AT&T Hell

Simply put, this is how NOT to provide a service.

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But Where?

In a previous post I discussed the basics of Social Media in relation to service companies. So the next question is where do I want to have content? YouTube? SlideShare? Second Life? blogs? Other sites? The answer is yes.

All this is fairly new in terms of business. And remember, you’re a service company so it’s beyond important that you are seen in new places. Places where the “in crowd” go. So the answer is that you want to be in all these places if you have the resources. If not, pick a few that make sense and go with it. The key is that you need to be present somewhere in Social Media. It’s part of being an expert.

Here is an example. A client asks you for some information pertinent to the service you provide. You can:

A) Type up an email with the information and send it

B) Send an email with a pdf attachment

C) Send an email with a PowerPoint attached (please do not do this)

D) Send a link to a slide show that you uploaded to SlideShare

 

You tell me which option is going to give you more credibility?

 

Windows and Trust

A colleague told me a story the other day about a company that installed the windows in a brand new Chicago high rise. Seems they had a bit of a problem. There was an issue with the windows popping out due to the internal air pressure of the building. Now if you’re in a one story building, having the windows pop out isn’t a huge issue, unless you happen to be standing outside next to one when it happens. But a high rise? That’s a whole different story.

So it seems the building was having a major problem leasing office space, and in the offices they did lease no one wanted to sit by the window for fear of getting sucked out if a window happened to go. Something had to be done.

Easy fix, right? The window company came, fixed the problem, and moved on. But the problem wasn’t necessarily the windows; the problem was the perception of what would happen if a window blew out. And this problem still existed even if the window itself had been fixed. How could the tenants actually know they were now safe?

Enter the CEO of the window company. He made an appointment with all the tenants in one of the large conference rooms on one of the top floors. At the designated time, everyone showed up to hear what the CEO had to say. As people arrived they noticed there were no chairs, so they stood. When the starting time for the meeting came, the CEO walked into the conference room with a briefcase in hand. Everyone turned their attention to him as he set his case on the floor. He removed his coat but didn’t say a word. He then turned, faced the group, and motioned with both arms for them to split apart. Still, without speaking, he took off running as fast as he could through the crowd towards the windows. Having reached full speed he threw himself into the windows with a thud. He proceeded to bounce off and land on his feet. He turned, walked back to his briefcase, put his coat back on, and looked back at the stunned crowd. “That should take care of any concerns that you have,” he said as he turned and walked out.

Gaining your customers trust is imperative when you are selling a service. In this case the service was window installation. LifeLock is another service where the CEO goes to extremes to gain his customers trust. Think of what extremes you can go to to gain your customers trust.

Everything Points to the Expert

If you need brain surgery do you want a general practitioner operating on you? How about if you are getting your car fixed? Would you prefer that a general mechanic work on your car or do you want someone that specializes in your make of car? People almost always look for what they consider an expert when looking for a service.

It is important to be viewed as the expert when you are selling a product…but it is imperative when selling a service. Customers are buying a promise from you. And an expert is perceived as someone who is most likely to deliver. Everything you do should scream “We’re experts!” Collateral material, websites, even the way your sales team dresses. You don’t have to say you’re an expert, just use the proper verbiage, images and approach. The customer will get it. With real estate it’s location, location, location…with selling a service its expert, expert, expert.

Blogging

We were discussing blogs in a meeting this morning and someone used the term “thought leader.” Now this obviously doesn’t apply to everyone that blogs, but I would say that many thought leaders do blog. And what better way is there to show you are an expert at what you do then to put your “thought leading” thoughts down for people to read and comment on.

If you are an expert in your field, blogging is the singular most important place to show it on the web today. So the logical conclusion is that if you are a service company, someone from your organization should be blogging. Blogging allows you to show that you are an expert…or not.

Web 2 Point What?

We’ve all heard it mentioned at least once. Web 2.0. You may have even heard it called “Social Media.” But what is Web 2.0 and how does it fit in with marketing a service company.

Most of you can probably skip this paragraph, but my mom always taught me to be thorough so bare with me. The 1.0 version of the Internet was “Here’s our nice polished website…have a look…read about us…maybe send us an email.” Now, think of Social Media, or Web 2.0, as the two-way Internet. The user is no longer looking at websites, they are participating in them. This includes uploading videos (YouTube, Joost, Babelgum, etc.), creating content/feedback (blogs, forums, etc.), connecting with friends (Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace) manipulating avatars through virtual worlds (Second Life, Stagecoach Island, World of Warcraft). The user has become king. The user is quickly becoming the Internet.

So besides the fact that it scares the heck out of most companies, how does a service company navigate the Web 2.0 waters? My response would be “honest” and “mindful.” Remember that as a service company you want to be viewed as an expert. So I say “honest” because if you put something out there that is not true the consumer will be all over it like…well…use your favorite analogy. The consumer now has a well deserved voice and boy do they enjoy using it. The news is rife these days with stories of companies struggling with negative posts about their service or products. Which brings up another aspect of being honest. Don’t ignore the consumer voice. It will only grow louder. Consumer’s don’t expect perfection, but they do except to be heard. If you ignore them they will only grow louder. A quick, well thought out and honest response to any problem is a must in the Web 2.0 world. And utilize the same medium from which the voices are coming from for your response.

“Mindful” simply means that you need to be smart about what you put out there and where you put it. Absolutely do not regurgitate the same type of marketing fluff that was used in the world of Web 1.0. At the very least you will be ignored, at the worst you will be mocked. You have to provide value with your content. It can be entertainment value, it can be educational value, or it can be whatever value. But provide something of value for the consumer. And be honest in what it is. Don’t try to pass off a high dollar video as an authentic, user generated piece of work. You will be skewered…..unless you can do it REALLY well like the popular Dynamite Surfing video from Quiksilver. And even then the responses can be fairly mixed.

Remember, “honest” and “mindful” and you should be fine. Be then again, isn’t that how we were supposed to be operating in the first place?