How to get your staff to treat customers like crap

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I saw this sign while I was waiting for my daughter to use the washroom in the employee area of a local drug store. I actually thought I must have misread it at first.

I strongly believe that people treat others the way they are treated. This sign does not bode well for wowing the customer. Obviously the store has a problem with employee theft, but there are better ways to deal with it than a pat down on the way out of work. If it were me, I’d feel a lot of animosity towards my employer, and that kind of strong emotion is hard to shake off. Being told I’m not trusted, but put on a happy face go out there and be awesome just doesn’t work.

With a little creativity, the management could likely make a big impact on morale and customer satisfaction.

That pond needs email

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I get excited when I see small businesses doing good marketing, and it’s usually a simple opportunity they’ve taken advantage of.

At a rest stop on the way to Niagara Falls, a company called Coles Pond Store has done a waterfall/pond installation. It caught my eye not only because it’s attractive, but because we are thinking of putting one in our backyard.

The installation is in a spot that sees a lot of traffic, so points for a good location. But location isn’t everything. Coles needs to think of the timing of my exposure to their marketing. I’m probably not shopping at the rest stop.

In the middle of the installation is a sign for the store with a QR code on it as well. I didn’t snap it with a QR reader, but it probably just takes me to a website homepage.

Better would have been if it took me to a landing page to sign up for an eNewsletter on pond building tips. At a rest stop, I’m not likely to be inclined to seek out more details, but I would if I’m reminded to a few days later by the arrival of a newsletter.

We’ll see if I remember to check the photo I took when time comes for me to build, but the Coles is off to a good start.

Customers are people, too

This week I had a positive customer experience with Marketingprofs.com and it got me thinking again about why companies so often mess up and treat prospects better than customers.

So, here’s what happened. I’ve been a MarketingProfs pro member for years, but somehow I also ended up on their prospect list. I think I may have done something wacky changing my email once. As a result I get both email updates as a customer and the ones they send to those they hope to convert.

This particular email offered me a free course if I signed up as a pro member. It was a $500 value and I know their courses are excellent. I felt a little cheated that someone they hardly knew was getting this offer when a loyal customer like me wasn’t. So, I responded to the email explaining that I was a customer already, but that I’d sure like to take advantage of this offer.

It took a few days, but Penny from MarketingProfs emailed me back and told me that a private code had been created so I could take advantage of this offer. Thank you, Penny, that’s great news.

Why is it that so many companies do this? They get so fixated on luring in new customers that they forget to save some of those great deals for existing customers. The telecom companies are famous for this. So are the banks. Is it any wonder loyalty is so low in those industries? Why not switch mobile providers with every new deal if you get ignored after signing the contract? It’s the same reason people cheat in relationships: I’m just not appreciated.

The recent decision by the Canadian Radio and Television Commission (CRTC) here in Canada to kill all three-year contracts for mobile companies will make this problem even worse for them if they continue focusing on just new business.

This whole issue of getting new business by treating existing customers right is something Joseph Jaffe writes about in his book Flip the Funnel in much more detail than I can cover here if you are interested.

Coming back to my experience with MarketingProfs, I think they provide great value for my money. I’m a satisfied customer and this incident ended well for me. But imagine how much better it would have been if I hadn’t had to ask. What if they just occasionally surprised me with an offer to thank me for being a loyal customer?

What if my mobile company did the same? My bank? Dare I suggest my insurance company? Here are three industries that stand to make huge gains by showing a little appreciation.

How about you? Are there companies you deal with who get this right? Or wrong?

But I’m the Mayor!

Just because your customers are on vacation doesn’t mean you can be.

We have a family cottage about three hours north of Toronto. Two years ago I discovered the marina had a check in on Foursquare. Being addicted to social media, I dodged the calls from my wife to put my phone away and checked in. At the time there was only one other check in.

In short order I became the Mayor of Harris Lake Marina! While I didn’t expect a ticker tape parade, I was curious to see if anyone at the marina noticed. They didn’t. I don’t even think they know they are on Foursquare, let alone how to make it work for their business.

This is cautionary tale for small business owners. Your customers may be trying to engage with you online even if you aren’t there.

It wouldn’t have taken much effort to monitor Foursquare. To offer discounts on items in the marina store for checking in. Supporting that with a Facebook page that posted current weather conditions, upcoming events, allowed cottagers to sure photos and stories.

The lake is small and the cottagers are definitely a tribe. The marina is definitely a part of that community. They could be a much larger part of it, though., and online could support that.

Sadly, they don’t even recognize the Mayor when he walks into the store.

It’s not all content on social media

Twitter birdIts been said by many people smarter than me, that you have to be human and engaging in social channels. A story in the Globe and Mail reported on a scientific study that showed just that.

The researchers were able to reliably (83% accuracy) identify whether a tweet came from a person, a corporation or a bot WITHOUT looking at the content. If scientists can work out a formula to do this, you can be pretty sure the human brain is doing it, too; even if its on a subconscious level. What that means for marketers is that we need to spend a lot more time trying to be human and not just pushing out content.

Why? Because people like to interact with other people. Not corporations – even if those corporations have great content.

The study also found that individuals are most active on Twitter at the end of the day, while companies are more active during work hours. That makes sense considering an employee is manning the corporate Twitter account, but it means that they are trying to engage with people who aren’t there. Companies would do well to bring in an afternoon Twitter shift to carry activity on into this high-engagement are.

Summing it up, the lessons are more common sense: act like a human in all your interactions, and fish where the fish are (when they are there).

What do you think?

Have you ever left a job with nowhere to go?

This one is mostly for me. Kind of talking to myself …

Sometimes you know when it’s time to go. It becomes obvious. It can slap you in the face or just keep building until you can’t deny it any longer.

For me, it was both. About a year ago I got the slap in the face, but I’m stubborn. I hung in, convinced I could make it work, make a difference, help chart a new path. Finally the evidence was too much for even me to ignore. It was time.

So here I am: gone. Fresh start. A break. A chance to figure out a new path. Find a new way, a new place to make a difference. It’s exciting. And it’s scary.

Have you been through this? How did it feel? What did you do? I’d love to hear.

For me it starts with a rest. A chance to recoup. More time to think, to read, to write, and, I hope, figure things out. Stay tuned.