What Makes YOU Feel Good at Work?

This is posted on behalf of JoAnna Brandi. It is co-posted on the Customers 1st Blog and JoAnna Brandi blogs.

According to my informal research people who feel good at work are more productive, like their jobs more, have better performance, are more likely to be creative, enjoy “going the extra mile,” and have more energy at the end of the day when they go home to be with their families or pursue hobbies and outside activities.

Help me with my research – every body has their own “Feel Good At Work Factor” and Amanda Levy and I are writing about it. Please help us understand more about yours.

Please go to our comments section after this blog entry and finish this sentence. “I feel good at work when…..”

If you’d like to see more of Joanna Brandi’s blogs, and comment on this post, visit JoAnna Brandi’s Blogs. You can also find out more by visiting her Customer Care Coach website. Joanna Brandi will be a keynote speaker at this year’s North American Conference on Customer Management, and has already been profiled on our Customer 1st blog. Stay tuned for her posts on the Customers 1st blog!

Social media diary 31/10/2008 – Amex

Amex to launch online community for travel managers

One of the best examples I know of a brand using information they have to add a social layer to their site is the Members Know site from American Express. On this site Amex use the data from spending using their cards to highlight restaurants and hotels in certain cities that are popular with their members. Once you’ve signed up you can share your thoughts on these establishments and exchange travel tips with other business traveller. Today, they are launching a new online community, and this time it isn’t aimed at the business travellers, but at the people who organise their travel for them.

Business Travel Connexion is aimed at corporate travel managers and will combine editorial from Amex and other suppliers with user-generated content. Amex hope to create a real-time resource for the members and also build a fairly homogeneous community of a group of people who would valuable to marketers. They will be able to share information and ideas with each other and also with Amex and other suppliers. The site includes a “Product Lab” area for feedback and co-creation.

So what can we learn from this?

Amex are a great example of how brands are adding social layers to their existing sites and products, delivering real value to people and making the most of the product and information they already have. With Members Know they took data that previously wasn’t used externally (data on spending in hotels and restaurants) and repackaged this in a way that was both useful for members and encouraged them to interact and upload their own content. In the same way, Business Travel Connection, links a set of individual customers who are isolated (often working with no peers in their organisation) but who share a strong common bond (they all deal with the same problems). That they can be linked through the Amex brand is even more powerful.

When thinking about ‘going social’ – building online communities or using social media – too many firms build approaches that don’t always address their unique position in the market or capitalise upon what they may have to offer. Amex have done things the right way. They’ve thought about their strategy and about why people would engage in an online community that they manage; and about what they have to offer that’s different. These are important stages and ones that we at FreshNetworks spend a lot of time on with clients. Working out why people will engage and why they will engage on your site is a critical first step to any online community

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Community 2.0 vs. Focus Group 2.0

This post from ZDNet raises the interesting question regarding the boundaries of community 2.0. Recently Intel and Asus requested user feedback for a dream PC. The concept was that users come together, talk about what they want, vote about it, then Asus will build it. No one would argue that this is a community effort, and that it is an online forum, but would it really be considered community 2.0? So the author of the ZDNet post, Joe Brockmeier asked the question

“What do you think? Community, or focus group 2.0?”

Do you have an answer to his question? What are your thoughts?

Top 3 Questions You Must Ask in Doing Market Research

One big reason why many businesses fail is because of the lack of market research. Many companies believe that you only need to locate a hot product and promote it on the internet. A business can not succeed far if this methodology is implemented, instead companies should find out the needs of the market before entering to ensure that it is the right product for the market.

Since we started this week with a couple of lists, I’d figured I would keep the trend going. Shawn Lim has listed the top 3 questions a business must ask in doing market research in this post. Enjoy!

1. Is your market profitable? You have to locate a profitable market, if your market is not profitable; people in your market are not willing to spend. And if your market is not willing to spend, you will be having hard times making sales. Therefore, make sure that your market is a profitable market where the people in your market are ready to buy from you. You can find out your market’s profitability by looking at the numbers of advertisers in your market. The more advertisers there are, the more profitable your market will be. .

2. Is your market highly competitive? If you are a beginner in internet marketing, I suggest that you start from a less competitive market. This is because it is always easier to dominate a less competitive market than a highly competitive one. Think about it, if you are still new and you have to compete with the big boys in the market, do you think you will have advantage over them? That is why it is always a wise choice to go for a less competitive market. Of course there are some exceptions for this, but do you think you are capable of doing this?

3. Is your market niche enough? In fact, niche marketing is the only marketing that works wonder in internet marketing. You have to focus your market very specifically in order to build much targeted prospects. Just like if you are targeting sport market, which sport are you targeting? Is it tennis? And even if it is tennis, you should still further focus your market, like woman’s tennis and so on.

What are some questions your company asks before entering a new market?

Are employees customers?

Satisfied customers are more loyal, spend more, refer other customers, and are overall more profitable than the average customer. But where does the satisfaction come from? Probably from a good interaction (experience) with an employee who was able to handle that encounter in a professional, accurate, and timely manner. So why is it that some companies don’t invest enough time and money in employee satisfaction? Aren’t all employees customers as well?

Employees have to be committed to the organization in order to deliver great service; they need to buy into the culture to sound authentic and share this authenticity with the end customers. Customer satisfaction does not happen by chance or simply because a manager tells his/her employees to treat customers well. Great customer service is a matter of attitude and this behavior is a direct result of how satisfied employees are with the organization they work for.

Keeping the workforce well informed of what’s going on, providing timely and accurate feedback, and rewarding & recognizing superior performance are a few things that organizations can do to maintain a high level of employee satisfaction. At a deeper level employees must have meaningful and challenging work; a continuing learning environment and opportunities for growth will also go a long way in maintaining a healthy level of satisfaction.

Next time you get a customer survey showing that the satisfaction level is low or dropped from a previous high, don’t go too far looking for answers. Look within your workforce and more often than not, you will understand what happened…

Education and Community 2.0

Community 2.0 has entered the Education space with ePals, which encourages collaboration between classrooms. Growth of this new community has been significant with over 16 million members, in conjunction with 5,000 new classroom joining in as mentioned here. Recently the company was awarded with the 2008 Education Software Review Award granted from the ComputEd Gazette. Edmund Fish, CEO of ePals had this to say regarding their growth:

“Increased awareness of safe and effective web-based learning tools, and ePals’ decision to provide these services without cost to schools, are important factors in this unprecedented growth. Our members have told us they have chosen ePals because of a combination of a safe, purposeful learning environment; powerful communication tools enhanced for collaboration; meaningful learning opportunities designed to build reading, writing and problem-solving skills that are easily implemented in classrooms; and a large, diverse community of like-minded users so that classroom ‘matches’ can be global or local, but always productive. This combination makes ePals unique, satisfies user needs and delivers meaningful learning outcomes.”

Using Social Media to Grow Customer Loyalty

If you have customers that are actively using social media, there is a potential to use that communication channel to deepen customer relationships. Social media tools are especially effective at building two-way conversations with customers, either consumers or businesses. There is certainly a lot of talk about marketing with social media!

I teach a class at UC San Diego called Marketing via New Media. We discussed the top reasons that businesses should consider using social media; I have summarized two of them for you here.

* Social media marketing strengthens customer relationships. Customers don’t want a relationship with a company or organization. They have relationships with the people that work for that company or organization. Social media tools such as blogs and Twitter allow customers to get to know the people inside the company. They get to see real people with real personalities. Tara de Nicolas from the Washington Humane Society shared with me that the most popular part of their website is the link to their Flickr photo stream! Their clients and donors love to see the faces behind the operations, and they seek them out when given a chance to attend a face-to-face event with them (such as a fundraising dinner). Friendships are formed online and brought into the offline arena! Customers that have positive interactions with the people in the company feel a stronger sense of trust with that organization, a key factor in building customer loyalty.

* Social media marketing is great at keeping customers informed and involved. While traditional media is also good at keeping customers informed, social media excels at getting customers involved. Nearly one year ago, we had devastating wildfires here in San Diego. One of my students this quarter works for the San Diego Zoo, and she shared that zoo members and other San Diegans greatly appreciated the zoo blog updates on how the fire had impacted the park. It allowed them a ‘look inside’ to see how animals had been affected, and people’s passion for the animals drove additional public involvement to support the zoo’s efforts in caring for the wildlife. Customers that are more involved and engaged tend to have longer and stronger relationships with organizations.

Bottom line: In order to cement customer relationships, companies need to interact with them in more ways than simply advertising! If your customers are using social media, go and find out where they are interacting, listen to them there, then join the conversation!

Market Research on a Shoestring Budget

One of the major complexities in the business realm includes executing an efficient market research strategy, but what happens if your company is on a shoestring budget? I came across this post on LEADSExplorer that lists 9 methods for market research on no budget. As budgets are tightening up due to the financial mess we are currently in, it might be a good idea to minimize spending on your research. Here’s the list:

1. Spying your competitors
2. Investigating the market
3. Listen in to webinars
4. Spy your customers and leads on your website
5. Blogging for reactions
6. Search social media and blogs
7. Generate responses on social media
8. Use RRS feed filtered using Yahoo pipes
9. Do not spend on industry analyst reports

All of these methods involve the internet in some shape or form. For industry reports, if you are able to come across one online for free, then better yet!

Who Owns What?

Check out this very interesting post over at Britopian about the ownership of social media. The poster doesn’t spend much time actually thinking about who owns the social media aspect of companies’but they do delve into the ‘why and how’ aspect of ownership.

”is it marketing, PR or the business units who are out there building community? I really don’t know and I really don’t care. Implementing social media within in an organization requires a paradigm shift. It requires employees at all levels ‘ starting at the very top ‘ to change their thinking and embrace online relationships; as well as the conversations that blossom. It requires those who touch social media to communicate and share what they are doing internally.’

Who owns the social media aspect of your organization?

Customer Service Basics

Have companies forgotten about how simple and effective thanking customers can be? This post on Get Elastic discusses how appreciated Philip Mikal felt after he received a hand-written thank you note from Rackspace hosting. He even mentions, ‘A handwritten note and cow bell to celebrate their recent IPO; Rackspace understands that customer service is the new marketing.’

Businesses will have to revert to basic principles this holiday season in order to keep customer loyalty high, especially because of our current economic situation.