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I am Bill Gelwick, Social Media Strategist, writer, marketing specialist and one of two founding partners at http://MuchSocial.com

Social Media has become quite the Buzzword in recent years, but there is a reason for that. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the new ABC, CBS and NBC.

Yes, I know everyone likes to focus on Social, but the other half of that is Media. These are still media channels, they just happen to support two way communication, which is the paradigm shift of our day.

Previously, Media meant being talked to. Now, it's a two way conversation. We have come to expect to be able to interact with a brand, and get response quickly. Studies show that Twitter users expect a response within 30 minutes when they engage a brand, especially with customer support issues.

Before, you could talk to the TV (You know you have done it), but it didn't' respond. @Reply to a tweet though, and you can get a response from someone in almost any company.

For business owners, this creates some challenges. How do you keep up with promotions on Social Media, managing customer service, generating quality content and still manage to actually operate your business?

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Bill Gelwick | AbdeelMarketing

Are You Putting the “Cuss” in CUSStomer Service?

Aug 24th 2010 at 8:49 PM

Common practice today seems to be ignoring customer service. Whenever you call your phone company, a tech support line, or the customer service department of any large retailer, many of them really know how to put the “Cuss” in CUSStomer Service. If you are an internet marketer, customer service should be your #1 priority. Customer service, in the past half century, has slowly become a lost art. Within the past 10 years, as more and more business is conducted via the internet, this phenomenon has only gotten worse. The lack of interpersonal contact makes it easier to let the customer service slide. To illustrate this, imagine you are in a large retail store and you ask an associate for assistance. The person may or may not be of much help, but at least you have their attention. Can you imagine asking that associate a question and they simply pretended not to hear you? That is exactly what is so common with internet customer service. Unreturned emails and phone calls have, sadly, become the norm.

There are retailers out there who get this concept. I have dealt with several people, from larger on-line retailers to eBay sellers, who practice excellent customer service. At times it seems they are few and far between, but they are out there. When you do find someone who delivers excellent customer service, please be sure to leave good feedback and/or reviews. These companies and individuals deserve our praise.

Surely you are not among the “Cuss” group. I bet you take really good care of your customers. Just to be sure, let’s take a look at who your customers are and how you are dealing with them.

Firstly, of course, anyone who has made a purchase of goods or services from you is definitely a customer. Examine how you treat that person after the sale. Do you follow up with them to ensure they are happy with their purchase? A simple follow-up email can make a big difference in the amount of repeat customers you see. This is also a great time to request feedback. Good feedback and/or testimonials are a tool many people use to build trust in an entity, especially on-line. With plenty of good feedback, you turn yourself from a faceless name on the internet into someone in which your customer can place their faith. Another consideration when dealing with existing customers is promoting future items to them. I know this one gets used a lot, but the money truly is “in the list”. However, misuse of this list can have a negative effect. Personally, I have opted in to thousands of things, and it amazes me how much volume comes from some of them. Many with whom I have registered, opted in or purchased, rarely ever promote anything. Still others send out emails daily, often times more than once a day. I would consider this “List Abuse”. Sure, it may work for a while, but eventually, people are going to get tired of it and start deleting your emails, if no opt out or send them to the spam folder. It is in the best interests of all not to abuse your list, but use it wisely.

A good number of companies are good at back-end customer service, with tech support, return policies, warranties and the like. Others are better at delivering good service during the actual selling phase. You can get all your questions answered promptly when you are looking to make a purchase, but after the purchase has been made, the support is no longer there. These people have forgotten you, the consumer, and moved on to making the next sale. This is particularly rampant with on-line retailers. I’m sure you have run across the type. They will tell you whatever you want to hear to make the sale, and then once the transaction is completed; they are nowhere to be found. On rare occasion, internet retailers accept payment and never send the merchandise. I actually experienced this once when trying to order a flat panel TV. As a consumer, do your research. As a merchant, be as transparent as possible and work at getting that positive feedback from your customers. CUSStomer service should not start after the sale. It does not even start at the point of making the sale.

True Customer Service begins when you start marketing to prospective customers. That’s right. Depending upon your business, your potential customers could be anyone in the world. With just a little over 6.5 billion people living on our planet, you could be looking at a very large audience. The trick is to start thinking from a customer service standpoint before you even start your marketing campaign, and let your campaign evolve from that mentality. There are the obvious things to avoid, such as spamming or misleading marketing, but there is more to it than that. For example, if you are using social media as a marketing platform (If not you should be), then you should be considerate of the people with whom you make contact. NEVER mention any product, service or referral program in your first contact with someone. It is a general rule of thumb not to mention them in wall posts or direct messages either. These methods of contact should be used for being sociable and building relationships. Leave the referral/affiliate links on your profile. If people find you interesting, they will likely visit your profile and find your links there. If someone asks you questions, then it is appropriate to respond through other methods.

I hope some of you find this helpful. As an internet marketer, I have come across a lot of poor etiquette. The internet is full of people who slam you with their "Latest Offer" on first contact. Often time people have no concern for you after you buy their product, at least not until they want to sell you something else. Sadly, these people can make anyone want to cuss, hence my title.

Don't be the one who put's the Cuss in CUSStomer service.

5 comments
Please to comment
Dec 7th 2010 at 12:48 PM by megadox
I couldn't agree more. Our business makes it our No. 1 Guiding Principle. A happy customer is a return customer, and they'll tell their friends.
   
Oct 22nd 2010 at 10:13 AM by AbdeelMarketing
You said it Chuck. Customer service is the single most important factor in business. Sadly, in today's society, it is the most overlooked area. Gone are the days when you could go into a store and find knowledgeable staff ready to assist with your needs. Even at the big box electronics stores, where you would think the employees would know a little something, they tend to be nothing more than glorified clerks. I suppose it is simply a matter of volume. As retail sales have climbed to astronomical proportions compared to 20, 30 or 50 years ago, you need to hire much more staff. The availability of informed sales professionals is not great enough to meet demand, especially when the pay is not good. It appears to be a part of life we must accept, but that doesnt' mean we have to like it.
   
Oct 22nd 2010 at 8:40 AM by ChuckBartok
The only products any businesses or services have is SERVICE. Many people will switch gas stations for a penny a gallon difference. But I have shown Clients that by providing Impeccable Service, Delivering MORE they can continue to Grow and prosper without Lowering prices. Of course there are limit. Wallace Wattles stated it so well over 100 years ago: "Always deliver more REAL Value than ever Received in CASH Value"
   
Oct 12th 2010 at 11:35 AM by smithmamie
Good article! Thanks.
   
Sep 15th 2010 at 8:54 PM by deewest
Great Article! I agree! Best Wishes
   

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