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Posts Tagged ‘trust’

Fans, Followers and Actual Customers For Your Small Business

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

I’m looking forward to the new Facebook expose movie, The Social Network.  Why?  Because if I can’t be a billionaire like Mark Zuckerberg, I may as well get to revel in a less than flattering depiction in a  “historically inspired” film.  Now let’s be clear, if KikScore becomes half as successful as facebook, I’ll act way worse than Mr. Zuckerberg.  I’ll not even mind a movie painting me to be a rich recluse.

In thinking about Facebook, its impact on our social lives is obvious.  But its impact on small business is also growing.  As with Twitter, one of the first thing a business now does is to request individuals to become a fan, follower or friend to the business.  Now its still not clear as to what that actually does for the business in terms of credibility, but it is a growing trend. But trust aside, having your customers as your social network friends/followers keeps a business closer to its customers and what they are thinking.

The real business question is which should you focus on:  Facebook or Twitter?  In a perfect world you could do both.  But in a perfect world, you wouldn’t have to update your status, it would always just say “rich and retired”.  Twitter seems to have taken the initial lead, with companies using it for customer service response.  But Facebook is coming on strong, with more companies using the multi-media demension of FB to tell more of a story than microblogging can.

So I pose the question to you:  for your small business, is it Facebook or Twitter.

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Posts Tagged ‘trust’

The Startup Team and Life Changing events

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

When your team is lean and everyone is wearing multiple hats, it causes quite the glitch in everyday functions when one (or multiple) team member experiences a life changing event. How do you prepare for it? There are some situations that are emergency impact that cannot be prepared for, but others can.

Since the inception of KikScore there have been a mixture of life changing events across the team…
— 3 new births across different team members (all first time parents),
— spousal job changes
— infants becoming toddlers
— loss of pets (and additions)
— demanding day job impacts
— and an upcoming one for me – moving cross-country to ‘the big city’ for an amazing new day job opportunity.

So how does a small night/weekend entrepreneurial company stay focused?

It is very easy for the impacted member to get caught up in the life event and KikScore takes a back seat.  While not the intention, human nature makes us selfish.

We can’t let this happen as the business would in turn suffer.  As a small team, we need to regroup and delegate items out to others  during the transition time, arming the business with communication channels to stick together and react to customer needs.

Some other tips that can prove useful are to continue to conduct weekly meetings to re-establish expectations. The team member going through the transition (me soon) should be able to commit to a once/week discussions to ensure they stay informed and can lend a hand as their life calms down and they rediscover their head.

How has your small business coped with  life changing events?  Please share your story with KikScore.

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Posts Tagged ‘trust’

Customer Service 2.0: Is the Phone Number Dead?

Friday, August 27th, 2010

First off, you know you’re getting old when you begin a blog post with the phrase “this new generation”…and then comment on how things used to be done.  Of course, you’re probably not that old if you’re writing a blog post in the first place, but my point is, when you start noticing differences, you’re aging is noticeable.

But this new generation has a different view towards customer service.  In my day (ahhh, the 90’s…Nirvana was popular, there were new “Twilight” books, and I had a full head of hair), customer service meant an 800 number.  A big break through was an email address, but you never really relied on getting a message back…so you called customer service to get an answer.

As our customer base at KikScore grows, there is something very noticeably absent — that would be phone calls.  Instead, people are looking at our product videos, sending us emails, asking questions on Twitter.  It’s great in many respects — phone calls are time consuming to process and that costs money.  But the written word and videos often don’t convey specifically the information what a customer is looking to get…so it can either result in a frustrating customer experience or it results in a lot of interaction to get a question answered.

So, I’m getting older and I can roll with the punches and not complain about how things have changed…but I’m not sure if the extinction of the phone number is a good thing.

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Posts Tagged ‘trust’

How Do I Trust That my Hotel Isn't Infected with BedBugs: The Internet/Social Media

Friday, August 20th, 2010

Business travel is getting worse every day.  There are fewer flights, more screaming kids on the plane, and less leg room.  I thought we had hit the bottom, but I was wrong.  Instead, business travel includes another perk — the resurgence of bed bugs.  Apparently New York City is filled with these horrible creatures.  They are in the hotels, the apartments, the movie theaters, and probably in the Nuts4Nuts stands. 

Of course I have to travel to NYC occassionally for business.  This isn’t great, because the thought of bugs crawling around in my room will keep me up all night (I’m not really an enthusiastic camper).  Want a creepy fact about bed bugs?  They only have to eat once a year!  They also hide in your furniture.  These a patient, efficient monsters.

So what should I do?  I could refuse to travel and stop making money.  But then I’ll be homeless, which is fraught with many bug-filled nights.  Instead of taking a job in sterile lab, I turned to the Internet and found several blogs and websites that give you a heads up if there have been reports of bed bugs.  The best one is the Bed Bug Registry.   

I know it’s commonplace to turn to the Internet to find information.  But this particular offline problem is ideally suited for the web/social media.  It has to be constantly updated and rumor is as valuable as fact.  I don’t care if there has been a conclusive determination of bed bug existence.  If there is a whiff of any type of bug sighting, I’m not going to that hotel.

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Posts Tagged ‘trust’

The Magic of Metrics

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

As a small business grows and not only builds the customer base but also expands the solution offerings, a metrics tracking method should be developed. There are a wealth of options of different metrics to track across any business. The hype for small companies seem to focus on SEO and website traffic metrics, but there are other business and process facing metrics that can greatly help a small business grow and succeed.

This article promotesmetrics are magic.  Key areas that can keep all team members in-check are to outline metrics surrounding milestones with dates and deadlines, and tracking of metrics like calls, presentations, programming modules, etc.

Depending up on the size and complexity of your business, utilizing a tool set to track and report on metrics could be very useful.  This provides the business leaders an avenue in which to review and evaluate trends and to determine if new solutions are working as expected and increasing cash flow.

Metrics help to outline the quality and measurement of success for any given business, product or process.  As a small business owner, factoring quality into daily activities helps to keep the entire team focused on top quality solutions and practices

What defines a quality metric and tips how to determine where your solution measures up?  The key is to create a metrics roadmap early in your business cycle so that you can formulate processes and checkpoints throughout that adhere to it.

The metrics you track will change over time, as your business expands (or shrinks).  You must also be diligent in that tracking process and share out not only the positive metrics, but the negative ones as well with your entire team. The only way to improve upon your business processes and ensure quality is to define the metrics and make appropriate changes to continue to improve them.  And allow your business to evolve in a positive light by continuously reviewing the metrics and creating new benchmarks that define your business success.

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Posts Tagged ‘trust’

HP's Former CEO: Trust Problems and Bad Judgment

Monday, August 9th, 2010

As I’m sure a lot of you have read, HP’s CEO, Mark Hurd, resigned last week.  It wasn’t due to poor earnings or prospects for growth.  In fact, a lot of people credit Mr. Hurd for turning things around for HP over the last several years.

Nope.  Mr. Hurd resigned because he was caught lying on his expense reports.  There was an ongoing investigation over complaints of sexual harassment.  To avoid disclosing the relationship with one of his assistance, which he apparently spent company money on, he mischaracterized why he incurred certain expenses.

So, Hurd resigns and is getting $20M-$50M in severeance payments.

Few questions that come to mind on this:

1.  Hurd made millions of dollars every year.  Could he not cover the expense of some dinners and drinks on his own and not expense it?  Is it worth saving $2,000/year at the expense of your job and stock options? 

2.  Why is he getting his severance paid?  Usually most severance packages are conditioned on the executive not resigning due to fraud.  I’m no lawyer (ok, maybe I am), but submitting false expense reports seems to be fraudulent. 

3.  Did he have to have an affair with his assistant?  I mean, it is so cliche.  Couldn’t he have at least run away with his massage therapist.  This whole having an affair with an assistant is the main reason why my wife won’t allow us to hire an assistant at KikScore.  I’m having to open the mail, return phone calls, shred incriminating documents all by myself.  It’s overwhelming.

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Posts Tagged ‘trust’

Build Trust By Listening and Sharing

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

A couple weeks ago, I focused on the need for valuable and easy to use feedback tools for your customers.  While continuing to research this topic and build best practices for KikScore, a colleague shared this great article with me on How to Make the Most of Customer Feedback.  As a small company, I realized we tend to get caught up in task items of the release schedule we’ve set forth and lose sight of the customer connection – until an issue arises and you are placed in emergency mode.

This article touches well on the subject of empowering customer-facing employees.    As you continue to expand your solution offerings and grow your customer base, this becomes a critical area of focus.  And it’s not just sales personnel, this includes customer support and even marketing resources who are interfacing with customers on a regular basis.  By giving your employees the right tools to not only listen to customer input but also to respond and raise awareness throughout the rest of the organization.  This also goes to the level of communicating in a transparent manner to your customers on what is coming next from your company.  This helps to promote trust between company and customer and shows how your company listens and reacts.

The aspect of close the loop with those giving feedback empowers your customers to then not only see how you take their opinions to heart but also how your company strives to prioritize and stay one step ahead.  Simple steps to promote customer loyalty and make your business a success.

What feedback processes do you have in place and how does your business track and prioritize them?

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Posts Tagged ‘trust’

Style V. Substance: Which Matters More?

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

Remember back in high school, when the guys with the coolest cars got the dates (at least that’s how I justify my lack of dates back then)?  Then you flash forward 15 years later, and those “cool car” guys haven’t moved out of their parents’ basements (and still drive the same cars that they did in high school).  While the guys who had nothing better to do than study (as they weren’t going out on dates) now have good jobs.  It plays out with regularity with every generation — style wins the battle, but substance wins the war.

While substance is the valued trait at work and in our personal lives (or at least it should be), it seems with buying decisions we lose all grip on reality and defer to the “better looking” product or service.  Why am I going with this and why does it matter?  This shallowness really impacts small business and could be a security threat for online shoppers.

For small businesses that want to have an online presence, but can’t afford a top-line web designer, the choice is often to go with a standard design template.  So if you’re selling the same product, but your site doesn’t have the same pizazz as a competitor’s, and all other things are equal (like pricing and product), we as buyers will go with the “cooler” site. 

Why?  Because it conveys legitimacy.  If someone spends a lot on a site, they must have a lot of money because the site is successful, and therefore safe. 

And here is where the security threat comes in.  Just because a site looks better, doesn’t mean it’s safe.  In fact, those same “cool guys” from high school (that are living in their parents’ basements) have plenty of time to dedicate creating fraudulent/less trustworthy sites than a successful offline business person.  So once again, we go with what looks better, and don’t take the time on the businesses with substance. 

What’s the solution?  Well, this is KikScore.com’s blog, so you probably have a guess what I think is the answer.  But I’m open to other suggestions.

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Posts Tagged ‘trust’

Build Trust With Customers by Providing Feedback Tools

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

As KikScore continues to grow and add customers, our team is more active in social media sites.  In anticipation of a large partner release, we are working to ensure staff support and processes in place to respond to customer inquiries and issues.

Providing an avenue for your customers to sing your praises and also to vent when needed helps to build trust in your brand and confidence in your customers.  With social media continuing to rise, consumers savor the ability to have a voice in a variety of platforms, and they can yell loudly.  To build trust and loyalty in your customer base, you have to listen and react in a timely and professional manner .

Being a mom, I could relate to the outrage set forth by moms across the country on this Motrin add.  Motrin could have quickly regained confidence and trust in its consumer base by reacting to this outrage in a much more professional  and empathetic manner.

As a small business, creating an avenue for clear communication with your customers on good and bad topics will not only build trust, but also instill loyalty which creates new customers and reduces abandoned shopping carts.  Be an advocate for your customers and they will yell loudly on social media platforms that your business is the business to connect with.

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Posts Tagged ‘trust’

Unless You're in Minnesota, Trust is Important

Friday, July 16th, 2010

Minnesota is many things.  The birthplace of Bob Dylan, Prince, and Kevin McHale.  Home of the Vikings (and Brett Farve).  It is also my home state and I just returned from a 10 day visit home.  Why 10 days?  Because when you have one vacation each year you want it to last as long as possible.  And nothing seems longer than 10 days in Minnesota.

Now to my point.  When visiting the Land of 10,000 lakes, it’s striking at how accommodating and polite everyone is (whether they actually are sincere is another question and not something that really matters).  But tied into that is how trusting everyone is.  Repeatedly I noticed people leaving their computers at the Starbucks table and my parents don’t lock their doors when they are gone all day.  Trustworthiness (or at least the absence of mal-intent) seems to be part of their DNA.

This seems to extend to e-commerce.  I was quietly watching my mother shopping online.  She was looking for some odd knitting equipment (did I mention there is nothing to do in Northern Minnesota?) and she had no hesitation visiting unknown sites.  After I explained the dangers of blindly visiting sites without any security software (and this may be the reason why her computer runs slowly) she seemed shocked that anyone would be less than honest.

As with all things related to Minnesota, the awareness of online danger will spread — probably in about 3 more years.  To give you an idea of the information delay, Minnesota still seems to be getting over the grunge look (I had to tell a few folks that Soul Asylum wasn’t a “with it” band anymore).  So, unless your target market is selling deer tick spray online, promoting trust on your site should remain a top priority.

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