Sitting down to the watch the Sox game last night, I surfed over to my hometown paper and found an absolute gem of customer-centricity in the most unlikely of places – a cable television company. As someone who’s lived in a few different markets over the years, I’ve experienced Time-Warner, Comcast, Primestar, Cablevision, and Verizon, and I can tell you there is one common bond that stands out amongst all of Big Cable – the privilege each of the CSRs allowed me to feel for their gracious offering of their service to me . But alas, times perhaps have changed.
Truth be told, what stopped me in my tracks when digitally thumbing through the Globe was not the headline, but the leading image of CC Chapman, all-around Podcaster-extraordinaire. Seems CC’s tv was on the fritz during a little thing called the 17th championship in Boston Celtics history, and he twitter blasted Comcast to make himself feel better (he should’ve realized in title-town, it takes a lot more than OD [original def] to keep a team down .) Here’s the amazing part – Comcast responded, via Twitter, within minutes. They also had a technician out to solve the problem…before the tip off of the next game!
We get asked a lot from clients about how to build communities online, or how to shape the conversations that exist online to be more favorable towards their company or product. I can understand and empathize with their perspective, but more often than not, the companies asking these questions haven’t done the basic fundamentals yet. Don’t worry so much about figuring out the 1-3-1 full court trap; rather focus on perfecting a well executed free throw. Not sure where to begin? How about:
1) Setting up Google alerts for your company and/or product name, and commit to spending an hour per day reading and responding honestly and in a human voice to the comments you read. Remember in the age in which we currently live, our heroes are more flawed like Jason Bourne, than the Rockwellian images of yesteryear. It’s ok to not be perfect, but you’ll get torched for not being honest. If you don’t believe me, see Pettitte, Andy and Clemens, Roger.
2) If Google alerts doesn’t give you enough fodder, try Technorati, or Twitter or Niche sites in your space, like Techmeme. Despite what the old commercial said, it’s tough to reach the end of the internet. There are plenty of services out there to help you comb through what’s out on the ‘net, but you may be surprised to see how much you can learn through sweat equity alone.
3) Go to sites that sell your product and have reviews. Mine through the treasure trove of data that your audience gives you about what works and what doesn’t about your product or service. What’s the vocabulary they use? In addition to learning why they hate your product or service at times, I’ll bet you a quarter you find new benefits you never considered that your audience is realizing as a result of your efforts. Bonus points if you use those benefits to rewrite some product copy.
4) If you don’t have reviews on your site (why not?- Is there something you are afraid of hearing?), read your competitors’ reviews, and instead of trashing them, learn from them. Reach out to the consumer base, and offer a few free products in exchange for free flow of feedback. You can’t improve what you don’t measure.
Those are just some top of mind ways you can get started. I’m positive the GrokDotCom audience base has far more, and even better, ideas for how they overcome these challenges, and learn from their current and past customers. Perhaps if we ask them politely, they’ll even share. Anyone care to share their stories & ideas in the comments below?