Ambassador of Buzz -Social Networking Done Right

by Sherryl Perry on April 14, 2011

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I was pleasantly surprised last week when I opened up a personalized thank you card from Grasshopper – a company that offers 800#s to small businesses. I had linked to them (using my affiliate link) in my article about online shopping being like a self-check-out lane.

The day after I posted my article,  someone from their company had commented on my post and someone else had tweeted my article.I appreciated both gestures. Imagine my surprise a few days later when I opened up a hand addressed envelope and found a personalized note (from the woman who connected with me on Twitter) along with a gift card for a free cup of coffee at Starbucks. (She also included her business card.)

Now, being a Dunkin Donuts fan myself, I will probably never use the gift card (unless I splurge on a cup of cocoa instead) but I do now have a new Twitter friend and an even warmer and fuzzier feeling about Grasshopper (shameless affiliate link inserted here because I really do recommend them).

Using Social Networking to Build Customer Relationships

Why am I even more confident in this company now than I was before? Well, this is a company that touts a “Virtual Phone System Designed for Entrepreneurs”. They position themselves as a resource for small businesses and they obviously practice what they preach.

Months ago, when I discontinued my 800# (because I was no longer selling the product/service that I used it for), I immediately received an email from them thanking me for my years as a customer. They also promised to waive their activation fee when I’m ready to come back.

When I mentioned them on my blog, I received a comment, an RT, a new Twitter follower plus the personalized note with the gift card. They also personalized my connection with their company with a name and face. My new contact (and Twitter follower) at Grasshopper is Stephanie Bullis and her title is “Ambassador of Buzz” for the Grasshopper Group.

Having Processes in Place to Respond

This is obviously a company that has systems in place. When I left them as a customer, they sent an automated email. When I blogged about them, someone tweeted my post (good move on their part because of the backlink to them) and left a comment for me. It could have stopped there but it didn’t.

Obviously, this is a company that has a process in place. I strongly suspect there’s a documented procedure to follow and that there are people who are assigned the responsibility to see that this process is implemented every time someone blogs about them. They have “Ambassadors of Buzz”.

Rick Stilwell (@RickCaffeinated for those of us who follow him on Twitter) recently posted “Do You Have a Social Media Policy?” on his blog. Having a social media policy and process is definitely something we all need to be thinking about as we build our businesses.

Do you have a process in place for reacting to social interactions? Do you make it a habit to thank people who RT your posts? Do you try to follow links left in the comments on your blog and leave comments for your readers? Do you have Google Alerts set up so you know when you or your business is being talked about?

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lhaizza
Twitter:
December 23, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Social media objectives are unique to each company. With that said, I think many social media adopters are lured by the opportunity to create buzz, conversation and engagement that then convert into attention, awareness and buyer preference.

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
December 28, 2012 at 3:37 pm

Ihaizza, I agree with you that every company should set their own social media objectives. They should also have written policies and procedures in place to ensure that the people who are representing them have the organization’s best interests in mind at all time. I believe Grasshopper is an excellent example of a company that does this.

Audrey Ross September 23, 2011 at 1:41 am

Wow. This makes me want to become a customer. This is customer service at it’s finest. I have received good service from businesses from time to time, but this is obviously going the extra mile. Kudos!

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
September 23, 2011 at 10:26 am

Hi Audrey,

If you’re ever in the market for an 800#, I recommend them. I don’t have a need for an 800# right now but I wouldn’t hesitate going back to them. They’ve even told me that if I do come back, they’ll waive the activation fee for me.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Can One Website Meet the Needs of Multiple Niche Target Markets?My Profile

Jennifer Woodard
Twitter:
April 26, 2011 at 9:40 am

Sherryl,

I agree that having a process in place is a great thing, following the process would be even more wonderful. In the day of such horrible customer service it is nice to hear of companies that are thinking about their customers.

Jenn

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
July 23, 2011 at 10:26 am

Jennifer, I can’t believe I missed your comment here! (It happens.) Your comment made me giggle because it’s so true. Having a process is great – if – you actually follow it! 🙂
Sherryl Perry recently posted..The Buzz about Google+ Do You Love it or Hate it?My Profile

Renee King April 20, 2011 at 9:44 am

If more companies would realize how far a little goodwill can go, their marketing budgets would decrease substantially. Humans are simple creatures, we get so much satisfaction when we feel validated and heard. That doesn’t cost much. If companies would focus their efforts on a little personalized service for their customers, they would realize increased customer retention, more sales via word of mouth and would enjoy a positive reputation in general.

Billye Survis April 19, 2011 at 6:42 pm

What a great blog post! It’s so nice to hear that there are companies out there that do care about their customers and a good reminder to us to remember to thank our followers/customers. I need to learn more abot twitter/RT!

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
April 19, 2011 at 8:21 pm

Excellent customer service is a great way to differentiate a company. Combine that with an active presence on social media and I think you have a win-win.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..8 Reasons I Do NOT Follow Like or Connect on Social Networking SitesMy Profile

Jan Hempstead April 19, 2011 at 9:47 am

Now I’m even happier that I convinced my husband to use Grasshopper for his business. I liked their services so when he was ready to choose someone, I told him to save time and go straight to Grasshopper. I will have to share this story with him because we are big fans of customer service and this is the epitome of good service and caring.
We both have notecards for our businesses to handwrite special messages. In our high-tech society, getting that personalized touch can make the difference.
Thanks for sharing!

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
April 19, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Thanks for sharing Jan. It’s good to hear that you’re happy with Grasshopper too. They worked well for me and this experience reinforced it.

That’s great that both of you send personalized messages. It really is a great way to differentiate yourself.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..8 Reasons I Do NOT Follow Like or Connect on Social Networking SitesMy Profile

Keyuri Joshi
Twitter:
April 19, 2011 at 8:19 am

Mom always said that “please” and “thank you” are the kindest words. Your post is a great reminder of how much of punch they pack. It’s nice to see that some companies still value small gestures. I’ve always believed it’s the little things that can make or break a business model and for that matter personal relationships too!

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
April 19, 2011 at 12:01 pm

I agree that it’s the little things too Keyuri. I think putting that personal face on your business is so important.

Patricia@lavender-oils April 18, 2011 at 9:21 am

Hi Sherryl

I have my own system in place for checking on comments soon as I switch on the laptop in the morning, replying to all comments, then replying to email queries then over to Twitter to thank everyone who has RT my posts. I like to add a personal note with the thanks. And check any DMs too.

Do that couple of times in the day and before I switch off before I finish my day. That way I don’t miss anyone. I think it is important to acknowledge people who take the time to visit comment and RT posts.

And I like to send personalised thankyou cards with products when posting them. We all like to be appreciated and if I am shown good customer service, more likely to buy again from them. And I have customers who re-order as they not only like the products but appreciate my customer service too.

Patricia Perth Australia

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
April 18, 2011 at 11:11 am

Patricia, I would so expect a personalized note from you with my product! You evoke a sense of peace and tranquility. I just know you want to keep your customers happy. 🙂

Mark Evertz April 17, 2011 at 9:06 pm

Sherryl,
This is a great post. One, you offer up kudos for a company doing social interactions with customers right…like Grasshopper that treat their customers like the gold they are. Next, that’s paid forward by the company and you both get positive buzz for being good humans. Win-Win.

Keep it up. For me, that’s the reason blogs exist. To help us all tune down the noise through positive (or negative) reviews so we can make better business and personal decisions.

Keep it up!
Cheers,
Mark

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
April 18, 2011 at 11:04 am

Hi Mark, The comment and tweet were not unexpected but the personalized note and then the conversations with both Allison and Stephanie really connected me with them on that human level. As you say, it turned out to be a win-win. Thanks for joining us! I’m off to check out your blog now.

Janet
Twitter:
April 17, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Sherryl, aloha. Love, love, love this post. What a pleasure it is to see a company doing social media right! And, of course, the title Ambassador of Buzz made me feel warm and fuzzy all over. Guaranteed, Sherryl, if I find myself in need of such services, Grasshopper is at the top of my list.

Thx so much for posting this clear example I can share with others.

Best wishes for a terrific week. Aloha. Janet

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
April 18, 2011 at 10:56 am

Thanks Janet! I love the title Ambassador of Buzz too. I’ve heard of Brand Ambassadors before but this was a new one to me. You have a good week too!

Karla Campos April 17, 2011 at 3:56 pm

The Grasshopper process, even though not documented, is awesome and is definitely a fine example of social media done right.
Karla Campos recently posted..What Does Original Content Mean to GoogleMy Profile

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
April 17, 2011 at 5:15 pm

I agree with you Karla. I think a lot of people really like their “Ambassador of Buzz” title too. I know I do.

Wes Towers
Twitter:
April 15, 2011 at 5:04 am

What a great experience, Sherryl! It is indeed very gratifying to know that there are still companies there who do not think twice to go beyond the extra mile for you. Although I do my best to thank everyone for every RT and mention I get on Twitter and make a point to respond to comments on my posts as soon as I can, I am now in the process of implementing a similar system as the one done by Grasshopper. I also want to let my clients feel that I appreciate them more than they’ll ever know. 😉

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
April 15, 2011 at 11:24 am

Good luck with your system Wes! I’m confident that you’ll implement processes that will serve your company well.

Susan Oakes
Twitter:
April 14, 2011 at 8:41 pm

Shows that they not only have a process in place but someone has thought through the communication even with the automated emails which gives it the personal touch. They do sound like a good company.

An opportunity that some miss out on is when a customer complains. When I first started in marketing at J & J every person who rang or wrote about a product complaint got the large size of the product (even if they complained about a smaller size) in question sent to them with a letter as a replacement and no questions asked.
Susan Oakes recently posted..How to End Small Business Marketing FrustrationMy Profile

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
April 15, 2011 at 11:23 am

Great point Susan. Openly responding to customer complaints is a great way to build customer loyalty.

Jeannette Paladino
Twitter:
April 14, 2011 at 4:27 pm

I had a similar experience with Printing for Less (www.printingforless.com). The company was recommended by the designer of my blog masthead and my business cards. He said their prices were good (definitely) and they did quality printing. I ordered my cards from them — we’re not talking big money here — and I received a call about the color, that the final product wouldn’t quite match the color on the jpeg and did I want to change it. Then I received the cards which were beautifully printed. A day later I received a follow-up call to ask if I was satisfied with my order. Then a week later I received a coffee mug from them. You can bet I’ll use them again and they’ve just received this endorsement because of their excellent customer care.

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
April 15, 2011 at 11:22 am

Great example of a company that is using great customer service to build their business through referrals.Thanks for letting us know.

Rick April 14, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Really good piece on just doing the right thing, recognizing it’s people we’re working with and having the processes to back that up. Thanks for the linkage – really good stand/call on what you’re posting.

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
April 15, 2011 at 11:18 am

Rick, I’m glad I read your article before I posted mine. It’s a good fit.

Catarina Alexon
Twitter:
April 14, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Good article Sherryl. Allison, your company policy is commendable. Really hope more will follow suit.

Wish some diamond dealers would send me gifts because of my latest post:))

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
April 14, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Gifts from diamond dealers who spam on LinkedIn. Very funny Catarina. 🙂

Tia Peterson April 14, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Great post, Sherryl. The same thing has happened to me (minus the Starbucks card and hand-addressed envelope) when I’ve mentioned some brands. Love it.

Now I have a new piece of advice for local clients!

Cheers,
Tia

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
April 14, 2011 at 1:17 pm

I have to remember to do it more myself Tia. I two clients who always include hand written personalized note cards whenever they mail me a check. Clients – not vendors! It’s always a breath of fresh air in this world of emailed birthday wishes instead of cards.

Allison April 14, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Thanks for the kind words Sherryl! We do our best to make sure people know we are out there and listening to what they have to say (good and bad). Appreciate you taking the time to share your Grasshopper experience with your readers!

– Allison 🙂

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
April 14, 2011 at 1:14 pm

Thanks Allison. Can you confirm for us that Grasshopper has incorporated a documented policy and procedures for responding to customer interactions online? (Since you’re the first person to comment on this post – I’m assuming the answer is yes.) 🙂

Allison April 14, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Hi Sherryl, we don’t have a documented policy but we definitely have process in place for who responds and when!

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
April 14, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Thanks for letting us know. Just a thought Allison but what would make this experience even more personal would be if you were to go to Gravatar.com and set up an avatar for the email that you use here. That way, we’ll see your smiling face and relate to you even more. (Don’t mind me, I’m a huge advocate of Gravatar. It’s free too.)

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