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customers

Now I really have got a little Klout! – Have you?

Today I have done a little dance around the room because my Klout score has gone up to 65 – the highest it’s ever been.

This may seem like a small victory but it’s taken me four years to get to 60 and a week to jump five points – so I believe blogging more often must have something to do with that. It’s not so much the blog itself, as only a few people take the time to comment on the blog page. It’s the interactions and comments on other virtual spaces, the shares and the likes which seem to make the difference.

 

What's your number?

What’s your number?

There are many analytics around Klout – which will interest those of you who use figures, numbers, systems, columns, detail and ROI stuff. I tend, according to my profile (and it’s true) more general results – like seeing 65 pop up unexpectedly on a Monday afternoon.

When I started learning about social media and its potential three years ago, and learned about Klout and the fact that it measures your true influence across the internet, my score was 28. That was at a time where I messed around a bit with Facebook, had a Twitter account but did nothing with it – and the same with LinkedIn. I’ve not really done Pinterest, Flickr or other things which are now more common.

 

Gradually my influence rose as I became more active. As I became more active I saw more results. I gathered case studies for stories, ideas for stories, have made friends and have made connections which have brought me clients. But it’s not been overnight, it’s been gradual and it’s required work. But I can point to at least two clients, one long term, which have been the direct result of doing stuff in the virtual space. You would be surprised who is watching you and saying nothing but absorbing that information. I’m not talking about this in a creepy sense, but more in a ‘putting yourself in the forefront of someone’s mind’ sense.

When I reached the golden 50 – I got a free gift of business cards – thanks very much. That was when I found out that in the USA, there are many high end business activities or events that you cannot access without a score that high. Big internet companies will filter guests by looking at how ‘engaged’ they are. I suspect that this will be coming our way too, though we’re not there yet.

So everyone, don’t be afraid of Klout. If you like facts and figures, it will give you all of that data. If, like me, you just want to see results and are not hung up on the detail, then know this one fact – if you engage, you will be engaging and if you’re engaging, you will be engaged – and I’m not necessarily talking romance here!

 

Worst customer service award of 2012 so far? Thomas Cook

I hate poor customer service – it’s one of those things which drives me completely mad.

This personal story, which is currently unfolding, smacks of everything that’s wrong about companies taking customers for granted.

And it reminds me of a little saying I’ve often shared with SMEs  – treat all customers well, you never know if one could be a journalist….oh dear!

Last year, we had a fantastic family holiday booked through Thomas Cook – with the invaluable help of an agent in a shop. This year we visited the same agent, who was lovely, but couldn’t match the prices quoted online at www.thomascook.com.

So we started booking through the website. At some point though we needed to call in as we couldn’t add baggage to our flights without making a telephone call. This is where the problems began – we called the number on the Thomas Cook website and spoke to a call centre operative.

She then proceeded with our booking and all went well until we got to the confirmation of credit card payment when she suddenly, without explanation, transferred us to someone different.

This person then wanted all of our details again.

Panicked we questioned this man – but he insisted that no booking had been made. What about our credit card payment? It hadn’t gone through.

We asked to speak to a supervisor. Eventually we got through to someone who said we couldn’t speak to the original woman as she was ‘in a meeting’ and we needed to go through the process again. We were then told we couldn’t have that package as the airline couldn’t confirm the flights. Deflated we cancelled. That had taken over an hour.

We then got several telephone calls – our credit card would show two payments requested and not taken. We could have the booking as the airline had confirmed but the price had gone up – by £6. Did we want to go ahead? With some reservations we agreed. We were promised a confirmation e-mail that evening.

Today (Monday) guess what? No confirmation e-mail. We called the same Thomas Cook number and spoke to someone who told us they hadn’t dealt with us at all. It wasn’t them. Panic is really setting in now.

No, new woman said,  we had spoken to Expedia – put through by the Thomas Cook switchboard. At no point until this time had the name Expedia been mentioned at all. Our booking reference number (which thankfully I had taken) wasn’t recognised by Thomas Cook.

So they  couldn’t help me in any way to deal with my queries. WHAT THE HELL? If I buy a PC from a high street retailer, they don’t make the PC, but they are responsible and so, in my book, is Thomas Cook.

Tonight we have spent more than two hours on hold trying to get the correct booking numbers, confirmation e-mails, weblinks to Easyjet to try to make sure that our holiday is going to happen.

Booking a family holiday should be a positive experience, leaving you looking forward to the time away. Now we are deeply worried that the whole thing will be a disaster with missing paperwork and bookings. 

And what about transparency? Where on Thomas Cook’s website does it say – ‘we may pass you, without warning, on to another company and, if anything goes wrong, refuse to help you out’. Or ‘We might say sorry a lot but in the end it’s down to you to fight your way through it’. This is what’s happening to us. A second evening wasted trying to sort out something which should be easy.

 

When is Thomas Cook not Thomas Cook?

If I behaved like that with my clients I know where I would soon be – without work.

So first tip of the year, if you are thinking of Don’t Just Book It, Thomas Cook it – swap that catchphrase in your head to this one Thomas Cook Dot Com – Don’t Bother Dot Com…..

Pontins – do you want to go there on holiday now?

Fancy having a holiday here? If so, send us a review...

Anyone watch Watchdog tonight?

You know the programme you ‘cannot afford to miss’. BBC 1 – Thursday?

If you are in business and you want to know anything about handling a negative story, you must tune in.

 

Tonught was a classic. Under the spotlight this time was Pontins holidays in general but the Somerset site at Brean Down in particular.

On the menu were stained bed clothes (yes,everything), mould, human hair in places which should have seen disinfectant and dusters.

All captured in stills and video, as well as the filming by the team featuring the alternative seven dwarves – Stinky, Grimy and Mouldy to name three.

Back to the studio with a woman representing the new owner Britannic Holidays.

 

Then followed a master class in how to make your company look as amateur and second class as possible. Even worse, how to make your business sector look awful.

Tip One – immediately be confrontational, especially to a presenter like Anne Robinson and try to make her look small. This makes Miss Robinson even more determined to undermine you.

 

Tip Two – use the tired excuse that you had 50 million satisfied customers and only ten had complained to Watchdog. Pointless. We aren’t going to hear from the satisfied customers. All customers should be satisfied, that should matter. Remember the adage ‘the customer is always right’? Well, when they’ve got photographs and video to support their case, they are right.

 

Tip Three – shout out and sound as if you are about to cry, quickly followed up by a suggestion that ‘we offer affordable British holidays’. Sadly, the message we hear therefore is that British holiday makers who are on a budget should expect poor standards. Shut up you whinging Brits with little money and taste…

Media training clearly went amiss here. If indeed any had taken place. 

Reading between the lines, I suspect that this lady is passionate about upgrading Pontins – it needs it!

 

But by taking it personally and trying to criticise Watchdog for covering the story, her message was completely lost and she spent valuable airtime trying to score points off Anne Robinson and the Watchdog team.

How would you have handled it if you had been Mrs Pontins in the hotseat? Would you have behaved differently. Do let me know……(I’ll share my advice if you are good enough to comment).

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