Thursday, April 22, 2010

Customer Service at its Best: Wind Mobile

For someone who lives and breathes customer service as part of my profession I am very critical with companies I deal with as I have a high expectation on the type of service I should receive. I’ve finally found a company that does a fantastic job at servicing its customers across many channels and you know I have to blog about it.

Up here in Canada we’ve had three main mobile providers for as long as I can remember. I won’t go into the history of these guys but I can tell you that we have been royally screwed with poor customer service, high prices and a general disregard for the customer. Late last year Canada finally agreed to open up competition on mobile carriers and it’s been a breath of fresh air. Enter Wind Mobile into the picture. Amen.

At the same time that Wind was getting set up in Canada, I was focused on tightening down on our spending with a new baby and only one income. I noticed that my wife has had some outrageous mobile bills due to our close family that we have in the US and in other parts of Ontario. There were probably ways that we could have saved money by dialling a number before making a long distance call but why does it need to be so difficult? Wind offered us unlimited calling in Ontario and for an additional small fee, unlimited calling to the US which is not a service that the other “big 3” provide (unless I’m wrong). This was a small miracle for us because it essentially cut our mobile bill by a third and we quickly became one of their first customers. I can’t say I’m usually an early adopter but in this case I was willing to take the risk. Here’s the good part – besides the cost savings we enjoy, the story gets better. The company itself continues to demonstrate that it cares about its customers and these are some lessons that we can all learn from them.

Customer Service 201 from Wind Mobile

Wind goes way beyond 101 so that’s why I’ve started at the 201 level. Have a look at these and see if you’re company is following them:

  • Easy Access to Customer Support: This is a no-brainer yet there are many companies out there that make you jump through many hoops to get the help you need. While Wind provides the ability to email them, I’ve called them each time. I’ve found that I never have to wait more than a few minutes and the agents I’ve spoken with have all been very nice and courteous. For example, I’ve complained that the there were long distance charges on my bill due to Wind not having its network fully up and running. They quickly corrected my bill with no argument. Activating my phone could not have been easier and they were helpful in porting over my old number from my previous carrier (a newer development in Canada). Overall, I’ve always felt that they cared about my business when I interacted with them which is more than I can say for the other “big 3”.

  • Provide a public forum for feedback: Ever go to a seminar and have the instructor/presenter ask you to fill out a survey on how they did? Ever thing to yourself “this feedback will probably be tossed and is a waste of my time”? Wind takes this head on by providing a public forum where customers voice their opinions - good and bad. Wind

    The result is the appearance of a company that is bold and transparent and has a growing customer community. I loved this one discussion where a dissatisfied customer explained why he decided to go back to a previous mobile provider. When another person (his forum handle is @TBR)chimed in to further criticize Wind he received the following rebuke from a Wind supporter:

    @TBR - Are you even a Wind customer? From other posts I have read, you are not. So I suggest you do not comment on this type of stuff until you experience Wind's service yourself. The poster joined Wind to make up his own mind on their service. As he stated he read all the complaints but wanted to make an informed decision. So I suggest you STOP being a troll loser.

    Now that is a loyal community! How much more real does the company appear to you with a forum that is public?

  • Listen and respond to customers: Wind is actively monitoring the forum and responding when needed. One of the complaints that we had when we first starting using the service was the ring beep you heard when someone tried to call you. It was the European standard and not the North American standard. A number of people trying to call my wife were confused when they heard this weird ring and unfortunately hung up. Let’s just say many Wind customers were not happy with Wind over this. Wind listened to the complaints and modified the ring beep within a reasonable timeframe which made many people happy.

    Wind also conducts surveys and has their CEO regularly contributing to the corporate blog. Here is one quote that is inspiring for all Wind customers:

    Over the past three months, our network and service offering have improved tremendously. I’d like to thank those of you who’ve been contributing constructive comments here on the site, via other social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and through our Care Centre and stores.

    Wind is setting a good example on how companies should be using various social communities to retain and acquire customers.
  • Provide existing customers with deals – not just new customers: When Wind launched a campaign to give customers $150 in credits they didn’t hide this promotion from existing customers. When you login to your account details, you can clearly see that you can get this credit.
    image When I called Wind, they quickly activated this promotion.

How Can Wind Improve its Customer Service?

While Wind is doing a great job, there is always room for improvement. Let’s look beyond the details of individual complaints. Here are a few general suggestions that I would recommend based on my observations:

  • Respond better on Twitter. I know from my own experience that I fired off a few positive tweets regarding Wind and didn’t even get a retweet or even a thank you. That’s OK but those little things can build loyalty. We’ll see if they read and respond to this post.

    What I found even more disturbing was that when I did a quick Twitter search on “windmobile” there were several inquiries that were not addressed. It’s 2010 Wind Mobile! Time to step it up and engage customers on this channel. Take a look at @comcastcares and follow that example. I must say, they do a kick ass job of responding on Facebook so maybe that’s where they’re focusing on.

  • Enhance customer communication. Below is the only email I get from them.
    There is an opportunity to drive people to new blog posts or promote any new features within this transactional email. In addition, Wind could consider sending an additional monthly e-newsletter. I’m not saying I want to get spammed but if they have promotions or if they’re improving service – I would like to know! Consider creating an automated welcome nurture program for new customers to gauge them on their experience for the first three months.

As my NYC tour guide told us “so they’re you go”. Wind Mobile provides some great examples on how you can take your customer service up a notch – regardless if you’re a B2B or B2C company.

Chad H.


Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Wake up and Send More Email

Social media is all the rage these days and I’m in complete agreement that it should be part of your campaigns but let’s not overlook the power of email and how it’s being underutilized by many organizations today. From conversations that I have with marketers I sometimes sense this feeling of anxiety when I recommend that they should increase the frequency of emails that are sent to their opted-in database. This fear stems from a number of different sources and I typically hear the following:

  • We don’t have anything good to send to our database
  • We don’t have any time-sensitive events that we need to promote
  • We’re sending too many emails already
  • We need to cleanse our database first before executing campaigns

Too Many EmailsDon’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you should go and carpet bomb your database with a press release on how your company now has an office in the North Pole to service the growing northern population. On the other hand, what you may find is that there are opportunities to send more relevant and timely email communications to certain segments of your database. Let’s take a closer look at these sources of fear when it comes to pulling the email trigger to help marketers break free from their “email frequaphobia”.

”We don’t have anything good to send to our database”

There is an inherent issue with this statement. When the marketer says “we don’t have anything good to SEND to our database”, they assume that the marketer is defining how and when the buyer should receive information. In today’s B2B purchase process, the marketer is no longer in charge. The marketer needs to make educational materials that will guide the prospect along the buyer’s journey as they progress through the evaluation stages to the eventual product purchase. If this is not done, there is a greater chance that leads will leak out of the sales and marketing funnel and may go to the competition.

Therefore, marketing organizations can no longer use this statement as a crutch. What is recommended is to map out the content that prospective buyers would be interested in at various stages of the sales process and automate the delivery of this communication. In terms of having the necessary content, many organizations may be surprised at the content that they already possess. Review your website and other sources such as blogs and previous campaigns and look at ways that content can be repurposed (I talk more about this here: The Recession is Here - Time to Become an Eco-Marketer). If the email content is relevant based on a prospect’s recent behaviors, then increased frequency becomes a non-issue. Yes, these initiatives will require resources to prepare the content as well to set up these types of campaigns but it is well worth it – trust me. You can also take advantage of technology to at least help with the campaign execution piece. My recommendation is to start small and show results and then build on that momentum.

“We don’t have any time-sensitive events that we need to promote”

This statement is very similar to the first section. Just because you’re not presenting at tradeshows or executing monthly webinars doesn’t mean that your database should not be receiving regular communication from you. Here are a few campaign ideas to consider when thinking about providing relevant and engaging content via email:

  • Email newsletters. This tried and true communication piece will work as long as the content is good (i.e. more educational than promotional)

  • Welcome Program to ramp up new email subscribers on the resources available to them. See: Ready to Welcome Your New Leads?
  • Lead Nurturing Programs for leads that are currently evaluating your product or services
  • Longer term lead nurturing programs for leads that have been passed back to marketing
  • Reengagement Programs. These are programs that target leads that are associated to stalled opportunities or contacts in your marketing database that are no longer responding to your emails.
  • Additional event triggered communication. For example, I describe how you can engage web visitors that have searched for something on your website but couldn’t find what they’re looking for:
  • Customer communications. This may include emails for new clients, timely product usage information, regular tips and tricks and renewal notices. It all depends on your type of business but I’m sure there are not many companies that couldn’t improve in this area.
  • Social media highlights. If you have a blog, Twitter account and/or YouTube channel, consider blending the best content from these different sources into an email that can be shared by your email subscribers. Don’t assume that just because you tweet that people read it. Use email as the glue to your social media efforts to get the most out of your social media content. Consider adding RSS feeds from these channels directly to your emails (an oldie but goodie: Latest Trends in Email Marketing: RSS and Calendar Reminders).

Part of this effort is creating a lead nurturing culture in organizations which I’ve outlined here: How To Build a Lead Nurturing Culture Part I.

“We’re sending too many emails already”

    You may have this gut feeling that your sending too many emails to your database and that if you keep sending emails that your subscribers will call it quits. This issue tends to generate even more hysterics in larger organizations. The first thing you need to do is to get a handle on how many emails that you're actually sending. You should be able to get a sense of he average number of emails that the majority of your database is receiving within a given time. If your data is telling you that the majority of your database only received 2-3 emails within a three month time period, there may be an opportunity to send relevant content to your database to keep them engaged and maintain the brand awareness that helped get these subscribers in your database to begin with.

    Make sure you can easily obtain this type of email frequency information and monitor it regularly. What you don’t want to have happen is create a multitude of automated programs and the realize that a proportion of your database is in fact receiving too much email. For more information on this topic, see: What’s the [Email] Frequency Kenneth?

    “We need to cleanse our database first before executing campaigns”

    Ok, your database is a bit of a mess and it’s taking time to clean it up. Guess what – you’re always going to have some data issues. Your database will never be perfect. Don’t use that as an excuse to not start on a simple nurturing program to a specific segment ( for example: a specific industry) or creating a welcome program.

    In addition, you can even use automated email programs to collect more information regarding your subscribers over time which can help clean up your database. In fact, when you start sending out regular email campaigns, you’ll soon see who in your database truly wants to hear from you based on the digital body language that these subscribers are exhibiting.

    Keep this in mind: The more you wait before you execute your campaigns, the more stale your database gets. Don’t let this happen to you. Start thinking about what you can do to increase the number of quality interactions that you can have with your database via email. Break free from email frequaphobia and leave your competition in the dust.

    Chad H

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