Posted tagged ‘customer service’

Educate everyone

19 April 2016

My all-time favourite example of augmented reality has been reinvented.

When I first saw BMW’s augmented reality glasses on YouTube over 8 years ago, I was excited. It heralded a new dawn in educational technology. A golden age in which learning & performance would be transformed.

Then… nothing.

For years afterwards, augmented reality seemed to be trapped in the mystical realm of what it “could” do in the future. Indeed it offered amazing potential, but with too few examples of the technology in use, not much reality was really being augmented.

More recently, Google Glass has been making in-roads, though I consider it more of a data display device than an AR headset. And Microsoft’s work on HoloLens is truly inspiring, but it’s not quite ready yet.

Then… BOOM!

At the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show, Hyundai unveiled its Virtual Guide. Overnight, the Korean boffins made BMW’s augmented reality glasses a reality for the rest of us.

Now, I use the term “overnight” with poetic licence. Hyundai actually unveiled its AR app in the previous year. And yes, there have been other practical applications of AR done by other companies. Heck, they’re not even the first car maker to do it.

But all that is moot, because the point is this is the first time in a long time that I’ve been impressed by a mainstream brand. To me, Hyundai stands out from the myriad other car makers as a leader – not only in innovation, but also in customer service.

I compare them to Honda, for example, whose Civic can’t even play the songs on my Samsung smartphone.

Surprised koala

Hyundai’s app prompted me to consider the relationship between e-learning and marketing in the corporate domain.

Traditionally, e-learning (along with the rest of L&D) is inward focused; its specialists are charged with developing the capability of the organisation’s employees. In contrast, marketing is outward focused; its specialists are charged with attracting more customers.

Indeed there has been consideration of combining marketing with e-learning to promote and motivate employee development, but how about the reverse? How about combining e-learning with marketing to engage customers?

As Hyundai has demonstrated, e-learning can be used as a vehicle to establish a leadership position for the brand. Yet it can do more.

Consider an insurance company. Like cars, this is another sector that is usually considered boring by the general public and faces stiff competition. How about another TV advertisement featuring a loving family and a dog and… yawn… sorry, I can’t be bothered finishing this sentence.

Instead, how about a customer education strategy that teaches the public the fundamentals of insurance, providing a clear explanation of the concept, untangling its mind-boggling options and variations, ultimately helping regular folks like you and me make better decisions about our finances.

The strategy might involve a YouTube channel, an expert-authored blog, a moderated discussion forum, a free webinar series, a corporate MOOC… all open to the public.

Could someone consume your wonderful content and buy their insurance from someone else? Of course, some people base their purchasing decisions solely on price. But many don’t. With the trust and goodwill your education generates, I’d wager that plenty of prospective customers will prefer the brand that empowered them.

At the very least, you’d attract more customers with an education strategy than without one.

So don’t just educate your staff. Educate everyone.

E-Learning Provocateur: Volume 2

17 September 2012

Following the modest success of my first book, I decided to fulfil the promise of its subtitle and publish E-Learning Provocateur: Volume 2.

The volume comprises a collation of my articles from this blog. As in the first volume, my intent is to provoke deeper thinking across a range of e-learning related themes in the workplace, including:

E-Learning Provocateur: Volume 2•   social business
•   informal learning
•   mobile learning
•   microblogging
•   data analysis
•   digital influence
•   customer service
•   augmented reality
•   the role of L&D
•   smartfailing
•   storytelling
•   critical theory
•   ecological psychology
•   online assessment
•   government 2.0
•   human nature

Order your copy now at Amazon.

Bad Apple

16 January 2012

It seems like ancient history now, but last Christmas I received a $20 iTunes card from a work friend.

I was very pleased to receive it, as I usually buy songs from iTunes with my credit card – and that can tick over in the blink of an eye.

Obviously I hadn’t handled an iTunes card in a while. Without much forethought, I peeled back the sticker covering the code, only to notice I had damaged two of the characters beyond recognition.

iTunes card with scratched code

Naturally I tried to redeem the value in the iTunes Store with a few guesses, but to no avail. So I turned to my trusty adviser, Google, and found that I was not the only one with this problem. However, none of the suggestions helped me.

So I bit the bullet and clicked the iTunes link to “get help”. I filled out the form, including the card’s serial number, then clicked OK.

The next day I received an email from a guy from iTunes Store Customer Support. He wanted me to fax the following to him:

• A cover sheet including my name, email address, and my case ID;
• The sales receipt; and,
• Photocopies of the front and back of the card.

Yes, he said fax. Seriously, who faxes any more? Some Gen-Y’s don’t even know what a fax is.

Thankfully he provided an alternative: scan the receipt and the card, then attach them to a reply email.

However I had a second problem – because I didn’t buy the card myself, I didn’t have the receipt. Call me old fashioned, but I wasn’t keen on asking my friend if he still had it. So I replied to the support guy’s email with a cover message, attached scans of the front and back of the card, and explained my receipt predicament.

Eight days later – just as I’m starting to suspect Apple has ignored me – I receive an email from another support guy. He tells me he can’t find the serial number in his system. Now that’s a strange one, given it’s their number on their card. This guy also asks for the receipt again, so I embarrassingly asked my friend if he still had it. Of course he hadn’t. So I told the support guy that I was going to let it go. It was only $20 anyway. (That was a test: Did they really want to serve me or not?)

The next day I got an email from yet another support guy asking me to fax or email the sales receipt and scans of the front and back of the card! I informed this guy that I had already responded to that, so could he refer to the other guy.

Two days later I got an email from yet another support guy asking me to email the scans of the front and back of the card!! No mention of the receipt this time, so I’m unsure as to whether they’ve waived it or forgotten about it. Nonetheless I email back the scans again.

Another couple of days go by when thankfully, a support lady finally emails me the code – complete with the two mystery characters.

Worm inside an apple

This isn’t the hip and cool Apple I’ve become accustomed to. I must stress that the support people were very polite (if scripted) and they persisted to the end, but their system let them down.

Sure, it was only $20, but I consider a brand’s response to a minor matter a predictor of their response to a major matter. (Besides if you don’t mind writing off $20, let me know and I’ll provide you with my postal address.)

Furthermore, it’s not just the systemic barriers and process inefficiencies that bug me. It’s the fact that the sticker is so damn hard to remove and the code so easy to damage, that you can only wonder whether Apple is doing it by design.

How many other customers out there have just given up and thrown their damaged cards away, never to redeem them? High fives all round at Cupertino, except it’s a high price to pay for losing a lifetime of future sales.

If I were lucky enough to own Apple shares, I’d sell them. I have seen the worm that can kill it from the inside.

20 hot resources for customer-facing social media

24 May 2011

NetworkSomeone asked me recently where they can learn more about customer-facing social media; or in other words, social media used to engage externally with customers rather than internally with colleagues.

I’ve always considered this an example of “e-learning” because – if you do it right – you are educating people. They just happen to be outside of your organisation.

So here are 20 suggestions…

Face to face

Social Media Club


Bubble O’Bill
7 Australian Social Media Examples & Case Studies


Social Media Marketing Industry Report
State of the Blogosphere


Social Media 101
The New Rules of Marketing and PR
The Corporate Blogging Book


The Business of Being Social
Social Media Today
Social Media Examiner
Dan Zarrella, The Social Media Scientist
Ragan Social Media
HubSpot Blog



Do you have any other suggestions…?

Who owns the photocopiers?

17 May 2011

Debra Ellis asked recently: Does social media belong in Marketing or Customer Service?

I replied whimsically that the way I see it, asking who in the organisation owns social media is a bit like asking who owns the photocopiers.

Marketing and Customer Service – not to mention others such as Media Relations – each have their own contribution to make for the success of the group. So why wouldn’t they take charge of their respective social media initiatives? (Just like they take care of their own photocopying.)Various pegs in their right holes

Of course they should work together to maximise impact, but the point is:

Marketing should market and Customer Service should serve.

Ignorance is bliss

Time and time again I have seen new ideas (such as leveraging social media) stall in the corporate sector. Some call it analysis paralysis.

No one wants to stick their head out or, alternatively, dig in and do the dirty work. So they sit on the merry-go-round of meetings and proposals and committees and reviews and research and meetings…

Occasionally, someone highly pertinent to the conversation (yet inexplicably left out of the loop) will have the guts to give it a go – all the while blissfully ignoring protocol.

And it’s probably successful because it aligns to purpose.

On purpose

Who owns the photocopiers? Who cares!

They are tools that are used to achieve goals.

If using a photocopier is integral to your role, then use one. And if you don’t have one, then get one.

If you need authority or approval, get it. If you need advice, get it. If you need training, get it.

Do your job!

My Twitter hero

1 March 2011

ChequeSeveral weeks ago, I deposited a cheque for £122 into my local bank account, but it was paid in as $122. Anyone familiar with the foreign exchange rate will know this left me out of pocket.

So the next day I went back to the bank, and I was lucky enough to speak to the original teller who had processed the cheque. He assured me that he would fix it, and he’d call me when he was done.

Several days went by… nothing.

So I phoned the bank and – big surprise – I was directed straight to voicemail. The machine invited me to leave a message with my phone number so they could call me back, so I obliged.

Several days went by… nothing.


Soon after, I finally got around to reading 3 Examples of Stellar Social Media Customer Service. All 3 examples are certainly worthy of the write-up, but one concerned me nevertheless.

The article stated:

Jennifer Hellum's shattered tableOne customer, Jennifer Hellum, sought customer service after the glass top on her Pottery Barn table shattered in the extreme Arizona heat last summer. Calling the customer service line and the store where she bought the table didn’t get her anywhere. A few weeks later, she posted photos of the tabletop explosion on Pottery Barn’s Facebook fan page. Within 30 minutes she had a call from a customer relations representative who worked with her to find a new tabletop and reimbursed her for it.


Calling both the customer service line and the store where she bought the table didn’t get her anywhere, but complaining on Facebook did.

Kudos to Pottery Barn’s social media team, but shame on the brand overall.

Monkey see, monkey do

Given my problem with the bank, I decided to take a leaf out of Jennifer Hellum’s book. I looked up ANZ Bank on Twitter, but I couldn’t find it. So I googled “ANZ Twitter” and stumbled upon Did ANZ open a new branch and forget to staff it? – not a good omen!

The article states:

Last year ANZ established a dedicated Twitter account called @ANZ_Responds to communicate with customers. The account sat dormant for many months before being shut down earlier this year.

A spokesperson for ANZ says the account was set up as a trial. “However, we found that most of our customers were happier to discuss their banking needs with us directly, at a branch, on the phone, or online.”


I did, however, find @anzmoneymanager on Twitter. While ANZ MoneyManager is the bank’s online budgeting tool – ie something completely unrelated – I thought I’d give it a go and ask them for help anyway.

Thankfully they said yes and a few DMs later all was fixed.

So again…


Star struck

Is this what customer service has come to?

Crap service face to face. Crap service on the phone. Stellar service on social media.

Twitter hero

That’s no way to run a business.

I could draw a parallel to e-learning and bang on about maintaining consistency over multiple modes of delivery, but I figure that’s a no brainer so I won’t waste your time.

I just hope our service providers figure it out.

In the meantime, I feel sorry for my Twitter hero. Guilty by association, @anzmoneymanager will no doubt be pestered by the bank’s aggrieved customers, despite those customers being happier to discuss their banking needs directly, at a branch, on the phone, or online.

Smash your wall

22 February 2011

The recent historic events in Egypt remind me of the Peaceful Revolution in East Berlin in 1989.

In both cases I believe the protest movement was catalysed by the church, whether directly or indirectly.

While the imams in Egypt reportedly implored their faithful not to take to the streets, the pastor of Leipzig’s Church of St Nicholas actively encouraged non-violent uprising via weekly “Peace Prayers”.

Regardless, the amassing of the population in both countries proved the tipping point and the surging will of the people prevailed.

On 9 October 1989 protesters marched out of the Nikolaikirche and into the city.

For me, the sorry saga of West Berlin’s enclavement epitomises the flawed command-and-control mentality shared by the likes of President Mubarak.

It’s a mentality that refuses to acknowledge its own faults, despite the cold facts:

At least 136 Germans died trying to cross the wall from East to West.

0 died trying to cross from West to East.

What was the Politburo thinking? Was ideology driving them to hold firm? Was blissful ignorance shielding them from the plight of their own citizens? Was individual gain incentivising them to maintain the status quo?

The Berlin Wall November 28, 1975 looking southeast

Unfortunately a similar walled-in mentality is alive and well in the corporate sector.

How often do we see things being done that ignore or even work against the interests of the customer? Typically the root cause is a company-centric model that can’t be bothered inconveniencing itself on behalf of its own corporate values.

Of course, as dedicated professionals, we have to be careful not to fall into the same trap.

I’ve seen peers resist enterprise social media because they don’t like Twitter and Facebook.

I’ve seen peers pussyfoot over m-learning because it’s all too hard.

At the height of the virtual craze, I even heard someone declare without an ounce of doubt: “There’s no money in Second Life”. (Evidently Ailin Graef didn’t get that memo.)

My point is, it doesn’t so much matter what we want. What really matters is what our customers want.

To determine that we need to ask them. Then we need to respond in kind, regardless of our preferences and prejudices.

Sure, we can barricade ourselves behind a wall – but only for a little while. Eventually we must surf the wave that rolls over it, or get dunked.