We all know it now — in Super Bowl 49, The Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots left their bodies on the field as they battled for the NFL’s Lombardi Trophy. While all of metro Seattle is still smarting from the loss, and New England continues to celebrate, I thought it would get my mind off of the game to take a look at the results from the Super Advertising that took place during the Super Game.
$4.4 million was the going rate for this year’s Big Game, so clearly the biggest winner was NBC — the owner of all of that valuable advertising time. And many of the brands that advertised during the game generated a lot of engagement on social media — so I thought it would be interesting to compare the Battle for Super Bowl Attention across a number of different channels for all of the Super Bowl 49 advertisers.
Imagine if you had a store and on the front door you placed a sign stating, “We’re not open for business.” You wouldn’t expect many people to come to your door, much less people to come back and see you again. Yet that’s exactly what your company does when you place a “noreply@” email address in an email that you send to customers. You’re missing an opportunity to communicate with people who could tell you valuable things about your business.
“Noreply@YourCompany.com” tells me that you don’t really care about customers. That email address tells me that you don’t read your email. And it tells me that replies to that email are going into silent oblivion. Yes, you say – it’s hard to answer all of those pesky emails – I agree. It’s a lot of potential responses. But most people never think to let you know what they are feeling when you put up a virtual Do Not Enter sign.
Here’s another thought. Why not start by having a “PleaseTalkToUs@” email alias tied to your emails that you send? Or “WeLoveToHearFromYou@” or “YourThoughtsMatter@”? It’s just an alias – you can keep the “noreply@” hidden somewhere if there is someone grumpy at your company who just doesn’t want to read email.
But consider the value of having the first time someone hears from your company be a personal touch, like “love@” or “WeLoveCustomers@” and see how the emails change from “Get Me Off Of This List” to “I’d love to tell you something important about your product, and I just need someone to listen.” It all starts with being mindful about the face you show to customers. Start with a smile and see what happens.
My first goal as a college senior was to have the kind of job where I would never have to wear a tie. Achievement unlocked. But that didn’t really get to the core of the issue. I was really trying to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up. A person who helps customers every day was the answer. Continue reading →
How do you define influence? Simply put, it’s the ability to ask for something from others and have them follow through on your behalf. Following through could mean completing a specific action – like “share this article” or “buy this product” or “try my product” or something more subtle, like “recommend this to your friends”. Or it could mean something a bit more complex, like “make sure that people whom you know will think of our [brand] or [idea] when they consider others in the same type of product or brand”.
Influence is not just the ability to ask – we do that all the time – but also the forecast that you will be able to count on people to take action on your behalf. It is a tremendous force that needs to be used judiciously (as Stan Lee said, with great power comes great responsibility), and it can disappear quickly with the wrong ask.
What are influencers?
Influencers are individuals who persuade people to take action (including purchase decisions) through their authority, facts, charisma, or relationship.
If you don’t know what this feels like, try advocating for a brand or a service or an organization that you respect and use. Try pitching their goods or services to a friend, and see what the reaction is like. You might find that you do this every day, or it might be unfamiliar. Sharing a recommendation is a powerful way to help others. When that recommendation is a good one, it’s wonderful positive feedback. When that recommendation is not acted upon or when the person says, “not for me” it’s also great feedback that you need to refine your pitch or pick the person more carefully.
Influencers may also be brand advocates (highly satisfied customers) and are more credible to consumers when they are knowledgeable consumers and wield influence.
People engage in these activities because they feel intrinsic motivation (satisfaction from just the action of helping someone out) or extrinsic motivation (sharing content that is popular can make you more popular, or a trusted resource, or a linchpin for a process). Finding the key that makes people respond due to intrinsic motivation leads to a stronger bond.
What are some of the reasons someone might be an influencer?
Influencers engage typically because they share an affinity group (perhaps an alumni group from a university); a place (geography); an activity (athletic or otherwise); or an interest (may overlap with activity or be distinct – a combination of one of the other types).
Influencers share information to help their communities; to gain influence themselves; and to be a source of knowledge and information.
What can you do to help them understand what you do?
Start by putting yourself in their shoes. WIFM (What’s In It For Me) is a good acronym that helps you think about why they would want to take action on your behalf:
When do you need them to do it? Have you given the person enough time to consider what you’re asking them to do and have you made it very easy for them to comply? Have you asked them to do anything else recently?
Why should they do it? Does your action present an obligation for them and are they putting their reputation on the line by completing your task, or are you simply asking them to share information?
Then, THANK them for taking action on your behalf – and do it in a way that matches the communications you’ve had before. Not everyone likes being thanked publicly. You might send an email, a card, or pick up the phone. You might send a tweet. And you might say hello in person and buy that person a cup of coffee. The point is to display gratitude – to let that person know that their action mattered – and to help them stay motivated to help you in the future.
Are you Super? Some programmers are 10x+ times better than their peers. And this distinction applies to team productivity in general. It makes it really important for you to know the thing you do better than anyone else. Doing more of that thing will make you happier at work and in general.
What is the one thing you do better than anyone else? If other people were to talk about how you interact in the world, what’s the “signature strength” they would talk about when they talk about you? Continue reading →
Talking to customers. Understanding their needs. Brokering disputes. Learning what’s best for the community as stated by the members of the community. And communicating that to others. These are some of the things that the best community managers do (online and offline) to build a great community. But what do they do, really? Community is a messy thing and not well understood – primarily because participants in a community perceive that community differently based on their life experience and their goals for participating in community.
Quick, name the last time you dealt with a big company and had a great experience.
For most of us, it’s hard to think of a time when that happened.
Now, think of a neighborhood business or a shop or a small business and remember the last time you had a really great experience. That’s not hard at all – it’s something that they do every day.
Small companies care about customers because they have to care. Any one customer interaction can make the difference between finding a lifetime advocate and disappointing someone who tried out your product or service and found it wanting.
One of the biggest challenges for any big company is to seem more human. The other day when I went into the AT&T store on 4th avenue in Seattle, I was ready to have an awful experience. And I was pleasantly surprised. Both Caleb and Martin were patient, pleasant, competent, did more than asked, and solved a set of complex problems in under an hour.
Why doesn’t this usually happen?
It’s difficult to script – many of the non-standard issues that happen in customer service are edge cases – and you must rely on the best judgement of your people
You can’t teach empathy easily – companies focus on tools and processes which are necessary and not always sufficient for a good customer outcome
My interaction happened in person – some interactions are more high bandwidth than others (think text message vs in-store experience)
What should big companies do to solve this problem?
Kaizen, or “good change”, is a great tool to find the next biggest problem you can solve. Used in a business sense, Kaizen is a philosophy of improvement that enables change in very small increments.
People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing. – Dale Carnegie
Enabling line workers to contribute changes with Kaizen helps the individual customer and the larger group of all customers.
What should small companies do to avoid becoming complacent?
Whenever you hear a complaint from a customer or identify a win, add it to a list where you can better count how often it happens. The most recent customer complaint may be a brilliant example of a long-standing problem, or it may be a single customer’s opinion.