marketing 101: What have high heels, cobblestone pavements & WordPress in common?

by Urs E. Gattiker on 2008/05/21 · 2 comments 8,031 views

in d business Fortune 500,e marketing 101 style matters

    marketers & techies struggling with service, it is always a balance between techs and marketers
    Never ceases to amaze me.In fact it is a question of taking care of the customer or allowing a snotty techie to get away with it, nothing else nothing less.

    The world of – I care – would certainly represent a big improvement on what many retailers, online websites, techies and so forth offer to clients and subscribers: I do not give a toss.

The challenge is to deliver service with a smile, instead of doing it with a snarl. This matter is of concern in a store as well as in the virtual world, of course. However, in the latter things could happen differently. For instance, you might fill out a form online leaving a comment such as:

    “Dear XYZ
    I just visited your blog and could not find an e-mail feed.
    Do you have one or is there at least a chance that one can get one. …”

Naturally, one can take advantage of an RSS reader and then use the option that allows one to receive the posts via e-mail. It is similar to walking across the cobblestone pavement (see to the right) wearing stiletto heels. Yes, one will manage. Nevertheless, to avoid the risk of an accident, many women will avoid walking on cobblestones.

I prefer to get blog posts directly from the website via e-mail. I do not want to use Google Reader or any product for that matter to read the news or have it send me the posts via e-mail.

If you are interested, I got a response to my question from a very polite person in charge of the blog. She had received a response to my inquiry from her techie. She was so kind to pass it on to me. His response made me wonder if he understands who pays his paycheck.

“… Being a CTO with a PhD, I am sure Urs can figure it out if you send him the URL above and your feeds URL, …”

His answer – in plane English means: take what we have, fix it as I tell you and off you go. Else, live with the consequences – see the damaged high heels to the left above – meaning, you cannot get it via e-mail. Do it my way or the highway – take it or leave it.

Legendary service and raving customers

Having a pedestrian zone’s pavement made up of cobblestone is not a good idea, when considering that women going out shopping wear high heels quite often. In addition, no, it is useless to try to convince some women to wear different shoes, because these serve an apparent need:

Why women buy black high heels – the guide for everything

So unless it is too difficult to respond to your customer’s need by offering her the service she wants (e.g., news via e-mail, opening hours on Friday night), why not do it. In my example above, taking the initiative means the techie takes less than 30 minutes of his valuable time adding a WordPress (the software used by the site I am referring to) plug in. In turn, subscribers will then be given the option to get feeds via e-mail, nice and easy.

What you should never forget is that if one person asks a question or for a particular service, this is usually just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, hundreds of your customers or possible clients refrain from asking but, instead, just move on (i.e. do not visit the store, do not sign up for the service, etc.).

See also this nice column and comment in the Financial Times from 2008-05-20 by Stefan Stern. It explains why better service online and offline is becoming ever more important.

When service comes with a snarl instead of a smile

Customer service is a challenge. For instance, how can we get Twitter to show more attentiveness to where its users reside? To illustrate, yesterday morning I found out that by 9:00 o’clock (midnight Pacific Time U.S.), Twitter would be down for 2-hours due to scheduled maintenance.

Ignorance can be bliss. Just for those of you who might be unaware, more than 50% of Twitter users live outside the U.S. time zones (e.g., Japan, Europe). Hence, for Japanese or Korean users it meant the workday was just about over, when it happened. For Europeans, they were unable to use Twitter during the early hours of the workday.

Naturally, thanks to the Twitter shut down, European users had a more productive morning. Being part of an environment that serves the customer while knowing customers and their preferences means, Twitter must show some willingness to serve its clients by:

a) finding a time spot that is more convenient for a global user base (e.g., Friday – midnight – Sat morning in Europe – we go shopping, Sat evening in Japan – we are having dinner with the family), AND

b) announcing the maintenance shutdown earlier than just 24 hours before it happens – I did not see it until an hour before….

Whatever you decide regarding your customer service, be smart. Before executing a decision, ask yourself such things as:

1) is my decision or action in the customer’s best interest; and if not

2) could the outcome of point 1 hurt my company in the long term (e.g., loss of customer, damage to firm’s reputation)?

Hence, maybe all marketing folks, human resource specialists, production experts and techies keep in mind:

our clients – our philosophy – why we are all in sales

watch out:
follow us on Twitter be the first to know – subscribe
My.ComMetrics ranking your social media efforts
test drive the social media race course rock the boat – do it smarter

TidbitAn interesting discovery I made recently. People who get our posts via e-mail are more likely to write and leave a comment than those readers getting our news via RSS feed. Naturally, there might be many reasons for explaining this phenomenon, such as:

—– gender, age of reader, geographical location of reader, etc.

I do not have an explanation for this phenomenon.

One possibility could be that people receiving our e-mail posts have filters in place that sort the incoming mails into the right sub-folders. In turn, this allows those readers to read the content whenever it fits their busy schedule (e.g., in front of the TV or while riding a train). Another explanation could be that in contrast to those that might get 1,000 RSS feeds, e-mail subscribers have a smaller number of subscriptions, thereby allowing them to keep up with the reading.

This is just my guess, not based on science. I simply do not know why we have this difference but interesting it is. What you think, care to comment? Love to know your explanation for this.

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