April 13, 2011

5 things you can do to spice up your Facebook Page

Ayelet NoffIn today’s age, it’s not enough for a brand to just have a Facebook business page. A brand needs to nurture its Facebook community and keep it excited and alive. A Facebook community needs to feel loved. Here are 5 ways to keep your community excited, happy and growing:

1) Run a creative contest. Think of a competition that would appeal to your community, that would mobilize them to get active with your brand. For example, on our HP page we celebrated HP’s partnership with Warner Bros. and product placement in the movie “Sex and the City 2I” by running a competition on our Facebook page where we asked people to show us the Carrie Bradshaw in them. We asked individuals to write Carrie’s column in the most creative manner possible. The entrant who would make us laugh, cry and feel the Carrie Bradshaw within would win a trip to NYC to visit all of Carrie’s hangout places.

When doing a contest, make sure to give an adequate prize and make sure your contest is run via a Facebook application — it’s against Facebook’s rules to run a contest on the page itself.

2) Mix things up with offline events for the community. Get your community to be more cohesive by inviting members to offline events. For example, we invited folks from our Facebook page to the “Sex and the City 2” movie premiere:

3) Special privileges for community members. Give your community members special privileges that others don’t have. Like a discount on products, first sneak peaks, free accessories. People love getting perks, and it reminds them why they liked your brand in the first place.

4) Use Facebook Questions. Facebook recently launched Facebook Questions. Activate the community by asking them interesting questions. Mashable wrote a good post with all kinds of tips for how brands can maximize this feature on Facebook.

5) Consistently upload interesting and relevant content. Engage with the community by uploading content that is valuable and appealing to your community members. If you’re running a cosmetics page, write a note about your top 10 facial cosmetics. If you’re running a restaurant page, give a special recipe for the holiday coming up. Provide your community members with value for being a part of your community.

With so many brands vying for our attention on Facebook, companies need to be very smart about the way they manage their social presence. A deserted or spammy community can really hurt a brand’s reputation whereas a flourishing and live community can really raise a brand’s positive awareness. Make sure to always keep up with the latest Facebook features, provide value and keep things on the move if you want to be the latter.

November 19, 2009

HP responds to ‘Why I love public transportation and hate HP’

David SparkAt the beginning of November I wrote an article titled Why I love public transportation and hate HP after a horrible customer service experience with HP where I had to wait two hours for technical service after I had paid for their tier 2 service. I compared it to public transportation in San Francisco because now we have transponders on our buses letting us know how long we’ll have to wait. That information is very valuable, allowing us to make a decision on how to proceed. Should I wait, take another bus, or hail a cab?

While I like HP products and the actual service was excellent, the wait angered me so much that it has irreparably damaged my opinion of the HP brand. I was contacted by two people at HP and spoke to one of them on the phone off the record. I wanted something on the record that I could print here, so I sent two questions for which the HP representative said he would get an “on the  record” response. After a week and a half, here are the responses to my two questions from Jodi Schilling, Vice President, HP Global Customer Support Operations for the Americas. I reserve my opinions and follow-up questions for you readers until after you read the responses.

My Q&A with HP

David: What is HP doing to educate customers about their wait time online for customer service/technical support? I don’t want to know that on average you answer tech questions in 10 minutes. I want to know how someone who either gets stuck online for a while can figure out what’s happening so they can make an educated decision. For example, when I look at the Muni wait time and it says 45 minutes for the next bus, I know I should take an alternate route. If I know I’m going to be waiting for two hours on hold, I know to take an alternate route.

HP’s response: HP’s focus has been to answer all calls in a timely manner, and we typically do so in 2 minutes or less. In your particular case, it appeared to have been during a time period of unusual and extremely high call volume and we are currently increasing our staffing to ensure minimal hold times. It also looked as if you were transferred twice, which added to the wait time, unfortunately. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience.

Thank you for your suggestion about the wait time notification system. Although HP currently does not have a system like this in place, we may consider adding one in the future. With the volume of calls coming into HP and being routed to multiple call center locations, estimating hold times is no easy task. The length of technical support calls can also vary widely depending on the issues being discussed and the level of technical expertise of the customer, so providing accurate estimates would be a challenge.

David: Is the official complaint line [email protected]? How are people supposed to know that? Is there a phone number people can call? You said that hundreds of thousands of people send emails, but I’m sure plenty more would if they knew that. Have you done some type of PR campaign to promote that email address? I know that if I click on a couple of screens and scroll to the bottom I can find that, but really, who would know?

Mark HurdHP’s response: Customers are asked for feedback on their support experience after nearly every support interaction, either by phone, on the HP Customer Care site, or following support chats and via email. We greatly value customer feedback and take action on it whenever feasible. If customers have specific complaints, they are encouraged to submit them online here. (Note: This is a form to “email HP CEO Mark Hurd [pictured at right] your suggestions and complaints.”)

My take on HP’s response

While I appreciate HP reaching out to me, I wasn’t that impressed with their response.

1. They’re very sorry about my two hour wait, yet they took a week and a half to answer my two questions. That doesn’t jibe. Continue reading

November 2, 2009

Why I love public transportation and hate HP

Public transportation. Source: George L. Smythe

David SparkWe all complain about public transportation. It’s slow. It’s crowded. It’s delayed. It’s boring. Public transportation can be miserable, but for me it’s not anymore. It’s not because San Francisco MUNI and BART got any cleaner or faster, but because they provided me with some information. They told me when the next bus is coming.

Using the NextMUNI or the Transit.511.org service, I can find information about when to expect the next bus. While it may be very costly or impossible to make trains and buses move faster, by letting me know where they are and then calculating an estimated wait time, it provides me with information to plan accordingly. I could take another bus line or grab a coffee and wait somewhere a little more comfortable than a bus stop. I actually enjoy taking public transportation because it gives me a chance to listen and watch podcasts on my iPod.

Restaurants do this as well when you put in a reservation. If they say 10 minutes before you’re seated, you’ll wait. If they say an hour, you’ll move on to another restaurant. By providing that little bit of information, restaurants are delivering great customer service. They’re empowering the customer with information to make an informed decision. They’re not leaving them in the dark. Continue reading