Saturday

Ho! Ho! Ho! Track Santa with His Crew at Norad - Merry Christmas!

Track Santa with me? The NORAD Tracks Santa (NTS) program has been around for a long time; since 1955 to be exact! While NORAD has the history and the necessary technology to track Santa, the NTS program spends only minimal government funds.
So, how do they do it? The NTS program is funded through generous contributions from corporate contributors. Everything from computer servers, web site design, video imaging, Santa's tracking map, and telephone services are donated.

Wednesday

50 Good Customer Service & Marketing Strategies For 2012

It's good to know others mirror the thoughts I've written in my books over the years. I'm not sure if Andrew had read anything I've written, but his guest post below make me feel secure that the drum I've been beating for close to a decade is being heard by someone!

This comprehensive guide on ecommerce customer service will teach you how to improve your customer service strategy without altering the structure of your business. It also helps illustrate just how much money you can make from your existing customer base with great customer service.

50 Good Ecommerce Customer Service Strategies

1. Offer a monthly product giveaway to customers that sign up for your newsletter.
2. Offer coupons to your customers for writing a seller review.
3. Add coupons & promotions in your e-mail marketing. Don't have an e-mail marketing strategy set up? You need one.
4. If possible, work to offer same day shipping for customers that need their items in a hurry.
5. Increase your call center hours to take into account extremely early and late orders.
6. Offer free return shipping for a limited time to see if that added feature builds confidence in your customers and leads to more conversions.
7. Give customers the ability to have their items sent gift wrapped, or to purchase their item with gift wrapping for them to wrap themselves.
8. Offer gift cards to your customers so they can easily share your website with others.
9. Implement live chat. Live chat can greatly decrease the number of abandoned carts at your webstore.
Great Live Chat Customer Service Example by Zappos
10. Give a coupon to each customer that signs up for your weekly newsletter.
11. Let customers apply to become a ‘product tester’ where they get your products for free in exchange for writing about them on blogs and linking back to your website.
12. Throwing a video-submission contest using your products and rewarding the winner, then use those videos for your own marketing.
13. Provide product recommendations or similar items to customers below the items they're interested in to make it easier for customers to find items that work well in sets, and to increase average order volume. Sweetwater does a great job of this:
Customer Service Idea #13: Provide Product Recommendations to your Customers

14. Be upfront with shipping and tax costs. No one likes hidden charges.
15. Invest into your site navigation and search functions. Customers who can't find an item they're looking for quickly is one of the major causes of a high bounce rate.
16. Start a review contest. Whoever writes a review gets entered to win a drawing of $1,000. Roots Canada has a great example below:Customer Service Strategy #16: Start a Review Contest17. Create a blog where you show off your expertise about your products and interact with your customers.
18. Start a Twitter & Facebook page and promote it on site to share deals and listen to your customers.
19. Throw a Holiday-inspired contest where a winner receives a gift package or makeover of their house with your products. To be entered into your contest you can have users sign up for your newsletter or fill out a short questionnaire.
20. Display McAfee, Better Business Bureau or VeriSign secure badges.
21. Include a personable About Us page. Here’s a great example: Customer Service Tip #21, Include a personalized about us page.
22. Lower shopping cart confusion. Use one of these tools for help: http://www.getelastic.com/8-quick-n-dirty-tools-to-beat-site-abandonment-this-holiday/
23. Increase your return policy time table to increase customer confidence.
24. Give coupons to customers that share their purchases on Facebook. Shopon.com provides a tool to help you do just that.
25. Display positive seller reviews and testimonials on your home page.
26. Personalize your brand beyond your About Us page with interviews and op-eds from your staff. Show off your expertise of your products.
27. Offer delivery estimates so your customers can know when to expect their order.
28. Add additional payment methods like Paypal, Google Checkout, and Amazon Checkout so your customers can checkout with ease.
29. Open a forum where your customers can talk openly about your products. You’ll be surprised by how much you can learn from them.
30. Ask for product reviews in exchange for coupons. You can then use these product reviews as valuable SEO on your website.
31. Create a ‘deal of the day’ or ‘deal of the week’ for your customers.
32. Offer a deals section to your customers. Offer quarterly or yearly clearance sales to clear out old inventory. Wetsuit Warehouse does a great job of this:33. Give your customers free samples of products for signing up to your newsletter.
34. Donate generously to a charity and promote it on your website.
35. Run a special promotion where a certain % of proceeds goes to charity.
36. Offer a ‘best sellers’ or 'popular products' section to your customers.
37. Add a coupon section to your website for easy access. You’d rather keep your customers on your website while they look for coupons instead of on Google, right? Macy's does a great job of it: http://www.macys.com/campaign/social?campaign_id=61&channel_id=1Great Customer Service Strategy #38: Have a coupon section on your website.38. Offer freebies / coupons for customers that share your products on social networks.
39. Reach out to bloggers with a strong community and let them write about your products. They don't even have to be in your industry – do they have a hobby that your products can service?
40. Give coupons and deals to users who invite their friends to shop at your store. Have them e-mail you a copy of their invetation for a coupon.
41. Have great phone support? Connect consumers directly to a phone representative from a search engine. More: http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2120364/Phone-Through-Rate-is-new-AdWords-Ranking-Factor (Make sure to read the comments- some good insight there).
42. Include any retailer awards on your home page.
43. Host a blog-a-thon where you invite regional bloggers interested in your products to a big party where they are the theme, in exchange for a blog post. Lucky Gunner does a great job of this: http://www.luckygunner.com/2011-blogger-shootGood customer service technique #43: Host a blogger party for all those in your industry!
44. Listen to your customer and talk about it. Offer an easy ‘submit feedback’ button on your website, then talk about any changes you make that take into account customer suggestions on your website or blog.
45. If all of your products are made by people in America, show it off on your About Us and home page.
46. Offer discounts if customers buy in bulk? Let it be known, clearly!
47. Have a list of charities to donate to? Share that list on your website.
48. Offer multiple language phone support for your products? Show it off clearly on your home and product pages. Don't have multiple language phone support? Depending on your products it might make sense to add new language support to your customer service team. Talk with your current team to see approximately how many non-English speaking calls, or calls where the caller cannot speak English very well, happen.
49. List your contact info clearly, including a mailing address, on your Contact Us page. I hate it when I find retail stores that only include a customer inquiry form to fill out on those pages without any information about the company.
50. Advertise your top customer service employees on site to show off your good customer service skills and promote good customer service within your company.

Thursday

Commerce of Christmas: How Much Are We Spending & Where Does it Go?

How do the numbers really add up? We’ve all seen the Black Friday rush and the news reports of skyrocketing Cyber Monday sales and felt the pressure to spend, spend, spend over the holidays. In this brand new infographic, It's easy to see when people shop for the holidays, where they spend their money, and perhaps most importantly of all, where on the globe is the world’s most expensive Christmas tree?

 

Monday

12 Most Stupendous Ways to ROCK Customer Service

by  

12 Most Stupendous Ways to ROCK Customer Service

I wrote my first book, Five-Star Customer Service, with one simple premise in mind: you don’t have to charge Ritz-Carlton prices to give Ritz-Carlton service! After all, a sincere smile costs you nothing, but that alone can build you an empire – just ask Chick Fil-A how that type of warmth is working for them as they compete for customers with McWendy King.

No matter what business you’re in, you can make Five-Star Customer Service your calling card as well. Begin with some of the “12 Quick Tips” I share with each of my Five-Star audiences.

Everyone else out there is making the same sloppy mistakes, treating their customers poorly – and setting expectations low. Follow these suggestions and lock your customers in for life.

Remember, Spoiled = Loyal. Spoil your customers with your outstanding customer service.

1. Make your company a H.I.T.

Hire for attitude. Inspire through pride. Train in skills.

In. That. Order.

Remember: you can teach job-skills to anyone with half a brain, as long as their mind is open to learning. Attitude is key. When hiring, start there or suffer the consequences.

2. “It’s not my fault, but it is my problem” – Disney

Don’t take complaints personally. …But do solve them. The buck stops with you, no matter where you land on the org chart.

3. You are always on a job interview

Who’s to say that your client’s dorky intern won’t be your biggest customer three years from now, or your next boss? Give the same unrivaled level of customer service to everyone you meet, all week long.

4. If it works for Stew…

This one is written in stone outside Stew Leonard’s, “The World’s Largest Dairy Store.” If it works for Stew… I’d at least give it a try if I were you.

Rule #1 – The customer is always right
Rule #2 – If the customer is ever wrong, reread Rule #1

Of course customers make mistakes: they’re people, too! But you’ve got to stop thinking like that, or you’ll never provide Five-Star Customer Service. If the customer wants it, your only desire should be to provide it.

5.You are never fully dressed without a smile

Down? Cranky? That’s for amateurs; your competition. Can’t smile? Call in sick.

6. Replies to “thank you”

2-star answer: “No problem.”
3-star answer: “You’re welcome.”
5-star answer: “My pleasure.”

Be the 5-star “My Pleasure” Guy… or Gal. People will love doing business with you.

7. Don’t fuss at your customer

Compare:

(A) “We aren’t really supposed to do that, but I’ll make an exception this once, as a courtesy.”
(B) “I’d be more than happy to help you with that. What else can I do for you? Really; what else?”

8. “My job is to make your job easier”

This should be the mantra of every member of your company – and no one should take it more seriously than the top brass. Leap tall buildings to make your workers’ jobs easier. Encourage them to make your customers’ jobs easier. Then buy your own island.

9. Act as if your customer’s business were your own

Always start a sale by asking yourself, “If I were in my customer’s shoes, would I really benefit from this?” Keep that attitude throughout your relationship. Serve your customer ahead of yourself; your customer will take care of you, so you won’t have to.

10. Give conservative estimates of time and money required for any project

Your clients expect projects to get off schedule and run over budget; it makes them tense, and they’ll resent you for it before you even start your work. Stun them by completing projects early and coming in under-budget. Earn residual sales and referrals.

11. President/CEO: call your clients “just to check in”

A sincere and unexpected “How are we doing?” call from #1 will blow your clients away – and that moment-of-truth experience will lock them in for life. Watch your referrals multiply, and enjoy the share of your clients’ wallets you gain as a result.

12. C.A.R.E.

Communicate. Appreciate. Respect. Encourage.

Demonstrate through your every action that you C.A.R.E., a stupendous movement started by Al Smith. And you can start by practicing The 15/5 Rule, which I spell out in my recent post on the C.A.R.E. site. I hope you check it out!

…And if customer service is your thing, I can’t recommend the #custserv twitter chat group enough. The conversation is active and awesome all week long. Every Tuesday at 9 pm Eastern (that’s New York time), dive into one of the most active, fastest chats ever! It is chock-full of authors and CEOs mixing it up with front-line CSRs and small business professionals. It’s as egalitarian as it is stupendously educational… and the friendships you build will last a lifetime!

Ted Coiné

http://www.tedcoine.com/

Ted Coiné is the business heretic at the helm of the Catalyst blog. Author and speaker, futurist, and happily-former CEO, Ted is currently writing his third book, Catalyst, about how business will be done in this exciting new century. Follow him on Twitter and join the conversation on #leadbiz.

 

Friday

Seniors Mastered the Art of Friending & Likes at my Microsoft / AARP Get Connected Workshop

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Mastering the art of social media - Facebook, Twitter, YouTube - is something many have conquered, but now more and more seniors are jumping on the social bandwagon as well.

For seniors "liking", commenting and defriending are foreign concepts but at AARP's Get Connected event held in Spokane Thursday, 350 seniors took the plunge to learn how to master social media.

Nancy Pritt was among those who wanted to take the plunge online. "I want to learn more, I want to get involved and do it," she said. "I'm pretty empowered about the whole thing ... I'm ready to start."

She, along with other seniors like her, are getting some help from Marsha Collier, the author of "Facebook And Twitter For Seniors For Dummies."

"It's a great way to build your life as you get older it doesn't have to get smaller it can get bigger," Collier said.

While it might be scary at first, Collier says it's time to dive in

"They just need that little extra push to get people online, stalk your children thing, I stalk my daughter all the time," she said.

A study recently found people 65 and older are the fastest growing age group in the State of Washington joining Facebook. And while Nancy Pritt might not have a Facebook account yet, she already knows the lingo.

"A comment would be I saw you on at the AARP session of Get Connected ... you look great and I'd go "like" it," she said.

Then there's friend requests …

"That means you want to ask them to be invited into your program."

… and of course a "Like."

"To like something means you agree with that comment or statement it's a thumbs up."

With the lingo down, now Nancy is ready to get connected on her own online.

"I've got some shopping to do so … right after this I'm looking forward to get going with it," she said.