Tag Archives: customer service

Pinterest now using Zendesk to help answer Pinterest questions

Have questions for Pinterest? Pinterest is now using Zendesk to address users’ questions & issues.

Are you waiting on a response from Pinterest? Don’t feel too bad if you haven’t heard back. Pinterest has managed to scale their site with rapid user growth, but scaling customer support has not been as easy.

Pinterest has been inaccessible in a way that few businesses can be. It is not just that you, one dedicated user, can’t get a response. Some of the biggest brands in the world want to get some personal attention from Pinterest, and they aren’t getting it.

In order to deal with this lack of communication, Pinterest is now offering a support section, powered by Zendesk, to address user issues. Yesterday, Lauren Orsini of Daily Dot was the first to cover the specifics of Pinterest’s new support option. While Zendesk offers a number of options for aggregating and addressing frequently asked questions, the core of the product comes from increasing the efficiency of actual people processing issues. Given the small staff Pinterest has (last reported at under 20), it is difficult to imaging that a ticketing system will resolve the lack of communication, but it is a first step. It is possible that the ticket system will largely be used to populate the FAQ section of the support pages. If that is the case, Pinterest should likely provide some type of disclosure of this. If individuals aren’t going to get responses from tickets, those users who have already spent hours typing multiple emails to Pinterest are unlikely to want to repeat this frustration with the Zendesk ticket system. Facebook has dealt with user support and moderations issue by using third party contractors hired through 0Desk. It is possible Pinterest is deploying something similar.

Lauren from the Daily Dot provided a good overview of the new system:

Now, pinners can use the support center to discover “Instant Answers.” The FAQ is divided into two sections: one for the “basics,” another for “sites, brands & businesses.”

That separation is itself a revealing step in Pinterest’s evolution—an acknowledgement, however quiet, that businesses large and small, not just individuals, are active on the site.

Despite Pinterest quietly launching the support page, Lauren’s article indicates the number of tickets already sent to the system could be as high as 11,000, but is at least 4,000.

Our tipper, Hutchison, opened ticket #7308 on Friday, and hasn’t heard back.

When the Daily Dot used the ticketing system to ask for a comment, our ticket was #11065. If Pinterest is labeling tickets numerically, that means Pinterest’s small staff is fielding more than a thousand requests a day—and that was over a weekend.

Zendesk integrates with social media, but has Pinterest gotten too big to use these channels?

A centralized place to discuss and post Pinterest information is likely the best step for a company that has as many users as Pinterest. But I wanted to briefly look at how Pinterest has used their social media accounts up to this point. The bottom line is that you likely shouldn’t waste your time trying to communicate with Pinterest via social media.

Blog

Pinterest hosts their blog on Tumblr. I went back through the comments since October, and there wasn’t a single response from someone at Pinterest despite hundreds of questions being asked. I finally found an actual response from Pinterest in September. As you can see from their Discuss profile (the software that they use for blog comments), they haven’t post a response in six months.

Twitter

The last @message response from Pinterest’s Twitter account was in December of last year. Since then messages to Pinterest’s Twitter account didn’t get any responses. In the first three months of this year, Pinterest has only made seven tweets total.

If you look at the Pinterest’s timeline, you will see frequent @messages addressing user questions all the way up to the summer of 2010. After that point, it seems Twitter was no longer a way to contact Pinterest with issues.

Twitter is often thought as a backdoor way to get more traditional companies to finally respond to questions and issues. In Pinterest’s case, it doesn’t work.

Facebook

Despite their one million plus fans on Facebook, Pinterest rarely uses this venue to even update users on changes to the site. Pinterest has only provide two updates on their wall (granted both are in 2012), and despite 500+ comments with each update, no one at Pinterest followed up on any questions or issues.

Pinterest making user issues a priority.

I called Pinterest to get a comment on their overall approach to communicating with users and their new use of Zendesk, but given the topic we are discussing, it wasn’t surprising to find their voice mail box was full. Pinterest has done an amazing job with their product. They focused on what was, and is important: creating a great user experience. While it would be great if they took calls from reporters and writers, we really don’t matter as much as users. The vast majority of users never have any issues with the service and don’t even realize that Pinterest is unresponsive to questions. Only when user have a serious issue do they realize that they really have no options to resolve it. Hopefully Pinterest’s use of Zendesk will provide some remedy to the previous lack of communication options.

kloutfeatured

Klout: A social media company that doesn’t get social media?

Update 1:22PM 7/6/11 – Megan Berry, Klout Marketing Manager, responds below in the comments.

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Maybe I have gotten spoiled with the connectivity Twitter provides, but I am finding myself increasing frustrated when trying to communicate with what is supposed to be one of the leading social media companies . . . Klout.

I am active user of Klout for my own accounts and my client’s accounts.  While Klout scores aren’t a perfect metric, I do believe they provide some value.

With my heavy use, I at times have questions.  Klout’s new +K feature, to give influence on a topic with just a click, has inspired a couple questions.

Over the past month I have asked these questions about +K as well as a few other question (four total).  I asked these questions via @ messages to the Klout account.  I have never got a response.

Today Klout had a Facebook post about +K, so I decided to ask my question there.

 

 

 

I was doing multiple Facebook comments (keeping up with friends, etc), so when I looked at their post again, I didn’t see my question.  I posted it again, but this time took a screen shot. To my surprise, they deleted the questions again.

My question didn’t see that off topic to me. Feel free to let me know otherwise. They wanted users to give +K.  I was asking what the benefit was.  From my own experience, if they didn’t want to answer the question directly, they could have said, “We are working on lots of great use for +K.  Keep an eye on our accounts for future uses.”  But no, they just deleted my question.


This is only the second time I have ever had a Facebook comment deleted (the other involved calling out a account that was plagiarizing), and the idea that it was from a social media company account was very surprising.

Maybe I have too high of standards for social media, but I didn’t think those standards would be shot down by a company that bases its business around social media.  

You win Klout.  No more questions from me.

Update: My tweets on this subject led to a discussion of local Lawrence, Kansas businesses who don’t respond to @ messages and even emails.  One of my less tech savvy Twitter friends “replied all” to one of my tweets complaining that a local restaurant never responded to her.  Klout responded with this:

 

It was a little strange that Klout never responded to any of my direction questions, but responded to an inadvertent tweet someone else sent.  I almost feel worse about my Klout customer service experience knowing that they do respond, just not to me.

I am going to take Klout up on their offer to email them.  I have done that in the past, but in the last two months, I haven’t gotten a response to the one email I sent.

NowRevolutionSocialMediaBook

7 Highlights from the 7 Chapters of The NOW Revolution.

The NOW Revolution written by Jay Baer and Amber Naslund is being released today.  The content of the book provided my inspiration to review it, but the subtitle “7 Shifts to make your Business Faster, Smarter and more Social” influenced my structure.

To go along with the “7” theme, here are 7 overall things I appreciate about The NOW Revolution book:

  • Has actionable insight that I can immediately put into place
  • Provides additional resources when appropriate, but is largely contained
  • Has depth that goes beyond the normal, daily stream of social media articles
  • Timeless, in that it focuses on process, not the particular technology or platform
  • Provides case studies when possible
  • Well written
  • Entertaining

Now on to some highlights . . .

The book is divided into seven sections and I am going to briefly describe each section and provide my favorite highlight.

1. Engineer a New Bedrock

What it means:  Your organization needs to have the right culture before you can succeed at any type of communication including social media.

Highlight:  My favorite example from this chapter is an extreme one, but it highlights the key principle of empowering your employees.  The Ritz-Carlton allows any employee to spend up to $2000 to resolve a situation for a customer.  That amount of discretion isn’t realistic for most organizations, but it does capture the idea that you have to give as many employees as possible the power to resolve situations and to represent your company in a positive way.  Zappos is another company which is famous for empowering their employees to resolve customer issues and be proactive so issues don’t happen.  And we see how that is working out.

2.  Find Talent You Can Trust

What it means:  Social media is fast paced.  Decisions need to be made on the fly, and that means having talented co-workers you can trust

Highlight: Hiring people already well connected either offline or online can bring the power of their influence and social skills to your organization.  At the same time, if your organization is doing it right, you are providing a benefit to new employees by boosting their profile and in some cases helping them become thought leaders in your industry.  It can be a win-win for both organizations and the individual members.

3. Organize Your Armies

What it means:  Whether you are a team of one or many, there has to be some organized way that you approach social media.

Highlight:  Be willing to recruit anyone in your organization who truly loves social media. Their role can be large or small, but embrace employees who do it well and who are passionate about it.  The way you solicit people in your company is important.  Be careful to solicit social media users in such a way that it doesn’t bring in those who feel obligated to join in.  Obligatory social media use is rarely successful.

4. Answer the New Telephone

What it means:  Just like most businesses eventually had to accept that they could be contacted by customer via the phone, today customers are speaking about and trying to connect with businesses via social media.  This chapter explains how to hear these requests and anticipate issues before they even become direct questions.

Highlight:  One of my favorite stories in the book is about the national Red Cross organization.   Their social media team collects all the media mentions about them each day.  They take the most meaningful parts of the mentions (usually 20 of them), and distribute them internally to their employees.  This lets the whole organization feel involved in the process and provides daily feedback to the entire operation.

5. Emphasize Response-Ability

What it means:  Learning the best ways to respond to customer questions and issues, but also moving beyond that to actually leading the discussion about your organization and industry by creating your own stories.

Highlight:  This chapter does a good job about going through the stages of listening.

  • Ignoring
  • Listening
  • Responding
  • Participating
  • Storytelling

6. Build a Fire Extinguisher

What it means:  How to identify, evaluate and deal with social media issues, particularly crisis.

Highlight:  I have to admit this was the hardest chapter for me to come up with a clear favorite part.  This past month I read Peter Shankman’s book on customer service.  His book dealt with crisis issues in such detail, that I already felt like I had a good feel for the issue.

In the end, I think the biggest takeaway from this chapter of The Now Revolution was “say you’re sorry”.  It seems to be a basic human instinct that if you are trying to the do the right thing in general, and you do make a mistake, if you acknowledge that mistake and say you are sorry, people will forgive and move on.  So in the end, if you are wrong, say you are sorry.

7. Make a Calculator

What it means: Return-on-investment.  How to identify what you want to achieve with social media and how to track those results in order to better meet those goals over time

Highlight:  This chapter was one of my favorites.  It did a good job of truly explaining how to use different metrics and approaches based on what your actual goals are.  It dealt with sales, conversions, leads & loyalty, and provided a step-by-step approach for setting up good metrics practices depending on goals.

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Don’t feel like my highlights are representations of the book. Any one highlight is less than 1% of the content of any one chapter.  I just wanted to provide some of my favorite parts as examples of the kind of information that is contained in this book.

The Now Revolution came out today, February 8th, 2011.  It is just a walk, short drive or simple click away from being in your hands and ready to read.  If you are looking for a great social media read that can offer actionable ideas for your organization, look no further.

 

Social media and customer service are ultimately linked. Three ways to succeed at both.

By Sarah Scoular

When Josh first asked me to write about Customer Service and Social Media I arrogantly thought, “sure, no problem!” As I sit down and try to shape my thoughts and experiences into a cohesive post I realize this is much more difficult than anticipated.

With 2 years experience answering customer service issues via Twitter and Facebook, 5 years experience answering via email and approximately 15 years of customer service experience total, I have plenty to talk about. But how do I make it relevant for everyone? Obviously, the solutions I give our cable and Internet customers (powercycle your router) differ from what a bar like @TheSandbar might tweet to their patrons, but customer service is customer service is customer service.

If your business offers a product or service, whether you believe it or not, you are in the customer service industry. Even if you’re a tiny business of one or a huge conglomerate, you have a customer base, both internal and external. Your job now is to support that product or service by creating relationships with your customers and gaining their trust. How will you reach that customer base? How can you build a bridge to lead them back to you?

The answers I’ve found time and again are:

  • Authenticity
  • Transparency
  • Engagement

Authenticity

Step back and ask yourself, “how do I like to be spoken to?” Is it with a canned answer or script? Probably not. We thrive on human connection. We respond to warmth, genuine caring, and humor. Isn’t it easy to recognize corporate speak? That is because real people don’t speak that way in the real world. Is that truly how you want to be perceived?

In the beginning, I had to get over the fear of answering a post online. Answers were run past $100,000’s worth of salaries before answering in 140 characters and the corporate speak was blatantly obvious to followers. Now it takes seconds in my mind to answer. Don’t over think it, inject your own personality.

Take advantage of real-time opportunities; some of the most positive interactions I’ve had were from replying to a random comment in our Twitter stream or responding to a foursquare check-in. This proves you aren’t a bot and you’re actively engaged with your followers.

When making decisions about products, customers turn to the social web because they trust their friends. CEOs, traditional advertising and marketing executives are not credible sources amongst consumers. Think about it. The last time you purchased a high dollar item did you do your research? Did you read the reviews, not only on the product’s website but also on CNET or Consumer Reports? Did you tweet, asking for feedback about the product?

As a business you have to gain your customers trust. You do this by building a relationship. You can’t buy your way in; you can only break through with genuine connections. It doesn’t matter how good you say you are, your success depends on how people feel you are. Invest in customer service; your agents are the ones that can positively market your brand. If your customer service is actively engaged, truly believe in your product or service and are experts in your brand, you’ve struck gold. You can only succeed by having an advocate of your company at the helm of all interactions.

Be sure to take the conversation offline as well. Trust in a brand is created when you can put a face to the name; I know firsthand most people find it difficult to be negative to once they’ve made a personal connection. It’s important to be a face in the community, attend local tweetups, Social Media Club events and Social Media conferences.

Transparency

I understand, most companies are hesitant to air their dirty laundry. Certainly you wouldn’t want to proactively tweet about every hiccup, as your service could be perceived as unreliable. However, if there is a major issue or problem acknowledge it, ahead of time if possible. People like to feel as though they have the inside scoop and be treated like VIP; we tend to be less critical when we are “in the know.”  If you make a mistake, fess up. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. NEVER delete a tweet, only apologize if necessary. Once you hit enter the world can see and will think you’re hiding something if you delete. Like Grandma always said, no one likes a liar.

Conversely, it’s ok to use facts to expose the other side of the story. For instance, I’ve helped customers who repeatedly complained about service issues yet refused to schedule service calls and fielded billing complaints from customers who hadn’t paid in several months.  In these instances, gently pointing out the facts to show they are not allowing us to help them (without publicly revealing proprietary information) tends to quiet their complaints.

Engagement

So how and to whom do you respond?

It should go without saying but you’d be surprised; proper grammar, punctualization and spelling are an absolute must. You are a professional, speak as though you are a professional and not a 14 year old girl texting her friends. There is nothing that can’t be shortened into 140 characters, if it doesn’t fit it’s ok to break it up into multiple tweets.

Use keyword searches to find the conversation, moderate and respond accordingly. Reach out to every mention or response found; for negative tweets, reach out by asking if there is anything you can do to help. Not only should you be looking for keywords, but look for the context in those searches. Find the conversations around your key search terms. This will help you find the bigger picture and identify other influencers to reach out to.

What to respond to:

  • Direct mentions, whether positive or negative
  • Compliments of your product, service or people
  • Recommendations or referrals to your products and services
  • Customer Service issues and inquiries
  • Retweets of posts

What not to respond to:

  • Generic mentions without positive or negative commentary
  • Posts/forum threads that require membership to respond to, unless it is a customer service issue or misinformation that needs correction
  • Blatant vulgarity or inflammatory comments

Ask followers for feedback and always strive to be better. What do you think we could do better? What more do you want from us?

Promotional posts should look to engage whenever possible. Don’t broadcast without asking questions or directing the post to a certain demographic. Broadcasting without engagement is like screaming with your eyes closed and fingers in your ears. Not very effective.

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These are the practices I follow daily and plan to take with me wherever opportunities to engage with customers exist. I have to give an enormous amount of credit to Ben Smith who has lead me down this path and opened doors for me to connect with Chris Brogan, Jeremiah Owyang, Sarah Evans, Brian Solis and Jason Falls, without which I wouldn’t have the knowledge I’m sharing with you today.

I’m curious what you think. If a company is actively engaged in customer service via social media, does that positively or negatively affect your view of that brand? Would you choose a product or service over another because of their presence in social media? Does it add value to their product?
 

You can find more information about Sarah at her blog and Twitter account.