog

Posts Tagged ‘customer service

As social media enters a new age becoming more mainstream, Twitter is now swimming with the current and providing users with the much-needed analytics they have wanted. Other social media platforms, Facebook for one, have realised the importance of facts about usage to companies and organisations investing in social media marketing. But, what are people ‘twittering’ about this new move.

Social Small Biz refer to it as ‘Twitter (finally) rolls out analytics‘, hinting that they have come to the analysing table late. However, they do pat them on the back for serving up access to archived stats going back thirty-one days – a big improvement, and an obvious response to users’ appetite for detail.

Mashable.com reports that although a number of third-party sites have been filling this void, some at a charge, Twitter will provide their analytics services for free.

Information Week’s technology news section reports on the key partnerships Twitter has made recently to enable it to provide its clients with the tools to listen to their clients – and therefore completing the information gathering and reporting circle.

Although still in the testing stage, Twitter is listening to its clients, and leading by example. Let’s hope this over due service is over the top and wows the millions who have committed to Twitter.

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There is nothing like a trip abroad to experience the vast range of customer service in the travel industry – and draw comparisons. You can get everything from the brilliant to the beastly all within a few metres of each other. My trips to Canada usually involve a connection in Toronto with everything from several hours to minutes between flights! There is one thing that stands out – those companies and employees willing to go the extra mile delivering customer service.

Recently, faced with a 8 hour delay between flights, I booked (online) a spa time-out at the Sheraton Toronto Airport. When I arrived, after a delicious lunch service, I was met by a quizzical look from the check in staff saying the spa, which rented space from them was under new ownership and rennovations. I explained I had booked it via a link on their website, had received a confirmation and was disappointed. The young lady on staff quickly started calling neighbouring hotels, booked me into another (Delta) hotel’s spa and arranged free limo service for me. Now that’s above and beyond. 

Meanwhile, back in the airport, Thomas Cook staff showed me the other end of the customer service spectrum. I was refused the option to change my seat at check in, after being told that that is where I’d have to do it, when I asked upon departure. Staff told me I’d have to ask at the desk in the departures lounge. That woman rudely told me no. So after being bounced from one desk to another, even though I paid for my seat alocation, not only was I refused the option to change, I refused in a rude manner.

Perhaps they Thomas Cook ground staff need to walk across the road to the Sheraton check-in desk and see how it can be done. In the same amount of time, with the same amount of energy. And, now the Sheraton have a postive review on TripAdvisor, Facebook, Twitter and here.

It’s only a short trip from customer complaint to customer cudos – and it’s worth it.

Relationship Marketing

10 Customer Service Tips

We are nearly at the longest day of the year, and for many it may be long past the time when they should give their web sites an assessment and refresh. It may be a bit like not being able to see the forest for the trees. The best way to get good quality perspective and advice is secure the services of a professional web editor to give you fresh insights. But, whether you are doing it yourself, or drawing up a plan for your advisor to follow, these ten items provide a great guide.

Key Advice’s Top Ten Website Assessment Criteria

1. Effective navigation
2. Efficient – fast links
3. Engaging – look and content
4. E-commerce – functional
5. Encourages interactivity
6. Easy access for all
7. E-branding – strong consistent
8. Expectations met
9. Easy to learn – for admins and users
10. E- media – social, video, audio, pics galleries

A good website assessment involves technical assessment, user surveys and comparison data with similar sites. It looks at all the site design and content management platforms available. Budgets and human resources are evaluated. Then it is all mixed together and a strategy developed. Taking the time to ask users is so valuable. They see the trees and the forest. It’s important to think of website visitors as clients – even if you may not see them face-to-face.

Integrating social media  is a must. Read Top Tips blog highlighting top recommendations made at the 21st Century Communications master class last week, featuring Enterprise Nation’s Emma Jones. Social media is now mainstream marketing – as important as a website itself.

Don’t forget to consult the World Wide Web Consortium, W3C, for tips and tools to make sure your website meets universal accessibility standards. One of the most important, and often looked over or given minor emphasis,  is putting your content in plain language to make sure users understand.

Yes, it’s a jungle out there. But like an adventurer, having a mapped out plan is critical. Consulting experts, who have been there before, can generate some excellent tips. And, taking it one step at a time, can help you enjoy the experience and get positive feedback from users. After all, that’s who we are going through this for!

Building a new website from scratch, re-developing an existing one, or integrating new online platforms can be one of the most daunting tasks – and one of the most costly – for many organisations. But, that’s only if they don’t apply the 3 Ts of web project management: team work, targets and transparency.

Team Work

Few organisational projects affect the number of employees and stakeholders as a change to your web presence. So team work is critical. You need to establish a team of key players and get them to agree on shared goals. You need a team leader who knows technology, but also knows project management and has excellent communications skills.

The key members of the team must include senior management, ITC, marketing, customer services, and finance representatives. It is important that all members are promoting the development across the organisation and getting ideas from their staff on what could be incorporated into your new site.

The team may not always agree on how things should be done on a micro-level, but they must agree on the key targets of the project.

Targets

Set clear, realistic and agreed upon targets. Include budget limitations, as this can be the main factor that undermines the project. Communicate to all key players and make it clear you won’t accept overspends. Set tight but realistic timelines, andallow for delays (any project can have them).  Make sure resources (human, financial, time) match the goals. Set at least three key dates for evaluation of targets against project development. Web development is a fluid process, stick to your goals and don’t be distracted by new developments in technology. You will be going through the same process in a couple of year’s time.

Transparency

It is easy to find stories about web project disasters. Running behind schedule, over budget and missing key targets are common complaints. A strong project plan, with buy in from all key parties, will be your best insurance against delays and disasters. Put in place a plan for problem solving – you’d be naive to think there won’t be any. Involve a neutral negotiator if you need to. Keeping the team together and the project on target are the cornerstones of success – but transparency on all levels is the cross beam which will give the project the strenght it needs to succeed.

Of all the projects an organisation can go through, this is one where a consultant, with web development experience, may be a wise investment. It’s not a skill that is a given in employees. And, it is important to have that mix of technical, teamwork and troubleshooting expertise on your side.

Go in with a strong project foundation, build your new online presence, and once you celebrate your successful launch, get ready to look at it again – soon.

Tech Republic – Tips for successful web project management

Econsultancy –Web Project Management Training

It’s spring, and with it comes cleaning – on many levels. There are a lot of things to distract us – the election, the economy, the garden. Now is a great time to spring clean your web presence. Maybe your website needs a new look. Or, perhaps your blog content and images need dusting off. Do you need a fresh approach to your social media posts? Here is a check list to help you make a focussed start.

How can I improve my website design?

All websites need to have a new look now and again. Check out top websites you like, and note what they are doing. Is it graphics? Is it a lighter look? Or have they added some new features? Make your wish list, and put some resources behind it. After all, you probably regularly update the look of printed material, why not your web products as well. It will make people stop and look.

What  can I do to refresh my content?

Who looks after updating content and images on your websites? Do they need help? Would a new eye give them some fresh ideas. What about a brainstorming session? Users want current content to read, new images to look at and a sense that the site is alive. Develop up-to-date news, advice and links for them. Consider a guest author, helpful links, some testimonials. Take the time to find out specifically what your website visitors want to see on your site. Then deliver the goods. You’ll be appreciated.

Do I have enough interactive options?

Today’s web users are much more sophisticated and have an increased appetite for interactivity. Facebook, Twitter, forums and blogs have provided an online buffet of options for sharing ideas, information and opinions. We need to keep feeding online clients to ensure they keep coming back. Bring Twitter or Facebook feeds into your site. Run a poll (perhaps wait a week or two, people may be polled-out after the election). Check all comments about your services and products and respond promptly. Visitors will appreciate that you took the time to ask.

Invest some time and resources into your online presence – and reap the rewards. Look at how you can integrate e-marketing into your main strategy. Identify new ways to keep your online presence current, refreshed and full of the features your clients want.  A bit of accessorising can re-energise your online presence and have everyone feeling better about what they are seeing – and talking about you in a positive way.

Campaigning is advertising.  And advertising is a key part of public relations.It’s all about customer service – and when it goes wrong, it goes very, very wrong. So how do you make it right?

As we saw with Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s awful mic-is-still-on mistake yesterday, which resulted in him insulting a loyal client by calling her a ‘bigot’, silence is golden. The old adage ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all’ rings true. But, there are golden PR rules, as Social Small Business points out, that we should all try to measure up to.

These are Social Small Business’s four key questions to test your advertising for customer service PR:

They ask:” Does it:

“Peak the interest of the right customers?

Reflect the organization’s values/mission?

Prompt wanted action?

Reassure existing customers?”

They go on to discuss issues like relationship building. It is obvious this one little word, in this over-heard by the world comment by Mr Brown, has had a huge effect on the client, him, his organisation and it’s future. It’s a big price to pay, but PR errors are costly. It’s what makes organisation’s accountable to their clients.

Try this test on your advertising. It’s a very good measuring tool. And don’t forget – turn your mic off or act as if it is always on. That’s a win-win combo.

From Twitter:

@PaulEastonAssoc Who was Browns PR yesterday? ‘Mic Off’ is a golden rule as soon as they come off-camera. Ask Ron Atkinson. #Brown #Bigot

According to AV Interactive , and many media reports, the need to continue doing business during the volcanic ash air travel crisis ‘erupted’ in a boom of 100% growth for some video conferencing vendors! There’s a message there.

In need of an expert blogger for my Web Design evening class in the UK, I will be bringing in blogger Craig McGinty, of thisfrenchlife.com fame, to inspire the class about blogging. Craig will share insights, from his location in France,  into how to do it, best practices and tips for making a living blogging. We’ll be using Skype.

Video links are green, offer inexpensive alternatives to face-to-face meetings and great flexibility. The growth in webinars – both for learning, sharing information and marketing are proof positive this medium is a great – but under-used resource.

With programs like Jing offering desktop, fingertip options for adding visuals to online conversations or presentations (thanks for that tip Kay Hebbourn), there is no excuse not to follow the video conferencing crowd!

Think of what you can save and earn!


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