Lane Becker: How to Inspire WOM with Customer Service — live from Word of Mouth Supergenius

10:15 — Bergen Anderson introduces Get Satisfaction‘s Lane Becker.

10:16 — Lane shows a slide, “So you’ve got these customers” and you want them to tell everyone about you. “How many of you have a community and are actively engaged in it?”

10:16 — There are 3 things to remember about customer service. 1. This isn’t customer avoidance. Beyond the traditional 1 to 1 interaction there isn’t much value to customer service, until we got to actively using the internet.

10:17 — We actively kill the conversation at the customer service by shipping our customer service overseas, hiring call centers, using “FAQs”. This is customer avoidance.

10:18 — Lane describes how companies use millions of dollars of advertising to get the customer, but millions of dollars is also spent trying to get rid of them during the customer service portion of the relationship.

10:19 — Zappos has a prize for the longest phone conversation anyone has had with a customer. The longest is five and a half hours.

10:20 — There is a new channel of communication opening up every day. Friction-Free communication is something we experience with the new toys that come out every day, unless it comes to getting some sort of help with a problem. This doesn’t seem right.

10:21 — Lane shows the slide, “Customer service is marketing.”

10:22 — “Public is different than private.” This isn’t about technology and tools, it’s about a different mindset of companies dealing with customers. Every business needs a lobby, and every company also needs a concierge. This is how we think of the role of a customer service rep.

10:23 — Lane talks about, “How to inspire word of mouth with customer service.”

10:23 — Know your special service. Zappos has many things that are successful, and one reason for that is that they are very clear and concise on their website, and with their core values.

10:24 — Lane says that customer service is about breeding trust, showing you care about them, and that you are loyal to them so they will be loyal to you.

10:25 — Set some rules. We need to set rules so people know what to expect of us. Digg is more like a stadium, and Facebook is more like a mall. Each environment needs a different set of rules. Flickr has a great rule, “Don’t be creepy. You know the guy. Don’t be that guy.” (Shows screen capture of this rule on their website.)

10:26 — Lane says that Get Satisfaction uses the “Company – Customer Pact” which you are free to see and use. Outlines the responsibilities of the customer, and the company. This document significantly cuts down on the vitrol that you sometimes see in an online environment.

10:27 — Set clear expectations. Consistency in response is incredibly important. You have to make it predictable so customers know how you are going to behave–and most importantly, it has to be rapid. You have to set that standard and respond as quickly as possible. Evolve your policy as your community grows.

10:28 — Lane says that he speaks differently to 10 people than he does to 10,000 people. You have to take an approach that evolves over time as your community grows.

10:29 — Respond quickly, but only if there is no malice in your heart because you cannot be mean to your customers, even though they are mean to you. Weave conversation throughout, cast a wide net. We have a mentality around community due to the way it’s evolved online, which suggests that community is a place–but being social on your website is only part of the equation. It is not the only place that people want to be social. It is not just a tab on your site. This isn’t about just the contact us page.

10:30 — Customers may have a problem when they’re on a different portion of your website. It’s about developing guidelines within your company. To customers it is all about one unified experience, even if it’s across different channels. You need to think about these things that’s unified (Whether on Facebook, Twitter etc.) in the customer service process.

10:31 — Lane says everybody in the pool has knowledge. Everyone has a domain in which they know something. The concierge model allows us to pull the right people in to solve the problems that are specific to them.

10:33 — Creative productive outcomes. Lane asks, “How do we get to resolution, or satisfaction?” He is particularly proud of Comcast, and their use of the Comcast cares team.

10:34 — Learn to say sorry. Customers love it. Relax and reframe.

10:35 — Make it personal. Lane says making something personal is the hardest thing to bring into our business. Discourage anonymity. Don’t hide behind your castle walls. Use your real name and voice. Developing a personal connection even for a single customer service encounter is invaluable. Be human


Q: How much of this is organic? What are the general parameters for customer service?

A: Lane: I do think that there are really specific ways we can behave. There are some very specific rules, but it’s most important to engage at the very beginning of a community. You can determine how to pull back after you have grown the community after you identify who is helping out the most. See if there is someone else who may answer your questions first.

Q: Comcast does a bad job in terms of multi-channel engagement, and I have first hand experience with this. How can this challenge be addressed?

A: Lane: Over the last 25 years, we have developed CRM’s, but more so customer data management which helps keep better track of what’s been fixed. These online forms of support are still in the process of getting rolled into the technology.

Q: Do you have an example of a good lobby for support?

A: Lane: I think Whole Foods, and Tide both have a good lobby for support and are working hard at getting better at developing their lobby. It’s an evolving space. I look at a lot of startups like Ning. They have an amazing example of a lobby where users can support other users.

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  1. Live coverage recap from yesterday's Word of Mouth Supergenius - December 17, 2009

    […] How to Inspire WOM With Customer Service — with Get Satisfaction’s Lane Becker […]

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