Marsha Collier is a speaker, teacher, and writer
of many business books, including a series of “..For Dummies” books about Ebay
and online retail in general. She is Social Media Spokesperson at The Collier
Company, Inc. based in Los Angeles.
I asked Marsha what she was busy with these
Marsha: There’s lots on my plate, but one thing I’m working on is a new business book, The Ultimate Online Customer Service Guide:
How to Connect with Your Customer to Sell More!
Selling is part of every profession.
My book does not apply just to retailers. Doctors, for example, are in the
business of sales as well a healing. (healing being their product). The
Hippocratic Oath says they should serve their patient. Service: the key to
The most successful marketer becomes part of
the lives of their followers. They follow back. They wish happy birthday. They
handle problems their customers have with products or service. They grow their
businesses and brands by involving themselves in their own communities.
Craig: There are some great
examples of that. I Tweeted recently about cutting my thumb, and busy business
owners responded with first aid suggestions. Kindness of “strangers” goes a
long way. For people who don’t see the value in this kind of interaction, what
are they missing?
Marsha: What is missing in the message is that today’s Social Media
(and new media) is a vehicle for connection and engagement: the desire to build
communities to serve an unlimited number of customers. Gone are the days of
“owning” your customer with loyalty programs.
The need today is good, old-fashioned,
high quality customer service. All the newest technology can deliver it
better than ever. If, as a businessperson, you’re not willing to go the extra
mile for your customer; then all the social media in the world won’t bring
loyalty. To win customers today, you need a combination of new-age transparency
and good old fashioned customer engagement.
Craig: What are some of the
biggest customer service mistakes you see made in online retail?
Marsha: Have you ever been to a site where there are more “calls to
action” then there are benefits to the visitor? You must give the customer a
reason to be there. This is merely customer haranguing instead of community
building. Building a community, making a place where your customers
feel comfortable to return is what customers need today. Rather than
broadcasting your advertising messages (painfully often on a daily schedule),
why not approach your customer with a valid comment that makes them feel like
you’ve planned this sale/event/message *just* for them.
Craig: How should those
mistakes be counteracted?
Marsha: By getting back to basics, RESPECTING your customer. Any
business will benefit by remembering the rule.. “do unto others..” Corporate CS
“tactics” and Social Media tools are great – but only when used to
connect the business to the customer in a one-on-one way. Perhaps not answer
every follower on Twitter – but at least – follow back! By your
following they can make the subtle connection immediately. Tools to manage the
Twitter conversations can streamline the efficiency of monitoring the feed.
Placing replies to @ remarks is wonderful acknowledgement to the public, but
the simple act of following back goes even further.
Craig: How do you respond to
people who wonder how fuzzy things like “engagement” and
“connection” make an impact on the bottom line? How do you measure
Marsha: Fuzzy things? Are they
really that fuzzy? They may be fuzzy to those who depend on charts and graphs
to gauge their customer interaction. Humanity must be returned to business.
We’re all human, customers, employees and management. We are all driven by the same
basic desires; one of which is hoping to be respected in the course of a day.
Measurement is by employees staying with the company longer, customers coming
back and publically voicing their pleasure in doing business; and management
spending time to improve their products – versus manipulating the customer.
QUALITY – CONTENT –
COMMUNITY – PROFITS