Online Biz

With the advent of social media channels, customer service has forever changed. Consumers are no longer willing to sit and listen to classical music on hold. In today’s age of hyper-responsiveness, customers expect instant responses from support reps on very public online platforms.

Instead of shying away from social media, smart businesses will leverage their social channels to spread a positive brand reputation, to connect happy customers and to step up their customer support efforts.

Consumers aren’t eager to blast negative messages about your company – unless your brand is unresponsive. I recently learned at an IBM conference that customers are five times more likely to post something positive than negative, and that companies usually have at least 10 warnings before someone posts a negative comment.

Happy customers who get their issues resolved tell an average of four to six people about their positive experiences, according to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs. It pays to treat your customers well, not only for the repeat business, but also to gain the positive word-of-mouth consumers now broadcast across social media. Satisfied customers can become your most influential brand ambassadors. They’ll help to answer customer service questions posted online and also tout their own positive experiences with your business.

Here are the five best ways to turn customers into brand ambassadors through customer service.

 


1. Be Fast


When a customer turns to social media for a support issue, he expects a brand to generate the fastest response possible. According to a recent UK study, 25% of social media users expect a response within one hour, and 6% expect a response within 10 minutes. If you allow a support issue to dangle for too long, you risk being perceived as a company that either doesn’t know the answer or doesn’t care enough to reply promptly.

Remember, most people on social networks aren’t itching to post negative comments. They only do so after a bad experience. Therefore, don’t give them enough time to have a bad experience.

 


2. Be Visible


Private and direct messaging on Facebook and Twitter is all well and good, but when it comes to customer service, it’s best to be totally transparent and visible. The answer you give to one customer could, in turn, help thousands more. Think of each post and interaction as a resource that future customers can reference. Not to mention, customers will be more apt to direct friends to your page with their own questions.

Social media sites foster an online community around your brand. Watch how customers discuss and respond to your products so you can join the conversation and better understand the community that supports your brand.

 


3. Be Consistent


It’s vital that you ensure all customer support answers remain consistent across the web and across all social channels. If a common question is posted on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn, then each response should communicate the same solution. Conflicting answers create confused, unhappy customers. Just as people expect consistent experiences with your products, they also expect consistent service across all of your channels. Brand accuracy drives confidence and credibility, and helps build brand loyalty among your customers.

 


4. Be Organized


If consistency creates brand ambassadors, then being organized is equally paramount. Admittedly, the cross-company integration and management of social media continues to be challenging. Maintaining a successful social media presence on just one network is a full-time job. Trying to do it over multiple networks is impossible if your support staff isn’t properly organized.

Customers can spot disorganization a mile away, especially online. However, if you demonstrate that your company support knows what it’s doing, you’ll earn the respect and trust of brand loyalists. Organization goes beyond knowing who does what on the support team; it’s also vital that everyone on the team is on the same page. Each team member must know where to seek reliable answers, and each must source information from the same place.

 


5. Be Human


As cool as Siri is, she still hasn’t crossed from digital assistant to human entity. Until then, your social media customer support should remain as human as possible. On the bright side, social networks already take the formalities out of conversation. It’s one of their biggest draws.

Therefore, a customer’s name isn’t “Inquiry #83kd4z.” She’s Christie from Denver. People respond best when they feel like they’re talking to other people. Your customer support should make customers feel as if they’re posting a normal question on a friend’s wall. Creating that kind of relationship with your customer should be the priority of any company.

Using customer service to create brand ambassadors isn’t the Herculean task it once was. Social media is presenting countless opportunities to turn your company’s support system into an open, interactive community, where customers can share their positive experiences with one another and spread the good word about your products and services – all on your behalf.

 

Provided by Duke Chung

The intellectual property battle rages on between Apple and Samsung. In April 2011, Apple filed for patent infringement, claiming that Samsung copied its iPhone and iPad designs. Courts all over the world have taken on this battle. Europe and Australia, for instance, have ordered preliminary injunctions barring Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 from shelves — just in time for the holiday season.

 

Provided by Stephanie Buck

Debate is still raging about how many people are really using Google+ and whether it can ever overtake Facebook. But at least one prominent user was making active use of the site Wednesday: President Barack Obama.

Obama’s profile, which just gained a “verified account” tick mark, appears to have been launched first thing Wednesday morning. Naturally, it isn’t being run by the President himself, but by his reelection campaign — a fact that the profile’s posts makes no attempt to hide.

“Welcome to the Obama 2012 Google+ page,” reads the first Presidential post. “We’re still kicking the tires and figuring this out, so let us know what you’d like to see here and your ideas for how we can use this space to help you stay connected to the campaign.”

One one hand, Obama’s arrival is an important stamp of approval for the nascent social network. Obama has been active on Twitter and Facebook since he was a U.S. Senator running for the highest office in the land; his social media savvy is often credited with boosting his first presidential campaign, helping to recruit an army of young campaign workers and small donors. The President held a Town Hall with Twitter in June, and another at Facebook in April.

On the other hand, the relative lack of fanfare surrounding Obama’s arrival may indicate just how far Google+ has to go. His first post was arguably the most historic thing to happen on Google+ this week; more than 12 hours later, it boasts just 110 shares. (For comparison, one of our more popular Facebook stories this week has been shared more than 3,000 times in a day.)

Since that first announcement, Obama’s campaign has posted twice more Wednesday — once to tout the President’s tax credits for unemployed veterans, and once to push a campaign contest where winners get to have dinner with Obama. It has posted nine scrapbook photos, and no videos.

We’re looking forward to the President’s first Google+ hangout, which may supplant the meeting of Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Llama as the most historic hangout in Google+’s young life.

 

Provided by Chris Taylor

Steve Jobs Emails

An ebook released Tuesday takes an inside look at the email correspondence of Apple founder Steve Jobs.

“Letters to Steve: Inside the Email Inbox of Apple’s Steve Jobs” ($2.99), by CNN technology writer Mark Milian, explores how the tech innovator fielded emails from fans — and how he handled the missing Apple iPhone 4 prototype dilemma with Gizmodo editors.

Jobs often responded to customer emails directly, which is highly unorthodox for someone in his position. Many ended up online.

Milian spent months scouring the Internet, looking at blog postings and message boards for email correspondences, and spoke to many of those who were lucky enough to get a response. The book, available for the Kindle, is a compilation of what he found.

Mashable spoke with Milian about what it was like to receive an email from the former Apple chief executive — and what kind of questions generally triggered him to respond.

Mashable: What trends did you notice about Jobs’ email responses while doing your research?

Milian: Steve Jobs is often described as a perfectionist, and he was known to be obsessive about typography. But he occasionally made typos. He was also inconsistent about whether he’d sign his name or include “Best” in his sign-off signature. Some of the sources I interviewed for the book believed he had assistants help him with his mail, but I didn’t find any evidence to support that.

Mashable: What type of emails grabbed his attention?

Milian: Flattery certainly helped people get a response. However, some would sent combative emails and still get replies, even if they were unpleasant. It’s obvious that Jobs cared very deeply about many of the topics he took the time to address. He cared about customers having exceptional experiences with their products and Apple’s repair system. But he also cared about things you’d never guess he had a passion for. For example, he’d write long missives about Flash or the H.264 video codec or the Objective-C programming language. If someone happened to touch on a topic he was engrossed in at a certain point, it got his attention.

Mashable: Is it unusual for someone with such executive power to field customer service inquiries?

Milian: There’s a chapter in the book about how Jobs directly handled customer-service inquiries by e-mail and occasionally by phone. Sure, you’ll find some CEOs on Twitter and Google+, but you won’t see them personally helping a customer get their laptop repaired. It fits with Apple’s mission statement to make sure customers have a great experience. If someone’s iPod is broken, that person is not having a good experience. Jobs at times felt like it was his duty to handle those types of emails.

Mashable: Which email exchange sticks out most in your mind?

Milian: Steve Jobs loved to end emails with a zing. An email I got exclusively for the ebook came from a man that runs a company. The man wrote to a bunch of people at Apple including Jobs about a flaw in the App Store’s ranking system. Jobs replied and explained some changes coming to the App Store, and then ended his email with a great jab: “I notice that your app has not received great reviews.”

He also played every angle in an attempt to get that [prototype iPhone 4] back, and it showed his brilliant negotiating tactics. However, Gizmodo was not about to give that phone up without a fight.

Mashable: What is it that most shocked you about the emails?

Milian: I was a bit surprised that so many people would so readily publish private correspondences without Jobs’ permission. I can see why, of course. He’s an icon, and people were excited when they received a message from him. But I found it unusual that many didn’t think twice about forwarding these e-mails to reporters or posting them to their own blogs.

 

Provided by Samantha Murphy

Learn how to create eBooks for your Apple products.

You can download apps that let you read eBooks pretty easily on your iPad and iPhone or Touch but that doesn’t help for all documents or eBooks.

Still, before you get started creating eBooks you need to have an app that will read eBooks. Most are free and include ones like iBooks by Apple. Most eReaders can read .txt and .pdf files, the standard is the .epub format. Kindle, which does have an app as well, uses the .mobi format.

We’ll take you how to create eBooks for your Apple products using the Calibre program. Don’t worry, you don’t have to pay for Calibre; it’s a free program that lets you convert most types of documents to any eBook format, including the standard .epub and Kindle’s .mobi format. These steps can be used for self-published books, weirdly formatted documents or big projects.

1. Save the book into any common format like .txt, .rft or .pdf. Calibre won’t convert Microsoft Word .doc or .docx formats. For the best results we recommend saving it in .html or .xhtml formats.

2. If you’re self-publishing or creating a project you might like to have a title page. Create whatever you want using a design program of your choice (Photoshop, MS Paint, etc.). Save the cover in .jpg format. The dimensions can be anything but we’ve found that dimensions of 300 by 500 work the best, this is couple with a file size of around 50k.

3. You should have downloaded Calibre by now. Open it up and click the “Add Books” button.

4. Look at the bottom of the window and find the menu titled “Enable”. Select the format that you want to use for the book. Then locate your book and double-click it.. Calibre should be loading it into its library now.

5. Highlight the book in the center of the Calibre window by clicking it. Now hit “Convert Books”.

6. A new window will open up. Click “Output Format” and then you can choose which format you want to export the book in. For this example we’ll choose .EPUB.

7. Now, click “MetaData”, you should find it on the left side of the window. Type the title and author into the appropriate boxes. You can also add a publisher, keyword tags and a summary if you’d like.

8. Click the “Change Cover Field” button. Find your title page from earlier and select it.

9. Find the “Page Setup” button in the menu on the left side and select “Default Output Profile.” Now, click “OK”. Calibre will now begin converting your book to .epub format.

10. After the conversion is done, right-click your book in the main window. Hit “Save to Disk” and then click “Save Only EPUB Format to Disk”. A new window will pop up.

11. Select where you would like to save this copy of your eBook for the transfer to your Apple product. A copy will be kept in the Calibre library.

Provided by Scott Younker

Does the requirement that you must use your real name onFacebook and Google+ make you shy away from saying anything risqué on those networks?

If so, you might want to sign up for Anybeat, a social network that aims to become a hub of conversation about controversial subjects. The site is officially out of beta as of Monday.

Founded by Dmitry Shapiro, the former CTO of MySpace Music, Anybeat separates itself from other social networks by encouraging its members to use pseudonyms. The hope is that not using their real names will embolden users to participate in conversations they’d never have on Facebook.

“We, as humans, have different needs when it comes to socializing,” says Shapiro. “One is to communicate with people we know, and that’s Facebook. But we need a place to get away from family and friends, and a place to get away from work, a place to socialize with people we don’t know. We want to create an open social place that’s inclusive.”

That sounds good in theory, though anyone who’s ever skimmed the comments on a YouTube video is familiar with how anonymous discussions can get ugly quickly. Shapiro emphasizes that what Anybeat is really offering is “pseudonymity,” which is subtly different from anonymity.

While a user’s real name is hidden, his or her profile name stays consistent, and reputations are created over time.

“YouTube is less of a social network,” Shapiro says. “A lot of it is culture. If [ignorant comments] are what you see, then that’s what it becomes. For us, every profile has ‘Cred’–it’s like a Klout score, or feedback on eBay. And we have moderation tools in place, like you’d find in the old BBS days.”

What sort of content would be off limits to a social network that prides itself on controversy? Shapiro says hate speech, threats, and porn would all make the list.

As Facebook and Google+ have risen in popularity, so have their real-name policies, leading the Web to move away from the anything-goes anonymity of decades past. Shapiro believes a total loss of online anonymity would be a bad thing.

“I think pseudonimity, using the Internet for casual conversations and not just formal ones, is critical.” he says. “It was the reason I fell in love with the Web: AOL chatrooms. I found the conversations I had there to be extremely meaningful. If you ever had a conversation with a stranger and you found that the stranger might have understood you in a way that your closest friends didn’t, that’s what we’re trying to facilitate.”

 

Facebook has been working for two years on a secret Facebook phone project named Buffy. Facebook is rumored to be teaming up with HTC to be build a device with a modified version of Android to create a fully integrated Facebook experience.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer might be making a comeback, but as a phone instead of a TV show or movie. Today AllThingsD is reporting that Facebook has been working on an official Facebook phone code named Buffy. The social media giant is rumored to have teamed up with HTC to produce a fully integrated Facebook mobile device. If these rumors are true we shouldn’t expect to see a Facebook phone for at least 12 to 16 months.

We started hearing rumors about a Facebook phone over a year ago, which seem to be true since the Buffy project has been in production for almost two years now. We have seen phones launch in the past year with Facebook integration, and even with a dedicated Facebook button. Buffy is said to be something completely different from anything we have seen thus far.

Buffy is said to run on a modified version of Android tweaked by Facebook so that all of its services are deeply integrated into the phone. It is also said to support HTML5 as a platform for applications, which means you should be able to play all of your favorite Facebook games on the phone.

Facebook’s app is one of the most popular app on iOS, Android, Windows 7, and Blackberry but being just an app comes with restrictions. With Google able to fully integrate Google+ into Android phones, and Apple’s new partnership with Twitter it seems like Facebook needs to make its own device to stay competitive.

Over 350 million people use Facebook apps on mobile phones, and Facebook knows that the future of social networking is mobile. Is the Facebook phone going to be too little too late when it finally comes out?

 

Provided by Mike Dunn