Archive | September, 2010

Got a customer service problem? Social media can help

30 Sep

It’s interesting to think that in today’s day and age one of the main methods for dealing with problems comes from a technology that didn’t even exist 15 years ago. Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and email have become the go-to places when one has a problem. Whether its a personal or professional issue, the internet is full of ways to help us deal with them.

For me personally, my social networks have become a second life of sorts. An online version of me without the 3D effects. And with that version comes the ability to get things done that I ordinarily wouldn’t have time for, wouldn’t know how to address or wouldn’t care to fix. But social media helps the world interact so much more efficiently that anything is possible.

Take Twitter and Facebook for example: there are a ton of companies on Twitter now and more people are joining each day. Facebook recently hit 500 million users and if it were a country, would be the fourth largest in the world. So now that I know where the people are, its a safe bet that many companies will have a presence there too. Go where the customers are – you don’t want people to be conversing about you, and not have any input when the option is there. That’s just bad business. Not to say that you should do it just to do it – that line of thinking doesn’t work whether we’re talking about business or life. You should engage because there’s a need – a need to connect with the world and have a conversation.

Earlier this month, I had 3 different interactions with 3 separate companies. The first one was with Sears. I bought a black grill cover earlier this summer and now its grey, bordering on white. Since I bought a black one, I was not happy that it was no longer this color. So I hopped online, found their account on Twitter and tweeted my disappointment. I wasn’t mean, out of turn or anything like that, just a simple not happy message. At the very least it made me feel better, and I figured at the very best, I’d get a coupon or something. One thing to note – I did make sure the Sears account was active before I engaged. Who wants to tweets to a dead account? So I tweeted, they responded, and we started a conversation – then the unthinkable happened – it moved offline. Sears customer service actually called me (on the phone!), and I talked to a REAL person. I was super impressed. The lady was extremely helpful, very nice and at the end of our talk sent me a gift card for the price of the cover. Just like that. It arrived a week later, and then Sears called me and tweeted at me to make sure everything was ok. Great customer service.

The second and third interactions were with Tiny Prints and Shutterfly. I had bought things from each of them previously so every once in a while I’m offered discounts and coupons. I hadn’t purchased anything from Tiny Prints since before Baby R, and the email I got was enticing me to stay in touch and I’d get a $25 coupon code. I signed up for the newsletter but no code came. I signed up again, and no code. So I tweeted at Tiny Prints about my experience, and a day or so later I had the $25 sitting in my Tiny Prints account. Perfect. I wanted to order Baby R some stationary but was holding off because it was rather pricey. Now with my code, she’s got her stationary, I saved some money, and Tiny Prints still has a loyal (and happy!) customer.

Lastly, Shutterfly makes great photo albums that you can design yourself (or have them do it) and then they print and ship to you. Unfortuantely it was taking FOREVER to load some pictures to their site, and I missed a free book deal by a few hours. Again, I took to Twitter, tweeted about it, and the next day ordered my free book because they extended the promo for a few more days.

Now I’m not saying every company works this way or engages their customers using social media. Some just tweet deals, press releases or offer tips without interacting with others. But the ones that do interact, and do work with their customers are doing so very effectively. Social media can work to help connect customers with businesses, and it doesn’t always have to be asking for something. Tiny Prints frequently retweets positive messages, Shutterfly responds to Facebook posts, and Petunia Pickle Bottom regularly chats with fans on their Facebook page.

Using social media to interact with customers is a smart, simple and economical way to strengthen relationships. It’s also a great way to make a customer feel good, and want to patronize a business next time they’re in the market for said product. And you know what, I’ve told my stories to a lot of people recently, and nothing is more valuable than friendly referrals.

Hard to Believe

19 Sep

It’s hard to believe its already the middle, getting to be  the end of September. I feel like I just posted a few days ago, but it turns out its been a few weeks! I know time flies when you’re having fun, but lately I feel like I need a time machine just to go back and get things done! Somewhere between the beginning of the month and now , a million little things have happened, and a million more were forgotten. Last week I headed to TJ Maxx to get something I knew I needed. They didn’t have it, and when I went back yesterday, I couldn’t for the life of me remember what had been SO important only 8 days ago.

I think a lot of people feel this way, and if I could find a way to add an extra hour or two to each day, I could be a very rich woman. Think of what we could do with an extra hour – and I don’t mean an extra hour to work – I mean an extra hour to spend with the family, get some groceries, make a Halloween costume (it is that time of year!) do some yoga or veg out on the couch. Personally, I would pay a great deal of money to have an extra hour or two in my day. Which means,  theoretically of course, if I had an extra hour in my day it would take longer to get older and I would get to be younger for longer. Now that is something I can really get behind! Not that becoming an adult hasn’t had its advantages, but I hate to think I’m getting older. Considering I’m having friends for dinner, and they have kids, and I’ve actually had to prepare more than noodle ramen, I think getting older has already started. Now for that extra hour….

7 months

2 Sep

It’s hard to believe that 7 months ago – at this very minute – I was bargaining with the anesthesiologist to please please give me another epidural. Alas, she said no, that two was my limit, and unfortunately I was going to have to push the baby out without more pain meds. And I (screaming the whole way) did. At 5:41 on February 2nd, Baby R arrived as a fat, healthy baby. It was hard to believe that within in 24 hours (ok, 9 months) I had become a mother. A few pushes and life changed forever.

And changed it has. No longer is everything about me or my husband or my job or anything else I deemed important at the time, but it’s centered around Baby R and the little family she created when she entered this world. It’s not up to my husband and I to figure out what to do anymore, it’s up to us to figure out how to help Baby R become the best person she can be. The changes, I find, are the most wonderful changes in the world. Not at all scary (ok, sometimes they are!) like people make them out to be when they speak to you in that dark, deep tone and say “nothing will ever be the same”. Well, duh!! That was the point! We were ready to leave behind our childhood, and create someone elses. We were grateful for the change, and looking back its hard to believe its only been 7 months. Certain days it feels like a minute, other days I can barely remember what it was like to not have a child.

I’ll never forget the definitive moment of “I’m having a baby, and I’m no longer a child” that to me, set a clear line of leaving my childhood behind, becoming responsible for someone else’s. I had progressed enough during the night that the Doctor had me wheeled into Labor and Delivery at about 9am (I was induced so my last night of Freedom was spent hanging out in the OB ward – fun!) and as I was saying goodbye to my family (hubby and my Mom would follow me in a bit) my Dad looked at me, gave me a hug and a kiss, said I love you and good luck. Right there, at that moment, I became I full-fledged adult. My “Daddy” was sending me off to become a Mom, and emotionally, sent me off into the great big world (bawling my eyes out I might add, damn hormones).

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve lived on my own since I graduated college, paid my own way (mostly!), got married and settled into life as a couple. But I always felt that kid-like exuberance and having Baby R, my kid-like exuberance turned into something much more concrete, fulfilling and satisfying. I’m not sure what it is, but I like it. Sure, some days I want to take off and not have a care in the world. But most days, I’m happy as can be focusing on my little family, and the wonderful changes Baby R has brought to it. Not only am I more complete, but my marriage is, my life is and I’m pretty sure that its only going to get better – so Happy Birthday Baby R!

%d bloggers like this: