Friday, February 23, 2007

Customer Service Nirvana

I just switched my cell phone provider from Sprint over to T-Mobile. The main reason for doing this is that as a Sprint customer, I never felt like I was valued by the company. The CSRs were horrible: they weren't fluent in English, weren't empowered to help solve my problems, and didn't follow SOPs when trying to fix an issue on my account. Seriously, I'm not the only one who complains about Sprint: Check out The Consumerist's slew of Sprint posts.

Wow, T-Mobile -- what an improvement! I knew something was up when I called to activate my phone and they asked me how my day was going, whether I had any exciting plans for the weekend, etc. Plus, they've done two things on every call: apologize for the inconvenience that my issue might have caused me and thanked me for being a TMo customer.

Apology: "I can understand how not being able to connect to Verizon's network to roam while on the Metro can be upsetting. I'm sure you are worried about missing a call or two, but let me explain how T-Mobile works..."

Thanks for being a customer: "I see that you've been a T-Mobile customer since February 19th. We truly appreciate it and if there's anything else we can help you with, we're here 24/7."

Think about it: CSRs are the part of your company who have the most direct communication with your customers, and often it's when your customers are having a problem with your service. If you try to quickly get them off the phone, are unwilling to help them through a problem, etc, how is that going to affect that customer's feeling about you?

Check out Seth Godin's post on what he feels causes a lot of customer service issues and how to fix them.

One more thing: From a purely marketing standpoint, think about this post. I've just created a free advertisement for T-Mobile. People will read it, will take it as a personal recommendation, and may take it into consideration if they're also looking to switch providers. In Sprint's case, they've just won another person that's ready to put them down as much as possible.

It's all about customer evangelism.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Bad Commericals as Effective Advertising?

Just saw this from the guys over at Pronet Advertising. This ad was probably created not to be a joke, but when you take a look at it, you'll understand how this video currently has over 220,000 views and more than 350 comments on YouTube.

Remember what I said yesterday? Interrupting people with content that they care about or in a unique way so that they don't realize they're being interrupted?

This guy apparently also got on national talk shows because of this ad. Imagine how much visibility he's getting for such a cheap ad.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Two paths that will diverge...

Are you ready?

Our idea marketing is in the process of changing. Previous to now, we've been able to simply place an ad in a location that our audience will see and wait for results. This is constant bombardment of a message will eventually cause a low percentage of people to become interested and follow the call to action. This could not be more true (and least effective) than in direct mail campaigns -- especially when you're mailing a flat postcard or something similar. You're often lucky to get more than a 3% conversion rate for something like that -- not very efficient, is it?

You can obviously see how Marketing can't possibly continue to exist in a world like this -- especially with companies taking a hard look at their cost centers to increase their bottom line. So how can advertising become more effective?

1) Slick use of interruptions: Interrupting someone (similar to what happens today in advertisements), but doing it in such a way that the audience doesn't realize that what they're looking at is an advertisement.

2) Develop a relationship with the audience. Start a conversation. Let them drive the messaging about your product or service. Help them make connections with other people in order to further your message.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Rule #1 in Blogging


Time to eat my own dog food, huh?

Between the snow and a conference that I've been at for the past couple days, I've been unable to update this blog. I almost feel like I'm not upholding my end of an agreement that I have with the audience of this blog. The only way I can build a relationship with you so that you keep returning to check this website is by continuing to post.

How many companies, clubs, or people have started a blog thinking, "I can do this -- I'm going to post everyday..." only to get preoccupied with work or other projects? The most important rule to blogging is making sure that you do in fact keep updating the site. Imagine if your favorite TV show ran the same episode for four weeks straight. Do you think you'd tune in on week 5 to see what same trouble Johnny would get into? Exactly. Follow rule #1: post regularly. And if you can't, maybe you should reconsider having a blog at all.

What's blogging rule #2? Being remarkable or controversial -- just enough to start a conversation with your audience. We'll start adhering to that rule tomorrow. We'll turn some heads then.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Chicken or egg...

I'm not promoting this blog. There are so many ways to get this website out there (Technorati, using SEO, joining blogging communities), but I'm trying to not fall into a trap that I've noticed many marketers fall into:

We promote something before it's ready to be promoted.

How often are you in a planning meeting where the discussion turns from "what is the product or service that we're launching" to "let's plan the promotion for the launch"? I think this tends to happen because promotion tends to be the more exciting area of marketing (feel free to disagree in comments).

Here, to clarify what I mean, let me tell you where I've noticed this occurring in the past two weeks:

1) I was in a meeting where we were planning a webinar event for clients and prospects on a particular area of service. We spent five minutes on "what is the outline for the presentation" before we launched into "how we'll get people to attend the presentation".

2) In a planning meeting for an awards ceremony, we spent less than two minutes discussing what awards will be given out and how the selection/judging will occur. After that brief moment, we launched into discussions on the invitations, entertainment, and yes -- even the food for the evening.

I think I understand why this happens -- most people would say that the success or failure of the service, event, or product that is being planned hinges on how well we can get the message out to our audience. While I agree that's an important area to spend time on, I think we need to realize that promotion is not what maintains people's interest, it's the substance of what we're promoting. I can run an amazing promotion campaign that attracts 200 people to my webinar, but if the webinar itself doesn't meet the expectations of the audience, I'll start to develop a reputation of giving boring presentations and that will far outweigh any promotion campaign.

So with this blog: I'm going to wait and make sure that I have substance here so when people start to visit this site, my content will keep them coming back for more.

What's in a name?

This half second belongs to me.

Typically, a first blog post defines the parameters of what will be discussed -- I'm going to take the complete opposite approach. We can talk about anything and everything. Most likely, we'll keep it to what I know and what makes me comment.

You see, there are some fantastic blogs out there, but I have yet to find a blog written by a fresh face in Marketing. Someone who provides a fresh take on conventional marketing practices as he discovers them and their success rates; someone who's itching to implement the new alternative, social, and word-of-mouth marketing techniques; and someone who's not afraid to call it as he sees it. I give you: The Fresh Marketer Blog.

Let's begin, shall we?

There are 3,090,000 pages that are returned when you search for "Hello world!" on Google.

There are 122,000 pages returned on Google when you search for "my first blog post'.

How do you change the status quo to cut through all that noise?

Seth Godin slices through it by taking a simple approach: his blog is named "Seth Godin's Blog". Pretty ingenious, isn't it? In a world where people are so inundated with marketing slogans that they question whether a marriage proposal is actually a marketing scheme, isn't it refreshing to promote something without a gimmick? And did you notice the first line of the proposal commercial ?