Customer relations in the Web 2.0 world

When I wrote my review of Zoho’s MS Office plug-in, I did not expect anything.  I simply hoped that someone would find my post useful when thinking about using the plug-in.  Imagine my surprise when a couple of days later Ahmed from Zoho commented on my post. The main thing he said was that they will try to incorporate my suggestions in the next plug-in update.

The Zoho team is doing this right, using the web to their advantage.  There are valuable lessons that other companies can learn from this.

Take heed, people are talking.  But do you know what they are saying about you, your company, your brand and your products?  This doesn’t just apply to what’s being said in the various media sources.  Do you know what is being said in the blogosphere? On social networks?  Google Alerts can be a valuable tool when you want to know what is being said out there.  Configure your alerts to search for the names of your company, your products, your executives.  That way you’ll know if any of these are being mentioned anywhere.

If someone is talking about you, what do you do? If they are saying positive things and you can respond, thank them for their kind words.

If they are complaining, be sure to respond.  Don’t attack them, instead try to address the problem.  Studies show that a satisfied customer will tell 2-3 people about his experience with your company. A dissatisfied customer will share their problems with 8-10 people and some will push that number to 20.  Now imagine how these numbers change in the Web 2.0 world of blogs and social networks.  How many people can I reach with a simple blog post?  And an unhappy customer will become a loyal consumer if you fix his complaint and do it quickly.  80% of these folks will come back to you if you’ve treated them fairly. That percentage rises to the upper 90s if you respond immediately. If instead you let the negative posts floursih out there, you never know how many people they will eventually reach, how many potential customers you may loose.

Good job, Zoho.  You got it right.

Google alerts on Lotus and Microsoft

I’ve been using Google Alerts for quite a long time to keep up-to-date on new posts and such as related to Lotus Notes, Quickr, SameTime and other members of the Lotus family.  What struck me was how little hits some of these products, i.e. Quickr, generate.  For comparison’s sake I decided to add alerts on Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint.  The biggest contrast, I think, is in the results on “Quickr” and “SharePoint”.  While Quickr-related alerts produce maybe a couple of entries, and half of those are due to misspelling of the word “quicker”, SharePoint results are much more populous and richer.  SharePoint articles talk about new products designed to integrate with SharePoint, websites built on that technology and other positive and uplifting messages.  That kind of content I almost never see in any of the Lotus product alerts.  I wonder if that can be changed.