How to Improve Your Customer Service with These 8 Ways to Get Feedback

It doesn’t matter what type of business you have or how long you’ve run it. Your customers are the lifelines of your brand.

Whether you sell products, offer services, or a combination of the two, customer service needs to be one of your top priorities.

You could have the best product in the world, but if you don’t treat your customers well, it’s going to hurt your bottom line. On the flip side, you could have a product that’s average, or even subpar, and be extremely profitable if you provide excellent customer service.

How is that possible? Well, the numbers don’t lie.

According to research, 80% of consumers say they’re willing to pay more money to businesses offering better customer service.

But that’s not all. Failing to provide good customer service can result in the loss of your customers.

What exactly causes a business to lose customers? Research shows that only 14% of customers stop supporting a business because they are not satisfied with their products or services. And 9% leave because of the price.

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But look at the top reason why customers leave a business. Nearly seven out of 10 customers will leave because they don’t feel valued.

In short, customer service is more important than what you’re selling.

Now that we’ve established why improving your customer service is important, it’s time to take steps in that direction. But how can you improve your customer service if you don’t know what your customers want?

It’s simple. Just ask them.

Getting feedback from your customers is a crucial component of your customer support strategy.

It shows them you care about their opinions. Furthermore, the results can help you better your business and ultimately make more money.

If you want to provide excellent customer service, I’ve narrowed down the top 8 ways to get feedback from your customers.

1. Create surveys

Leveraging customer surveys is the most logical place to start your quest for feedback.

Depending on what you’re using the survey for, the questions and potential responses can vary.

It’s important to have a clear goal when you’re creating these. For example, if you’re trying to improve your customer service, you don’t necessarily need to ask the customer about a specific product.

That said, surveying customers about a previous purchase shows them you value their opinions, which they perceive as good customer service.

The idea is to get your information and get out as soon as possible. Customers don’t want to fill out a 20-minute survey.

People are busy. In all honesty, they’ve got better things to do. I recommend using an online resource such as SurveyMonkey to create your surveys.

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You can create an account for free and have access to templates and pre-written questions about specific topics. Obviously, you can customize those to fit your business and goals.

Once your survey is complete, it’s easy to distribute it electronically to your customers through all your marketing channels.

Since time is of the essence here, keep your surveys short and limit them to a handful of questions. Don’t ask obvious or misleading questions.

Don’t ask questions and provide answers you want to hear. You may be doing things wrong. Allow your customers to share that information with you.

Sometimes you need to give your customers some extra incentive to fill out a survey to get as many responses as possible. A discount off their next purchase should be sufficient.

2. Interviews

Interviews might not work for your business.

It’s much easier for brands with brick and mortar locations to conduct interviews than for online businesses.

Sure, ecommerce companies can still interview customers. But they’d have to set up a Skype session or phone call to do so. This isn’t impossible, but it’s more of a hassle.

But those of you with physical store locations can interview customers when they shop in person.

The best time to do this is after the customer has checked out and is getting ready to leave. You don’t want to bother customers while they are shopping because it could potentially prevent them from making a purchase.

Since it’s not the most common practice, this strategy could really help you gain an edge over your competitors.

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Nearly 90% of marketing experts believe that improving the customer experience is the top factor for differentiating their brand from the competition.

Before the customer leaves your store, politely ask them if they have five minutes to answer some questions. If you tell them the interview is going to be five minutes, you’d better stick to five minutes.

Conduct the interview away from the register so it doesn’t hold up your line.

It doesn’t need to be in an office, but go somewhere with some privacy so other employees and customers can’t hear the responses.

Introduce yourself and explain why you’re conducting the interview. Establish a rapport with the interviewee so they feel comfortable answering your questions honestly.

Make it clear that you won’t be offended by their responses. Some customers may be hesitant to provide negative feedback if they are saying it directly to your face.

You’ll need to let your guard down and ask questions in a way that gives them the opportunity to say how they truly feel.

The great thing about an interview, as opposed to a survey, is that the answers are more authentic. Customers have a chance to tell you what’s on their minds, without having to select from a pre-determined list of survey responses.

Record your interviews, with the customer’s permission, of course. That way you won’t have to scramble to write notes while they are speaking.

Again, you can offer an incentive to customers who take the time to answer your questions. Thank them for their time, and give them a coupon.

3. Add a comment box to your website

This one is pretty simple.

Include a customer feedback form on your website. That way, people who are visiting can see this as an opportunity to share their opinions.

Here’s an example of a basic version of a comment box on the BuildFire website:

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You have different options with these comment boxes. As you can see in the example above, this form requires you to include your name and email address with the message.

But you could provide the visitor with an anonymous option.

If customers do provide you with their contact information, it’s always in your best interest to reach out to them when you receive the message. This is especially true if they are voicing a complaint.

Apologize for any inconvenience you may have caused them. Offer a solution.

Let them know that you value them as a customer and that you’ll make improvements to ensure this won’t happen again. Thank them for reaching out to you.

Here’s something else to keep in mind. Don’t be discouraged by negative comments.

You should be thankful the customer told you about their poor experience instead of leaving without saying a word.

In fact, only 1 out of 26 customers will complain if they are unhappy. The other 25 will just give up on your brand and stop buying.

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When a customer gives you negative feedback, you still have the opportunity to make things right. Not all is lost.

You can turn a negative experience into something positive by mending that relationship.

4. Third-party reviews

Your business is on websites such as Yelp, Google Local, and TripAdvisor.

Just because you don’t control those websites doesn’t mean you should ignore them. Make a habit of checking those listings weekly, at a minimum.

If you are getting tons of reviews, consider checking more frequently.

For starters, you want to make sure the information listed on these sites is accurate. I’m referring to your hours, phone number, menu, pricing, etc.

But you also need to consider the customers who willingly took the time to write about your business.

Good comments. Bad comments. You want to pay attention to all of them.

All too often when we talk about customer service, it seems like businesses automatically jump to the negatives. While it’s important to be proactive about those poor experiences, it’s also necessary to keep track of the positive ones.

This will reinforce what you’re doing right. You’ll know what you should continue doing instead of changing something that customers are happy with.

5. Live video broadcast

Jump on the live video bandwagon.

Facebook. Instagram. YouTube. All of these marketing channels have live streaming features you should be taking advantage of.

While this tactic isn’t quite as intimate as a focus group, which we’ll discuss shortly, it gives you the opportunity to reach a high volume of customers at the same time.

Here are some of the top benefits of live video streaming, according to brands, retail companies, agencies, and other marketing executives:

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As you can see from their responses, a more authentic interaction with the audience ranked first on the list.

This authentic interaction is great for getting customer feedback. That’s because customers can comment in real time while you’re broadcasting live.

Everyone else watching can see those comments as well. Respond to comments.

Depending on how many people are watching your stream, it can be overwhelming to keep up with comments. That’s okay. Take your time to go through them.

The great thing about these live streams is you can save them and refer to them at a later time. Read through the comments, and take notes. Group similar statements so you can prioritize what needs to be addressed first.

Live video is great for customers as well. They can watch it on their smartphones from the couch as opposed to being bothered when they are in your store.

6. Focus groups

Focus groups aren’t nearly as popular as some of the other feedback methods. This is mainly because the logistics are more complex.

But that doesn’t mean you should ignore this option. Even if it’s not your top choice, conducting a focus group should still be in your arsenal of potential ways to get feedback from your customers.

An ideal focus group is conducted in person, with all the participants in the same room. Groups of six to eight customers should commit between 30 and 60 minutes of their time to participate.

Being in a room together will allow them to feed off each other.

One person could say something that another customer may not have thought of. As a result, it could trigger a response based on that customer’s experience.

Focus groups are great for testing new products and ideas. Allowing your customers to be part of the innovation process will make them feel valued, the importance of which I have already talked about.

Customers who participate in focus groups should be compensated much more than those who fill out a survey online.

Your customers who complete a survey may get 20% off their next purchase. But it’s not unreasonable to provide a $ 50 or even $ 100 gift card to customers participating in focus groups. You should also provide them with some food when they arrive.

7. Follow-up emails

After a customer makes a purchase, you should send them a follow-up message, asking for their feedback.

I’m sure you’ve seen these before. Here’s an example of a short survey from Venmo embedded directly into an email:

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As you can see, this survey is directly related to customer service.

In addition to embedding the survey into the email, you could also provide a link for the customer to provide feedback through a platform like SurveyMonkey, which I talked about earlier.

You may even decide to send a link to the comment box on your website I previously mentioned.

Just realize that any additional steps a customer has to take to give you feedback will decrease the chances of it being completed.

Don’t be annoying. All too often I get three or four emails from a company asking me to provide feedback for my most recent purchase, flight, etc.

You don’t want to be that person.

If they don’t respond after the first message, you could send one more reminder. But that’s it. If they still haven’t given feedback, you could always try again in the future after their next purchase.

8. Social media comments

You need to stay active on social media.

But in addition to posting content on a regular basis, you also have to track what your customers say about you.

Don’t ignore your notifications. Read through your comments and direct messages.

Do this on all platforms. Facebook. YouTube. Instagram.

Use the Twitter advanced search query to find out what customers are saying about you, even if they don’t tag you directly.

Check out these comments from a post on the Lululemon Facebook page:

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The first comment is positive, and the second comment shares some criticism.

But do you notice something they both have in common? Lululemon responded to both of them.

As I said before, you need to treat both positive and negative feedback the same. In both instances, you want your customers to know you value them.

More than half of consumers say they expect brands to respond to their feedback. If their comments are negative, that number jumps from 52% all the way up to 72%.


If you can’t keep your customers happy, your business is going to struggle. It’s a fact.

Customers care more about customer service than they do about the quality and price of what they’re buying.

That’s why it’s so important for you to find ways to get their feedback. But there is no one-size-fits-all way to do this.

Not all customers will respond to all tactics.

In order to get responses from as many customers as possible, you’ll need to try different approaches. This will also help you get accurate results.

Refer to this list of my favorite 8 ways to get customer feedback. Ultimately, this will help you provide enhanced customer service.

What method is your company using to get feedback from your customers?

Quick Sprout

Oracle Named a Leader in The Forrester Wave™: Email Marketing Service Providers, Q2 2018

“Email Marketing: Old salt of your toolkit, and still the most cost-effective promotional channel.” So begins the preamble to this year’s Forrester Wave for Email Marketing Solutions, Q218. Other channels and buzzy topics tend to grab the headlines. The industry press seems to annually predict the death of email. Yet, email persists as the work horse of most digital marketing organizations. Why? Well, it’s the highest ROI channel for most organizations. It’s the preferred commercial channel for most consumers. And, email has been able to adapt to changing consumer tastes—becoming more mobile, more interactive, and more intelligent.

While Oracle has done a lot (more than any other vendor in our opinion) to provide marketing organizations with a true cross-channel marketing platform—we’ve never lost sight of where we came from, or how important email is to our customers. That’s why we are the only vendor who has earned the Leader designation in every Forrester Email Wave for the last thirteen years!

What does it take to lead a category for over 13 years?

Well, for one it takes focus. I trust that few readers have actually reviewed all seven Forrester Waves for Email Marketing since 2005. However, the few of us who have can tell you that one trait that is threaded consistently across all seven reports is: volatility.  Email Marketing is a highly competitive space filled with optimistic venture-backed entrants, competitive technology powerhouses, and opportunistic private equity firms. A Leader one year can quickly lose ground to other vendors, if they take their eye off the ball. In fact, every vendor (or their acquired assets) on this year’s report has been a Leader at some point in the past, except Adobe and IBM.

Thankfully, we have been able to avoid these fluctuations by staying focused on unrivaled customer success and market leading technology.

Not Just Technology

From bringing the first Orchestration Canvas to market in 2009, to introducing email marketers to the first productized Multivariate Testing and Send Time Optimization capabilities in more recent years, Oracle takes pride in being an email technology innovator. However, our many collective years in the email space have taught us that excellent technology is simply not enough to guarantee customer success.

True expertise, proactive customer management, and roadmap guided by marketer needs vs. the latest buzzword feature, are just as, if not more, important than the core technology we provide. After all, marketers and their customers sit in the center of our universe, not the IT department. With this in mind, we thought it appropriate to wrap up with a quote from one of our customers that made it into this report, “The Oracle Platform is more robust [than competitors]. But its creative side is the key to its success.”

If you are a digital marketer looking for a consistent, strategic, and creative leader in Email or Cross Channel Marketing – let us know. We’d be happy to talk to you about all we have to offer.

Oh and also, read the report.

Oracle Blogs | Oracle Marketing Cloud

Mail Pattern Boldness – Introducing Envilope, The World’s First Blockchain Postal Service

3,125,000 emails are sent every second.  270 billion emails per day.  Email is among the most widely used, yet most at risk form of electronic communications available, using technology little-changed from the 1970s when it was birthed by computer engineer Ray Tomlinson in 1971.  The first email was a simple test message from one computer to another computer (sitting right beside it) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, travelling via ARPANET, a network of computers that was the precursor to the Internet.  

Looking over a spam folder that if printed would easily fill the New York Public Library and an Inbox that never, ever seems to go down, I’m pretty sure Tomlinson had little inkling of the Pandora’s box his innovation would unleash.  In the wake of a steady stream of apologetic press releases and (non-ironic) email notifications of data breaches, it seems the time is right for a new evolution, some are even saying revolution, around how we send, receive and store messages.

Envilope, a Gibraltar-based blockchain company, is seeking to redefine digital privacy with the world’s very first blockchain-based postal service.  “For thousands of years, if it was private it went in an envelope,” says Mark Allardyce, Founder and Group Chairman of Envilope. “Then came fax, email, text, and social media. When we need privacy the most, where did the envelope go? We want to bring back a novel idea, the return of privacy and control.”

Envilope is a virtual envelope using blockchain technology in which users can lock emails, digital files, or secure messages containing text, images, audio, video – anything that can be sent online. It gives users unprecedented privacy and control over electronic communications, including who views it, when and where.  Only the intended recipient can open an Envilope, and only after accepting the sender’s terms and conditions.

“Envilope is a UK-Government-Approved, fully working virtual envelope with military-grade encryption in which you can lock an email, digital media, secure message, or any other form of content that can be sent electronically,” says Allardyce, “with Envilope, messages or files mistakenly sent to the wrong person can be vaporized instantly. Privacy, security, and control over email and its contents rest solely with the sender and you can know who, when and where your digital content is at all times.”

If a user ever has a reason to suspect a breach or wishes to subsequently prevent access previously granted access, her or she can instantly “vaporize” the content, regardless of how many times it has been shared or forwarded and fully restore vaporized content at a later date.  The sender of an Envilope is in total control of their information from end-to-end. In a world where information security is a cause of much insecurity, new technologies like Envilope can help anyone that sends anything online, which is just about everyone, sleep sounder at night.

Envilope’s timing could not be more prescient.  Once an email is sent, users lose control over that message.  Confidential messages, attachments and files can be easily copied and forwarded without the knowledge of the original sender. How can a user prevent tampering and ensure the integrity of the original message?  “There is a pressing need to send confidential information online in a simple yet familiar way that provides the sender complete control over a secure, blockchain-audited record of interactions,” says Allardyce.

As if we needed reminding, below are just a couple of timely examples of what can happen when sensitive content is sent or forwarded to the wrong person or stolen by hackers — it shatters confidentiality, exposes trade secrets, and jeopardizes transactions, relationships, and careers.  It can even sway a Presidential election.

Yahoo disclosed the biggest data breaches in history with three billion user accounts stolen by suspected hackers, resulting a renegotiated merger deal with Verizon that pegged the cost of the Yahoo data breach to be an eye-popping $ 350 million.

In March 2016, former White House Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton’s U.S. Presidential Campaign Chairman John Podesta received an email from a user falsely posing as Google (with a Google-related address), notifying Podesta that his password had been compromised by someone in the Ukraine and providing a link to change the address.  

Podesta forwarded the email to his IT team who erroneously confirmed the authenticity of the email and provided separate instructions to change his email to include two-factor authentication.  Unfortunately, Podesta used the original “phishing” link, which hackers used to subsequently steal his login and password information and access his email records.

The result was a devastating breach and disclosure of 50,000 emails, many of which were private and confidential and may have contributed to Clinton’s decline in the polls, which coincided with a series of damaging and embarrassing disclosures by WikiLeaks of emails related to the hack.

Aside from reputational risk, data breaches are costly.  The 2017 Cost of Data Breach Study from the Ponemon Institute, sponsored by IBM, puts the global average cost of a data breach at $ 3.6 million, or $ 141 per data record.  Management cannot wish the problem of cybersecurity away. It is a clear and present danger that requires a robust response equal to the tremendous threat businesses face every day.

“No other company in Envilope’s comparable sectors – secure messaging, secure email, digital signature, and data rooms – can do everything Envilope does, uniquely positioning our products and services across the spectrum,” says Allardyce, “our B2B applications include: Maintaining corporate/client confidentiality for legal, financial, and insurance industries; SaaS and consumer-to-enterprise solutions for corporate and telecom; HIPAA complaint with Full Audit Trail for healthcare users; tracking and capturing who views communications and email harvesting for marketing and entertainment concerns; offering government clients a GCloud approved supplier with military-grade encryption, secure architecture, and no spyware.”

With data privacy on the minds of most everyone these days, it’s past time we reexamine how we store, send and receive email.  With blockchain technology, information insecurity may be a thing of the past.


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Social Media Explorer

First steps with LUIS, the Language Understanding Intelligent Service

There already are several articles on my blog around the subject of the Microsoft Cognitive Services. One that’s still missing, is LUIS – the Language Understanding Intelligent Service. So today, I’ll give you a brief introduction about LUIS so you’ll be able to know what it is and what it can do. As a demo, we’re trying to teach an AI to act like a restaurant where we want to order some food. Hello LUIS!

What is LUIS?

LUIS is part of the Microsoft Cognitive Services which means that it’s part of an extremely powerful yet easy set of APIs developers can use in order to tap into the massive power of machine learning. As the name suggests, LUIS is specifically made to understand language. Although it might look simple at first, it’s actually a lot harder than you might think. Sentences and utterances can be completely different, although they mean exactly the same. Consider the following examples:

  • I want to order food
  • Bring me a hamburger
  • I want to place an order

The sentences look totally different, they have the same intent: order some food. Normally, you would try to parse each sentence (maybe through the usage of regular expressions), but that’ll cost you a lot of effort and you’ll probably won’t get it right. LUIS will help you with this problem, since it’s able to understand all the intents and handle accordingly.

Creating your first LUIS model

In order to do so, simply head over to and navigate to My Apps. Select New App to start. Although the name “App” might be a little bit confusing here, since we’re essentially going to create a LUIS Model. LUIS supports a couple of different languages, so make sure you select the correct language before moving on.

Intents and Entities

Now that we have our LUIS model, we can start training. As stated at the beginning of the article, every utterance comes down an intent, the action you’re trying to achieve. Navigate to Intents, Add Intent and give it a name (in my example: OrderFood). Now start in typing Utterances that’ll be used to start your intent. In other words, simply write down a couple of sentences you would expect people to say.

LUIS Intents

But wait, do I need to add another utterance for each type of food that I sell? Luckily, you won’t need to do that. Simply select the word that’s variable (in my case the word hamburger) and add it as an Entity. LUIS can now be trained to understand different kind of foods when they are placed in the same kind of utterance.

LUIS Entities

Don’t forget to Save all your changes before moving on.

Train and test

Once you got your intents and entities in place, head over to Train & Test. This page will allow you to train LUIS to learn your intents, utterances and entities. Simply press the Train Application-button and let LUIS do it’s magic.

Now, we can use the Interactive Testing to check how the model behaves. Simply test some utterances, change some words and check how LUIS responds. The most importing thing here is the Top scoring intent, since that’s the intent that LUIS will assign as a matched utterance. Also note that LUIS changes words to the assigned entity automatically when it recognizes it.

Train LUIS

In this example above, I’ve used the following utterance: i want to eat a hotdog. When I created OrderFood intent in the previous step, I have never used exact “i want to eat a” phrase. Also, I’ve never used the word hotdog. Still, LUIS is able to recognise this sentence as an OrderFood and even parses the hotdog as the correct entity. All because the system is learning from all kind of phrases and recognizes entities itself.

(Re)training through the API

In order to get your automated build integrated with LUIS, you’ll need to be able to call it’s Programmatic API. There are several methods available in order to do so. This will im- or export the LUIS model as you wish so you won’t be able to do so through the portal. Take note all these methods require a Ocp-Apim-Subscription-Key in the Request header, which holds your subscription key. These methods are most commonly used to (re)train the model.

  • Export Application – Exports a LUIS application to JSON format
  • Import Application – Imports an application to LUIS, the application’s JSON should be included in in the request body.
  • Add Batch Labels – Adds a batch of labeled examples to the specified application
  • Train – Gets the trained model predictions for the input example

You can use a tool like Postman or the API testing Console from Cognitive Services to call the API. Here you’ll find an example of Postman calling the Export Application on the API (note the {appId} and {key} have been removed in this example).

LUIS Postman

An exported model will be a JSON-file. It contains all the data from the LUIS model. Here’s an example of a (trimmed down) version from my RestaurantLuisModel.

 {     "luis_schema_version": "2.1.0",     "versionId": "0.1",     "name": "RestaurantLuisModel",     "desc": "",     "culture": "en-us",     "intents": [ {             "name": "OrderFood"         } ],     "entities": [ {             "name": "food"         } ],     // Removed data     "utterances": [ {             "text": "i would like to order a hamburger",             "intent": "OrderFood",             "entities": [ {                     "entity": "food",                     "startPos": 24,                     "endPos": 32 } ]         }, {             "text": "i want to place an order",             "intent": "OrderFood",             "entities": []         }     ] } 


LUIS makes is fairly easy to understand a language and identify Intents with utterances and Entities. Since it’s a system that you can train, you can gradually make it better and learn from the past. Although not discussed in this article, LUIS even has the possibility to check Suggested Utterances making your LUIS Model even better. Take note that not all supported languages have Prebuilt entity support. This might cause LUIS to act differently than you would expect.

In my next article, I’ll dive into the possibility to integrate LUIS with the Microsoft Bot Framework in order to create a smart chat bot. This combination is extremely powerful when you’re creating a chat bot that uses natural language. Stay tuned!

Want to learn more about this subject?
Join my “Weaving Cognitive and Azure Services“-presentation at TechDaysNL 2017!

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How to Use Facebook Messenger for Social Customer Service

Want to provide better customer service on Facebook? Wondering how Facebook Messenger can help? In this article, you’ll discover how to use Facebook Messenger as a valuable social customer care tool. Why Messenger for the Front Lines of Customer Care? According to USA Today, Facebook views Messenger for Business as a venue for “conversational commerce.” […]

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– Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle

A Seemingly Minor Fact-Checking Tip that Yields Top-Notch Customer Service

people watch woman writing on whiteboard - copyblogger

When I was a cub copy editor, I learned a simple fact-checking technique that is still one of my favorites today.

It may seem unimportant, but if you don’t use this technique and fail to catch a certain type of mistake, you could set yourself up for extra work later.

This is one of my favorites because it demonstrates that reviewing your copy and content for accuracy goes beyond checking for proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

Check for day/date discrepancies

I told you it’s simple.

Whenever you see a day of the week and a date in your text, check that the day of the week matches the date mentioned.

You might write a day and date when you announce and/or discuss in-person events, webinars, or live Q&As.

Here’s how it works

Let’s say you’re inviting your email subscribers to a webinar that will be held on Wednesday, December 29, 2016. You’ve edited and proofread the content already. It looks great … except, this year Wednesday is December 28.

If you send your content with “Wednesday, December 29, 2016” in the announcement, you could leave interested webinar attendees wondering if the webinar is Wednesday, December 28 or Thursday, December 29.

Since “Wednesday, December 29, 2016” doesn’t exist, your content is unclear without this type of fact-checking and could lead to inquiries from your audience.

When you get it right before you publish, you stop questions from confused prospects before they happen.

If your copy and content is accurate, there is no room for confusion. Readers won’t have any trouble understanding your message, and you won’t have to clarify later.

You’ll avoid having to notify your audience again with the correct information.

Tools you need

Keep a calendar handy whenever you edit and proofread.

I like using a paper calendar, and I have one on my desk where I can easily see days of the week and dates for each month.

A digital calendar on your computer or phone works just as well.

The trick is to stop reading your content and check the calendar every time you get to a mention of a day of the week and a date.

Also, when you pause to verify the day/date, make sure you don’t skip the text around it. Carefully proofread the rest of the sentence too.

Bonus tip

Starting January 1, 2017, remember to write “2017” instead of “2016.”

Copy editors are like kids in a candy store during the first month of the year when they spot and correct a lot of erroneous mentions of the previous year.

Don’t give them that satisfaction. 😉

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Good Customer Service: Are You Doing It Right?

Good Customer Service: Are You Doing It Right? written by Guest Post read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Whether you are a B2B or a B2C organization, one thing you already know is that you need to provide quality customer service in order to be successful.

Chances are, your mission statement or company vision includes something about customer service. You may even have customer service-related quotes around the office. But how often, if ever, do you take a step back and evaluate whether or not you are actually providing good customer service?

I’m not talking about damage control when you receive a customer complaint. I’m not even talking about a root cause analysis for that same complaint. I’m talking about a soul searching, top-to-bottom, resource-demanding review of how customer service is defined by your organization and whether or not you are actually accomplishing it.

If you’re interested in that sort of self-evaluation, and you should be, here are five important questions to help determine if you’re doing customer service right.

1. What is good customer service for my organization?

Companies that provide quality customer service do so by establishing trust with their customers, communicating sufficiently and timely while also listening, and delivering high-quality service or products.

However, I would encourage you, when determining if your company provides good customer service, to consider what should be an obvious metric: how often you generate business from referrals. If referrals don’t make up a significant portion of your business, find out why. Successful customer service creates life-long customers who share their wonderful experiences with others.

2. Is your organization listening?

One thing is for sure. Whether you are listening or not, your customers are talking. And I don’t mean with their wallets though that is certainly one way they might be talking, or not talking as the case may be. They’re also talking through social media, online reviews and to their family and friends.

Are you listening to what your customers are saying online? Managing your online reputation is an important part of customer service. Gone are the times where customer service happened only inside of your business. Make sure that you have social media accounts managed by your team and respond to your customers there. Which takes me to my next question…

3. No, really. Are you listening?

Listening requires participation. If you’re not actively communicating with your clients, you’re not listening. A recent post on Duct Tape Marketing discussed the 5 levels of listening with the top level being empathic listening. While you might not be engaged in a verbal conversation with your clients, though I recommend it as often as possible, you should still approach any feedback that comes from your clients with the same empathy that you would hopefully show in a conversation.

As an extension of this, if you’re really listening to your customers, what are you doing with the information? A typical business hears from 4% of its dissatisfied customers. That’s a small sample of the actual number of dissatisfied customers.

Therefore, it’s critical that not only do you pay attention to what they are saying but that you make business decisions intended to remedy the problem. I’m talking real solutions; not band aids.

4. Does your customer service scale?

As small business owners and marketers, we have the upper hand when it comes to customer service. Our small size allows us to personally interact with our customers. Even if your business is large enough to have someone that handles your customers, they likely do so directly instead of through a customer service-killing IVR or via an unmonitored inbox.

Definitely, capitalize on your small size and be as customer-friendly as possible. However, I’m betting that you don’t see yourself as a small business owner forever. Your short term plan and long term plans include growth. So how do you scale your customer service for growth?

Don’t forget what made you successful in the first place. Adopt a big business philosophy in all aspects of your business with the exception of customer service. Maintain your current small business approach to customer service and if you’re doing it correctly now, you will do it correctly in the future. Then, align departmental goals around the philosophy and hold them responsible for it.

5. Are your competitors providing superior customer service?

Oftentimes, customer service can be what differentiates you from your competitors and that’s not a good thing if you’re providing poor customer service. Play it safe and assume that they are doing a great job of providing customer service and you need to increase your effort.

Did you know that your customers are likely willing to pay more for quality customer service? I’m not suggesting that you charge more; I’m recommending that you pay attention to the importance your customer’s place on being treated right.

It should go without saying that you don’t provide first-rate customer service because you want to be better than your competitor. You do it because it’s embedded into who your company is at all levels of the organization. If that’s not who your company is then that’s a good place to start making changes.

About the Author

Itamar GeroItamar Gero is the founder and CEO of, a white-label digital marketing solutions provider that empowers agencies—and their local business clientele—all over the world. When he isn’t working, he’s traveling the world, meditating, or dreaming (in code).


Duct Tape Marketing

The 5 Social Media Customer Service Stats You Must Know

The 5 Social Media Customer Service Stats You Must Know

In partnership with Edison, I did a lot of research into the science of complaint when working on my new book, Hug Your Haters.

One of the most important thrusts of that research is around customer expectations. When a customer complains, what do they expect from a brand…and when?

The answers are important, because they help dictate operations policies, staffing, software, and customer retention.

This week, I created a brand-new presentation of this key data. It’s available on Slideshare right now. I encourage you to read and download, as it’s full of interesting points:

5 Social Media Customer Service Stats You Must Know

Here are the five most important findings (although there are a lot more in the research, and in Hug Your Haters)

1. One-third of all customer complaints are never answered, most of them are in social (highlight to tweet)

2. Answering a complaint increases customer advocacy by as much as 25% (highlight to tweet)

3. Not answering a complaint decreases customer advocacy by as much as 50% (highlight to tweet)

4. Forty percent of customers who complain in social expect a response within one hour (highlight to tweet)

5. Sixty-three percent of consumers are satisfied with response time in social media (highlight to tweet)

Several other great stats in the presentation AND three key tips to getting faster in your own company or organization.

Would love your comments and feedback.

Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting

Bots, Messenger and the future of customer service

robot-customer-service In the 1970s, CFOs sat with CEOs and devised ways for upset consumers to not be able to get compensation easily. They put up automated phone systems and arcane and inflexible policies and rejoiced at how little the company had to “give up” to complaining customers. And this system worked… until social media gave every average “Joe” the same power as society’s… Read More
Social – TechCrunch

Speed is Not the Currency of Satisfaction in Customer Service

Many companies agree: it’s not easy to hug your haters. But doing so makes business sense.

Businesses that answer every complaint, in every channel, every time are businesses that consistently exceed customer expectations. They create advocacy gains that translate into real revenue.

You don‘t have to hug haters faster, you have to hug them across more platforms. This is especially true in the “onstage” (public and social) venues where companies often refuse to participate.

With the help of Edison Research, I asked over 2,000 individuals, who had complained to a business in the prior 12 months, whether they expected a response when they complained, and if they did expect one, how quickly they anticipated the business to reply.

Our findings form the basis of The Hatrix: the expectation and corresponding advocacy impact for onstage and offstage haters. (The Hatrix is available as a free, downloadable poster – take a moment to grab it now, and keep The Hatrix in your office to remind you of these key points).

Do haters expect a response?

Just as onstage and offstage haters differ in their use of technology, they also diverge in their expectation of a response. When customers complain in a direct, offstage manner such as telephone or email, they anticipate that businesses will reply. Specifically, when complaints are made by telephone, customers expect a response 91 percent of the time.

Email expectations are virtually identical; 89 percent of complainers who use that channel first anticipate a reply.
Our research shows that, 84 percent of phone complainers and 78 percent of email complainers actually received a response.
The expectations for response among onstage haters is far different, however.

When complaining in social media, customers expect a response just 42 percent of the time, and 40 percent receive one. When complaining on a review site like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Amazon or similar, 53 percent of those onstage haters expect businesses to reply, and 53 percent of the time a reply is received.
In discussion boards and forums, 47 percent of complainers expect a reply and their complaints are addressed 49 percent of the time.

Businesses must manage expectations better

Remarkably, the legacy, offstage channels are where companies are failing to meet the desires of today‘s customers. How much goodwill is being squandered with the 11 percent gap between expectation and reality in the email channel?

There are significant differences between offstage haters who want a reply and an answer, and onstage haters who often want an audience, and don‘t even expect a reply half the time.


How Fast Do Haters Expect a Response?

When I first designed this study with Edison Research, I anticipated a far different set of findings. I fully expected to discover that in today‘s hyper-speed world, speed of response would have the greatest impact on customer advocacy; that being fast would be the currency of satisfaction. But it‘s not entirely true, at least not yet.

Speed of response has an impact on overall customer satisfaction, and the willingness of haters to embrace your business, post-complaint. But the impact isn‘t massive. This is partially because when complaints are addressed, companies are doing a satisfactory job at answering them without delay. The problem is that many complaints are never answered.

If you want to retain customers with great customer service and customer experience, it‘s not just about being fast, it‘s about being everywhere.

Sixty-seven percent of haters who complain by telephone are satisfied with response time, and 75 percent of today‘s telephone complaints are handled by business within 24 hours.

Email doesn‘t fare as well, with 61 percent of haters satisfied with response time on that channel. This is perhaps because just 52 percent of email complaints are addressed within 24 hours.

Onstage haters are different

Onstage haters’ expectations for speedy response are quite different. Just 32 percent of social media complainers are happy with how fast businesses respond in that channel. This is despite the fact that 63 percent of social media complaints that are addressed are handled within 24 hours. That‘s not fast enough.

Today, 39 percent of social media complainers expect a reply within 60 minutes, yet the average response time from business is 4.9 hours. Closing that expectation gap is a major element of the Hug Your Haters success formula.

Haters who complained on Twitter are the most satisfied with response time. Eighty-eight percent of complainers who received a reply there are happy with the speed of that reply. This may be because many businesses in the United States and around the world have come to view Twitter as a primary customer service vehicle, and have assigned significant resources to the channel accordingly.

But according to our study, this Twitter-centric model of social media customer service may be misplaced. 71 percent of all social media complaints in the United States are logged on Facebook, with Twitter a distant second at 17 percent. Google + represents six percent of complaints, and Instagram, another five percent.

Certainly, Facebook has far more users than Twitter, which may partially explain a difference in usage. But many customers also take to Facebook to sound off in ways that may not be directly actionable or solvable. Often, Facebook complaints are structured, negative feedback more than they are cries for help. These are viewed as “complaints” by consumers, but may not be viewed as such by businesses.

This discrepancy may cause companies to misjudge the scope and scale of customer service opportunities. They seem to favor Twitter, where the overall participation may be lower, but the use of the venue as a direct customer service channel is more obvious.

Being fast is not the currency of satisfaction, but you must respond in less than 24 hours. To create customer advocacy that translates into real revenue, companies must set up a system to exceed expectations.


hyh-book-1Drawn from Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers, about which Guy Kawasaki says: “This is a landmark book in the history of customer service.”

Written by Jay Baer, Hug Your Haters is the first customer service and customer experience book written for the modern, mobile era and is based on proprietary research and more than 70 exclusive interviews.

Social Fresh