Archive for the ‘customer service’ Category

How to handle mistakes on social media

March 22, 2012

We’re all human.  As such we make mistakes.  But when we make a mistake on social media, it is out there forever and it cannot be undone.  This can be very, very scary for some, and it keeps many people on the sidelines and away from Facebook or Twitter.

Some mistakes are bigger than others.  Take McDonald’s for example.  They started a social media campaign about McD stories which quickly got away from them and made them look pretty stupid.

But the potential for making a mistake should not deter you from using social media. Indeed you could actually turn a mistake into a strategic advantage.

Here’s one way to handle a social media mess-up:

  1. DO NOT HIT DELETE.  Remember, this stuff is out there forever. If you do delete it, someone will dig it up and throw it back in your face, making the situation even worse.  So resist the urge to click delete.
  2. Address the issue.  If you make a mistake, own up to it and quickly apologize to all offended parties.
  3. Learn from it.  Once is a mistake, twice is a habit.  Learn from your mistake and incorporate what you learned into your social media strategy.
  4. Blog about it.  Yup, you read that right.  If you make a mistake, share what you’ve learned and use it as an opportunity to connect with your audience.  While you’re at it, offer concrete recommendations on how others can avoid making similar mistakes.

With this approach, you can create critical thought leadership and offer compelling content for your audience.  In fact a mistake could turn a negative situation into a positive one and improve your reputation.

One final point: don’t let the fear of making mistakes deter you from using Facebook or Twitter.  Instead, use these challenges as teachable moments so we can all benefit from your errors.

In the long run you will benefit with an improved reputation, greater wisdom and a more socially engaged company.


Spirit Airlines — Doubling Down on The Stupid

June 23, 2010

Evidently Spirit Airlines has doubled-down on a really stupid idea.

For the uninitiated, Spirit Airlines is attempting to capitalize BP’s oil spill by running ads depicting the beaches they service as full of oil-soaked women, not crude oil gushing from deep beneath the earth’s surface.  Hardy har har.  One disgruntled person wrote to Spirit and got the following response:

Thanks for writing to Spirit Airlines, and for your feedback about our new marketing campaign.It is unfortunate that some have misunderstood our intention with this sale. We are merely addressing the false perception we have oil on the many beaches we service, and we are encouraging customers to support Florida and our other beach destinations by continuing to travel to these vacation hot spots.

Please accept my apology if you find this campaign offensive. It is certainly not our intent to offend our valued customers. We’ve actually received positive feedback from many who appreciate our efforts to stimulate travel to the state.

I’ve forwarded your incident to our Marketing Department for further review.

Again, thank you for your feedback. We look forward to welcoming you aboard!

Shorter Spirit Airlines:  You’re not as funny or clever as we are, and that’s your fault!

If I may get on my soap box for a moment, I’d like you to highlight one point in this response:  “I’ve forwarded your incident to our Marketing Department for further review.”  Oy vey.

Too often, as in this case, communications is not considered to be an integral part of a company’s business strategy, leading to disastrous results like this.  Leaving comms out of the decision-making process is a huge mistake, and yet it is so common.  A company that communicates well has everyone on board, and on the same page, from the very beginning so there would be no need to forward “your incident to our Marketing Department for further review.”  Once more, Corporate America:  Communications decisions are ultimately business decisions and should be treated accordingly.

This ad campaign should have never been green-lighted.  Let’s hope cooler, saner heads prevail and this ad campaign gets squashed.  Sadly for Spirit Air, that doesn’t seem likely to happen.

As a side note, the most commonly used word in their response is “Feedback”.  In fact, they use the word three times in five short paragraphs.  Don’t you think they should emphasize things such as “Concerns” and “Service” instead of something as dry and emotionless as “Feedback”?  Yeesh.

Yay! I (Kinda) Got a Promotion!

June 21, 2010

Great news!  I recently (kinda sorta) got a promotion!  I am now a Regular Contributing Writer for FourStory, a Foundation-funded, non-profit website dedicated to advocating for fair living conditions for everyone in the Southland.

My feature is entitled In Transit, where I write on a broad range of topics, including transportation issues, economics, government, policy, politics and whatever else comes to mind and / or pisses me off.

You can read my latest article here.  Be sure to check out the other writers as well; they’re very bright and write compelling and interesting stories.  You can follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn or at the website’s home page.

Oh my – Men’s Warehouse Meets World War I

June 16, 2010

I came across this very interesting blog post, which is a Brit’s take on a new marketing tactic deployed by Men’s Warehouse.  In a nutshell, Men’s Warehouse has taken their “I guarantee it” brand and threw it in the middle of a World War I trench where people were getting shot at, and at one point carried away dying, while giving some annoying preppie advice on buying clothing at Men’s Warehouse.

No, seriously.

The author of the blog thinks this will sink the Men’s Warehouse brand.  But this is America, where all kinds of stupid stuff works wonders, so I’ll reserve judgment for now.  In any case, the blog post is very insightful and covers a lot of ground.  I’d strongly recommend reading it.

Why in the hoot-nanny does a firm need a communication strategy?

May 21, 2010

Wow, another excellent question!

I’ve heard the following story over and over again.  Let me know if it sounds familiar:  Firm X sends one message to prospective and current employees, another to its customers and potential customers, and yet another to  investors, strategic partners and suppliers.  Heck, even senior executives don’t agree on what their company does or why they matter.   Nobody seems to be on the same page!  Aaaaahhh!!!

A communication strategy harmonizes and organizes your company’s communications, thus increasing the effectiveness of each communication tool.  So if a firm has a comms strategy and the PR department writes a press release, the presser’s message would be consistent with all of the company’s other messages.  Where inconsistent messages dilutes your brand, undermines your company’s core promise and makes people’s lives unnecessarily more difficult, a comm strategy reduces stress, increases buy-in and makes sure everyone gets consistent messages.  These are just some of the benefits of a strategic plan.  Can you think of other benefits?

What do we mean by “Your Unique Value Proposition?”

May 7, 2010

What exactly do we mean by “unique value proposition” and why do you need to know yours?

Your unique value proposition is what you bring to the table that nobody else does. It’s your fundamental promise to the world, the one thing that makes you totally awesome, and ever so much awesomer than everyone else in the world – or, at least, in your market.

Some people say their unique value proposition is great customer service. Others say it’s the experience they bring to the table. Still others say it’s because they work really, really hard and really, really care about you and your business.

All of these things may may be true, but they certainly are not unique value propositions. I mean, who is going to say they don’t offer great customer service, or that they lack experience, or that they really don’t care about their customers?

No, your unique value proposition is far more than these. It has to be. And if you really don’t know what makes you stand out, how can anybody? And isn’t it about time you learned what yours is?