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Your Blog is more powerful than you think.


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#1 ukdaz

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 04:25 AM

So you've got a new blog no-one seems to be taking any notice of??

Let me tell you my experience...

I booked car hire online for an upcoming trip to Valencia with a well known online travel company and I needed to add on a second driver - however at the time of booking online this was not possible on their system.

So I called them to arrange the second driver over the telephone.

Unfortunately when I called I did not receive the polite and courteous service I would expect as a customer. I was so angry that the company representative treated me badly I blogged about it.

Lo' and behold this morning I receive a telephone call from the company's UK Sales Manager who having been informed about my post wanted to remedy the situation and apologise on her company's behalf.

Her apology and explanation as to why I could not add a driver has been accepted and my faith in the company has been significantly restored.

So I thought I would post here to those who are in their early days of blogging to stick with it - you never know who is reading your blog!

I never even imagined a MAJOR company would call about a complaint I posted about them on my own little blog...

I now fully intend to post about their call and their wish to show good customer service too.

Daz

#2 Black_Knight

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 04:55 AM

Nice anecdote, Daz.

Actually, from years of talking with such companies it is not that rare for them to buy into monitoring services that look for new mentions of their company. However, responding appropriately to manage their reputation - good old Public Relations - is a lot rarer than simple awareness. Many merely mutter obsceneties about bad comments, and look for the ones they can use legal threats (or actions) to remove.

But isn't it gladdening when a company gets it right as in this case? :)

#3 ukdaz

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 05:02 AM

look for the ones they can use legal threats (or actions) to remove.


Hi Ammon

I have to admit when the manager introduced herself I initially thought it was gonna be a case of them demanding I take the post down under threat of legal action. I have to admit I did fire up blogger to check what I had written! :ph34r:

But yes it was very pleasing to see such a positive response. Because of it I am far more likely to make a booking with them again in the future - all for a "cheap" 6 minute phone call from the company involved.

Daz

#4 eKstreme

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 05:12 AM

Maybe I should do that for Orange. Over the past few days, I discovered a water-tight set of policies that harrass, insult, and trap the customer into submission. I was sitting in one of their shops for 2 hours on Saturday, with my stomach starting to act up from the agony. I've never seen such horrible customer service in my life.

#5 Black_Knight

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 05:51 AM

Bill brought up some excellent similar thinking in a recent post on the power of online reviews over at his SEO By The Sea blog recently. He lead me to a truly excellent piece from the San Francisco Chronicle titled 'Amateur reviews changing approach of small businesses'.

One very small taste of the very well written piece:

The most savvy business owners have figured out proactive ways to use online review sites. They encourage regular customers to post reviews. They print positive reviews and hang them in the window like a Zagat's listing. They advertise on the review sites and sometimes, as in the case of Utopia Salon, get spectacular results.

They also reach out to customers who have posted negative reviews and try to repair the damage.

Alexandra Gibbs, owner of Elixir Salon in Berkeley, e-mailed a woman who had posted a mediocre review on a site called Insider Pages. "I said I have 11 other stylists and if you want to try us again, I'll give you a 50 percent discount," said Gibbs. "She did it, updated her review, and became a regular customer."


Bill also cited a piece from the NY Times that I didn't enjoy so much. I found it somewhat meandering, with less clear focus, and covering far more pedestrian stuff in the main. Bt it did contain one particular gem:

According to John Lazarchic, Petco’s vice president for e-commerce, 30 days after the company placed links near products asking visitors to write a review, more than 1,000 products attracted comments. Petco then featured the highest-rated products in marketing e-mail messages. Those messages generated five times as many site visits as previous approaches.

Earlier this year, the site devoted entire sections within each pet category to “top rated” products. Shoppers who browsed products that way purchased at a 35 percent higher rate than those who browsed assortments arranged in the traditional manner. And those who bought from the top-rated sections spent 40 percent more than those who did not.



#6 ukdaz

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 06:23 AM

Have to admit the SF Chronicle whilst I resided in Nevada was one of my more intelligent reads. Good post.


With regards to MAJOR online review sites do we have something similar in the UK or is this a US led approach for now?

Daz

#7 Jem

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 07:02 AM

I have my own little story about receiving feedback like that.

A computer magazine my partner buys repeatedly publish HTML examples that I believe should stay firmly back in 1996 where they belong. I wrote to their letters section and received no reply, no acknowledgment of my e-mail/etc. I blogged about my letter at the time (for other standards fanatics to enjoy).

Earlier this year the same magazine published a list of the 100 worst websites (in their opinion) and spotlighted what I would consider to be pretty average in the scheme of thiings, so I wrote another blog entry highlighting some pretty major errors in their website (aesthetically, functionally and security-related).

A couple of months later I received a comment from the editor of the magazine who mentioned that they 'nearly' included their own site in the list. He also added that they never received my original email else they would have printed it.

His comment didn't achieve much (there wasn't exactly much to achieve) but it was good to know that some people do listen. :)

#8 ukdaz

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 10:47 AM

It was great to see in my blog's stats of the number of people in Delhi (the company's main call centre) and Dublin - where the UK Sales Manager was based - looking over my blog.

'Twas a nice feeling that people do read my blogs and then respond in a positive fashion. Sometimes it seems a silent digital world out there....

You'll have to visit my blog to find out who it was though! :ph34r:

Also Ammons post has created some buzz with clients of mine this afternoon, so thanks Ammon (and Bill as well!), much appreciated.

Daz

#9 Black_Knight

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 11:00 AM

Happy to have helped, Daz. My time at Dooyoo.co.uk was certainly not wasted :(

A quick search for consumer reviews will quickly lead you to some of the major reviews sites around. Many of the consumer reviews sites have a nettiquette, just as forums do. Many of the 'rules' are much the same with regards to self-promotion or fake-promotional posts. However, that still leaves a huge amount of leeway to create a lot of positive buzz about most things without any problems or conflicts. Indeed, responding positively to any negative reviews can sometimes be far better than creating lots of positive reviews, as the SF Chronicle stuff indicated.

I think it was in the classic Marketing 101 discussion (the one linked in my sig as the most important discussion in the forum) where we mentioned that the re-converted dissatisfied customer is often far more loyal than the norm.

#10 BillSlawski

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 11:30 AM

That's a great story, Daz. Interesting story from Jem, too.

You never know who reads your blog, or what impact it might have.

I was surprised at a business mixer when a couple of people I met there asked me about a couple of blog posts I made. I didn't expect the questions, but I was happy to hear them.

Another blog post about the implementation of the European Privacy Data Retention Act about 3 1/2 years ago in a legal blog I write to got a scarey amount of traffic on the topic.

I spent a couple of days research Acquisitions that Google made a week or so before last Christmas, and wrote about them in a blog post. I posted it, and then went away for Christmas holidays. When I came back, I found out that I had 30,000 - 40,000 visitors to my blog over the three days around Christmas to read that post.

The SF Chronicle is one of my favorite online Newspapers. I'd love to see the local paper come close to their level of reporting and intelligent and insightful writing.

With regards to MAJOR online review sites do we have something similar in the UK or is this a US led approach for now?


I'm sure that there are. Here's a strategy for finding some, and some things to do with them:

1. Go to Google Maps:

http://www.google.co.uk/maps

2. Choose the "find businesses" tab under the text entry box.

3. Enter a business type and location to search under - it can be for a large city, and a fairly general business type. For example "restaurants" in the "What" and "London" in the "Where."

4. Look at the businesses listed in the left column. You'll see next to some of them "X reviews" where "X" is the number of reviews listed for the site. Click on those, and you'll see review sites where those businesses are listed.

5. Find out how to add a review for each of those different sites.

6. Come up with a list of review sites that these businesses can share with their customers.

I wrote about Google’s Local Search Patent Application, and while it is a long and complicated post, it contains some ideas on things that you could do to make it more likely that the information about a business is correct in Google's Maps listings. A quick summary:

1. Use a structured format for your business information, with pairs of information keys and values like this:

Address:

123 1st Street
City, state or region, postal code

Phone: X-XXX-XXX-XXXX
Days Open: Monday - Friday
Hours Open: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Free Parking Available: Yes
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Payment Types Accepted: American Express, Discover, Mastercard, Visa

That makes it easier for Google to read and extract that information

2. Try to offer more information about your business than other sites do - it's more likely that information from your page will be used that way.

3. Try to make sure that information about your business is up-to-date on sites that it appears upon, from commercial data providers like telephone companies provide, paid and free business directories, and other sites that include information about your business - including your own if you have old address and business information on the site, and it has changed in some way.

Indeed, responding positively to any negative reviews can sometimes be far better than creating lots of positive reviews, as the SF Chronicle stuff indicated.


Great point, Ammon. Often how we react to difficult situations is more telling of our character and commitment to our business and others than reviews intended to lessen the impact of bad reviews.

#11 Black_Knight

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 11:49 AM

No matter how reliable a company is and no matter how rare incidents of things going wrong seem, Murphy's Law will always apply.

I think that most people find it incredible to be told that nothing can go wrong, and far more comforting to instead hear that yes, things can go wrong, but we'll do everything in our power to make good on our promises.

As Garrick has always been fond of saying, a business should under-promise and over-deliver. You cannot promise that nothing will go wrong. It is far better to show that you over-deliver in correcting any mistakes instead.

#12 Iguana

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 05:46 PM

I spotted the mention of Orange above so I thought I'd jump in with my first post.

I was a very early adopter of the Orange 3g Datacard. Within a week I had started up a blog (no longer active) detailing the problems I was having. About six months later I was in a situation where I didn't have a home or a job - and the only way to get my sort of job was through freelance websites. The problem was I couldn't send my CV in emails or even ftp my website updates (and this had lasted for days).

I rang Orange support one day and persevered for about 25 minutes until I reached third-line support - the techies. I could then explain what was happening. They confirmed other people were having problems. At the end of the conversation they asked if they could ring me in the future to see if their new strategy was working. I said no point - I have a blog. I didn't tell them the address of the blog, I just said type "3g datacard" into Yahoo and you will see "3G Datacard Blues" in either the #1 or #2 position. I could hear the intake of breath...

Things did get better after that and then they dumped that type of datacard and chose a different one from a different supplier. I like to think I played a part in that improvement.

#13 postreach

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 08:50 PM

Some brand owners are getting smart and using service like BrandPulse and the like to monitor their brand online not just as a detector for problems but also to see what they can learn during product launches to adjust products.

I think there are also some search engines that look for reviews of products on blogs. I will see if I can find the names and post them later (hopefully someone will beat me to it)

Small businesses probably have the most to gain from subscribing to simple blog or non-blog search engine searches because the review websites are geared for SEO (that their business focus). The smart ones take advantage of negative feedback to earn evanglist. However one some sites like Yelp in the Litigous States of America I have seen backlash with lawsuit threats. Most of the time people would rather cower than deal with legal fees.

I run an ad network for blogs (I wont mention the name here). Big advertisers or agencies will always ask the same question: 'How do I know my ads arent showing up on blogs that say bad things about my product?'. After cringing, I tell them that the Internet is not about controlling the message but being part of the conversation. Then I tell them that it is their chance to learn more about making a better product/service/etc. Some of them get it, some of them dont. Getting them that far is hard enough. Trying to get them to run ads that make them part of the conversation is way too hard right now. Eventually they will understand.

I say keep blogging, it is your persistent voice on the Internet.

#14 SEOigloo

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Posted 19 September 2006 - 12:35 AM

Hey, what an interesting topic!
It's of especial interest to me this month as I am trying to use my blog to raise awareness about the fact that one of General Mills subsidiaries, Cascadian Farm, is selling frozen foods in unsealed bags. I sent them an email about this and they replied, to my shock, that they are aware that their bags are punctured...it's part of the processing.

Apart from freezer burn, the possibility of the bags getting all kinds of industrial junk and bacteria in them really scares me, but when I wrote them back expressing my concerns about this, they blew me off.

With the e-coli deaths caused by the Odwalla juice company 10 years ago, and the recent e-coli deaths from the packaged spinach, I am hoping folks will see my blog on this and feel concerned enough to contact the company, too.

Great thread...and I did much enjoy Bill's post on the power of reviews.
Miriam

#15 postreach

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Posted 19 September 2006 - 12:06 PM

Here is one site that brings together music reviews from blogs http://elbo.ws/

Another one that isnt as 'structured' is opinmind.com What they do is categorize blogs as positive or negative regarding the query. Example: If I put in George Bush it will say 34% + and 66% - and then list out the blogs.
Something like this can be a powerful and easy to use means for companies and politicial parties to get an idea of what the public sentiment is. It even puts a face on the postings when it finds one.

I'll try to find more.

#16 swainzy

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Posted 19 September 2006 - 04:04 PM

I said no point - I have a blog. I didn't tell them the address of the blog, I just said type "3g datacard"
into Yahoo and you will see "3G Datacard Blues" in either the #1 or #2 position. I could hear the intake
of breath...

The internet is a great leveler. If it forces people to be more responsible then it is a good thing. I think there are many business' out there that are mostly concerned with profit. With the advent of blogs, they now have to work for their customers and reputation.

Iguana,
First off, welcome to the forums. I enjoyed your post. If you feel like it, tell us a bit about yourself in Introduce Yourself

Ammon:

the re-converted dissatisfied customer is often far more loyal than the norm.

- because you have respected the dissatisfied customer. It's quite a compelling marketing strategy.

#17 pink.aquarian

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Posted 27 September 2006 - 10:21 PM

Thanks for the very inspiring story, ukdaz and Jem. It is really nice when what you have written solicits an action or reaction from your readers, even when you do not know them. I agree that blogging is really powerful. The internet has thousands and even millions of visitors every day, and you really never know who comes to your site and reads it. So its also important to be responsible about the content that you post in your blog, right? It has the power to touch or poison other peoples lives, and i am so proud and happy about the people who choose to do the former. ;)

And, oh, by the way, one of the blogs that i visit daily is www.lifehacker.com. It contains really good content on how to be more productive. ;)



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