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Customer Service

Nobody asked me to write this post, but it is an exceptionally powerful one.

Have you noticed that many (most?) Social Media posts by organizations seem contrived? They are sales-focused, or narcissistic, or they’re trying just a bit too hard to be friendly.  It is someone’s day job – a “community manager”  to increase likes, comments, and friends: a contrived conversation.

The most powerful posts come from the most powerful real-world experiences.  They don’t come from “corporate”, and they don’t come from a community manager.

Four weeks ago I decided to purchase a Fitbit – a tiny device that tracks steps, stairs, calories, and sleep. This is a fantastic piece of technology that syncs with my iPhone, the web, and my Fitbit-enabled scale.  Sadly, a week after purchasing it, I lost the device.

No matter where I looked I couldn’t find it.  I contacted Fitbit support to ask if they could track it remotely. They couldn’t, but they did offer a few additional suggestions.  I thanked them, mentioning that the Fitbit still couldn’t be found.  Here is their email response:

Thank you for providing us with your information.  Your replacement Fitbit is now being processed, and we are sending it to you at no charge.  Thank you for walking with us towards your goals.

Today’s blog post is powerful because it didn’t come from Fitbit – it came as a result of what Fitbit did: they vastly exceeded my expectations with their regular, everyday, real-world customer service.  It wasn’t a contrived conversation.  The number of people I’ve told the story to both online and in the real world has value far beyond the replacement and courier costs.

This week’s action plan:  Of all the posts, all the tweets, and all the comments that are on your social sites, how many of them are because of what you’ve done in the real world – and have been initiated by your customers or members?  This week, don’t spend those extra minutes on social media: instead, invest in what will generate a powerful post.

Postscript:  My family now has fitbits, as do my colleagues at 108 ideaspace, as do a number of my clients.  And because of this post, many others may purchase them too.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)  Professional credentials site Web strategy, technology, and development
Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders


Have you ever gone to a website, and for whatever reason, felt the need to actually contact the organization? You may have a product or service question, or you may have a technical issue that needs resolution. Or perhaps a billing error that needs to be fixed.

Unfortunately, many websites have chosen to severely restrict your ability to pick up the phone and have a simple conversation. And those that do allow it often choose to buffer direct contact with “voicemail jail” and lengthy hold times, in order to improve the palatability of a web-based service encounter.

Examples of this are everywhere: go to or, and look for a phone number. Try Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Then look at theses sites again and try to find an actual contact name or a non-generic email address. While there are good reasons for doing this, including a reduced cost-per transaction, most prospects and customers tend not to think of themselves as “transactions”, whose cost should be reduced.

When organizations insulate themselves in this way, it breeds other dysfunction, including client frustration, movement to competitors, and an increased use of social media for complaints and queries.  The end result is a tarnished brand, and possibly lost sales.

Organizations have a wide range of options when it comes to client contact via the web:

  • phone number and contact form/email on all page footers
  • phone number on home page
  • general phone number (and contact form) on contact us page
  • specific names, numbers, and emails for all external contact points
  • social media monitoring and direct response
  • web chat
  • no contact information provided at all, perhaps with a customer service “knowledge base”

This week’s action plan: No matter what choice your organization makes, there are implications with respect to cost, sales, and brand. Too often, organizations “fall into” their contact strategy, without considering these factors – or the alternatives. Look at your website and decide on the strategy you want, then make the appropriate changes. 

A better action plan:  Look at your website through the eyes of your prospects, clients, and other key users: what do they want? This week, throw caution to the wind and make it easier for others to engage with you … on their terms.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
:  Professional credentials site Web strategy, technology, and design
Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders


Being Real

by Randall Craig May 13, 2013

What’s your reaction when you read a company newsletter, instruction manual, or other corporate communication?  You probably think it sounds plastic, anti-septic, and homogenized.  If so, you’re like most people – they see corporate-speak as fake, and they can sniff it a mile away. The best communicators have always known that effective writing connects at […]

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Scenario Planning: Social Response Strategy

by Randall Craig May 3, 2013

What do you do when you are disappointed with a product or service that you have purchased?  Most people turn to the web: a quick check on Google solves many problems.  And a few choice words on Twitter or Facebook can let everyone know about the experience. From an organization’s perspective however, those “choice” words […]

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Online Customer Service

by Randall Craig August 31, 2012

How often are you disappointed by poor service?  For most people, the answer is too often. The reasons for poor customer service range from poor hiring, ineffective (or invisible) training, poor attitude, and inadequate resourcing.  Most customers don’t really care why – they’ll vote with their feet and leave.  They will also share their experience […]

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Social Choice: Ignore, Listen, Join or Host

by Randall Craig May 31, 2012

Think back to when you last bought a book – did you check the reviews on Amazon? When you last booked a hotel – did you check the hotel rankings?  There is an incredible conversation happening on the social web, and for the first time in history, there is transparency: these conversations are available.  The […]

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Social Customer Service Strategy

by Randall Craig April 26, 2012

Ever feel slighted, ignored, disenfranchised, “sold to”, taken for granted, or just plain commoditized? For many prospects, these feelings are what prevent a sale from taking place. They prevent repeat sales, prevent referrals, and encourage negative word-of-mouth. Clearly, great customer service – supported by great training and great management – are fundamental, but how can […]

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Social Media Carrot and Stick

by Randall Craig March 22, 2012

While corporations are trying to figure out how to use the Social Media carrot to entice their customers to buy, their customers are using a powerful Social Media stick when it comes to expressing their disappointment and dissatisfaction. In the olden days, corporate policy may have been the customer is always right. Today it is […]

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Who’s in charge…

by Randall Craig February 23, 2007

How many people remember the concept of “customer first”? Recently I had an experience where this lesson was absolutely forgotten. I had done my homework beforehand, and had gone to the retail outlet to make a multi-thousand-dollar purchase. There were three clerks on duty, and not another customer in sight. My question on delivery options […]

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