Caught in the Act: Turning Negative Into Positive

This is a “please read” love letter to every business out there, large and small, to owners and marketing managers, to communications directors and CEOs. This is customer service, this is HR and well trained employees, this is public relations and social media. This is good business.

Sh*@ Happens.
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Did I tell y’all the broken luggage story yet? (Nope.. blog idea captured but languishing in digital purgatory.) Anyhow..

Reader’s Digest Condensed Version: instead of proactively handling the situation, Carnival made us do all the work (which came out ok in the end), they missed the boat – PUN! – on turning a problem into customer service gold.

A couple weeks ago, I went to TomatoJam at South City Kitchen Vinings and our appetizers took too long. Which we barely noticed. Yes it was a long time but not crazy, we were sipping our wine and chatting, generally enjoying the evening.

The server apologized. The manager did. We never complained. Then gave us soups to tide us over until the apps were done. Then comped said apps. The manager kept up with us the rest of the night. As did the chef, to once again apologize for our wait.

All initiated by THEM with nary a prompt or complaint from us. Negative turned positive, done.

This is how a loyal brand advocate is born.

This is what gets them followed and liked.
This is why I always buy their promo deals.
Because of their generosity, we upped our order, spent more money.
Because of their commitment to service, I’ll not only return — I’ll recommend them to others.

Just a quick (yay! for once!) post to show I wasn’t so dumb after all as I’ve blogged before about the PR, social media, customer service connection.

It’s not the mistakes. Often it’s what you do NEXT, it’s what comes after the mistake that matters most.

Fixing the problem. Offering a solution; brownie points if you do so before being asked. Learning from the mistake, then applying that knowledge. Something we all gotta do when we find ourselves thinking more of the same will result in change, or trying new ways to make the same old failures. Got the bruises, the headaches, the ‘need wine now!” to show for that one myself. (In this case, the chef at SCKV talked about better scheduling around large party orders.)

Putting customer service first – from the front line all the way to the top of the executive food chain – is how a company can “cement a customer for life.” How a business handles mistakes is what can turn a deal breaker into difference maker.

Ever had a business or brand screw up the right way? Do Tell. 

Photo credit: So many memes, so much time wasted on the Internet picking one. :-)

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My LinkedIn Policy, Revisited

First, second, 45th most – to each, his or her own. We all have our way of using, doing, being social. Online and off. This be mine.

Like a robo-call from telemarketing hell, the LinkedIn Request from a total stranger

While they aren’t always a deal breaker for me, I really truly don’t care for the generic LinkedIn invite. [I know the mobile apps don’t let you customize. Made that mistake, am now careful to go to the web for connecting as I’m in the camp that I customize my invites. Always.]

tumblr_mivvfqP9w81r9pgsuo1_1280Generic, random LinkedIn requests are cold, impersonal, unprofessional, lazy, annoying.

I’m not so in-demand that I just block and ignore these. I reply. Some variation of a professional and courteous, “Thanks for asking. I prefer to connect with people I’ve worked with or know from online. Could you please tell me where and when we’ve crossed paths? Why you want to network? All the best.”

5 types of LinkedIn Responses I get back:

  1. Crickets. Seriously, think almost half my invite replies are ignored. Someone just racking up numbers, no desire to truly connect.
  2. The Offended Troll. More than a few times, I’ve had a poorly capitalized, terribly spelled rambling rant of a reply from someone hella pissed off at the notion that while I am on LinkedIn to network, I don’t treat it as a free for all.
  3. The Overly-Aggressive Power Networker. They’re scary serious. They want that connection, because they’d be great for you and ‘hey it’s all good.’ And while you’re already taking, follow them on Twitter, Like them on Facebook, subscribe to their e-crap and buy everything they’ve shared on Pinterest like NOW.
  4. The Overly-Eager Flirt. Doesn’t happen that often, but I’ve gotten requests from those less interested in business than they are “meeting people” that are attractive and “couldn’t we just text or SnapChat?” My latest really didn’t know when to take NO for an answer.
  5. A Real Answer. Rare. Sometimes we have bumped into each other on a chat or a blog and I just don’t make the connection. Sometimes they just got a suggestion from someone else or shockingly, even read a post or tweet of mine. If there’s a legit reason to connect, I do. If I’m unsure, I invite them to follow me elsewhere and offer to do the same.

Who do I think I am to have a policy? Why am I networking?!

It’s not a competition, not about the vanity metrics. In the 3.5 years since I first blogged about not connecting with strangers on LinkedIn – and hot damn I. Am. Old. – I’ve seen people throw open the flood gates and I’ve watched people walk away all together.

I’ve also lived and learned. The few times I ignored my better angels and accepted, it’s inevitably opened my email and network to hard sales pitches, requests to buy or subscribe, and/or please ask everyone I’ve ever met to do something. Broadcast blasts. Job begging*. Hey, come out for a drink and why we’re meeting, BUY.

That’s not business. That’s not relationship building or networking. It’s spam. It’s bullshit.

If you’re reading this, odds are you have a similar LinkedIn policy. If not, why not?

*It’s coming. I’m gonna be reaching out to my network soon but when I do, believe me I’ll have something of value to offer you, not just another ‘hey, I need a job’ e-blast.

Photo credit: LOVE the Tumblr for Honest Slogans

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Comment Policy: New! And Improved! On Sale Now.

A while back I let a comment stand – minus the self-promotional links – even though it had that ‘eau du spam’ whiff to it – because it at least was on topic. Time to refresh and update ye olde comment policy.

Rules of Commenting, Part II, Subsection B, Paragraph 12.3, itty bitty fine print

My comment policy still stands: I’ll take it if you have something to say and have a pretty easy-going, let it fly attitude. Grammar and punctuation are our friends. Play nice.

  • Links. Links are fine, hence the CommentLuv. Feel free to pimp your own posts – provided they are related to the post, not 3rd half-cousin, twice removed on your Uncle Bob’s side.
  • Store’s Open. I’m using the Tweet Old Post plugin, so I’m keeping comments open on older posts. (Peeve: seeing an older but still relevant post that’s been autobot tweeted – only to be unable to comment; not sure I get tweeting closed posts.)
  • Spam will be canned. Trolls sent a packing. NEW: People have names, not keywords.

What I really meant was…

Discussion. By all means, chat away. This gives me ideas, this provides examples, advancing the conversation provides valuable insights to the reader. This is why comments are open.

But learn when to let it go. I’ve seen posts that had a little too much back and forth in comments, with people restating their case over and over to the point I got tennis whiplash. Someone has to get the last word, won’t always be you. Or me.

Professional. Courtesy. It’s not an option.

Posts will be unpopular; there are ways to deal with blog criticism and keep it civil.

Marcus Sheridan has his ‘delete and move on’ method of dealing with comment trolls. Mine: If a comment is ‘this is just dumb’ – I’ll sometimes counter with: “TY for you input. Please tell me WHY oh guru, give me examples, educate me and my readers.” Crickets chirp very loudly.

My philosophy hasn’t changed: discuss the topic, attack the post and the ideas; do not attack the writer or others commenting; give reasons for disagreeing. Why?

YMMV. About 93.56% of the time, we’re discussing opinions and experiences. I know what I did, what I wrote and what I meant by it; sure you do too and don’t need me visiting your intentions (still want another Firefly/Serenity sequel).

Opinions will differ, whether talking about Facebook or to what degree Game of Thrones is awesome. Approaches to public relations, marketing via social media, making the perfect omelet will vary; some shake, others stir their martinis.

No matter how wrong I know in my heart and head that it’s bad PR, bad communications, bad business to delete valid-yet-negative feedback from your customers, I won’t call you a blithering idiot. I might think it, tweet not to do it, but you’re free to do that wrong, along with many things.

If you have a comment policy, what am I forgetting? If not, why not?

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2011: A PR and Social Media Odyssey

In this infinite din of crap polluting the Internets, I’ve read more junk than I care to admit. Even on my less-is-more diet, I’ve still left hundreds of comments everywhere and don’t get it when good posts get “ignored,” my crap attempts at SEO notwithstanding.

Horn, consider thyself tooted

Blessed be a New Year that gives me license to pimp my own posts, gotta milk this opportunity for all it’s worth. Kidding, I sometimes look back on old posts to see how dumb I was.
someecards.com - Let's never speak of 2011 again
Current readers, lurkers, silent supporters, Thank You!

New readers who’ve stumbled upon my blog by accident, thinking you’d learn how to make money with Twitter or secret mysteries of Facebook.. sorry, can’t help. What I can offer is a ‘different’ look at public relations, social media and marketing communications for small business.

In lieu of a “best post” list, my popular posts based on what got the most comments or most retweets I picked these:

5 posts that should have been read, commented upon and/or tweeted the hell out of. But weren’t?! (Again with the joshing.)

Why? Because I think I’m funny. Because I thought I was onto something with these. Because they ARE better than many of the factoid, list of definitions, random infographic posts that I need to stop clicking.

Because these will give any small business manager an idea of what public relations, social media and marketing communications should really be about, how they can help a company do business.

  1. Numerical Blindness. My take on some of the “eye-popping” social media stats.
  2. Crisis PR twofer, with rants on Prior Planning and the CYA approach to communications management. I will never understand company execs and brand managers who stick their heads in the sand, thinking trouble will not find them.
  3. The Gerber Baby Syndrome, a look at our relentlessly absurd expectations of marketing and service perfection.
  4. How to Get Free Publicity for Your Business. Grabby, SEO friendly title and some long-tail juju, with a straight-talkin’ twist.
  5. A Day in Customer Service Hell, kinda a personal fave because I thought I nailed being smart, funny and ‘different’ in a constructive rant.
  6. Because I couldn’t stop at 5, I’m still stumped by the idea of marketing-proof businesses. There are rare instances when negative feedback and bad PR really don’t hurt the bottom line that much, thanks to good locations or cornered markets.
 Happy clicking. What’s the ‘best’ post you wrote that ‘no one’ read? Go ahead, brag a little.
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Unfollow Friday, Redux

Seems to be going around. It’s your Twitter, do whatever the hell you want. Promise you, that be my plan.

Unfollow Friday, Part Three, Act LDXV, Version 4.7

Whenever I do this I nix mostly news, bots, RSS feeds – anything that’s push only. (Fare thee well Social Media Today; you’re still in the Reader). I also look at people, what value I get from what they tweet, very WIIFM per my Twitter rules.

My follow/unfollow strategy of the moment includes:
someecards.com - Your repeated attempts to follow and unfollow me on Twitter will continue to be ignored.

  • Not giving two wits about your Klout score, though I’ve been tempted to peak at what influence PeerIndex says I don’t have, just to see.
  • Automation overload. Tools are nice, scheduling works but too much of a good thing – that’s getting some more unfollows, especially since I can now Circle you on Google+. Until you figure out how to program and noise that up too.
  • Platitudinal randomness. I like quotes, I get quotes but random tweets of “time is like an ocean, make your bed” aren’t moving my furniture these days.
  • My streams a little organizationally challenged, so seeing if following lists makes things any easier.
  • Profile pictures of bacon or kittens, that’s just cheating. Dancing, animated avatars, please say no.
  • Content, engagement, fun, interest. Winner, winner, winner… that’s what I want, from a funny feed like OHnewsroom or a clever blogger who gets it, whether they tweet 10 or 50 times a day.

Insert whiny chorus of [whah whah ‘need to get more from Twitter‘ whah] here. Think I’ve zapped a few dozen this week, moved a few people to Lists or Google+ instead. This is of course requires looking at the streams to see what’s what, which has another benefit: I’m noticing people again and actually taking the time to be social. Whataya know.

What moves you to break out the unfollow button? Besides posts like this.

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