Poor customer service goes viral

It should be obvious in a day and age with the Internet, YouTube, HD and video cameras, that poor customer service can be very costly to a company.  However, some of the old dinosaurs are a bit slow on the take.  This entertaining music video, “United Breaks Guitars”, was produced by a country singer who had a terrible experience on United Airlines.

As I watched the video, I couldn’t help but do a bit of math on the implications of such a viral production.  At the time of this blog post, more than 2.5 million people had viewed this music video on YouTube, and the bottom-line is that these 2.5 million people invested more than 11 million total minutes watching a negative message about United Airlines.  That is the same as 22 million 30 second commercials.  That is some serious negative PR!

I enjoyed the song and the video, and I can honestly say I will have a hard time getting the tune (and the message) out of my mind next time I have to consider United Airlines for a flight.  I am sure that at least half of the people that watched the viral video will have the same image stuck in their heads when they have to make a choice between United and other airlines.

Companies clearly have to get serious about treating their customers like gold, and this needs to start at the top of the organization and filter down to each and every employee.  In the video, Ms. Irlweg, a normal United employee, is singled out as the person that made the final decision on whether to solve this customer’s problem.  Today, she is infamous because of this video, and her decision turns out to have been pretty costly for United Airlines.

I recently purchased an Apple computer, and after a month or two, I had a tech problem.  I brought it into the Apple Store, and within 10 minutes, I walked out with a brand new laptop (with my old hard drive swapped into it).  The problem Apple fixed, for free and in minutes with a brand new laptop, was the type of problem that would have taken me a week to get fixed with Dell.  I was floored!  I could not believe the awesome customer experience from Apple, and at that moment, I officially converted to an Apple fan.  I have literally told everyone about the experience since that amazing customer service experience.

Although it was initially expensive for Apple to solve my customer service problem, I am 100% sure that their investment in me will pay off many times over in the coming months and years because of the positive word of mouth it created.

I am betting that this singer’s negative video on United Airlines will ultimately cost the company hundreds of times what it would have cost to simply solve this customer’s problem.  Can you imagine if United had solved this singer’s problem quickly,
without hassle, and with a smile?  What if they had surprised or
shocked him with their amazing customer service?  Perhaps he would have written a different song. “United Loves Guitars” has a much better ring to it.

What is the Most Cost Effective Marketing Channel for eCommerce Merchants? Email Marketing!

According to eMarketer, email marketing is still a very effective means of driving e-commerce.  The following is an excerpt from eMarketer’s article, "E-Mail Marketing Still Works"…

First, the good news: permission-based e-mail is great at getting consumers to buy.

Half of US adult e-mail users surveyed in April 2008 for Merkle‘s "View from the Inbox" study, conducted with Harris Interactive, said they had made an online purchase in the previous year as a result of permission-based marketing.

In addition, e-mail was second only to customer reviews on Web sites for influencing online purchases, according to DoubleClick Performics‘ "Green Marketing Study," conducted by Opinion Research Corporation in February 2008. E-mail was roughly equal to search results in terms of influencing online purchases.

SPAM emails are obviously a huge problem, but when consumers expect to receive an email from a merchant, they obviously open those emails and respond in a material manner.  Our experience suggests that email marketing is here to stay and in fact, is going to grow in importance for online merchants because there are few, if any, more cost effective ways to drive a sale than to market to your current and past customers via email.  Having said that, consumers are increasingly likely to stop doing business with a retailer if the retailer uses poor email practices.  Therefore, there is a huge opportunity here for merchants, but if done incorrectly, it can be costly. 

Make sure you understand email best practices.  EmailLabs has produced nice list of email best practices that might be helpful for you.

Once you have acquired your customers via more expensive channels like Paid Search Advertising, eBay, or CSEs, make sure you keep them buying from you on a consistent basis by offering them interesting offers via email.  This really is a no brainer.

Read more of the eMarketer article here >> E-Mail Marketing Still Works – eMarketer

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Daily Roundup for 2008-04-16

  • It’s a question marketers are still grappling with years after the first waves of corporate blogging flooded the web. But for better or worse, it seems corporate blogging — and the title of chief blogger — is beginning to hit its stride. Companies such as Coca-Cola, Marriott and Kodak all have recently recruited chief bloggers, with or without the actual title, to tell their stories and engage consumers.
  • These days, online consumers and companies are collaborating on a range of activities, including R&D, marketing and after-sales support.  Here are a few examples of how brands and consumers are working together online.

Continue reading “Daily Roundup for 2008-04-16”

Daily Roundup for 2008-04-14

  • Yahoo’s resistance to a takeover by Microsoft looks foolhardy to some investors and Wall Street analysts. But the push-back may prove effective in the end—at least by forcing the suitor to cough up a few more bucks a share.  Executives from Yahoo (YHOO) on Apr. 7 reiterated the reasons for their opposition. The $31-a-share offer, made public Feb. 1, "substantially undervalues" Yahoo, and its stock component is even less attractive in light of Microsoft’s (MSFT) slumping share price. "We have continued to launch new products and to take actions which leverage our scale, technology, people, and platforms as we execute on the strategy we publicly articulated," Yahoo Chief Executive Jerry Yang and Chairman Roy Bostock wrote.
  • Microsoft (MSFT) just dropped the bomb on Yahoo (YHOO). Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on Apr. 5 sent a letter giving Yahoo’s board three weeks before it initiates a proxy fight, including nomination of a new slate of directors likely to approve the deal.

Continue reading “Daily Roundup for 2008-04-14”

Daily Roundup for 2008-04-10

  • Even as some marketers rein in spending to hedge against further economic problems, search engine marketing (SEM) is in great shape—at least for the moment.  Search engine advertisers and agencies surveyed for the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO)-sponsored "2007 State of the Market" survey listed multiple reasons for the SEM spending growth, including advertiser demand, rising keyword and pay-per-click campaign costs, small-to-midsized business SEM use and increased behavioral and demographic targeting.  The study was conducted by Radar Research online using an IntelliSurvey panel.
  • Many job seekers are blithely unaware that their former employers all too often say things that can damage or halt their career prospects. Most of this is due to the erroneous belief that it’s somehow illegal to ask about things other than title and dates of employment during a reference check.  This is simply not true.  Today’s courts have literally invented a whole new body of law called "Employment Law." Bundled in this tangle of law is employment pre-screening, otherwise known as reference checking.

Continue reading “Daily Roundup for 2008-04-10”

101 Five-Minute Fixes to Improve Your Web Site

At buySAFE, our web site is one of our greatest assets.  It is the main avenue by which we communicate with prospective buyer and merchant customers, partners, the media, and investors.  It is the main tool we have for defining buySAFE for the rest of the world.  It is the vehicle we use for creating action with respect to our unique eCommerce trust and safety and advertising services. 

I spend a fair amount of my time thinking about how to better leverage this asset, and then working with my team to improve upon its utility.

Therefore, when I ran across this article, "101 Five-Minute Fixes to Incrementally Improve Your Web Site" by Inside CRM Editors, I thought you would enjoy it too.  Here are their first 10 web site improvement tips, and if you are interested in learning more, you should definitely click through to read their other 91 tips as well.

  1. Tell readers why they should perform a task. If your site is full of passive suggestions, toughen it up. People are trained to follow a request, as long as you give them a good reason to do it. 
  2. Make the most highly trafficked pages easier to scan. If your current site consists of large blocks of text, break it up so that it’s easier for the average Internet user to read. 
  3. Convey a sense of trust. If you’re experiencing skepticism, offer social proof like testimonials or risk-mitigating offers like a free trial. 
  4. Stress benefits. Ensure that your copy always shows users exactly how your site will benefit them. 
  5. Make headlines meaningful. Be sure to change any vague or cutesy headlines to something more up-front and meaningful. 
  6. Repeat yourself. Check over your copy to make sure that you’re really driving the point home by making it in a number of ways. 
  7. Tell visitors what to do. Revise your site to ensure that people know exactly what the next step is. If you want a visitor to click a link, tell them 
  8. Keep the reader engaged. Make sure that your current content gives visitors a reason to keep reading throughout the entire piece; otherwise, you need to spice things up a bit. 
  9. Stay consistent. Check your copy for consistency, or else your site may be seen as unstable or flighty. 
  10. Stay simple. Simplify your message simply to avoid confusing visitors, while at the same time improving conversion rates.

Read the other 91 web site improvement tips at "101 Five-Minute Fixes to Incrementally Improve Your Web Site" – Inside CRM >>>

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So You Want to Be a Blogging Star?

I have discovered the hard way that blogging is not an easy endeavor, and this is especially true for folks that have real jobs during the day.  At a minimum, it takes time, dedication, and creativity.  I have often wondered how to others do such a great job with their blogs while still maintaining excellence in their day jobs.  To that point, I thought this article was very interesting, and it included a number of practical tips for all of us aspiring bloggers.  I hope you find this useful as well.

MARK CUBAN, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, has a full plate. Besides his basketball team, the busy billionaire also owns part of a media company, and serves as chairman of the TV channel HDNet. He recently competed for five weeks on “Dancing With the Stars” on ABC. How on earth does he find time to blog?

Yet his site, blogmaverick.com, is one of the top 1,000 Weblogs, according to the search engine Technorati. Thousands read Mr. Cuban’s posts every single day. If he can do it, why can’t you?

Read more of "So You Want to Be a Blogging Star?" – New York Times >>>