Here’s a great clip from a January, 1994 episode of the Today Show , where co-hosts Bryant Gumbel, Katie Couric and Elizabeth Vargas appear completely flummoxed about just what the Internet is.
What's the Internet? Great Clip from 1994 Today Show where @KatieCouric & Bryant Gumbel just don't get it
Customer Bill of Rights from Expert Marsha CollierLan N. Nguyen
Jan 28th 2011 at 10:00AM
Filed under: ShoppingConsumer confidence was up in January, according to The Conference Board. It's Consumer Confidence Index climbed to 60.6, up from 53.3 in December. Consumer spending is also rising and all this may translate into a better 2011 for many businesses.
In all this good news, customer service expert Marsha Collier (right) hopes that companies won't forget some of the hard lessons they learned during the recession about building and retaining customer loyalty.
WalletPop asked the author of The Ultimate Online Customer Service Guide what today's consumer bill of rights should look like. Here are her top seven recommendations:
Reach Out and Touch a Rep
All companies should prominently display their contact information. If they don't, forget about shopping there.
Another good way to get help is to check the business's Facebook page or, even better, its Twitter feed. "Dish Network follows someone back and handles the issue to the best of their abilities, and FedEx will give you a direct number to call or an email address," said Collier.
Expect Swift Response
If a customer service rep can't help you, then you should be able to talk to someone in higher authority. If the business doesn't do that, forget about it. After all, who has the time these days to speed-dial the customer complaint line?
Share a Common Language
"A right I would love to see more of: when I call a company, I would love that the customer reps did not read from a script and that the native language of the country is the one they can speak comfortably," said Collier. "This should happen in any country."
There Should Be a Grandfather Clause
You bought something and you find that, while your purchase is en route, the policy has changed. Don't buy unless you ask what its stance is on this issue.
Warranties Are Not Always Necessary
Before you invest in a warranty, take a hard look at the product. Most items fail within the first year, said Collier, and hence may be covered under the manufacturer's warranty. Still nervous? Then go to Squaretrade.com for the same warranty as most retailers offer.
"When I bought my washer and dryer at an appliance store, they quoted me their expensive warranty. I bought the same one at Squaretrade.com for under $100," said Collier.
Respect For the Customer
The customer isn't always right. But companies should treat you with respect when dealing with your complaints and questions about policies like restocking fees. If they don't, walk away.
With the rise of social media, businesses are increasingly aware of how much more powerful your voice is and how your opinions can influence those of your family and friends. Many are stepping up and trying to treat customers better. But for every good apple, there are bad apples.
Know Your Retailer
With rights come responsibilities. If you didn't do your due diligence and want to return something that doesn't fit the company's return policy, then you're out of luck.
"I bought a popcorn popper," explained Collier. "I thought it was small. It was my fault that I didn't look at the dimensions. I called the company and they said they would take it back. But the holidays came and I didn't get to it. It was my responsibility. I kept it."
If you place an order for the first time with a website, the kind that is an online version of a pop-up store, then make sure you safeguard yourself by paying with a service like Paypal
Simple steps to save money every time you shop! How to find the best deals on your favorite items.
Top 10 Tips on how to shop smart (and find the best deal, for you!):
1. Use your mobile phone for back-up: Not sure if you are getting a real deal when your shopping in-store? Your mobile phone can an instant resource to price check. Use any one of your favorite shopping apps, type in the product, and see what the item is going for online (or in other stores near you). If it's drastically less than the price tag your holding in your hand - try to bargain with the salesman& or hold off and buy it when you get home!
2. Do your homework: When making a big-ticket purchase, it's important to do some research. Let's put it this way -- that flat screen you're about to be online may be listed at $250, but when you plug it in, it could very well be black and white! "Cost" is more than just how much cash you hand over, but is about your happiness with the product. Make sure to read product reviews online(there are hundreds of sites dedicated to sharing user and expert reviews), do some research, and buy from a retailer who you trust.
3. Take advantage of coupons: Now more than ever cost counts. There are millions of coupons, discounts, and offers available online for just about any item. Search on TheFind.com, print.coupons.com, or Groupon to see what type of applicable store coupons that you can get to purchase your item at an even lower total cost.
4. Make a secure purchase, look for a trusted logo: Does the website you clicked on look a bit shady? No contact phone number, no help line, or even worse - no product image. Find a McAfee, TRUSTe, or a VeriSign badge to make sure that you're not being scammed.
5. Hand over your phone for a deal: Not only can you use your phone for research and back-up, but there are new mobile sites and big retailers that let you use mobile coupons at your favorite store. (example include Target, Mobile Spinach and others). You can flash your phone at checkout to save big bucks!
6. Listen to the experts: There are hundreds, scratch that thousands of expert shoppers blogging about their favorite deals, sales, and products! Do some digging to find a blogger who likes the same things you do (be in eco-friendly clothes or high-fashion pumps) and have them help you find the best place to spend your hard-earned cash!
7. Look at the return policy: You may be saving when you buy during that private 1 hour sale, but does the site let you make returns? Make sure to do a quick read on their policies to make sure that if it doesn't fit or the color doesn't match your style, you can get your money back.
8. Check for tax and shipping deals (odds are, you can get it sent to your home for free!): Retailers are competing for your business, and one way they are doing it is by shaving off costs. Make sure you do some searching to see if you there are any applicable shipping or saving codes for you to get your item to you for free. Heck, who doesn't want to save $10!
9. Can you get it cheaper at WalMart? Maybe Target?: WalMart and Target are known for having the lowest prices online, and in the store. Rather than hunting and pecking around on each site, check out TheFind.com to get a side by side comparison view of how much it's selling at each of the retail giants, and see how it stands up against everyone else.
10. Don't one-stop shop: Although you may typically buy your favorite Haviana flip flops at Macys, do some searching around online to see if they are offering you the lowest price. At TheFind.com, you can easily do a quick search for "Haviana sandals" and view the lowest prices from more than 500,000 stores and online sellers. If you need them now, try TheFind's local search to see where you can buy them in your neighborhood, for the lowest price.
Customer Service your passion? Join Frank Eliason, Jeffrey Kingman, Emily Yellin & myself for a FREE #CustServ Webinar
Are you passionate about the importance of good customer service? Do you work in some aspect of the customer service industry? Do wish you could meet regularly with other people who share your passion for innovation and excellence in customer service? What do you do on Tuesday nights at 9 ET?
If you aren't joining in the always provocative, informative, rowdy, raucous, friendly free-for-all that is the #custserv chat on Tuesday nights on Twitter at 9 ET, you're missing the boat. For the past year, a loyal cabal of customer service thought leaders, managers and others have tweeted away for an hour each week on such pre-selected topics as "Is the Customer Ever Wrong?", "How Do Companies with Poor Customer Service Survive?" and "Is Marketing the New Customer Service or Vice Versa?"
This Webinar will expand on the most lively and pertinent highlights and revelations from those chats in 2010, and do some forecasting about what will likely be prominent concerns in the world of customer service in 2011. It will give regular chat participants and newbies alike a chance to break out of the confines of the beloved 140-character tweets that race by in torrents on Tuesday nights.
Instead, this will be a highly controlled, coherent, logical, erudite, intellectual, measured and totally serious webinar. Or not. The point is you won't want to miss it. The panel will talk, and there will be time for questions, comments, maybe a heated argument, and even some spirited input from the rowdier hecklers in the group (but no mean jerks allowed). You never know what will happen.
So clear your schedules and join us on Thursday, January 27th at 3 pm ET/12 pm PT.
The panel will include:
•Frank Eliason (@FrankEliason), customer service guru and regular #custserv chat participant, formerly of ComcastCares.com and now in social media management at Citibank.
•Marsha Collier, (@MarshaCollier), co-founder of the #custserv chat, author, speaker and thought leader, whose latest book, published in January, is called The Ultimate Online Customer Service Guide: How to Connect with your Customers to Sell More.
Jeffrey J Kingman (@JeffreyJKingman), co-founder of the #custserv chat, board member of Social Media Club Portland (OR), and CEO of Chalkboarder.
Hosting the panel will be:
•Emily Yellin (@Eyellin), regular #custserv chat participant, journalist, speaker and author of Your Call Is (Not That) Important to Us – Customer Service and What It Reveals About Our World and Our Lives.
Register now at http://bit.ly/hjhc43
Join us for a Live Recap
Thursday, January 27th at 3 pm ET/12 pm PT
Register Now – It's Free - bit.ly/hjhc43
We will miss Mark Oleesky, former co-host of KABC #techradio passed 1/11. AUDIO: Comedy 60sec liner w @Tobolowsky
Mark Oleesky was Marc Cohen’s co-host on KABC-A/LOS ANGELES computer and technology show for over 10 years. Mark died of cardiac arrest after collapsing at a ceremony at his son’s high school, reports the LOS ANGELES TIMES. OLEESKY, 60, was taking photos at the event at EL CAMINO REAL HIGH SCHOOL in WOODLAND HILLS, CA when he collapsed. His son BRIAN plays on the school’s baseball team.
We thought you might enjoy hearing a funny liner we recorded from a show where we interviewed character actor, Stephen Tobolowsky. Just click their names below:
We’re going to miss Mark for his friendship and humor.
The internet is at the stage where it’s producing some pretty incredible numbers. The good thing about it is that most of it can be counted, sorted, and analyzed.
The number of emails sent on the internet in 2010 was 107 trillion, according to statistics gathered by Royal Pingdom. Since antivirus companies say that about 89 percent of all email is spam, we can guess that the amount of spam was 95.3 trillion messages. Here’s some other cool stats that emerge:
294 billion – Average number of email messages per day.
1.88 billion – The number of email users worldwide.
480 million – New email users since the year before.
262 billion – The number of spam emails per day (assuming 89 percent are spam).
2.9 billion – The number of email accounts worldwide.
25 percent – Share of email accounts that are corporate.
255 million – The number of websites as of December 2010.
21.4 million – Added websites in 2010.
88.8 million – .COM domain names at the end of 2010.
13.2 million – .NET domain names at the end of 2010.
8.6 million – .ORG domain names at the end of 2010.
79.2 million – The number of country code top-level domains (e.g. .CN, .UK, .DE, etc.).
202 million – The number of domain names across all top-level domains (October 2010).
7 percent – The increase in domain names since the year before.
1.97 billion – Internet users worldwide (June 2010).
14 percent – Increase in internet users since the previous year.
825.1 million – internet users in Asia.
475.1 million – internet users in Europe.
266.2 million – internet users in North America.
204.7 million – internet users in Latin America / Caribbean.
110.9 million – internet users in Africa.
63.2 million –internet users in the Middle East.
21.3 million – internet users in Oceania / Australia.
152 million – The number of blogs on the Internet (as tracked by BlogPulse).
25 billion – Number of sent tweets on Twitter in 2010
100 million – New accounts added on Twitter in 2010
175 million – People on Twitter as of September 2010
7.7 million – People following @ladygaga (Lady Gaga, Twitter’s most followed user).
600 million – People on Facebook at the end of 2010.
250 million – New people on Facebook in 2010.
30 billion – Pieces of content (links, notes, photos, etc.) shared on Facebook per month.
70 percent – Share of Facebook’s user base located outside the United States.
20 million – The number of Facebook apps installed each day.
2 billion – The number of videos watched per day on YouTube.
35 – Hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute.
186 – The number of online videos the average Internet user watches in a month (USA).
84 percent – Share of Internet users that view videos online (USA).
14 percent – Share of Internet users that have uploaded videos online (USA).
2+ billion – The number of videos watched per month on Facebook.
20 million – Videos uploaded to Facebook per month.
5 billion – Photos hosted by Flickr (September 2010).
3000+ – Photos uploaded per minute to Flickr.
130 million – At the above rate, the number of photos uploaded per month to Flickr.
3+ billion – Photos uploaded per month to Facebook.
36 billion – At the current rate, the number of photos uploaded to Facebook per year.
Previous Story: Google already knows its search sucks (and is working to fix it)
Companies: Royal Pingdom
People: Lady Gaga
OUT NOW! The Ultimate Online Customer Service Guide: Make your online customers happy— and create new ones
After writing over 30 successful books on ecommerce, I learned there is nothing 'common" about the customer. Customers are the soul of business. Social media gives an unparalleled vehicle for connecting and engaging with an unlimited number of prospective buyers. Yet this vehicle is different than other, more impersonal forms. With social media, reps become part of their customers' lives. They handle complaints immediately. They grow their brands by involving themselves in communities.
My experience in retail, then ecommerce and eBay for the past 14 years shows me that 21st century marketing, based on community is the most efficient way to grow your customer base. As co-founder of Twitter's highly successful #custserv chat, I have seen companies who do it right - and those who don't.
The Ultimate Online Customer Service Guide gives you the keys to authentic and engaged service to customers through social media. Using a blend of traditional and social media customer service case studies, and instructions on how to execute quality customer service, this book enables you to access the opportunities that social media presents as a means of serving customers.
* Authentically use social media to connect with customers to boost your bottom line
* Attract new customers through your online presence
* Achieve higher Merchandise Sales with quality customer service
Social media gives you a new and growing realm to distinguish your business. Create a productive presence in this interactive space with The Ultimate Online Customer Service Guide.
Buy the Book BONUSES!These offers are good from Friday, January 7th, until 11:59 pm PT on Saturday, January 15th … or until we run out …all good things must come to an end.
Buy ONE book and receive:
The Ultimate Online Customer Service Guide Autographed Bookmark or Name Plate for your book. Limited to first 200 requests.
Buy TEN books and receive:
Access to a private, 60-minute Q&A webinar where I’ll be going into even more detail on the concepts in the book and give you specific “how-to’s” on building relationships with your customers. You have a chance to ask questions and get specific feedback and coaching on how to apply the book to your business and brand.
Buy 200 Books and receive:
I'll fly out for an In-person, half-day session* with your Customer Service Staff, Employees or Management - your call. This is an incredible opportunity to leverage everything I have learned through my online customer service journey with you. I'll help you set up Social Media Policies for your employees and more so you'll be ready with a robust strategy for pleasing and attracting customers.
*Travel expenses (flight, hotel, meals) are not included
To cash in on these offers:
1. Email me a copy of your purchase receipt to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. In the email subject line, please write One, Ten or 200 Book Offer.
3. In the email body, please include your address and specify the name I should use for your autographed name plate.
I did an interview about my book at Blogworld. In it, I talk about how much social media has done for me, and what it can do for others.