Archive for the ‘Jenny Lau’ Category.

The importance of guerrilla customer service

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Image by LiminalMike via Flickr

A few months ago I read a great tip from Dennis Crowley, founder of Foursquare, in which he described the importance of ‘guerrilla customer service’ as a way to grow small businesses. Crowley described how he would actively search for negative sentiment about Foursquare on Twitter in order to help customers solve their problems. I wholeheartedly agreed with his approach, and believe it’s a crucial consideration for online community managers too.

Very often community managers are too wrapped up in the drive to grow their audiences, due to client expectations and the idea that larger audiences yield greater ROI. We also get wrapped up in engaging only with the branded online community that we manage, forgetting that the majority of our customer base may not be aware that the community exists. So what often gets overlooked is the importance of seeking out and retaining existing customers, especially the unhappy ones.

I once came across a client’s customer who had tweeted a photo of a broken shoe (not the fault of the brand), frustrated that it was old season and she wouldn’t be able to replace it. I helped her to source a replacement shoe in her size. Needless to say, she bought the replacement and thanked us publicly on Twitter for helping her. There you have a great example of quantitative and qualitative ROI, and what was nice for her was the unexpected surprise at being assisted without asking for help. Think of all those unhappy customers whose complaints get lost in the noise of the social web.

For me three points are key if you want to execute slick and successful guerrilla customer service:

  1. Use social media monitoring tools to keep on top of all the sentiments flying around your brand everyday in an efficient way. Set up RSS feeds and real time alerts so that you never miss an angry tweet or blog post about your brand.
  2. Deal with the unhappy customer in the public space online. Yes, you’re making your brand vulnerable to criticism, but at the end of the day the customer will publicly praise you if you’ve helped them solve their problem - driving positive word of mouth for your customer service.
  3. Be prompt to respond. Aim for a best practice turnaround time by working closely with customer service and product teams. Use social media to communicate with the customer as close to real time as possible; the icing on the cake is in being able to prove that it is a more effective customer service channel than telephone or email.

Why we can all benefit from some social media mentoring

Magnifying glassBack in December I was approached by FreshIdeas Events to take part in a rather unique scheme – their Women in Business Mentoring series.

The mentoring scheme offers aspiring female entrepreneurs the chance to be mentored by some of the most high-profile and successful businesswomen in the country, our co-founder Caroline Plumb having been a mentor previously.

However, FreshIdeas’ proposition for me, a young community manager at a social media agency, was slightly different. For the first time, they were introducing a Young Social Media Mentor into the equation; the idea being that someone young and social media savvy could mentor ‘up’ to an experienced businesswoman.

So it came to be that I was matched up with my ‘mentee’, a vivacious, enthusiastic lady who started her business before I was born! We have been meeting once a month since December, and will continue to do so until the end of the six-month scheme. Because of terms agreed between us, I can’t reveal her name or nature of business, but I can say that it has been one of the highlights of my social media career so far. The relationship has been not so much one of teacher and pupil, but one of business collaborators.

If you run a business and are not yet sold on the value of social media, then getting a mentor is a truly great way to get into it. You don’t need to be part of a formal scheme like I am; look around within or outside your company and ask someone who would be willing to give some time to help you – if even for an hour a month.

These are my tips for anyone who wants to get started, whether as a mentor or mentee:

  • Set yourselves specific goals – the more specific the better. You are working together on limited time, so decide what business problems you would like to solve. Establish targets for increased online referrals; cut cost per customer by moving conversations online; increase online buzz about your brand by x% and so on.
  • Mentees – you may find it hard to fit in your social media ‘homework’ on top of your everyday jobs, but set aside 10 minutes a day to do it – it’s better to do it little and often.
  • Use division of labour. If you run a successful business, why don’t you delegate some of your tasks to your staff, according to their strengths and roles? And don’t automatically think this is the intern’s job – giving someone you can’t trust the responsibility of representing your brand online could be potentially disasterous.
  • Communicate frequently and often, and be open to suggestions. The best thing about my relationship with my mentee is that I can always check up on her activity. I read her tweets and blogs, and I am able to email her straight away with feedback and suggestions.
  • Finally, enjoy learning from one another. In the short space of time that I have been working with my mentee, I have gained some invaluable business insight, while my mentee has started to question and re-evaluate her fundamental marketing and branding strategy now that she has started out in the world of social media.

Look out for an update on my mentoring programme in the next few months.