Monthly Mash: Customer Experience Tools and Customers That Stick
Adam Toporek Keynote Speaker of Customers That Stick®

Monthly Mash: Customer Experience Tools and Customers That Stick


Volume 4: January 2012 Mashup

Welcome to the Monthly Mash, a mashup of tools, tales and tips on customer service and the customer experience from around the blogosphere.

Customer Experience Resource: Customers That Stick, a Q&A

What is Customers That Stick? CTS is our new website dedicated to customer service and the customer experience.

Why is it this month’s resource? Because the goal for Customers That Stick is to create one of the best customer service and customer experience resources on the Internet, and also, because I’ve been so focused on the relaunch that I didn’t have time to talk about something else.

Do you have a new logo for this web site? So funny you ask, I happen to have one right here.

Customers That Stick

How can I get in on the ground floor of this incredible opportunity? We’ll just need your credit card and bank account information to hold your place. My partners in Nigeria will contact you shortly with details.

No, really, what’s next? The new site will launch on (or near) March 1st. In the meantime, please connect with us on our new social media pages. Obviously, they are under development; however, we will be holding a raffle and giving away a prize at launch, and liking us will help enter you in the raffle.

But wait, I already like you — am I registered? We appreciate that, and we like you too — really, we do — but you have to actually click the little buttons and tell other people you like us. Social media is funny that way.

Okay, now that we’ve had our fun, here is the link for our new page on Facebook.  We look forward to seeing you there!

The Month in Customer Service Blogging

A collection of the best posts about customer service and the customer experience I read this past month.

  • Nordstrom’s Loyalty Program Creates… Loyalty – A look at changes to the loyalty program and why the program is effective in general. For more: Does Your Business Need a Customer Referral Program.
  • What Is Secret Service and Why Is It Secret? – Breaks down the ideas behind hidden systems that are outline more fully in DiJulius’ excellent book Secret Service.
  • Delivering Great Customer Service Via Social Media — Easier said than done, but a nice overview of the basics.
  • Laser Focus to Improve Customer Service – A good look at what happens when businesses have parts of the customer experience that are not priorities.
  • A Brief (Personal) Point of View on the State of Customer-Centricity – This one was different, and I liked it. It should have been entitled Zen and the Art of Customer Service.
  • The Most Powerful Customer Service Secret of All – Since I write about customer service, it’s rare that I get to link to one of my favorite bloggers, Christopher S. Penn, but he makes great points in this piece about the value of communicating with customers.
  • Welcome To Asheville – A quick tale about how Welcomers can make a great impression for a brand and start off a great customer experience. Set in my favorite city… right, Erica? PS. Richard’s new book was just released. Check it out! We’ll be talking about it more in the coming weeks.
  • To Whom It May Concern: We Really Miss You – A good example of how not to win inactive customers back.
  • Next Wave with Gary Vaynerchuk: Turning Up The Tweet – YouTube video from Gary V. talking about the new power that consumers wield because of social media. Still think that power is overstated (see Thoughts on the Customer below). But, I like Gary V. so much, that even when I don’t agree with him, his energy and confidence sell me.

Get Your Geek On

  • Forrester’s Fifth Annual Customer Experience Index Shows That Excellence Is Exceedingly Rare – It’s that time of year again. The CXi is out with some interesting but not surprising results. See our post on average customer service for a view on last year’s CXi report.
  • Accounting for Customer Experience – Makes a great point about the view of customer service as an “expense” in the financial and accounting departments. Touched on this briefly in the CNBC post below.
  • Bad Reviews Increase Conversion 67% – Interesting research but would be stronger if they had studied the tipping point when the ratio of bad reviews to good reviews becomes a turnoff.
  • Check Out, Check In or Drop Out – The Customer Experience in Lines – Loved this one! Great food for thought for anyone in a retail environment.

Someone Was Listening

Sometimes the most popular post from the previous month; sometimes just the one I liked best.

  • Customer (Dis)Service: Inside the CNBC Documentary – This post took a look at some of the points made and missed in CNBC’s documentary. Curiously, my link was posted in what is apparently a very popular moped owner’s forum (I’m not sure why) and had some really interesting traffic.

Thoughts on the Customer

Is 2012 really the year of the customer? Do customers now wield great power over the companies they patronize? It seems like for years we have been hearing how social media would be a game changer, how it would empower consumers like never before.

It is an assertion that is true in general, but overstated in particular. Here is the case I made against it a few weeks back:

The Power of The Social Media Consumer (It’s Less Than You Think)

The documentary makes the point that social media has empowered consumers, giving them the ability to fight back against “abusive” companies like never before. While true, this idea is greatly overstated throughout the documentary and, quite frankly, throughout the blogosphere and business press.

To prove the point, the director points to some famous examples of viral videos — such as United Breaks Guitars — that created huge public relations issues for companies.

However, this is the Hasty Generalization fallacy in action. Viral videos (in almost any context) are the exception, not the rule. Go to YouTube and search “I hate <large company>” or “<large company> sucks.” In most cases, you’ll find a handful of videos with hundreds maybe low thousands of views. Not even a blip on the radar of a national brand.

Sure, the power of social media to take a wrecking ball to a company is unlike anything we have ever seen before, but statistically speaking, it is probably not that much greater than the pre-social days. The chances that something like the Papa Johns receipt will catch hold and become a national story is tiny, perhaps not much more likely than the chance an investigative reporter, a decade ago, would hear a consumer’s tale of woe and shine a spotlight on a company. Back then, the tale of woe had to have a special hook to inspire media coverage… just as it does today to go viral.

The problem is that most complaints online are drowned out in a sea of similar complaints.

Can online complaints matter? Absolutely. Are smart companies monitoring social media and reacting as preemptively as possible. Of course. Is Wal-Mart’s stock price going down tomorrow because someone tweeted that their new shirt had a rip in it. Probably not.

Now, I do think Gary V. makes a great point that 2012 will be the year that social interactions between customers and companies reach a new level of penetration and are more widely adopted outside of just “techies.” Companies will have to spend more time on social than ever and will have to be more concerned with figuring out the investment levels appropriate to social monitoring and management.

Now, that we’re done with that. I wanted to add a few closing comments about Gary Vaynerchuk, as he is one of my favorite social media evangelists:

  1. I loved his point at the end of the video about using social responsibly and not just for negative encounters with brands and companies. You see, Gary actually sells wine online, so he understands how customers can be a little drunk (ugghh, sorry) with the power of social media. More on this topic in a future post.
  2. If you ever get the chance to see Gary speak, do it! We saw him speak in Orlando a few months ago, and he was incredible. A true pro.
  3. Finally, Gary is someone who truly walks his talk. If you want a case study in how to handle online criticism, read this post over at Spin Sucks where the PR community took umbrage about something Gary said in his book The Thank You Economy. A class act.

That is all for now. I hope you enjoyed the Monthly Mash. Next month’s mashup will be on our new site. We look forward to seeing you there!

About the Author Adam Toporek

By Adam Toporek. Adam Toporek is an internationally recognized customer service expert, keynote speaker, and workshop leader. He is the author of Be Your Customer's Hero: Real-World Tips & Techniques for the Service Front Lines (2015), as well as the founder of the popular Customers That Stick® blog and co-host of the Crack the Customer Code podcast.

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