Friday Wrap #36: Social media and call centers, small business, B-to-B, customer-hating businesses

Posted on February 1, 2013 9:26 am by | Content | Business | Customer Service | Facebook | Marketing | Media | QR Codes | Twitter

Friday Wrap

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The Friday Wrap is a review of articles and posts I’ve found over the past seven days of interest to communicators that they may have missed. I save everything I’ll consider for the Wrap—as well as items to report on my podcast—to my link blog,

Call centers served best by social media for damage control

Social media is finding its way into call centers. In fact, some call centers have changed their names to reflect the fact that they deal with more than just phone calls in their efforts to provide customer service, integrating responses to queries originating on Facebook, Twitter and other social sites. That transition has been reinforced by the results of CFI Group’s annual Call Center Satisfaction Index, which notes that “call centers are rapidly transforming into contact centers—incorporating the Web, email, and other sources—and that social media play an important role in raising customer satisfaction and likely recommendations,” according to a press release. The role of these non-phone-based contact channels isn’t for first-line service, though, “but rather as a ‘damage control’ mechanism.” The key finding of the study: customers who posted their experience with a contact center in social media, then received follow-up service via social media, rated their satisfaction with the contact center 20% higher than customers who got no follow-up. “Furthermore,” the release says, “consumers who ranked their likelihood to recommend the company in these cases increased by almost 15 percent.”

Small businesses favor LinkedIn, see little value in Twitter

Small business owners see value in social media. Twitter just don’t count high on their list. Only 3% of the 835 small business owners surveyed in January by The Wall Street Journal and Vistage International believed Twitter could help their companies, even though 60% find social technologies valuable. LinkedIn sat atop the list of useful services; 41% of respondents “singled it out as potentially beneficial to their company,” according to the WSJ report by Emily Maltby and Shira Ovide. YouTube was number two and Facebook finished in the third spot. “The findings illustrate the challenges facing Twitter in demonstrating to small-business owners the benefits of using the short-messaging service to reach customers,” according to Maltby and Ovide. “Twitter says it is just beginning to court small businesses, which make up the bulk of U.S. companies, and are an important revenue source for many tech giants, including Google.”

QR codes gain favor with 18-34 demographic

It’s surprising how many people still dismiss the potential of QR codes, despite the fact that they appear everywhere these days. The list of objections goes on and on, but if you want to reach the desirable 18-34 demographic, it’s worth giving the QR code another look. While 15% of consumers overall have used QR codes, the number jumps to 27% for consumers in that youthful segment, according to a Pitney Bowes study (reported by Bulldog Reporter’s Daily Dog). The company’s VP of global SMB digital strategy, Justin Amendola, said, “Consumers have become conditioned to getting things at their fingertips and QR Codes enable the coupons and deals that appeal to be easily accessible. As marketers move toward measuring real time results of their campaigns, QR codes deliver a few of consumers as them change lanes from one channel to another. Whether you are a local bridal shop or a multinational packaged goods brand, QR codes are a measurable new marketing tool that’s gaining traction with consumers.” eMarketer reports from the same study that QR code usage among Americans is considerably higher than in Europe.

The Atlantic may be a trend-setter with native ad guidelines

In the wake of criticism following publication of a sponsored story from the Church of Scientology, The Atlantic has issued new guidelines to govern its native advertising offering. Native ads look like content but for a label indicating it’s sponsored. Media outlets see them as a savior of their businesses while content marketers are anxious to ensure their content is seen by the audiences of the publications where they place their articles. But since the Scientology debacle, the Atlantic has made three changes to the native ads appearing in its pages, according to Lucia Moses, writing for Adweek. Submissions will undergo a two-part review to ensure the stories wouldn’t undermine The Atlantic’s brand. Labeling will be more prominent. And “The Atlantic will have the sole power to moderate comments and will only moderate comments for spam, obscenity, hate speech and the like.” As native advertising becomes more common, other publications will undoubtedly adopt similar policies to avoid the kind of damage The Atlantic suffered.

Serena Software uses Web miniseries in B-to-B content marketing effort

B-to-B marketers struggle with introducing complicated services and little-known brands to potential sales leads. Taking a page from the innovative content marketer’s playbook, Serena Software has introduced a five-part miniseries featuring a fictional CIO whose small company faces a dire challenge from a more technologically sophisticated competitor. Writing for B-to-B magazine, Charlotte Woolard explains, “The…series centered around the exploits of Doug and his direct reports, chronicling their use of Serena’s technology to overhaul their IT system and help their fictional company regain a competitive edge.

Airline that doesn’t care what customers think shrugs off social media

Customer-disparaging quotes from Michael O’Leary, the CEO of Ireland’s discount airline Ryanair, occupy websites dedicated to his contemptuous view of customers. About passengers who forget to print their boarding passes, he said, “We think (they) should pay 60 euros for being so stupid.” Addressing the airline’s expansion into Europe, he said, “Germans will crawl ***-naked over broken gas to get low fares.” Responding to allegations that Ryanair’s customer service is lacking, he said, “Are we going to say sorry for our lack of customer service? Absolutely not.” With an attitude like that, it’s little wonder that Robin Kiely, who is taking the reins as head of communications for the airline, doesn’t plan to tap into social media. “A Facebook account would not be helpful to us, as we would have so many people looking for a response,” he told PRWeek. According to staff writer Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith, Kiely would have to hire more people to handle Facebook while the company’s reviled customer care line is already available. Perhaps someone should inform Kiely that being fed up with customer care lines is why people have taken to Facebook. As Bob Garfield has said, “The beauty of the Internet Age is you don’t have to take it anymore. You’re not just screaming into the dark.”) Kiely plans to spend his time dealing with the mainstream media because, well, its influence just continues to rise. Not.

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