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Guest

Make Sharing Easy. Your Happy Customers Will Thank You.

By: Guest | June 7, 2011 | 
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Samantha Collier is an artist, mother, law firm business development coordinator and social media enthusiast, and a @developsocially partner.

The Experience

I recently traveled to San Francisco for a conference. The firm I work for sponsors an upscale annual dinner for approximately 180 guests. I was co-organizing the event so it was critical that everything be perfect; particularly the food, which, we all know, can make or break an event.

The dinner was a huge hit.  I’m far from a food critic but it was hands down the best food I’ve ever tasted and the service was impeccable. They exceeded every expectation I had.  I could honestly write a separate blog post about the experience, but I’ll save that for another day!

For those of you who don’t know me,  I love to shout from the rooftops about great customer service. Most rational people would go to sleep as soon as they got back to their hotel rooms at 1:30 am, but not me.  I went straight to my computer to share my experience with the world.

The Let Down

I couldn’t find any social media links on their website.  Facebook , Twitter, and Yelp turned up empty.  I sat back in my chair dumbfounded. Does this really still happen?

Interestingly, when I typed their name into Facebook I noticed 91 people have shared their link. Ninety-one happy customers took the effort to share their experience. How many more would have done so if the caterer had made it easy for them?

It made me wonder why, in this day and age, would anyone ignore the importance of their online presence?

Could it be:

  • Marketing isn’t in the budget?
  • Misconception that it takes too much time?
  • Fear of bad reviews?
  • Fear of not controlling the message?

We hear countless stories of poor customer service like this one from Mummy in Provence. I wanted to share some good news for once.

This was reminiscent of a conversation I had with a colleague recently.  He argues that a social media absence might be a good thing.  Maybe not having a presence makes you stand out from the rest.  Perhaps it makes you more exclusive, particularly if your competition has a bad rating.

The Solution

Do we still need to have this conversation? Can you really afford not to  be online?

  • Create social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter and Yelp
  • Monitor the online conversation. Create Google Alerts and Twitter searches for brand mentions.
  • During events provide social media information to the patrons. Make it easy for them to share their experience online.
  • Start a blog. Share recipes, pictures, kitchen tips, etc. Bring the experience home.

The solution is simple. Let of your fear. Let go of your control issues. Focus a great product and great service. Build a social media presence. Listen to what your customers are saying online and join the conversation via the relevant platforms.

Some people might say these guys are so good that they don’t need the extra boost of social media.  But my answer to that is “I guess they just don’t want more customers”.  Can you really be so good that you don’t want any more business?

And if you ever need a caterer in San Francisco make sure you contact Paula LeDuc Fine Catering. :)

Samantha Collier is an artist, mother, law firm business development coordinator and social media enthusiast, and a @developsocially partner.

 

60 comments
WarrenWhitlock
WarrenWhitlock

yes, there are still people like this. Usually helps to try Foursquare or Yelp, but Facebook good too. The bullet points here ought to be share with all of these people.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

I'm a big fan of silent social media. A company might not be physically active, but they are physically monitoring, taking notes, and planning.

It may be that these guys are working out their best placement, depending on where the biggest traction is, and planning for that. That approach can bring a lot of success, because it's strategic as opposed to, "Yeah, let's do this!".

Mind you, they may just be behind the times, too... ;-)

lauraclick
lauraclick

This happens all the time. I know it's happened it me. Isn't it sad when you want to deliver praise and have no where to send it? Crazy.

You highlighted two of the key reasons this happens - fear and time. There's definitely the loss of control that prevents a lot of people to use social media.

But, I also think time is a HUGE factor. I have this conversation with clients all the time. For instance, I have one right now who never checks Twitter as she just auto-posts everything from Facebook. I've explained why this is a bad idea, but she argues she doesn't have time to do both. It really doesn't have to take all day, just a few minutes on each platform can really do wonders (ironically, I wrote about this today).

I've also seen abandoned accounts that haven't been checked in months. I call them social media ghost towns. I think this happens because people just don't have the time. I think if you aren't going to take the time to do social media well, then perhaps you SHOULDN'T do it. However, you're really missing out on a lot of opportunities that way.

Stuart Mills
Stuart Mills

Hey Samantha, I've heard stories about companies not utilising social media before. It could be a number of reasons; fear, as you said, ignorance, deliberate avoidance, etc.

The reason that intrigues me the most is the ignorance; some companies avoid using social media because they have no idea where the world is right now. They're still dealing business like they did 15 years ago.

Well, to those companies I'd say; this is 2011, this isn't the mid-90's. Social media is here. Wake up :-)

Ameena Gorton
Ameena Gorton

Thanks for linking me up @samtaracollier !

I feel that there are too many businesses who don't take social media seriously - perhaps it's better to lurk on Twitter, facebook, blogs, forums etc ... then have a "presence" which, in reality, for some, is just admitting that they created an account.

IF a company is on social media they have to be equipped to respond in a timely fashion - in my case Lufthansa received a tweet from me early Friday (27th) morning, I heard NOTHING so I over the weekend I became more incensed. Why have a twitter account if you can't even say "Hey we hear you, we will get back to you"? I posted my post to their wall 3 days later and 2 days after that I got a polite reply which I am far from happy with. It was about as sincere as a telling a child to apologise to another for slapping them in the face and getting the infamous "Sowwy"

So companies have LONG way to go with using social media as a customer service tool which is absurd but then you'd actually have to give a sh*t and have people who can think on their feet to make it work - the copy paste replies of most teams would be like throwing oil on to the fire!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

This stuff makes me so angry. @Ricardo Bueno is right - it's fear. Fear of the loss of control. Fear someone might say something bad. Fear that they're letting people dictate their brand. Problem is, all of this stuff happens without social media. Wouldn't you rather know what people are saying about you??

Ricardo Bueno
Ricardo Bueno

I think the biggest hesitation is fear. Fear of bad reviews, fear of taking/accepting the responsibility that it takes to manage and respond to reviews both good and bad.

Yes, I think it's unfortunate when a good company, who offers a great service, isn't online or social in any way. But then, I love it when I run into that small mom-and-pop shop who really gets in, they're trying and their growing.

MadebyMeg
MadebyMeg

A very interesting article on the subject. Any caterers out there that you feel have great web/social media presence? I own and operate Made by Meg LLC catering in Manhattan Beach, CA. I facebook, tweet (@madebymeg) and am on yelp. Yelp is a huge help for my business, facebook provides me a place where people can vist and see pictures and my twitter account connects me to other food professionals and sometimes clients. I rarely find a client who tweets me/is on twitter - but I'm always thrilled when I do find that out!

Anyway, love the catering business profile and loved their website!

Meg

janbeery
janbeery

Samantha,

From your lips to God's ears! Some days, cocktail hour is a must start shortly after noon!

I went to a recent prospects website only to discover a picture boldly placed on the site with an elderly man I guess sleeping. My initial reaction was AHHHHH!!!!! It looked like a dead body at a crime scene! (Yes @kfas , I am going to blog about it!) No presence to speak of. Entire investment is committed to one person traveling around like a chicken with his head lobbed off to gain new business. HUh?!? Why why why? and WHY the dead body website! Is this a metaphor for what your business is headed for?! Stay tuned for the blog on this!

JustInTheSouth
JustInTheSouth

WOW! Love seeing you guys having @samtaracollier as one of your writes! She rocks. Samantha, I agree with you and I even think its shocking that people make it so hard to connect with them. How many websites have you been too that you cant even find a phone number or email address, let a lone social medial tools.

Todd Lyden
Todd Lyden

Sam, I am really starting to like Yelp so much more than any other check in service.

you mention it several times(which makes sense considering it was food related), but what are your thoughts on it? Expanding into more and more non-food and honestly reliability is good on checkins

John Falchetto
John Falchetto

Hi Sam,

Congrats on writing for Spin Sucks. :)

Make it easy to share the good :) Just like @KenMueller I hate not being to shout about how good a service or product is, simply because they just aren't social.

It seems a lot of the big corporations have their social media setup. This doesn't stop them from delivering sub-par service but at least they can mitigate the damage online.

On the other side there are tons of small business owners out there who do amazing stuff, like Paula LeDuc, but who have no clue what social media is all about. These are people who own their firm and give it their heart and soul.

The result is that we see a lot of negative stories about big corporations and few positive ones about great service.

If only SMB owners got more involved I am sure we would see many more 'happy customers' online.

samtaracollier
samtaracollier

@Danny Brown That's a great perspective Danny! I never thought about it that way. I've raved about them enough here but honestly that is what I'd imagine them doing. Their attention to detail was second to none. It was so good that I kept telling the servers how amazing they were - I guess that means I get poor customer service a lot? :)

balemar
balemar

@deleted_91832_Sean McGinnis You bring up a good point. They might not need social media right now. Social media might not be a good fit for everyone. But, I do believe that marketing is a good fit for everyone. They might not need those reviews today, but maybe they'll need it tomorrow. If social media isn't a good fit, maybe they need to discover what is a good fit and go after it (which they might already be doing). In the end, you have to be where your potential clients are. For a lot of companies, that is social media.

samtaracollier
samtaracollier

@deleted_91832_Sean McGinnis Hi Sean. You raised a very good point here. I assumed that they were perhaps so busy they didn't need any work/more incoming revenue. I'm interested to see what others have to say to this too.

samtaracollier
samtaracollier

@lauraclick I like the social media ghost towns term! I'm going to use that from now on. I find a lot of these in the legal world. Law firms grab their Twitter handle name online to make sure nobody else gets it and then they don't do anything with it. They'll even have hundreds of followers with no content. People are waiting for them to start! This is when I want to pick up the phone and call them! :)

samtaracollier
samtaracollier

@Stuart Mills Exactly! I'm really interested to know in this case because they were so phenomenal in regards to customer service, innovative ideas and food. I assumed they'd be online and was honestly shocked when they weren't!

samtaracollier
samtaracollier

@Ameena Falchetto So nice to meet you here! I'm a single mom who traveled often with two kids under three years old so i can totally relate. I can't even imagine what that experience must have been like for you!!! Those flight attendants need a refresher course in basic customer service. And then for them not to respond? Have they responded in a more sincere way since your blog post?

balemar
balemar

@ginidietrich If you don't know what they're saying about you, how can you fix it? Rule #1 should be "Find out what they are saying."

samtaracollier
samtaracollier

@ginidietrich @Ricardo Bueno Exactly! People are going to talk about you regardless! Using these tools helps monitor mentions and respond/take action. I was so shocked to see their name 91 times in Facebook! And I'm 100% sure it was positive... hopefully they'll see this post and get online :)

samtaracollier
samtaracollier

@Ricardo Bueno I can totally relate. I remember the first time I hit publish when I started my blog. I was incredibly scared of a bad review (or someone pointing out my bad spelling). It took time to get comfortable.

Ricardo Bueno
Ricardo Bueno

@MadebyMeg I used to wonder how many local businesses are seeing success with services like Yelp and Foursquare. Then one day, at my favorite cafe (they serve the best armenian coffee evar!), I saw a customer come in mentioning Yelp and their 10% special. Then another, then another and another.

I have friends who visit the cafe to this day because of my constant Foursquare check-ins and my shout-outs to the cafe.

Does it work? Definitely!

samtaracollier
samtaracollier

@MadebyMeg Your website rocks!! I don't think it could be any better. It's so nice to hear from a business that really "gets" it. I love the video and blog... it's such a nice way to get to know you. How has social media worked for you in general?

samtaracollier
samtaracollier

@janbeery @kfas That's the idea! Cocktail hour at 12:54 pm PDT! I like the sound of this.

An elderly man sleeping? I wonder what kind of message they are trying to get across or who their target audience is? These are the questions I ask myself often.

For example, my hair stylist works at a salon and their website has a picture of their salon closed at night with nobody in it on their home page. Seriously, the lights are off and you can hardly see the salon. Really? These are the times I want to give them a shake! I secretly told my hairdresser to start her own blog, social media accounts so she can get more biz!

samtaracollier
samtaracollier

@JustInTheSouth You read my mind completely Justin! I was looking at a website yesterday that didn't have a contact page or an about me section. I literally had to hold myself back from picking up the phone (after I found their phone number) and helping them out! Do you think they would mind? :)

samtaracollier
samtaracollier

@faybiz I think Yelp is great. I don't use it too often myself but I have friends that swear by it for all their recommendations. They log all of their consumer experiences on yelp. Businesses should absolutely check to see if they have reviews and create profiles.

For example, I checked to see if my law firm was on Yelp and it was! I created a business profile and was happy to see all the analytics available.

samtaracollier
samtaracollier

@John Falchetto Hi John! Thanks for the comments and the congrats for writing on Spin Sucks. I'm sooooo happy to be here :)

I agree about big corporations being able to deliver sub-par service and fixing it by responding via social media. I never thought about it that way before.

Paula LeDuc's service was phenomenal and I KNOW they would do great online if they chose to do so.

If I had known they weren't online I would have forced them to create their first account during the the dinner!

janbeery
janbeery

@samtaracollier @kfas Samantha! I tell people, including my husband, all the time the exact same thing! Build your brand, with or with out your company support. YOU are your brand!

Yeah, the dead man, they sell mattresses! Yuk!

JustInTheSouth
JustInTheSouth

@samtaracollier HA! My guess is no! You have a way of making people see they need your help and not making them feel dumb! So I'm sure they would have take them time to heed your advice to them!

Todd Lyden
Todd Lyden

@samtaracollier I did the exact same thing. More businesses need to take advantage of all the listing services/checkin services. Sadly, there are many, but it is not too hard to get an arm around and at least make sure the information is correct and see how you can use them.

Yelp for checkins is awesome for ANY business.

Ameena Gorton
Ameena Gorton

@samtaracollier It certainly is NOT a free flight - I received something today - I am waiting to see if that is all we are getting ... I'll keep you updated on what they sent ... let's say I am actually more P-ed off with what they've sent so far - think they'd have been better off sending nothing ... I shall leaving you hanging in suspense ...

samtaracollier
samtaracollier

@Ameena Falchetto I guess they knew this response would be public! They probably put their best PR hat on for that one. Have you received the token for mommy and daddy yet? I wonder what it is - better be a free flight!

Lisa Gerber
Lisa Gerber

@faybiz @samtaracollier its true. there are many, but if you look at the top three or four that apply to your specific business, you can capture the bulk of potential traffic and it doesn't take a huge investment of time to set up a profile and monitor the comments.

I swear by Yelp. I don't know how I got along without it. I don't use it for checkins and I very rarely write reviews, but I use it to find businesses! (I really should pay it forward and take the time to write reviews).

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