Tuesday, August 30

Twitter Stats That Will Get You (and convince your Boss) to Tweet Your Brand

Are you unsure about setting up an account on Twitter? Maybe you feel like it’s not right for your brand or your line of work, maybe you think that anything you would have to say would fall on deaf ears because your target audience don’t use twitter. Maybe you’re wrong…

Twitter_128The following statistics will prove that Twitter is fast and furiously becoming the social media platform used by everyone. The stats should show that it doesn’t matter if you are female, male, have kids …if you are wealthy, broke, employed or looking for work – you still have an audience on Twitter. Take a look and see for yourself – the stats also show that even if you haven’t got a presence on Twitter, people could still be talking about you….so maybe you should be listening?

Over the last 5 years -

  • There are 200,000,000 registered Twitter users  
  • Almost 88% of people have awareness of Twitter and its existence
  • There are 450,000 new Twitter accounts created everyday
  • Meaning there are 5.2 accounts created every second of everyday

So we can longer claim that’s it unknown – there is a huge audience out there, right at your fingertips. That is a lot of people in a short space of time that have been convinced by its power.

  • There are one billion tweets posted every week
  • 180,000,000 everyday
  • 138,888 every minute
  • Over 1,650 every second
  • Just 5% of Twitter users create 75% of the content tweeted  
  • There are 1.6 billion search queries everyday
  • Meaning that there are 18,000 search queries every second

Still worried that you’re too old to be using it or that your brand or company is the wrong sort to be using twitter? Take a look at the numbers then…

  • 46% of Twitter users are female
  • 54% are male – very equal demographics
  • 53% don’t have children
  • 47% do have children – time doesn’t seem to be an issue
  • The majorty of twitter users are aged between 30 and 49  - perfect age group
  • 43% of people follow a brand on Twitter for special deals/offers
  • 75% of users are more likely to purchase from a brand they follow – good headstart
  • 67% of users are likely to recommend a brand they follow to other users

Ok….but maybe you’re still worried about the freedom of speech that users have. The fact that anyone can write anything about you, your brand, your services or your skills…

  • 1,000,000 people view tweets about customer service each week
  • 80% of those tweets are negative and critical
  • As much as 75% of traffic comes from sources outside Twitter

We’ll let you in on a secret – whether you have a twitter account or not people can write whatever they want, whenever they want – they will get heard and it will get commented on and it will get passed on. Surely it’s better to be listening in on those criticisms, dealing with them and changing things for the better. Let people know you’re listening.

Maybe you don’t have a brand or a company or even a job – we’ve got a stat that should get you tweeting nonetheless

  • Up to 85% of companies are using social media as part of their recruitment

Or maybe you don’t have the time to be on twitter in the middle of the day and therefore think you would miss out on most activity anyway….

  • 5pm is the best time to be retweeted

So no excuses then? Looks like Twitter has an answer for everything….

If you have anything you’d like to add to this blog post – please feel free to send comments our way.


Thursday, August 18

Online Sellers: Have Trouble Storing Your Shipping Supplies? A Fresh Idea #eBay

My home office shippping area is mortifying. I have boxes of boxes and boxes of padded envelopes, rolls of labels, stickers... if you have a home based e-commerce business you know what I'm talking about.

I keep the boxes of boxes in the garage and the smaller shipping items in a bathroom in my office. (I figured I didn't need the shower anyway). The boxes of padded envelopes were annoying. A half empty box would start to fall over - and worse yet - take up precious space.

I decided to use those recyclable, supermarket brown paper bags. I fill them with padded envelopes, and since they only hold a small quantity, I can remove the bags as they empty and am no longer dealing with huge cardboard boxes. It seems like a simple solutions, but it was new to me. Thought I'd share...


Saturday, August 13

Road Runner Email & Android Phone? Whew! Here's the Fix for Connection Problems

Because of my tech radio show, I test just about every opeating system there is. When it comes to smartphones, there seems to be a recussing issue with connecting Road Runner email to recieve (and sending is even more problematic). Keep in mind that Road
Runner is a POP server, and not IMAP, your deletions on the phone will not carry over to the server.

I just set up the new Verizon LG Revolution and came up with settings that actually work! Here's the procedure:
To send email:
  1. Under Emails, Select Add Account, In the General Settings window fill in:
    (phones will vary so fill in what is required for your phone)
  2. Email Address: yourusername@yourcity.rr.com (In Southern Californis it is socal.rr.com)
  3. Your Password
  4. Select POP or POP3
  5. Incoming Mail Server Host: pop-server.yourcity.rr.com
  6. Enter port 110
  7. Set Secure Server to off
Outgoing email:
  1. Outgoing Server Host: mobile-smtp.roadrunner.com (no need for your city code)
  2. Set Port 25
  3. Click Secure Server to off
This should be all you need!

Monday, August 8

Sellers: Simple Fee Calculators for Fees on Amazon, Etsy, Overstock, Buy.com & Details of Recent #eBay Fee Increase

There is a new version of Ryan Olbe's eBay fee calculator which uses the new eBay fee rates as of July 06, 2011. He also has free online fee calculators for those who sell on Amazon, etsy, Overstock Auctions and Buy.com. For eBay, he also has calculators for eBay Canada, Ireland, UK and Australia.

He also sells definitive spreadheets to calculate the cost of selling one single item on eBay or the cumulative cost of selling multiple items. They can tell you what the total cost of selling on eBay is and what your final profit is (the exact amount you will have left over after fees).They incorporate all of the latest eBay and PayPal fee rates. I use them myself and find they make a big difference in figuring out profits or losses - before you make a costly mistake.

The spreadsheets work for many eBay sites: 
eBay.com, eBay.ca, eBay.com.au, eBay.co.uk, eBay.ie, eBay.fr, eBay.es, eBay.it, eBay.de, eBay.at, eBay.be, eBay.nl, eBay.pl, eBay.ch, eBay.in, eBay.com.my, eBay.ph and eBay.com.sg

Details of the latest eBay.com rate changes:

  • The 5% discount for standard PowerSellers is being removed. Only the 20% discount for Top-rated sellers will be available.
  • Final Value Fees for Store owners selling in Auction-Style Format are changing and are now being applied to the total sale amount (item price + S&H).
Final Value Fees for eBay Store owners selling in Auction-Style Format
Item Price New Fee Old Fee
$0.01 - $50.00 7.50% 8.75%
$50.01 - $1000.00 4.00% 4.00%
$1,000.01 or more 2.00% 2.00%
  • Final Value Fees for Store owners and Non-Store owners selling in Fixed-Price Format are changing and are now being applied to the total sale amount (item price + S&H).
Item Price New Fee Old Fee
$0.01 - $50.00 13.0% 15.0%
$50.01 - $1000.00 5.0% 5.0%
$1,000.01 or more 2.0% 2.0%
Clothing, Shoes, Accessories / Parts & Accessories
Item Price New Fee Old Fee
$0.01 - $50.00 10.0% 12.0%
$50.01 - $1000.00 8.0% 9.0%
$1,000.01 or more 2.0% 2.0%
Electronics and Computers
Item Price New Fee Old Fee
$0.01 - $50.00 7.0% 8.0%
$50.01 - $1000.00 5.0% 5.0%
$1,000.01 or more 2.0% 2.0%
All Other Categories
Item Price New Fee Old Fee
$0.01 - $50.00 11.0% 12.0%
$50.01 - $1000.00 6.0% 6.0%
$1,000.01 or more 2.0% 2.0%


Friday, August 5

Should customer service become a caste system, segmented by dollars spent? Interesting #custserv answers

This thread began as a discussion in the Twitter Tuesday night customer service chat. We really didn't have enouogh time or space to discuss, so we brought it to Google+. I've copied and pasted the text here because the opinions are a worthwhile read. Please join us every Tuesday on Twitter, 9p ET / 6p PT for our lively chat. Search for #custserv. 
For more discussions, visit the archives Twitter Customer Service #custserv Chats 

Ok, So now you have more than 140 characters. Should customer service representatives spend the same amount of time with every customer, regardless of size?
Caty Kobe's profile photo
Caty Kobe - Touché, sir!

+Marsha Collier's original tweet was: "Should customer service should become a caste system, segmented by $$ spent? #CustServ" 

I do not believe that customer service should become a caste system (whether it currently is or isn't is still up for debate), as every customer that is willing to spend money with your organization deserves the same high level of treatment and service. The time spent with a customer should be dictated by the issue they're experiencing, and not by how much money they've spent with an organization. There's a few reasons why I believe this: 

1) Every customer has the ability to be a promoter or detractor and, in my experience, the level of service they receive almost always directly correlates with whether or not they'll recommend a company to a friend. Recommending friends typically leads to more revenue.

2) High levels of service often open the doors for an upsell and/or continuing business, which also brings in revenue.

3) At SugarCon earlier this year, one of the presenters offered an interesting statistic. I can't remember the exact details, but it was something to the effect of within 10 years, only a small percentage of companies will be able to differentiate based on products/services alone. That means, customer service will likely become the differentiating factor between organizations as markets become more and more saturated. Assuming you already offer stellar customer service, you'll likely find yourself at the top of the heap bringing in, well, revenue.

Should companies spend the same amount of time with every customer? Absolutely not, because not every issue requires the same amount of attention. Organizations should spend the amount of time that's required to effectively resolve the customer's issue regardless of how much money the customer originally spent.

**Please note that I approach customer service from a small(er) business perspective that's predominantly B2C. I'm sure people with enterprise and/ or B2B experience may have different thoughts.

Marcio Saito's profile photo
Marcio Saito - There always at least two sides to a discussion :o)

Angle 1: The mission of Customer Service is to complete/ensure the delivery of value to customers. It can only be successful if it is fully committed to that goal. If Customer Service is routinely spending time enough to solve customer problems that makes the business non-viable, the root of the problem is elsewhere. Of course, everything has a limit. There are situations where Customer Service better "fire the customer" (as discussed in a recent #custserv chat)

Angle 2: Generally, businesses try to allocate resources so that it maximizes return. So it is natural that a company will spend more resources to address issues affecting a large portion of the business. So, spend more resources on bigger deals. Just be aware, as Caty mentions, that it is becoming difficult to measure the "lifetime value" of a customer relationship as peer-influence is amplified. That "small" customer might be the person who brings you the deal of your life.

In the most common scenario where Customer Service interventions are exceptions rather than the rule (i.e. post-sale issues are relatively rare), I would advocate Angle 1: Focus on making the customer happy without looking at the meter. You are not trying to save a transaction, you are keeping the company promise.

I think looking at customer service time based on size of the deal makes more sense in cases where post-transaction interventions are common, part of the usual transaction workflow in the business model. 

Roy Atkinson's profile photo
Roy Atkinson - The time spent with each customer should be appropriate to the issue or question they have. It doesn't need to be the same for all--in fact it shouldn't be. The issue or question should drive the interaction. What should be the same is amount of attention the customer receives, the willingness to assist, and the determination to have the interaction (transaction takes the "people factor" out) end with a more loyal and happier customer than when it began.

Now, in the real world, we tend to want to please our biggest customers more, and so spend more time and resources doing it. A financial argument can be made for this: I can spend more making Mr Bigcustomer happy because I'll see more profit based on buying patterns. 

But: If we direct full attention and attentiveness to the customer and her/his issue, whether they be Mr Bigcustomer or Ms Icanbarelyaffordit, each can become a more loyal customer, and is more likely to recommend us.

When I feel the effects of good service, it rarely has to do with how much I've spent, this time or in the past. It has everything to with the attention I and my issue (if there was one) or question received.

The interaction should not waste my time or the service employee's time. It should be as personal as possible--and part of being personal is understanding my issue, my question, my needs.

Anyone who has heard me speak on customer service knows "Roy's Famous Four:"

  1. Listening
  2. Empathy
  3. Clarity
  4. Consistency
None of these is related to money spent or to a time limit.
Marsha Collier's profile photo
Marsha Collier - All the response have been so elegant. I'll try to keep mine short.

As a businessperson, you bet I'll spend more time with the guy who pays me big bucks each month. Simply, a larger customer needs more time because his decisions are generally more complex. 

My smallest customers get top service too. When you have a customer with a $20 a sale, it's much easier to make them happier with a discount, bonus offer or refund. It's also quicker.

The more people pay, the more they want. As a consumer? You bet that I want to be first on the plane since I've flown close to a million miles on an airline. You bet I want the best table in the restaurant I visit regularly. It's human nature, yes?

Roy Atkinson has his famous four - mine cuts it to three:

  1. Listen
  2. Empathize
  3. Act
I do this for all my customers, whatever their size. It's just the smaller customer's needs are more easily met.

Hmmm, that wasn't so brief was it?   

Alan Berkson's profile photo
Alan Berkson - Part of this was based on a comment in #custserv about a caste system in customer service. It started with this tweet by +Marsha Collier

@MarshaCollier: @catykobe Should customer service should become a caste system, segmented by $$ spent? #custserv

to which I responded:

@berkson0: @MarshaCollier [caste system] it isn't already? #custserv

+Caty Kobe responded:

@catykobe: @MarshaCollier Nope. Every customer is equally important regardless of how much they spend. #CustServ

and I responded:

@berkson0: Is that practical? RT @catykobe: @MarshaCollier Nope. Every customer is equally important regardless of how much they spend. #CustServ

We do currently have a caste system for customer service. You get better service when you buy a Lexus than when you buy a Corolla. There are many opportunites to buy upgraded customer service. Is that a bad thing? Maybe not. 

One of the key factors here to consider is why can't we give every customer equal attention? The answer, from my perspective, (with notably few exceptions) is:

1. Too often customer service is not baked into the cost of the product/service. Corporate customers are used to paying extra for support. Consumers are not. For many consumer products, customer service is an afterthought and an expense

2. Consumer expectations are too high. There is a failure on the vendor side to set AND ADHERE TO expectations. Consistency is all important.

Join in the convo? What do you think?

Thursday, August 4

Facebook For Business: Generating Buzz Requires More than Putting up a Page

Generating value from social networking requires more effort than merely launching a Facebook page. Get started with these guidelines.

Shortly after Google fessed up to being caught flat-footed when it came to business profiles (or lack thereof) on Google+, Facebook rolled out a guide to Facebook for Business. Coincidence? Probably not, but Facebook for Business provides some useful advice about not only using Facebook in the corporate world but also smart use of social networking in general. Here are five lessons learned from Facebook for Business.

1. Develop a strategy

Facebook for Business provides some basic tips for setting up Pages (use an eye-catching, recognizable image for your company; write a short blub that clearly describes what the business is; and so on). But it also recommends creating a Page strategy. Doing so might seem like a no-brainer, but too many companies just hang a social shingle without knowing what they want their presence to accomplish. Will your social networking presence be used to disseminate information, provide a level of customer support, or engage interactively with customers? All or none of the above? Before deciding which image to use or writing that pithy company statement, make sure that your organization has clear goals in mind, along with benchmarks for measuring success.

2. Don't just sit there--share!

If you build it they may come, but if you don't feed it they will leave. Facebook for Business states what is probably obvious to most business users--that updates, videos, and links added to a company Wall will show up in the News Feed, "where your fans and their friends can comment and share." Facebook for Business goes further by encouraging organizations to think of their Pages like well-planned magazines, including targeted and exclusive content. If thinking of Pages like a magazine--never mind a well-planned one--seems a bit overwhelming, just think of it in terms of providing the kind of content that is true to your brand, that your audience will find appealing and, if possible, that your audience won't be able to find anywhere else.

3. Don't leave community to chance

Facebook for Business offers some very good advice for building community--a task that is typically harder than companies think it will be. In addition to providing engaging, relevant content, you need to interact with users when they talk back to you. No comment, compliment, question, or complaint should be left hanging--it looks bad not only to the one person who posted, but to everyone else who sees that your company has not responded. Even if you have to "take it offline," make sure the community sees that you are taking some kind of action. Facebook for Business recommends not only dedicating staff to the task of communicating with users on Facebook, but also creating a calendar and setting aside a certain amount of time a day for interaction. They don't call it social for nothing.

4. Build awareness

People are becoming accustomed to searching for company information on Facebook and other social networks, as they have on traditional websites for years. But it doesn't hurt to promote your company's social presence everywhere and in any way that you can. Facebook for Business recommends adding the Facebook Like button to your website and in newsletters, as well as encouraging customers to "Find us on Facebook" on physical signage and the like. The same goes, of course, for promoting your organization's presence on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Google+.

5. Use data to inform strategy

As you build out your social networking presence, it's important to use analytics to assess performance. Facebook's built-in analytics will let organizations know, for example, how many fans and likes you have, how often people comment, and whether certain days of the week are more active than others. For many organizations, however, third-party data analysis tools such as Web analytics platforms will be necessary and may already be in use in your organization.


Wednesday, August 3

We’re Pleased to Announce: The Most Influential in Customer Service from MindTouch

The Customer Service community is a vibrant gathering of people focused on driving forward-thinking, customer-centric conversations in business today. These community members are dedicated to recognizing excellence in customer support and service, and pushing forward new ideas and ways to not only deliver excellent customer service, but also measure its impact both in traditional and social business terms.

Engaging and exceptional customer service is something that MindTouch is deeply committed to, not only via our awesome service team, but through our products as well.  Over the last couple of years, we’ve drawn from these leaders to inform on our product strategy, and it clearly shows, given the amazing response to our social knowledge base by our customers and peers.

With that type of influence and thought leadership, we thought it was suitable to frame our next “Most Influentials” list on this very important group. 

What does it mean to be influential?

To us, it’s not just about how many followers you have on Twitter (one-dimensional) but your strength and influence you have in all corners of the Internet (multi-dimensional). For example, how passionate your followers are about the topics you share (do they re-post, share, comment?), how well you leverage new technology, your ideas and best practices that push the envelope and how you drive conversation to benefit the industry as a whole.

With that in mind, we compiled our rankings from a variety of multi-dimensional metrics to measure influence. Our formula consisted of a weighted average across a range of metrics including Alexa, Twitter, Klout, PeerIndex, socialmention (passion and strength), Twitalyzer and HowSociable. In addition to calculating out the Most Influentials using our own special algorithm, we asked for YOUR votes to name the Top 5 Most Influential in a recent poll. The outcome were astounding. With over 1,000 votes – we took the wisdom of the crowd and applied those results to our final list. Thank you to all those who voted and contributed to our final ranking!

The following infograph illustrates how much influence the individual has in relation to the other thought leaders. We published a few of the scores we considered for this ranking; Twitter followers, Klout and PeerIndex. These thought leaders were first scored for influence then compared to one another to create the top 25 ranking.

And the results…drum roll please…

Congratulations to all those included on the list! You have proven that honest-to-goodness passion and smarts can lead to thought-leadership and influence within the customer service space. Thank you for influencing people and businesses, alike.

Follow the top 25 on Twitter with one click

Honorable mentions

Jeffrey J Kingman, Mark Fodor, Shaun Belding, Jeanne Bliss, Lynn Hunsaker, Gary Sherman, Janet Jozefak, Pratibha Rai, Aaron Silvers

I'm posting this as a tribute to everyone on this list. You do great work and the time for online customer service is just beginning!