A Tale of Two Customer Service Experiences



On the morning of September 27 at 7:40 AM, I had the pleasure of having my normal commute to work being interrupted by another car who felt it was necessary to run a red light and hit my car. No one was hurt and after the police took a report, we were all on our way.

The Bad

I called my insurance company and let them know that somebody hit me and that my car was in need of repairs. Apparently, according to the regulars of the car wreck scene, one should call the liable party’s insurance company to have them handle the damages. But I did not. I called my insurance company because I thought, “Hey! Isn’t this why I pay them every month? To handle things like this?” One would assume that is the case and they can handle it, but not without its caveats.
My insurance company took care of the damages, but I still had to pay my deductible and then wait for them to get all the money back through subrogation from the liable party’s insurance company in order to reimburse me for my deductible. They also provided me a rental car but once I met the rental rate max, I had to pay for the rental even though my car was not ready. I was quite taken aback by the fact that I had to pay for something that, according to the official police report, was not my fault. My simple goal that wonderful morning was to drive to work not to be financially burdened by the mistake of some other driver.


I did nothing wrong that morning yet was treated as if it was my fault. Due to this experience, my family is currently shopping around for a new insurance company for the first time in over a decade. It wouldn’t have taken much for us to stay…just good customer service. If my customer was in a wreck that was no fault of their own, I would have provided them a rental comparable to their car, waived the deductible and told them that we would have their car repaired and back as quickly as possible. That’s it. It’s that simple to deliver excellent customer service. And they failed. And this would have been an overall terrible experience except for the great customer service I received from the repair shop.

The Good

You may have noticed that I did not mention the insurance company and I have my reasons. One being that two months after that accident, I still haven’t gotten my deductible back and I don’t want to ruffle any feathers until then. I’m also not a big fan of speaking negatively about companies online. If I have a problem, I let them know and hope they are smart enough to fix it. I also have no problem telling my friends and family about the negative experience i.e. Word-of-Mouth Marketing.

But on the other end of the spectrum, I am more than happy to tell the world about the positive experiences I have with businesses like the great experience I had with the Tom Wood Auto Group. My car, a Subaru Outback, was repaired by Tom Wood Collision as well as Tom Wood Subaru. They always kept me up-to-date on the status of repairs and the only thing that slowed them down was my insurance company. When I met the rental max and was going to have to pay for it out of my pocket, I asked them if they could provide me a loaner. Since my car was at Tom Wood Subaru waiting for a part, I called the dealership and without batting an eye, they said they would be happy to provide me a free loaner until my car was fixed. And when my car was finally fixed and after driving it, I noticed some issues, Tom Wood Collision took it back, gave me a free rental and fixed the issues. Awesome.

The Obvious

Great customer service is that simple. Make the customer happy and they will be customers for life and constantly tell the world how great you are. Effective marketing and advertising can only take you so far if you don’t have impressive customer service. It’s the key, the cornerstone, the linchpin of every successful business.

Don’t Fear the Ad Blockers



With Apple recently revealing that they would enable ad blocking on iPhone’s and iPad’s Safari browsers, publishers and advertisers have been flipping out over the probable loss in revenues as a result. But the reality of it all is that they are the ones to blame. They brought this upon themselves by creating and serving terrible advertising to their users. The good news is that this is not the end of the world of publishing as we know it, and that there are somewhat simple solutions that can minimize the losses and create a better digital world for their users to enjoy.

Nobody Hates Good Native Advertising

Native advertising or sponsored content is one of the least obtrusive ways to advertise in the digital world. The key is to make it subtle and make sure your readers are the key demographic for your advertisers. If you can deliver great content that your readers seek out and share with the marketing serving as a content curator and not a content promoter, advertisers and readers can benefit mutually.

Make Ads Less Addy

The whole reason why internet users are using ad blockers is because they’re tired of the annoying ads on the sites they visit. The ads are obtrusive. The ads are not for them. The ads are distracting. The ads are frustrating. The ads won’t stop. And then they’ve had enough and if you’re lucky they run an ad blocker over leaving your site forever. Publishers and advertisers need to improve the quality of the ads that they deliver. They need to be more targeted towards the demographic. They need to provide value to the users. They need to tone it down. They need to drive users to content as opposed to more advertising. Users have the power to not just tune out your message like in radio and outdoor, but remove it completely. Don’t give them a reason to do that.

Educate Through Content Marketing

Give your customers what they want not what you want them to want. In other words, when your target audience visits your site, they want to learn more before they buy. They want to learn more about your product and the industry it inhabits. If you have a great product or service, then the content you create should make your potential customers smarter and wiser about your product or service. When they do eventually buy, they should feel that they are making the best and smartest decision and that your brand was instrumental in helping them make that decision. If you did your job, then your customers should turn from students to teachers as they educate others about your industry and your product or service.

Be Social in Social Media

Build relationships not revenue. Talk with your audience not to them. Treat them as your friends not your potential customers. Share links, pictures, stories and other content related to your product or service that they will find valuable. Join in the conversations they start with comments, likes, retweets and shares. Answer their questions. Thank them for their purchases. Add value to the conversations. When the time comes and if you’ve built a strong relationship with them and they trust you, they’ll buy from you.

Mix It All Together and Serve.

The key to a successful digital marketing strategy is to mix, combine, weave, integrate all the digital marketing formats above into a solid marketing strategy that delivers many customer touchpoints across the digital spectrum. Your social media marketing can drive traffic to your content marketing. Your content marketing can lead to social media follows. Your ads can lead to email sign-ups. Your native advertising can lead to content marketing on your site. And together, that all can turn visitors into friends into buyers into fans of your product or service. The growing popularity of ad blockers should challenge your marketing not defeat it.

The Magic Word for Viral Marketing is…FREE!


Most of us know how ‘Free Shipping’ is a great way to attract more customers and increase sales Online, but did you know the word ‘Free’ in other ways to increase traffic and sales? By using the word ‘Free,’ you could easily increase traffic and buzz about your site and business in just a few hours time.


It seems like every client wants their marketing and ad firm to create a viral video or make their ads go viral. Of course, it’s not as easy as pushing a button. Most ads and video and Online content that go ‘viral’ are usually passed through the right hands like a celebrity tweeting a link on Twitter.  They could also be mentioned or picked up by a popular blogger or big news site or even mentioned on a popular TV show or radio show. But there is one way that can increase traffic to your site and this is using the word ‘Free’.


I actually discovered this by accident a couple weeks ago for a client. They are an Online retail store that sells consumer goods. One of their distributors was offering free samples of their products and so we put a link and button on their site for consumers to request a free sample. We also sent out the message through Facebook and Twitter and their blog. This resulted in a decent increase in traffic but then something magical happened about three weeks later. All of a sudden, traffic to their site blew up and they were getting a huge amount of free sample requests. By looking at the analytics, we discovered that a popular ‘Free Sample’ site had picked up our link and posted it on their site. But it didn’t stop there. Other ‘Free Sample’ sites and blogs picked up the link from the original site and it quickly spread through the ‘Free Sample’ community. All it took was just one spark from one site to ignite a viral storm of traffic to the site.


Besides the increased traffic to the site, the sample request form also captured their email and had a box to check for receiving their newsletter and weekly deals. Of all the sample requests, only 1% of the consumers opted out of the newsletter so they were able to increase their email list which is a plus. So if you want to increase traffic and create a viral response from your marketing and advertising, try offering a Free sample or a Free gift with the purchase of one of your products. But don’t stop there. Go out to the ‘Free Sample’ and ‘Consumer Deals’ sites and post your offer. You can also learn where most of the traffic is coming from, so you can post to those sites the next time you have a free sample or deal. So if you’re looking to increase your email database, increase traffic to your site and perhaps increase sales, then offer something for free and watch your traffic grow.


Enhanced by Zemanta

How to Advertise on Pinterest without using Pinterest.


If you haven’t heard about Pinterest yet then you probably live under a rock. And if you aren’t on Pinterest, then you’re most likely a guy as there are more women on Pinterest than men. With visitor traffic up 145 percent since the beginning of the year and close to 12 million users, Pinterest is the hot new social media site right now. And because of this, businesses and their brands are trying to figure out how to leverage Pinterest. It seems an advertising agency in Israel has figured one unique way to leverage Pinterest.


Smoyz, an ad agency out of Israel, created a Pinterest campaign for their client Kotex. While many businesses are pinning their products and ideas on Pinterest for others to share, Smoyz took a different approach. They created “Woman’s Inspiration Day” for Kotex and then went to Pinterest to find 50 inspiring and influential women. They then studied their boards and their pins to discover what inspires them. Once they figured out their individual inspirations, they then bought or created these inspirations based on their pins and sent them a customized gift box containing their inspirations along with a box of Kotex. The results were surprising but yet expected. All 50 women not only pinned the gift boxes and the items on their Pinterest boards, they also posted the pictures and talked about the gift boxes on Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram. Smoyz recorded 2,284 interactions with an unbelievable 694,853 total impressions.


So if you want to build brand awareness on Pinterest or any other social media platform, you have to create a buzz worthy idea that will make your consumers talk and talk and talk about it. Through a simple idea of presenting 50 women with things that they love and that inspire them, Smoyz and Kotex created a lot of buzz with a small investment.


The reason why Smoyz and Kotex were so successful is that they listened to their customers and gave them exactly what they wanted. And with Pinterest, that’s not that difficult to figure out since the basis of the site is for people to share what they love and what inspires them. Sometimes the simplest of sites and the simplest of ideas can end up being huge as Smoyz proved.

Enhanced by Zemanta

How the Winning Ads of Super Bowl Spent Nothing

Congratulations Viagra and the Taken Film Series

Two of the biggest winners of the Super Bowl weren’t playing on the field and didn’t spend $4 million dollars for an ad. They were the little blue pill, Viagra, which showed up in a Fiat commercial and the Taken film series featuring Liam Neeson who showed up in a Clash of Clans commercial. As of Thursday, the Clash of Clans video has 28 million+ views and the Fiat commercial has 8 million+ views. Not bad for two brands that most likely spent much less to be referenced in another brand’s $4 million dollar Super Bowl commercial.


If Only Budweiser Was Sold In Pet Stores 

While I enjoyed, as did most of the Super Bowl audience, the Budweiser commercial with the lost puppy who finds its way back home, I do question the use of animals as “triggers” for beer. In Jonah Berger’s book ‘Contagious‘, he discusses the use of triggers to make products or ideas contagious.

Triggers are basically sights or sounds that remind us of a brand. For example, the day Friday is a trigger for Rebecca Black’s song ‘Friday’, peanut butter is a trigger for jelly, and a cute lab puppy is a trigger for Budweiser. Other triggers for Budweiser are and have been Clydesdale horses, Dalmation dogs, frogs and Spuds MacKenzie. See a pattern here? They are all animals.

While commercials with animals get a lot of buzz, they aren’t the greatest trigger for a beer unless beer is sold in pet stores or in places where consumers would see these animal triggers. The best triggers to make a product or idea contagious are triggers that happen near where the product or idea is present or can be accessed quickly which is why the song Friday was a popular download on Fridays and peanut butter and jelly can usually be found in the same grocery aisle.