Customer Service: How Are You Handling Unhappy People?

July 8, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

I’m amazed by the stats that more than half of those on social media don’t have a plan to respond to negative social media posts. Social media isn’t new, isn’t going away, and if you’ve followed or read anything about this space, you know there have been numerous posts about the subject.

customer service

Customer service departments are usually the place where traditional issues are handled. But when it comes to social media, most don’t know how to find complaints and have a process of responding in a timely manner. Customers especially on the internet want a response and want it now (42% want to be responded to in an hour or less).

I recently read a great article by Jay Baer from Convince and Convert on Why You Need a Customer Service Response Road Map that highlights ways to identify, prioritize, assign responsibility and set deadlines that’s well worth reading.

Negative issues need to be addressed and what better way to hear about issues than on social platforms. Don’t you want to know what customers are saying about you? You’d better be monitoring them and jump in with a plan to respond. There are several monitoring options out there will help you. Here are some free ones: Social Mention, Google Alerts, Hootsuite and TweetDeck.

I recently had an experience with a major faucet manufacturer about a replacement. We had to get a new tub at home and my wife wanted to update the faucets, which we did. The manufacturer sent the wrong spout and it took our plumber almost 2 months to get the replacement for it. They weren’t good at customer service, just making excuses. I made mention (by brand name) on a tweet what my frustration was, and true to form, heard nothing back.

In the short run, ignoring me may not be a big deal to them since I had already purchased the tub set, but in the long run, my wife is planning to replace all the faucets in our 3 bathrooms. Guess who isn’t going to be considered for that purchase?

In a world where we have alternative plans for everything, don’t overlook social responses to negative posts. It’s better to address them straight on or they will fester and come back to bite you when you least expect it. Have a plan in place as negative reviews will affect your SEO.

Unless you are offering something you can’t get anywhere else, then you’re going to have competition from someone. So what makes your customers or potentials want to do business with you instead of them?

Assuming you have a good product, then I’d say the customer experience would be the major deal sealer or breaker. Customer service starts the moment someone from your company answers the phone through the sales process and follow-up with your customer service department if a question or problem arises.

I guess what I’m trying to say is your company’s customer service should start with every employee. Those that are on the front line (be it a CS or delivery man), they have the one-on-one contact with the customer and can sway future purchases by their actions or inactions. We all build our business around repeat sales, so everyone in the company needs to be good will ambassadors. The challenge for all of us is to find the friction in our process and smooth it out.

Here’s a good test. Make a complaint on social media about one of your products (under a name they won’t recognize) and see what kind of response you get.


April 29, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

ListeningThink about the people you care about and like both in your personal life as well as your professional one. I bet one of the reasons you like them is because they take the time to listen.

You know it’s hard to have a conversation with someone who’s always talking. In business, I think the best salesmen are the ones who take the time to find out what the customer’s problem is and then offers options for fixing it.

I find that those same people who want to talk a lot don’t worry much what’s said about their company or brand on the internet, and that could come back to bite them big time in the long run.

I recently read a post by Zoe Summers in Social Media Examiner that outlines ways to use listening in your business life (social listening is also known as social media monitoring). Here are some highlights:

  • Generate leads by solving problems
  • Attract new customers
  • Discover where your target audience hangs out
  • Use as a customer care tool
  • Get feedback on new products

Another post by Jay Baer, 6 Parts of Your Company That Should be Listening to Social Conversations, I found extremely interesting and wanted to share some highlights. Some are obvious; others we all should put on our list.

  1. Sales – Listening programs give you the opportunity to find prospects when the timing is perfect and when they’re actually asking for answers you have.
  2. Marketing and PR – Listening helps make sure that the language you’re using as a company is the same language being used by the people you’re hoping to hook.
  3. Customer Service – Customers are airing their concerns, questions and grievances over social media channels, especially if traditional channels prove less than helpful.
  4. R&D – You can fuel your idea engine by harnessing the input, thoughts and creativity of the online audience.
  5. HR – The obvious potential here is talent recruiting, in both finding potential employees and examining their online social graphs.
  6. Executives and Management – They can understand market trends through the unfettered viewpoint of the online masses and determine whether they’re behind, ahead of, or riding the curve.

So next time, whether it’s online or in person, take a deep breath and listen first.

Podcasting – Another Effective Way to Get to Contractors

April 15, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter


Podcasts are a very popular medium today and rightfully so. Podcasts can add another dimension to your audience as they can hear the voice behind the words.

Alisa Meredith recently wrote a piece on HubSpot on why marketers should be using Podcasting and shows you that getting started is relatively painless.

Jay Baer, in a recent episode on Social Media Examiner, said,“There’s something about bringing somebody inside your head through your ear holes that ties you to that person in a way that reading a blog post or reading a book or anything else just doesn’t.”

Using podcasts is a way of building brand awareness as well as loyalty. Podcasting gives busy contractors another way to get information (let’s face it, we all only have so much time to read), and the auto industry with smart dashboards are making it easier to listen to.

You can also put them on iTunes which can give you access to more potential customers who are searching for info on key subjects by key words or phrases. Don’t be obsessed with the number of people who listen to your podcast, but more on the quality of them.

There are several ways that you can use podcasts to get to the professional tradesmen. Here are a few to consider:

  • You initiate them. You can talk about issues affecting the tradesmen and possible solutions they could consider.
  • You can interview industry experts or association leaders that can talk about everything from legislative issues that might relate to your business in the future, or talk about things you can do now to improve your business.
  • Be a guest on someone else’s podcast. There are bloggers out there that target the same types of audiences you do. Follow them for a while, and if you determine it would be a good fit, contact the blogger and ask if they would consider doing a podcast with you. You’ll need to lay out the reasons why you think you can contribute to their audience and propose several topics for discussions. Don’t know any bloggers? Go to iTunes and type in under podcasts some of the key words that you are associated with. You’d be surprised at the number of podcasts that already exist. Listen to a few and contact the originator.

Podcasts help set you apart and allow you to be known as not only an industry leader, but if you do your own podcasts and get guests to interview, it will also show that you are wired to the right people who can give a different view or experience that will help your listener. It’s a win-win for everyone.

What’s stopping you from developing a content marketing strategy?

November 4, 2014

If you’re going to create good content, shouldn’t you have some basic parameters in place before doing it? If not, you’ll be writing about everything to no specific audience and the results will be less than desirable.

So what’s holding you back from writing down your content strategy? My guess is you’re not sure where to start. You know that the document doesn’t have to be complicated. It needs to cover some basic points for you and your team to focus on when creating content. It’s also good to share with the rest of the team so everyone is on the same page.


Slide Credit: Convince and Convert

A recent post by Jay Baer outlines very simply what you need to do to create a strategy in 7 steps. Here are some highlights:

  • Objective – What are you trying to accomplish? Deliver leads, create awareness?
  • What makes you different – You need something that’s going to set you apart. What is it?
  • Metrics – How are you going to determine the success or failure of your efforts if you don’t define a way to measure it?
  • Define your audience – Who do you want to talk to and why?
  • Audience needs – Do some research to find out what their needs are.
  • Content execution – What are you going to write about and when? Where do they get their info as you want to deliver it there instead of them having to go look for it.
  • Content promotion – Once it’s written, use social media to create a bigger buzz.

Do You Say “Thank You” For A Retweet?

March 25, 2014

twitter (2)If you’re active on Twitter, you probably have received a “thanks for the RT.” Saying “thank you” helps build brand loyalty and brings a conversational aspect to your tweets. We all struggle on what’s the correct etiquette for thanking someone on Twitter. Do you always have to say thanks? Are there other ways to show your gratitude?

Angie Schottmuller from Interactive Artisan recently did a guest post on Jay Baer’s Convince and Convert that was right on target with helpful do’s and don’ts regarding etiquette. Here are some highlights:


  • Follow the user – Review their profile and if they are a good fit, follow them.
  • Reciprocate – Scan their tweets and see if one is applicable for you to RT.
  • Retweet a Retweet – This is a good way to recognize the user and put quality content back into the stream.
  • Conversational Mention – Reply with a conversational response about the post to get a discussion going.


  • Don’t put numerous RT’s back-to-back.
  • Avoid peak content hours.
  • Don’t put out a generic thanks. Always include a hashtag.

If you like this post, you might like:

7 Tips to Use Twitter to Generate Traffic and Leads.

Are You Listening?

February 1, 2012

One of the first rules of social media is to listen. Most of us get that when it comes to our outward activities and from groups that you belong to. But when it comes to listening to what people are saying about us, are we doing a good job? Jay Baer thinks we all could do better.

In a recent post, he points out that no matter what tools you’re using to monitor your activity, you may be missing the boat when it comes to key words that you are using to track activity. Jay points out that in social conversations, very rarely does your company name or trade names come up in conversation.

Rather, it’s more likely that people will be talking about a plumbing problem of their toilet leaking and are looking at ways to fix it. So if the key words that you are tracking are your company name and the trade name of the product that fixes the internal working of a toilet, you’d be out of luck.

Maybe you should be taking the list of key words you use in your SEO and incorporate them into your listening program. You should also include your competitors, suppliers, distribution outlets. Anything that revolves around your category.

Let me know how you make out.

The NOW Revolution: Helps Make Your Business Smarter

April 6, 2011

Business has changed. Are you keeping up with the best practices to keep you ahead of the curve? A study by IBM stressed that we will see more changes that will impact our businesses in the next 5 years than in the last 50!

These changes aren’t about technology of social media, but about how businesses adapt to their audiences. The new era is one of open communications and real-time online participation.

Jay Baer and Amber Nashlund co-authors of The NOW Revolution do a great job in simplifying the steps a company needs to change its culture to deal with the current business climate.

The book introduces 7 key shifts that business leaders need to address along with laying out a plan for each.

  1. Strip away silos and overgrown business processes
  2. Hire and empower a new type of employee
  3. Organize internal teams for maximum external impact
  4. Listen at the point of need
  5. Travel the Humanization Highway and respond effectively to customer inquiries
  6. Plan for, find, and manage real-time crisis
  7. Redesign success metrics in a business world that’s increasingly instantaneous

If you’re serious about social media and how it’s impacting your business now and in the future, you need to read this book.


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