Being Thankful in Business is a Good Thing – Brands that GET IT

We’d like to wish our US-readers a Happy Thanksgiving and send a HUGE thanks to all of our colleagues, clients, community and partners. We’re thankful for your support, your business and your respect.

Over the course of the last two decades I’ve been told more than once that appearing too grateful in business can be a negative thing – putting me in a position of perceived lesser power. I disagree. I think being thankful in business – and for business – is a good thing and I am happy to see social media bringing it more to light. Businesses who appreciate their customers are more likely to reap the rewards of loyalty, repeat business, positive word of mouth and long-term success.

Since I went on a rampage about my negative experience at McGee Toyota recently, I wanted to also take the time to highlight some businesses doing well by their customers. I think it’s important that as our customer voices become louder and more viral, we use them to celebrate what brands are doing right as well. So while I recently gave personal props to Jet Blue and Ideeli, I also took to Twitter and Facebook to ask my community what companies have done right by them recently, and why. Specifically, I asked, “When is the last time a company or brand went above and beyond to make you a happy customer? What did they do?” Here are some of the answers – below. Thanks to everyone who took the time to share and respond, and kudos to the brands who agree – being thankful in business is a good thing.

Chris Theisen: My fav personal experience from @brewhouse http://bit.ly/d2VGn4

Greg Meyer: We had an event at @sushisambachi – they made us feel at home, tweeted about the event, and provided excellent service

Shannon DiGregorio: The Apple store at the Cambridge Gallaria replaced a broken (my fault) iPhone 4 for free after AT&T was awful to me! Love them!

Kristina Bobrowski: @ArtVanFurniture went out of the way to meet my budget/timing needs, & responded to my praise on here. @netflix impressed me too.. My DVDs weren’t coming- they sent me 3 at once to tide me over while they fixed it

Chad Northrup: It was @supercuts. Got a bad haircut yesterday, so returned in the evening. They fixed it AND made my next cut free #custserv

Frank Eliason: my former company, Comcast has been working hard to improve (google my name and Comcast). My current company, Citi, is working to improve http://new.citi.com/2010/11/together-we-are-building-a-stronger-citi-for-you.shtml

 

And from Facebook, where I did not include my friends’ names because it’s permission-based (vs Twitter, which is public), here are the replies:

American Express has the nicest customer service people I have ever talked to. Except for maybe Southwest’s. They always say things like “we’ll take care of that right now for you” or “make sure you have a great day.” Sounds simple but stands out.

Nordstroms this morning made my entire day – live chat customer support applied a promo code for me after my order was submitted so I would get free shipping on an emergency pair of new heels since the Web site wouldn’t accept the code.

Jouer Cosmetics! BEST customer service. I ordered some makeup and when it arrived two of the lipsticks were smooshed at the top. I called to let them know about it, without any expectations. I just wanted them to know about it. They sen…t me two more lipsticks for free and I got to keep the ones I already had. The lipsticks were like $22 each. Also, Huggies…we got a big box of diapers and one whole sleeve of diapers was defective. The tape wasn’t long enough and every time we tried to put them on the baby, it would rip. I called Huggies and the woman was so apologetic. She sent coupons-one for an entire box for free. You know how expensive diapers are! I was a satisfied customer on both occasions!

I’m a huge fan of  Boston-based Rue La La. Ordered some resin plates. 3 sets of 4. The freight carrier “dropped” them on my front step. 3 of them were damaged. I photographed which patterns were damaged and their amazing Customer Service specialist hunted them down, replaced them AND gave me a $40 credit for all my trouble.

USAA – the very best customer service I’ve ever experienced. Every time I call, they offer to help me with my investments, or just to review where I’m at financially, just to make sure I am ok. They will give advice, give me suggestions where I should be putting money and once even said WOW – you are doing a great job. They never try to get you off the phone or rush you. They will even call and check up on recent investments. They are incredible.

Great Customer Service Department. UPS driver sees me at the mail box five blocks from my home. Stops next to my car. Shouts out “Mr. Corbett, I have a package for you.” Now that is great customer service and an employee who lives well the brand!!! Kudos to UPS!!! Living the Brand!

I also think TMobile has done some serious investment in training their reps. I used to think they were awful, now its almost a pleasure to call in. They make you feel like they are on your side – they say things like “yeah, that would make… me mad too” or “that would definitely not fly with me.” You can’t even get mad because they are so helpful now. I’ve been having major BB issues & the third time I called in the rep said, “well, this is ridiculous that you’ve had to call three times, after you get this replacement, *I* am going to call YOU”See More

The Ritz-Carlton has the absolute best customer service in the world. No matter the property, it is top notch. Bali, Jamaica, etc. – all superb. No one comes close.

Zappos. Order something at 10:00 at night and it’s on your door the next day for free with free return shipping if needed . . . Great example of a company that built it’s culture based on customer service from the day it started as a way to differentiate itself.

Pizza Hut in Big Rapids, MI………..awesome service and the C.J.’s special cannot be beat.

USAA is the best. They go above and beyond every single time.

I have to say that Spectrum Health in Reed City has an outstanding policy for good customer service. If someone asks for directions the employee won’t just point and explain. They escort them to the place with a smile on their face! And during parking lot construction they provided men driving golf carts who were at the car before it stopped to pick you up and take you to the door! Way above and beyond is their policy. They tell employees, “Surprise them (your customer). And they do in a good way.”

I third USAA

Readers – if a brand or company has done right by you lately, won’t you help spread the word and thank them here in the comments? Thanks for reading!

Raleigh’s Social Media and Tech Community share 2011 Predictions at TIMA Summit Party

Last Thursday night I attended the TIMA Summit Party – the only afterparty for the Third Annual Internet Summit in Raleigh, North Carolina. Quickly becoming one of the largest internet conferences on the East Coast, the Internet Summit was a near sellout this year with an estimated 1500 attendees!

Bringing together Internet executives, senior marketers, entrepreneurs and investors, this years speakers represented companies like Google, Microsoft, Salesforce.com, Yahoo!, Go Daddy, AutoTrader.com, and more. Speakers presented on topics ranging from Social Media, to Mobile, Online Video, Cloud Computing, Real-time, Analytics, Online Advertising, and E-commerce.

The TIMA Summit Party was also a huge success! Hosted by TIMA and co-sponsored by DesignBox – who provided the awesome venue – and MediaTwo Interactive, some have said this year’s party was one of the best events tied to the Tech/Social Media community of Raleigh.

The following video offers a small taste of how great the event was and features a few of the party attendees sharing their predictions for 2011. What do you think will be the hot trends for 2011? What do you think about some of the predictions shared in this video? Share your response in the comments section below – and thanks for watching!

Persuasive Picks for the week of 11/15/2010

How the Fortune 500 Uses Social Media
Entrepreneur magazine columnist & contributing writer, Mikal E. Belicove highlights the results of a recent report on social from the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

The Real Power of Inbound Marketing
Jay Ehret from The Marketing Spot gives a brief breakdown of Inbound Marketing and shares its importance through a story of personal experience with his own business.

Social Media Responisibility
Mike Myatt shares a truly scary story about social media’s frighteningly blurred lines when it comes to online/virtual behavior versus living responsibly in the real world.

9 Must Have Gadgets for Social Media Nuts
Adam Mills provides some helpful holiday gift giving suggestions for that social media addict in your life, in this post on TheNextWeb.com.

Social Media and Blogging: The Common Sense Approach
Chris Crum shares highlights of an interview with Unmarketing author Scott Stratten, conducted during this year’s Blogworld Conference, in this post on WebProNews. The full interview is included here:

 

 

Four Loko Divorces Social Media

Four Loko – aka Black-Out-In-A-Can – aka Liquid Cocaine – is causing quite a splash nationwide. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s the alcoholic energy drink – already been banned in Michigan, California, Washington, Utah, and now Massachusetts – the most recent state to jump on the “anti Four Loko” bandwagon. For the economical price of $2.50, college students (its target audience) can buy a twenty-four ounce can that is equivalent to four beers, a red bull and a shot of espresso. Four Loko is owned by Chicago-based manufacturer Phusion Projects – founded in 2005 by three Ohio State University friends who were looking for an alternative to Red Bull and vodka. In fact, Four Loko is blamed for causing severe alcohol poisoning for nine students at a college party in Central Washington University—one female student nearly died*. Now, the Food and Drug Administration is getting involved by issuing a warning to all manufacturers of caffeinated alcoholic beverages that they need to either pull product – or prove their products are safe.

However, the real buzz involves the egregious PR blunder by Phusion Projects issuing a press release regarding being unfairly blamed for the Central Washington University incident. The company clearly states that they have “taken a unique position and made a conscious effort to reject the social media marketing tactics that other companies embrace – including many of our competitors. There is no company-sponsored “Four Loko” Facebook page or YouTube channel.”

BrandChannel didn’t buy this statement. The brand guru resource launched an investigation into Phusion Projects bold statement and after some sleuth work— revealed some interesting social media marketing campaigns involving Phusion Projects. The article uncovers how the brand tried scrubbing its former marketing messaging on Fourdrinks.com and then points to a former “Four Shots” gallery screenshot (below) where drinkers were asked to show their “happy-face” by uploading photos with Four Loko. When questioned, the manufacturer blamed its interns for the creation of such highly professional sites.

The article continues to find more contradictions in Phusion Projects statement—finding several dedicated Facebook pages— while not technically “company sponsored,” some were issued by paid marketing representatives (aka college students) of the manufacturer. Some of these pages have since mysteriously vanished.

As much as Phusion Projects would like us to believe it has consciously distanced itself from social media and marketing to minors (hmm, bright colored cans in a variety of fruity flavors), it’s clear from BrandChannel’s thorough research that the company was involved in an orchestrated “viral” campaign. In fact, on YouTube a general keyword search returns over 5,000 results—many of them showcasing people chugging or shotgunning the drink. Four Loko music videos are incredibly popular– one by Gwop Gang has racked up over 1 million views.

In a digital age where businesses are desperately trying catch social media marketing fever, yearning to connect with their consumers through Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube—Phusion Projects found success; however, this brand’s apparent social media denial—perhaps an attempt to clean its image—is perplexing. Maybe to help counteract its negative perception, it’s time for the brand to create its own “official” Facebook page and YouTube channel. The power of social media could be valuable to Phusion Projects. It could allow them to take accountability for their out-of-control, harmful product and help prove they uphold responsible business practices.

So fellow social media hounds– what do you think about Phusion Projects social media marketing decisions? What could they have done better? Do you think there’s anything left to salvage from the Four Loko brand? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

* Source: The Daily Record, 10/26/2010

Brand Haiku for You

I was invited by my industry colleague and friend, Aaron Strout of Powered Inc., to participate in a fun experiment this morning. He asked me and a handful of other amazing marketing folks to share a brand haiku based on a recent experience we’ve had – good or bad. (Remember, a haiku is: 5 syllables, 7 syllables 5 syllables.)

Well, if you follow me on Twitter and were on this weekend, you likely heard about my recent experience with Toyota and specifically, McGee Toyota in Hanover, MA. It wasn’t pretty. So here’s my haiku for you based on my weekend – if you’d like the full story, read my blog post about the experience – and why it’s crucial for your sales team to understand that customer relationships are way more valuable than customer deals.

Toyota was wrong
Happy customers tell friends
Angry ones tell all

Now that the negative one is out of the way, here are two positive ones – because happy customers should share loudly, too.

Jet Blue I love you
Thanks for TVs and smiles
You get customers

Ideeli is cool
They sell lovely things to me
And they engage me

Follow the brand haiku to Bryan Person and his tribute to Nike, and see more haikus from those amazing marketers by watching Twitter for the hashtag #brandhaiku.

Thanks for the fun, creative and great idea – and invitation – Aaron! Readers, if you have a brand haiku, please play along in the comment section and on Twitter.