Tag: social media

LocaFollow

A new Twitter application caught my eye: LocaFollow.

Not only does it recognise my loacation as London, it also allows me to search for people near by. Now, I automatically get suggestions of the most followed people in London. That is nice.

London Tweets

But, I can also search for different cities, e.g. New York, Munich etc, depending on what I am interested in. Additionally, I can choose a profession, e.g. CEO, Marketeer and so on. Even found a taxi driver from Beckenham, you never know if I know him, lol.

Definitely a nice little tool to look at. I found some people in digital marketing in London that don’t really have much to say but come up on top of my search. The results don’t seem to be filtered well, e.g. the engine seems to crawl the description of the person and then displays the results in a not clear structured order. At least not obvious to me.

complex life

Now I hope you will enjoy this post. I want to talk about complex life. We have less time, more information and more things going on – all the time. This makes life very complex in my view.

For years I have been one of those people that needed a Blackberry, a mobile device, needed to extend their followers on Linkedin, Twitter, Xing, Facebook and make sure that all contact details I had from people were up to date. I was always on top of things. But then, life got even more complex.

complexity I noticed 3 years ago that I cannot just add every person I met in my life into a database that already had over 1,000 people on it. Every time I synchronised my phone it took almost an hour, and some people never made it to my list of “friends”. Even 5 years ago when I bought my last laptop, I thought I needed to evaluate every single option of the laptop and every feature to make sure I always have the most up to date equipment. Someone I know just admitted to research weeks (!) what kind of new TV to buy.

Over the years, not only thanks to my wife, I have realised it is not always important to actually have the best and knowing everything. I suppose with Google being available all the time (thanks to my Blackberry that is), you can look things up all the time. Actually LinkedIn and Twitter make things easier in a ways as you have your friends contact details on there and if not, you can send them a DM in order to find out. Or you just update your Twitter or Blog and everyone knows what you are up to. It makes it easier not to phone or talk to people.

I suppose Facebook is the same. You upload your pictures, you update your status that you are at home watching after the baby, get a comment or two and your “social life” is done. And, up to a few months ago, I absolutely loved it. Easy, isn’t it. Blackberry, on the road, updating Facebook, Twitter, coming home, day and job done. You can even poke your wife whilst being on the train and she is at home. Or just throw a sheep at her!

Actually I realised when changing phone contracts how little I use my phone. I haven’t called up my friend in Aberdeen for a while, although we exchanged numerous emails and read each other’s blog. We haven’t been down to Winchester to visit our friends and always found good excuses not to meet up. However, I would really like to but have I not seen their holiday pictures already on Facebook, and their new flat and….

I think social media is great. I live for it, I work for it and I enjoy it. However, and that is where I am a bit struggeling at the moment (hope that is not too honest), how many of those Facebooks we need? How much more time do we need to spend online to update our status and talk to our neighbours? Why not pop over for a cup of tea and have a chat?

Really, because it is easier. But it is actually less social. Instead of trying to keep up to date with 500 followers on Twitter, I decided to reduce the amount of people I follow. I am sorry but I rather start keeping up with less people and do it properly than with more and not really at all. And, if you are part of the ones I un-followed, please accept my apologies and feel free to add me on Facebook instead.

Or, add me on LinkedIn. I think I need to reduce my involvement online just a bit and concentrate more on other projects. My Buddhism and Management project has been neglected, I have to spend more time with the family and want to read more books. commute

I will use the commute, as I have done in the past, to wrap up work at night and answer emails that I didn’t manage to get to during the day – personal as well as work ones. And, in the morning, I will read a book on the train. But, when I am home at night and the weekends, do I really need to constantly update my Twitterfeed, talk about that I “cut my grass” on Twitter? I don’t believe so anymore. Of course that might change πŸ™‚

And, of course, I am still a big advocate of Social Media, and there are more things to it than the above networks. Watch this space and let me know what you think about the complexity of life?

Vodafone got things right!

Now, not only was I asked to tell everyone, but I am more than happy to do so!

Vodafone called me late tonight and gave me the offer I wanted. The person I was in contact originally was out of office. Now my question is WHY?

But first, let me say that Thomas Rushton and his Webteam (Thanks Lee) kept their promise and put things right after I tweeted and blogged about it.

It still does not go into my head that
– A company makes it so difficult to change between contracts and that I could have created more work by canceling my (consumer) contract and then becoming a new (business) customer again.
– That I need to push on social media, e.g. Twitter, Blogging, Linkedin to get attention.

And, I don’t believe that the social media influence itself has caused them to think about it. At least I don’t hope it did, but that somewhere along the line the “customer (e.g. me) was king”.

I tried to think of an analogy (maybe not the best but it is almost 10 pm): My teddy bear from years ago: I love him, I nurture him, I want to keep him but he keeps disappearing, gets uncool, looses his fur and although I am certain that I should get rid of him, I am almost in “love” with him – hence I don’t abandon him. But one day, he starts talking to me and says “Volker, I have to leave you.” Would you not be devastated?

Not sure if it makes sense that I “love” a brand like Vodafone (and other brands). I told the guys that I am more than happy to outline a social media strategy for them. I never wanted to leave Vodafone but they seemed to wanted to get rid of me. Maybe they will tell me why no one took ownership of my case and sorted things out for good? Would that not have been better and easier for all of us?

Anyway, Ian Shepherd wanted to make me an advocate, and I am. Of course subject to the free blackberry arriving this Friday πŸ™‚ Very excited.

I wrote to the Webteam, after sorting it, that I will blog positive about it. I also believe that it is essential for any brand to monitor the social media space and engage with the twitter community or with the bloggers. As an example when I mentioned O2 or Orange earlier, they should have engaged with me and offer me a contract, shouldn’t have they? I was saying I would go and join them instead. And Vodafone should get their voice out there too, engaging with me or others.

Just around 5 pm this afternoon, monitoring Twitter, I found Vodafone being mentioned almost once every minute. It is so essential for brands to monitor and engage. Engage with your customers where they are. Social Media. Offline. Mobile.

Ok, ok – before i go on and speak more about strategy, I should mention the post about “Don’t litter Twitter” by the guys from Jam. I think we should all have “freedom of speech” and should be allowed to say what we want.

If our followers drop/un-follow or if people don’t want to listen what we have to say – then that is ok. I don’t follow everyone back either. However, with brands it is different. They need to listen and get a more “personal” profile on the social media space in order to meet their customers on the same level.

Vodafone has sorted things this time, in future and I am confident they will engage with customers more in the future and think about their social media strategy. Happy to help you if you like!

Thanks again for sorting things out and getting things right. Whilst obviously being subjective, I think that was an objective way of putting things πŸ™‚

Happy to keep everyone posted of the progress!

Can Vodafone win me back last minute?

I am sitting here and just do NOT understand.

You must by now got the message of what I think of Vodafone. I hate Vodafone’s customer service. I direct messaged with the director of customer service on Twitter until he unfollowed me, and emailed with his team and finally got moved to a business account. That was, after I had to sign another direct debit mandate and form, because the online form we discussed several times on the phone had suddenly disappeared.

Now, I am officially a business customer and can upgrade my account. However, the upgrade means I need to pay for a new phone rather than getting one for free. To get the latter, I need to cancel my contract, change to a pay as you talk contract, and then come back to Vodafone as a new business customer. Could that be the solution.

I tried. I really think I tried it all. Writing on Twitter, being friendly in emails, asking for nothing else but being transferred to be a Vodafone business customer for a better deal and a free phone, and then, when I thought everything is sorted, I get stabbed in the back. I have to pay for the handset, a whopping Β£280.

So I wrote them another email, asking to sort things out by close of play today but they didn’t. 4 hours seemed enough to react to a customer enquiry, one that is ongoing for several weeks.

Now, all I can do is wait or cancel. The problem is that I don’t really want to change providers but Vodafone does not leave me a choice. I have to leave a brand I like, a company I care about but their customer service is just so bad.

Go on Twitter and search for Vodafone and you find out how many people talk bad about them. Shame!

I guess it is GOODBYE Vodafone – and the iPhone at last? Or Orange? I keep you posted.

Vodafone has bad customer service

Yes, I am very much pissed off. I cannot say it in any other way but the first things I did this Friday after I got home is to sit down now, and write this post. And, I feel better once I have done it. I still cannot believe it…empty promises!

Ian Shepherd, Director Customer Service Vodafone, wanted to make me an advocate of the brand, “Understand. We are better than your experience has shown, and will fix the issues you’ve blogged. I’m determined we will earn your loyalty!” – that was a message on the 16th of July after I complained through Twitter and on my blog, see here about my rant about Vodafone’s bad customer service.

Thomas Rushton even commented, saying “customer feedback is important to us“. They seem to have the social media channels, but I am thinking, do they know how to use them? I am here to help, if you need any advice?

Anyhow, to cut a long story short. On the 11th of July I filled in a form online to transfer from a customer account to a business account. Just after my last complaint, I got confirmed that:
– It takes 30 days from the date I filled in the transfer form, to be transferred to a business account.
– I will have a choice of phones and get the same deal as any other NEW business customer.

Hurray I thought. But I was too early to celebrate. I was told that after 2 weeks I would get an email confirming that things go ahead. So earlier this week, I wrote the following email to the customer service team, the director complaint office:

“30th of July:
… Regarding the transfer, if I understood correctly, I would be contacted after 2 weeks that things are going as planned.

Since I put the transfer request in on the 11th of July, I would assume that that things go as planned and someone will contact me next week? Or was there anything I needed to do after 2 weeks? It is a long waiting.

Thanks for confirming.”

The response I got was:

“I’ve spoken to a manager in the Transfer of Ownership team today and they asked me to send you the form to fill in again and then to send it to xyz.abc@vodafone.com who is the manager of the Transfer team, and also copy in this email address.

Once XYZ has received this, we will push the process through for you to take place with you as soon as possible.”

Wait a second, what was I missing? They said that they have all information and don’t need anything from me, for things to take place. They even confirmed receiving my form I filled in online, on the 11th of July:

“Dear Mr Volker Ballueder
This is to confirm that you have accepted the terms and conditions, to transfer your mobile from this account. The unique reference number for this request is 1234, please quote this at all times when referring to the transfer. If the transfer is accepted by Vodafone mobile number 07812345678, along with any others entered on the form will be transferred from 1234/5 to Mr Volker Ballueder.
A notification of this request has been sent to the email address xyz@123.co.uk.
The next stage of the transfer is that will receive an email, to notify them that the transfer has been requested. They will then enter the details of the account that they would like the transferred number/s
to be added to. Once this request has been submitted you will be notified, and once the request has been approved by Vodafone you will notified of the date of transfer.”

Now, looking at all that I don’t understand where I would have gone wrong. If I am missing anything, then I am more than happy to apologise to Vodafone and the customer complaint team.

a) I confirmed, complained, called, emailed and got told that Vodafone has all data and I don’t need to submit anything more to them.
b) The customer service director said that he wants things to be right.
c) I politely check on the progress to make sure that I didn’t miss an email – which happens. Just checking, as I really don’t want to wait longer than 30 days.
d) I get a request to fill in the same form in a pdf version, fax or scan it, that I filled in online and got confirmation for.

A couple of questions:
a) Did Vodafone take me serious in the first place and looked properly into the files I submitted? Did they listen to me when I called and talked to them?
b) If so, why did that “faux-pas” happen?

I believe that I was just put down as another case, no one cross referenced what I was saying, e.g. that I had problems with the date of birth on the online form, or that I am happy to not send more information because they confirmed they had everything from me.

After I tweeted excessively this afternoon, I got a call that they look into my case and from receiving my forms it takes 30 days for the transfer to take place.

I told them, quite frankly, that they really seem to want to piss me off – at least that is my impression. And, they seem to not care. And, I told them that I was told that it takes 30 days from filling in the form, e.g. 11th of July, to get transferred.

You can be sure that if I don’t have the deal I want, then I am going to go somewhere else. Just hope I can cancel my contract, the consumer one, which runs out the end of August. The only reason why I haven’t canceled yet is that Vodafone still has the best reception in the Scottish Highlands and my friends and my family are with Vodafone. If it happens that I change, this will surely have a ripple effect with my friends.

What was I offered: Β£25 for a 24 months plan, 500 minutes, 250 text, unlimited calls to UK landlines, unlimited email, 500 MB data, free phone…..and they had an offer that got me the first 3 months free of charge. The latter is not even the issue but would be nice to get an extra or special for all the hassle I had.

Ian Shepherd says he stays on the team to get it fixed. Thank you for your involvement, but I really question a company that need involvement from the top to sort out a simple transfer. Where are the good old days when the customer was king?

All I wanted is a smooth transfer. The alternative had been to cancel my contract to the end of August, transfer it to a “pay as you go” and then go to a shop and get a great deal. Why haven’t I done it? Because I thought I could trust a company like Vodafone.

Will they ever get my trust back? Will I ever be an advocate for a such a big brand?

Not to worry, I keep you posted. Follow me on twitter too!
An update was promised on Monday between 12 and 4 pm.

Have a good weekend.

Vodafone Customer Service

I wrote about my “unhappiness” with Vodafone before. However, this time it is different.

When I found out that my new work does not supply me with a blackberry, I decided to get one myself. I was thinking about it anyway and went to Vodafone as my contract is about to run out the end of August. In store they told me that I could not get a business contract, which includes the 24 hour phone replacement service and free land line calls as well as the free Blackberry, whilst having a customer account. Therefore, they suggested that I should cancel my contract to a “pay as you talk” and then come back to the store and take out a business account.

Of course I wasn’t happy with the solution and contacted their online and telephone team and got various answers. Whilst the telephone team sent me a very complicated transfer form, the online team sent me a link for an easy form to transfer my phone number and contract to a business account. However, that form had a usability issue which didn’t let me fill in my correct birth date, e.g. the days only went from 1 to 28.

Now, as I wanted things to go smoothly, I called them up and explained but no one seemed to bother. I then got the answer of

Hello Volkar,
I understand from your email that you want us to inform transfer team to correct you date of birth to 30/4/1977.
Volkar, you need to contact new connection team 08080741741 in order to correct you date of birth to 30/4/1977.
I trust I have done the needful.

Firstly, they couldn’t even address their customer with the correct name which I pointed out but still didn’t get an apology. Then, even for me as a foreigner, the English just doesn’t sound correct! And, lastly, the number wasn’t free. So because Vodafone could not get a form that allows me to do the correct thing, I had to pay money to get things sorted? I don’t think so. They then complied of me sending in a driving licence and again I refused being a customer for many years, they should surely know my birthday by now, shouldn’t they?

I spent another hour on the phone to the customer service, often ending up in a dead end, e.g. “yes, we are happy to put you through to the business account service team, enter your number.” But as my number hasn’t been recognised as a business number, I was thrown out of the line. That happened repetitively and I got so fed up that I went on Twitter!

That is where the whole “fun” started. No one but ex-Virgin and BT seemed to pick up on me complaining about Vodafone. I would have loved to take on the offer from BT who kindly send me a nice reply on how to become a BT Business Customer. BT’s customer service really improved! They are doing a great job of monitoring and engaging with their clients on social media sites, such as Twitter.

A friend finally pointed me in the direction of the Vodafone Directors Office on Twitter, Ian Sheperd. He and his team were great and engaged with me on the level I approached them: Social Media site Twitter! I got a call the very same day of approaching him that my account will be transferred within 30 days, I will get my free Blackberry, and that I don’t need to re-send any proof of my birth date.

Even the next day I got another call from his team, apologising for the poor experience and Ian said that he is determined to make me an advocate for Vodafone. But will I?

First of all it depends on how they deal with my account transfer. If by mid August I will have a blackberry and the contract and everything sorted the way I want, then I am more than happy to speak out for Vodafone. However, I truly believe they need to improve their customer service, not only customer service on Twitter.

For big brands it gets more important than ever to engage with their clients where they are. They need to be on social media sites such as Twitter and find out if anyone speaks about their brand. And, if the experience like in my case is poor, they need to engage with me, and make me an advocate there and then. However, the process Ian went through was quite lengthy and I am sure he shouldn’t be the one that is dealing with complaints, then again I am glad he did in my case.

As you might have noticed by now, I am very passionate about two things: Social Media and Customer Service. The latter is very important for anyone from my local ironing shop to brands like Vodafone. But the combination of both become more and more powerful. All Social Media does is to engage with the audience and clients where they are. If that is Twitter, YouTube or through games or communities does not matter. But Social Media is a channel brands can no longer ignore.

Ian, thanks again for your help and I hope we can sort out my account and you turn me into an advocate for Vodafone. Also, if you have questions about how Vodafone can embrace Social Media, please do not hesitate to contact me. I am more than happy to present you with some exciting ideas! You got my number πŸ˜‰

…to be continued…

Sunday Column (18)

Another week? Not a normal week, that is for sure. Monday I spent all day preparing for a big presentation on Tuesday. That presentation went really well, showing off my knowledge about incorporating SEO, PPC and Social Media in Business Development/Marketing: my topic, my passion! That was good and the feedback was good too.
Another couple of companies and recruitment consultants got back to me and it was all looking good for offers, opportunities and future job offerings. Given the recession, I have done well securing interviews and offers. Now, fingers crossed.
However, nothing was decided early this week. Wednesday through to Friday I spent waiting. Waiting for 2 things: Jobs of course but, almost more important, waiting to understand my boy.

Colin decided to get louder, more noisy and grumpy. Oh dear, whilst it is totally normal, we didn’t know what to do. We had a health visitor around who gave us a great introduction on what they do and how they monitor babys’ progress. I should mention the health visitor came as a routine and not because Colin got louder! There is great support for children and families here in the UK. Also we had someone around that solely looks after breast feeding mums. That was helpful too. Overall, Colin is more awake, needs more attention and just takes up more time. Difficult to hold him and do work or write blogs at the same time, but we are coping πŸ˜‰

So overall this week was all about our wee boy. Getting an understanding of his needs and wants and see how much we need to feed him, what kind of food (bottle or breast) and if he is ok. Because you are worrying if he does not settle at all. Hence it is good to get advice on what to do and the support scheme here in the UK is fabulous. It might be better in other countries, but for what we need, I am very surprised how good it is. At least I know my taxes and NI are well spent … at least in some areas.

Bottle or breast? That decision is really with the mother, mainly because she is the “main feeder“. However, whilst men always want women to breast feed, I think it is important to take the mother into consideration as well. This article from KindsHealth says “The AAP says babies should be breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months. Beyond that, the AAP encourages breastfeeding until at least 12 months, and longer if both the mother and baby are willing.” That is in an ideal world. The quality of breast milk, they say, is better for the baby and will avoid some allergies in the future. And, by using formula, “be assured that your baby’s nutritional needs will be met“.
So feeding formula is nothing to worry about, probably less to worry about for the mum because she knows how much milk she gives to her baby. This is an ongoing discussion we have, and many other parents I was speaking to, and it comes down to personal choice, and the mother’s feeling. After all her sanity and her well being are as important as the baby’s needs. So I support my wife in whatever she decides to do.

Enough about that – could write a whole blog post about it. My paternity leave ended this Friday. However, I took Monday and Tuesday off as well. Reason is that I hope to sort out my job situation for the 6th of July and not return to my current work at all. But, without official confirmation, I don’t want to blog about it yet.

Friday night we had some friends around and with the muggy weather watered down our thirst with wine, whisky and had some pizza. Saturday and Sunday really flew past, and I had great moments with my boy. I really appreciate the time I can take at the moment to see him grow up and everyone warns me that this time never comes around again. Of course it doesn’t but will I realise it in time.

Have a good week next week and I keep you posted on the job situation.

Jenny, Volker, Colin Ballueder

Michael Jackson

The Guardian put this video on its website and I thought I want to share this.

It shows the popularity of keywords/tags and how the “Michael” and “Jackson” and “arrest” (part of cardiac arrest) was getting popular on the social media site Twitter. However, I found out about Michael Jackson’s death through a breaking news email rather than Twitter.

Twitter’s future and customer service

I am a little behind my reading this week. On the i-media newsletter I found an interesting article from Brendan Nelson about “Where next for Twitter?”

Reason me picking up on this one is that Nelson pointed out a few very interesting things about Twitter.

The idea of brands to embrace Twitter is not new. He uses the example of First Capital Connect to alert travelers of any train problems. My hosting provider uses the same method to alert me when the server is down. I know of a company, or many by now, that embrace social media to engage with their clients. Example is a broadband provider where the Managing Director got a keyword alert on a Sunday morning for his brand name that someone was unhappy with his service. He engaged with the customer and sorted things out for him Monday morning, resulting in the person twittering about the great customer service and engagement with the client! This is just one example of many.

In the old days people recalled products, sent letters and tried to reach people through offline advertising. Nowadays people use 140 characters, instant online SMS, to engage with other people. They recommend services and point other users to positive experience with brands – but also to negative experience with brands. People use “Search”, e.g. Google, Yahoo! and Bing, to FIND recommendations, products and services. And, the more positive news they read about your product the better.

Last week on Twitter, I engaged in a conversation about a mobile phone network. Others tweeted about their bad experience being on hold to their broadband provider, eventually hung up and used a different provider.

What do brands have to do? Engage with your clients via social media. That is the key. Monitor your brand name online and be sure you are found for anything related to your products and services, your brands etc. The bigger the corporation and the more brand names you have, the more important is it to monitor all of them. You can automate that but ideally have someone dedicated to engage with anything that is said about any of your brands…at any one time.

Whilst Google for instance takes a few days to index some pages, Twitter is there instantly. It is real time. If someone opens a “can of coke” and has a bad experience, she might tweet about it whilst waiting for the bus. She turns her “downtime” into “bad reputation for the coke producer”. You want to engage with her and use her next downtime to tweet about the positive response she got from you. Make your client/customers happy! Make them being noticed and feel good. If they do, they will tell their friends about it. And don’t forget, this is REAL TIME. And that makes twitter so powerful. And of course, the more followers you or the person has, the more brand awareness (positive as well as negative) you get! Viral marketing!

Why is Twitter so closely related to search marketing? Firstly, I believe that Twitter is offering instant search. That means people will use Twitter more and more to find most relevant and most up to date information. And, it is reputation management, as people talk about things on Twitter.

Secondly, as a brand, or any brand really, you want to know what your customer says, thinks and would like to see. If someone has an idea of how to improve your chocolate bar, your computer or your software – you want to know. Therefore it becomes more and more important to find those information and turn them into value within your organisation. Dell for instance created a forum for customer support that gained them great ideas which in return relates to millions of pounds in savings for product development.

Taking the two things to mind, you want to be found for what your customers associate you with. If you produce a chocolate bar you don’t want to be found for “chocolate bar” only. If you clients talk about you having “the coolest tasting chocolate bar on the planet”, you want to be found for that keyword and drive that message out through online and digital marketing use. By driving these keywords out there, people will use those keywords and you will be found for them – that is if you optimise for them. Look at Orange’s “I am” campaign.

orange-i-am

Now, I can conclude, that customer service in real time is very important and that Twitter is a very valuable source, amongst blogs, forums and other social media sites, e.g. Facebook, Hi5, and Orkut, for you to engage with your clients. Get your communication right and embrace social media and your clients where they are. Embrace their opinion in real time!

Follow me on Twitter, @ballueder