“DO THIS OR DIE.” Why is this still relavant?

You would think that after over 40 years from when the below was first published by DDB, that it would not be necessary anymore. Yet these below statements are the very thing social media enthusiast continue to preach.

Maybe social media will give consumers the leverage to make sure companies follow the below recommendations.

Social Media Customer Service Doesn’t Scale

Social media customer service is just part of a cycle, enjoy it why you have it. I’m sure the first companies that started to use the phone for customer service did a bang up job with it. Now look at it!

Right now many companies are dipping their toes into social media, and most are starting by using it to deal with customer service complaints.

With social media all you need to do is reach out and complain on Twitter, and if the company is using social media you more than likely get an all-star like Frank Eliason from Comcast to help you out.

Social Media Customer Service

With social media you no longer need to wait on the phone for 30 minutes to get a customer service rep, and then after all that time probably never even get the issue completely resolved to your licking.

Because of great people like Frank on the other end of those social media conversations, social media customer service is a great experience. This may be coming to an end however. Part of the reason companies can afford to have great people like Frank help us out, is that very low percentage of their customers are actually using social media to get customer support.

What happens when everyone is using social media to connect with businesses online? Does it scale any better than a customer service phone room?

Say tomorrow all the phone lines went dead, and the only way to handle customer service was through the use of social media? Would companies be able to lay anyone off, or would they simply have to retrain all the phone reps on how to use social media to interact? My bet is that they would not be able to reduce their customer service staff at all, they would merely re-allocate them.

Once use of social media for customer service reaches critical mass, cost for online customer service goes way up. Then some CFO gets the bright idea to outsource social media customer service to some company in another country. “Heck if we outsource it to a third party, we could have 24hr customer support, customers will love it!”

Sure some companies will continue to give us great customer service in social media, but more than likely it will be the same companies that currently give us great phone support as well.

There’s much more to social media than customer service!

Kevin Urie

How BBS’s, Nascar, and my Pastor got me into Social Media

I’m no social media expert, people have been doing this social media thing way before I ever started, and have more experience than I do, but I thought it would be good to tell my story. It’s something a recent interview by Another Passion, got me thinking about, and I believe it’s good to know someone’s story, to understand how they think.

The timeline is a little blurry, but you’ll get the idea. Each of these paragraphs could be it’s own blog post, but I’ll try to keep it to the basics.

BBS DashboardI’ve always been interested in technology and online communication. Back when I was in 6th grade (1989) I remember staying up all night and dialing BBS’s and talking with others, playing text games, not to mention downloading a fair share of games (there wasn’t copyrights back then correct?)

The little Hayes 12,000 BPS modem was terribly slow, and to download a simple game or image would take hours if not all night, but I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the people I met online, and even became friends with them offline. Some even happened to attend the same school as me, but we needed BBS’s to connect us for some reason.

Then came Prodigy in Junior High (1990-1991) boy was that a life changer. Suddenly useful/educational information was at my finger tips. Sure it was slow, and the WWW was not connected yet, but I still tons of information at my finger tips, and it was liberating.

The idea of encyclopedia type information like that on your computer was so knew that for one Jr. High Science class I “used” it to do a one page report on a specific topic. Ok, I didn’t “use” it, I simply printed out what the Prodigy encyclopedia had to say on the topic and turned it in. I’m guessing cheating in such a manner was not something the teacher knew about, so he never thought twice, and I got a A- on the project. (ok, maybe I was not on the greatest path here with downloading games, and cheating on homework.)

Well next came my high school and college years and I stayed up on technology. Used the internet to “help” me with my homework, but still very few of my real world friends were using it actively.

When I went to college in the fall of 1996, my friends and I were not even given an email address when we showed up. Actually very few of my friends even had email addresses, and the library was the only place to connect to the internet, other than my rooms 56k modem. I remember a $300 phone bill my first month in College because I accidently used a long distant dialup number.

In college I started out as a Graphic Design major, but once I realized I had no actual design talent, I moved into business with a marketing emphasis, and I was off into the business marketing world.

Not until about 3 or 4 years ago when I read “The Cluetrain Manifesto” and then followed by “Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide” did it all start to come together. With these online social tools I had been using since elementary school, you could connect with others, and also help brands not only market themselves but serve their customers better.

It all came together in my head, but I had no outlet, no where to put it. So I simply stored it knowing someday my love for tech and marketing would be combined.

That is where a weird rabbit hole that started in 2005 with the Dakar Rally, led to Nascars’ Robby Gordon and then to Jason Falls in 2007, got me following Jason’s blog and other social media” blogs using RSS feeds.

Robby Gordon Dakar HummerThen sometime in 2008 my Pastor at the time Scott Harris convinced me to get active on Twitter.  At this point I already had an account for some time but never used  it. I ridiculed Scott at first for using it, but after that I jumped on and started to using Twitter actively. I remember struggling to find people to connect with that I knew, (not knowing that was the wrong way to do it) and almost gave up. With Scott’s assistance and Jesse Andersons (another friend active on Twitter) support I kept at it however.

Through this I connected with a lot of people and was learning some great things through Twitter. Something was still missing however, I wanted to learn more and connect with people face to face. One thing Jason Falls talked about occasionally was Social Media Club in Louisville and about how he had meet great people through it and exchanged some great though provoking ideas.

This was exactly what I was looking to do, so I reached out to Social Media Club to see if they had a club in Seattle. Kristie Wells, the founder of Social Media club told me the club they had in Seattle had dissolved, so I asked if they wanted to help to start one.

Not knowing nearly any of the “Go To” social media people at the time, and having very little experience using social media, I was excited that Kristie said she would love me to help them start a club in Seattle.

Considering Jason’s club in Louisville seemed like it had around 40 people meeting in a bar talking social media at the time, I thought it would be easy to start and run a club. (little did I know)

A month later in December of 2008 I conducted the first Social Media Club (SMC) Seattle organizational meeting. I put an all call on Twitter for people who were interested in helping to come to the meeting.

Lucky for me 12 great people showed up. Blake Cahill was one of the first to reach out and offer his support and guidance, but others showed up as well such as Veronica Shoper, Rachel Bergtedt, Cass Nevada, Barry Hurd, Amy Mcdougall, Barb Jacobucci, Gina Spadoni, Tamara Weikel and many others. (If I missed you please let me know)

At our first event when we had close to 200 people show up. This is when I knew I had stumbled onto something way bigger than I had ever planed. Now, over a year later, the amazing board members and others have helped turn SMC Seattle into an amazing community with events of 300+ people and every event being sold out. My favorite part is all the great people I have become friends with, and the fact that I have learned more from this group of people than I ever did in college.

It’s amazing how it has all worked out. Years ago I dreamed about finding ways to combine my love of tech and online communication with my passion for marketing, and doing it in a way where both the businesses and consumers benefit. Through this amazing journey I have found ways to do that, and made many great friends along the way.

I’d say I found the path God has created for me, or merely God put this path in front of me whether I liked it or not. You may say it’s fate, but no matter, I found it and I’m not looking back now.

What’s your story?

Kevin Urie

Human Language is not just a Social Media Thing

Talking like a humanI don’t know how I slipped into it, why I started thinking this way, but I lost one of the key principles of social media, speaking in a human voice. Somehow I started thinking and telling clients that the human voice thing can be left for the blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc, the rest of your website and marketing material can be marketing crap. (Ok, I didn’t use the word crap)

As part of the Destination Marketing book club I’m leading everyone in the office through the “Cluetrain Manifesto” and while reading it for the first time in years,  I realized I went off track somewhere. It especially hit me in reading chapter three “Talk is Cheap” by Rick Levine. The below excerpt is what made it painfully clear.

Hart Scientific, Inc. (www.hartscientific.com) posted a convenient comparison of conversational versus traditional writing on their Web site. They have two versions of their Y2K compliance page. You can tell them apart:

Noncompliance issues could arise if Hart Scientific manufactured products are combined with other manufacturer’s products. Hart cannot test all possible system configurations in which Hart manufactured products could be incorporated. Our products currently test as being compliant and will continue to operate correctly after January 1, 2000. However, customers must test integrated systems to see if components work with Hart Scientific manufactured products. Hart makes no representation or warranty concerning non-Hart manufactured products.

And…

If you’re using our equipment with someone else’s gear, who the hell knows what’s going to happen. We sure don’t, so how can we promise you something specific, or even vague for that matter? We can’t, so we won’t. However, we love our customers and like always we’ll do whatever is reasonable to solve whatever problems come up, if there are any.

Which one would you rather read? Which one connects you to the brand, and gives you a sense of working with people, instead of a corporation?

I used to preach this and then lost it, and I think social media is to blame partly. It’s easy to put social media in a silo. For some reason in all the talk about Twitter, Blogs, Facebook, etc. I forgot that the principles that work with those social tools, work with all forms of media.

Heck I even warned against thinking social media are tools in a blog post  “Social Media, Philosophy, Tools, or Both?” Maybe I should take my own advice!

Well people get off track. I was there, but now I’m back. It’s not going to be an easy battle, but that has never stopped me before.

I encourage you to join me (if you aren’t there already) and to not relegate human voices to a blog, Twitter, or Facebook. Lets push companies and ourselves in talking with a natural voice in all mediums of communication.

Who  wants to read, listen, or even do business with a bunch of marketing crap anyway?

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