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We’re hiring Council Managers in Austin and Chicago

My company, GasPedal, and its brands, SocialMedia.org and WordofMouth.org, are growing fast. And we’re looking for talented, passionate people to join our team in Austin and Chicago for one of our most important roles: Council Manager.

This is an intensely interesting job:

Council Managers deliver our flagship product — an amazing community experience with deep conversations and strong personal relationships. They create a “nowhere else” experience and uphold our standards, while staying out of the spotlight. They provide everyday above-and-beyond customer service and support, while protecting the culture and standards of the community. They know enough about corporate social media to lead the conversation, while letting the members do the talking.

They love taking care of people, supporting them, and making sure they feel like they are in a safe space where they can share with trusted friends. There is an emotional commitment to this job, and Council Managers will build very close relationships with the members of our community. They have to be ready for a long-term commitment and ready to give 100%.

We’re passionate about the process and science of community management. We’re constantly refining, documenting, and scaling systems that allow us to keep delivering a quality experience as we grow.

If you know someone who would love doing work like this, send them our way: GasPedal Jobs.

Newsletter #1007: The “Lessons from Headsets.com’s Super Pickles” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I'd Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

Headsets.com has this crazy customer service program called Super Pickles. We’re not sure where the name came from, but we’re impressed with its mission: Blow customers away with great service.

Here are our five favorite examples:

1> Listen closely
2> Nix the annoying stuff
3> Always hang up last
4> Don’t upsell
5> Add a little extra
6> Check it out: The Super Pickle Way

1. Listen closely

On every customer service call, Headsets.com employees are looking for a reason to surprise and delight and build a deeper relationship with their customers — not to get off the phone as soon as possible. For example, when one customer told a rep about the stressful work week ahead of her, they sent her a gift certificate to a nail salon to relax later. That customer wrote them back, saying she would tell everyone who would listen about their amazing customer service.

The lesson: With day-to-day customer service, it can be easy to go through the motions: passively listening while you fix the problem. Instead, Headsets.com employees listen proactively and empathetically.

2. Nix the annoying stuff

Phone trees are one of those advancements in tech that, in the process of making things more efficient, forgot that customers are human. Everyone hates phone trees, but so many businesses use them that when an actual person answers the phone, it’s remarkable. That’s why every call you make to Headsets.com will be answered by a real person.

The lesson: Get serious about customer experience and get rid of as many of these annoying details as possible — even if it makes the job a little less efficient.

3. Always hang up last

How many times have you thought of that one thing you forgot to ask after a customer service rep has already hung up? Headsets.com employees will always make sure their customers have the last word by waiting for them to hang up first. That gives their customers the opportunity to add something at the end of the conversation and not feel like they were cut off.

The lesson: These small details in the everyday jobs of your employees make a big difference to your customers. Are you looking for them?

4. Don’t upsell

Headsets.com employees never pressure a customer with upsells. In fact, they’ll often talk customers out of buying stuff they don’t need. Your customers are smart. They know when you’re trying to squeeze a little more out of their business, and they figure it out when they’ve been sold stuff they didn’t need.

The lesson: Instead of losing their trust and their business for a little extra cash, why not show them you’re trustworthy and earn them as a loyal customer?

5. Add a little extra

Did you know that Headsets.com is the second-largest buyer of Tootsie Rolls in the world? That’s because they ship a handful of them in every package they send. That’s a small surprise for the person receiving those packages, and a great word of mouth tool, but it also shows they care about the details that make their customers happy.

The lesson: These little gestures are much easier for your customers to talk about than your customer service philosophies or your company culture. They can just say, “They send me Tootsie Rolls in every package,” and people will get the message.

6. Check it out: The Super Pickle Way

Headsets.com CEO Mike Faith shared this slide deck with us of “16 Customer Service Secrets We Learned at Headsets.com.” It’s another great example of word of mouth marketing: Give people something they can share.

Check it out: The Super Pickle Way

Kasey Skala, Head of Social Marketing and Online Engagement for Dart Container Corporation’s Solo brand

This is a post from my company, SocialMedia.org’s blog. Check it out for more profiles and stories about the people running social at really big brands.

For this member profile, we sat down with Kasey Skala, Head of Social Marketing and Online Engagement for Dart Container Corporation’s Solo brand. Previously, he’s done some award-winning work as Great Clips’ Digital Communications Manager.

“It was a complete 180 on the focus.”

That’s how Kasey Skala describes the difference between running social media for the Solo brand and his former strategic social role at Great Clips. For one thing, each company reaches out to completely different demographics: At Great Clips, it’s 18-34 year-old men, and at Dart Container it’s 25-44 year-old women for Solo products. For another, these audiences have different ways of engaging with brands.

At Great Clips, their target audience didn’t want to talk about getting their hair cut.

“We had to develop a strategy to engage with them around topics they were interested in, and a lot of times, that had nothing to do with the actual haircut. It was a challenge to sell a product when your customer doesn’t want to talk about the product you sell,” he explains.

“The Solo brand is the opposite end.”

Kasey says that Solo brand customers are more engaged and talking about multiple Solo products on multiple platforms. It gives him a chance to make the messaging more fun, more aspirational, and even crafty.

That craftiness is why Pinterest is becoming an important tool for Dart Container’s Solo brand social marketing.

“We sell a red cup, but our product is not the red cup. It’s about the experience and the feelings that you have when you’re using our product. So I think Pinterest is a great inspirational and emotional tool for us. It’s about finding ways to create campaigns and partnerships that really speak to what the Solo brand is about and how we’re different from our competitors.”

For Great Clips, it was all about integrating mobile with social and digital media.

Kasey’s role as their Digital Communications Manager from 2010 to 2014 focused on service-oriented social media, particularly on mobile platforms. That work helped tie social to direct ROI and spread the idea of social media as a valuable resource for Great Clips.

“We were able to take it from ‘why social?’ to a point where our franchisees and local markets were excited about using social media,” he says.

In fact, in addition to their 3,500 independently owned franchises, it allowed them to get other departments, like HR and recruiting, real estate, and business development involved in social media.

Kasey says, “Being able to take it from a small, silo program to making it one that scales across the entire enterprise was something that I count as a win for my time there.”

And it’s something he’s striving toward for the Solo brand, too.

But it can be challenging to prove social media’s ROI for a CPG brand.

“At Great Clips, it was a lot easier to tie concrete ROI to what we’re doing online. The Solo brand is a complete flip on that,” Kasey explains.

As a consumer-packaged-goods brand, Dart Container can’t always control things like inventory or placement of their Solo products. For all of their work in social, Dart can’t necessarily change their customers’ experiences when they buy their products in a store.

That makes it difficult to tie their efforts to sales, and even more challenging to help folks in the organization see the value of social media — something Kasey says is crucial.

“Being able to tie results and actions back to our efforts is the most important part of my job,” he says.

Another challenge for the Solo brand has to do with a catchy song you may have heard.

We’re talking about Toby Keith’s popular country song “Red Solo Cup” and the tendency people have to tie some not-so-innocent memories to the brand.

“When some people talk about the Solo brand, the inclination is to go back to their college days when they were drinking alcohol out of it. While we’re aware of that, our brand is much more than that. The challenge is we have these highly engaged, highly attached consumers with our product, but we have to be careful with how we market that,” Kasey explains.

But the biggest difficulty Dart Container faces in social media is category confusion.

“The number-one challenge is that everyone thinks that every red cup is a Solo Cup.
With a lot of our engagement, people are talking about us and posting photos — which is good — but we can’t do anything with that user-generated content because it’s not our cup.”

But Kasey’s team doesn’t let all of this user-generated content and engagement go to waste.

Kasey says, “We can still engage with these consumers and we can still carry on a conversation with them. I still think acknowledging them and reaching out to them goes a long way.”

“We’re not the reason people are getting together, but we’re part of the celebration.”

That mantra for the Solo brand helps drive their social strategy. It’s all about acknowledging those positive memories and nostalgia about getting together with friends and family. Kasey explains that it helps that there’s not a lot of negative feedback from customers who purchase the Solo product.

According to Kasey, “The initial inclination for consumers when they talk the Solo Cup is to relive the great and positive times they’ve had, and our product is usually a part of those experiences. Many brands don’t have this luxury, so we’re really fortunate.”

And in the age of Facebook comments, that’s saying a lot.

Say hi to Kasey on Twitter and ask about his time as a third-grade mile-run record holder.

Simplest way to get people to buy from you

Del monte lima beans

If your product isn’t all that different, how can you get people to buy from you?

Look for the simplest possible improvement in the experience, not the product.

Example: I buy Del Monte beans because I don’t need to mess with a can opener.

It only takes one great feature to put you in the lead. Find it or add it.

Why did the white can freak everyone out?

Coke can

Many people got angry about this fun Coke can. (Read: 1 2 3)

Why? Because it looked like a Diet Coke can. You didn’t realize that you were drinking the wrong thing until it was too late. 

There are a few interesting lessons from this:

  1. Testing is important. You need an outside perspective and a fresh look to catch things that your internal team missed.
  2. Complexity is a problem. With hundreds of products, The Coca-Cola Company has so many possible points of confusion that it’s probably very hard to avoid things like this.
  3. Who’s in the middle? When you have lots of products, you need someone in the middle who can take a high-level view. Someone who can catch things missed by people who are deep-focused on a specific product.
  4. People are way too easily annoyed and probably need some rum in their Coke.

Your talkers can say it better with a gift

This is a post from our WordofMouth.org project. Check it out for more great word of mouth marketing tips like this every day. Tonx is a subscription coffee service that delivers high-quality roasted beans to their customers’ doors (and we think they were channeling Dollar Shave Club with this video). Tonx encourages subscribers to tell […]

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5 good reasons to work at GasPedal

My company, GasPedal, and its brands, SocialMedia.org and WordofMouth.org, are growing fast. We’re looking for talented, passionate people to join our team in Austin and Chicago. Here are five reasons why we love working here — and why we think you will too: 1. Good Mission: Make real change by helping the good guys win. […]

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Newsletter #1006: The “Problem Solved” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I'd Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.] Every once in a while, a product comes along that solves an issue everyone understands in a way that no one’s […]

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