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The Shocking Way You Are Alienating Your Customers

Have you ever been a loyal customer? Sure you have. Have you ever been put off by something by something that the brand you have been so loyal to has done? Of course you have. Sometimes it is something so innocent that they that don’t even know that they have done it. Nonetheless, while innocent, it is a shocking way to alienate customers.

Shocking Way to Alienate Customers, heatherannemaclean.wordpress.com, taylormade solutions

Image courtesy of www.rajrupagupta.com

This past weekend I was flipping through one of my favourite magazines “House and Home” when I came across an article, and specifically the image to introduce the piece, that just stopped me in my tracks. But let me back up a bit before sharing with you my gut reaction to what I was seeing. I love House and Home for its simply beautiful pictures and stories about homes with good design. They are wonderful at curating a story and helping people visualize what is possible within their own homes. Page after page is a visual delight of gorgeous places decorated in a simply stunning way.

The magazine has wonderful pictures of beautiful, and most often, very expensive homes, cottages and cabins. Gorgeous! A lot of these featured abodes are located in Ontario, Quebec and the Western Provinces of Canada. Hopefully, I have painted a picture for you. Occasionally they will feature a location in Atlantic Canada, but not very often. In fact, they do feature a Nova Scotia home in this very feature…but and there is a big but here…and this is where I feel that they failed and did somewhat alienate me, and I am sure others. They succumbed to stereotyping. Yes..yes they did. The article which was focusing on seafood, certainly stereotyped Atlantic Canadians, and particularly fishermen as living in much, much, much more humble abodes than our neighbours to the west of us. While I did not grow up in a family of fishermen, I did get to meet and know a few over the years and none lived in a house remotely close to what was pictured.

But here is really the crux of the matter, stereotyping is dangerous in marketing/selling. It is a very easy way to alienate your customers and your prospects. I know that, in this case, they were attempting to paint this quaint lifestyle, but it is not accurate. It was innocent enough, but it does demonstrate that the editors likely have a picture of what most Atlantic Canadians do and how we live. Now, they might not be impacted by this at all since they also featured another piece on a lovely Nova Scotia property, but not all businesses would be this lucky.

Depending on your business, you might not even realize that you have alienated people. You just might notice that some customers have retreated. For a restaurant, coffee shop or another such business where you get to know your regulars, you would actually notice that some customers have disappeared; but for utilities, magazines, airlines, etc. you likely wouldn’t notice. Depending on how serious the alienation is, it could really hurt your bottom line. It is very easy for stereotyping to become a social media crisis, which impacts your reputation and trust that you have built. A brand can take a real hit when this occurs.

Key takeaway: This one is such an easy fix. Throw out stereotypes. The risk is just too high.

If you like this post, feel free to connect on Twitter: @MacLeanHeather

 

6 Tips to Protect Your Personal Data, Including Your Digital Exhaust

How much thought do you give to your personal information that you share on line?  With identity theft on the rise along with scammers of all sorts looking for ways to find our personal data weaknesses, we should be thinking about this a lot more than we do. We need to always be thinking about our personal data, including our digital exhaust.

6 Tips to Protect Your Personal Data, Including Your Digital Exhaust, heatherannemaclean.wordpress.com

Image courtesy of drbonnie360.com

There are many types of personal information that we leave behind, and it would seem that we do so willingly.  Sometimes we give up a significant amount of information just to get something for free.  Sometimes we put the information out there willingly not realizing what we are doing.  For example, I once had a coworker who not only put his birthday on LinkedIn, but he put his wedding anniversary and his home mailing address.  This is a lot of personal information given up completely voluntarily and is known as Digital Exhaust.  Digital exhaust is the information that we willing give out and leave behind when on line and downloading information, doing online purchases, playing games, adding details to our online profiles, etc.

At best, these little tidbits about our personal life tell people we know more about us.  Worse case scenario,  we have left behind so much information that we have basically given a full profile of who we are, where we live, what we do and what we like to do.  This is digital exhaust and many of us don’t even know that it exists.  In fact, there are many less than ethical people out there who will work to aggregate our digital exhaust and use it against us.  So, let’s get to the list:

1. Is Free Really Free?

Think about the offers that excite and intrigue you. Often times they offer something in return for you signing up for “something”.  But, like my mother always says, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.  By filling out a form and/or downloading information, you are often asked for some personal details. In and of itself, this is not a bad thing.  Most reputable companies do this and they respect your data.  But, if you are asked for more than your title, telephone #, email, company name and information like this, think twice.  Ask yourself why they would need your birthdate for example?

2. You Want My Credit Card Why?

Ever get offered a free trial for something only to have them ask for your credit card info?  This is a personal preference, but anyone that  offers me something as a trial at no cost is NOT getting my credit card information.  If I choose to continue using the product/service, then and only then will I give that information.  Technology today is a wonderful thing and if they offer something for free for a month, they can easily cut me off at that point if I don’t pay.

3.  Birthdays, Anniversaries and Marital Status

Sure it is nice to get a Happy Birthday from someone, but why do you need to put this on your LinkedIn profile?  How many places is that “really” relevant.  At least on Facebook you can hide it.  For profiles like LinkedIn, and I love LinkedIn so don’t get me wrong, but you are already  willingly giving your workplace, the names of your schools, publications you have been in and much more.  Why in the world would you also give this additional information and make it public.

4.  Accepting Connection Requests

Certainly people want to build out their LinkedIn connections, but there is something to be said about quantity over quality.  Again, this is a case where you need to devise your own strategy to determine who you will connect with and who you won’t.  I recently wrote about LinkedIn becoming the next tool for spammers. I noticed that I was receiving a significant amount of connection requests from people that had no reason to connect with me.  With one google search, I realized my instincts were correct.  These requests were coming from people who were not being forthright with who they are.  I didn’t accept.  I have since learned that their accounts have been disabled. Good job LinkedIn!

5.  Public Profiles and Privacy Settings

Most social networks offer some level of privacy.  Always check and know your settings.  For example, to limit the exposure of my detailed information being used, my Public Profile for LinkedIn does not tell the entire story.  I chose what details would be public.  It is a great feature!

6.  Apps

You know the saying:  “there’s an app for that” and there probably is.  I would caution people on Facebook for example when playing games and using various apps.  While not all are like this, there are apps that require you to give up access to all your personal information, your connections, email and contact information, etc.  While you might choose to give up “your” personal information, your friends will appreciate you more if you don’t introduce them to risks!

These are just a few ways to help keep you safe while online.  In this case you are in the drivers’ seat and you can ultimately decide what you do and don’t release.  Anything that you would add to this list that I haven’t?

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Mitigate Business Risks: Implement a Social Media Council

Collaboration and cooperation are important components of a business ecosystem. They can help us mitigate risk. We all know this. Interestingly enough though, not enough people consider this when developing and implementing different components of their operational functions and some of the communications associated with the various operational aspects.  For example, not enough organizations are implementing social media councils.  These councils are an important component of your operations; and here are the top 5 reasons to start your social media council immediately.

5.  Eliminate Functional/Communication Silos

Unless your organization is small and centrally located, then you have experienced the fact that different people in different departments could very well be duplicating efforts.  Some examples include communications with customers through such channels as Twitter for customer service. The last thing you want to do is to confuse your customers about what channel is the right one to reach you in the event of an issue. Approaching your social media as a collective can bring good ideas to the table sooner and ensure that everyone approaches it the same way.  A social media council will foster collaboration. Want tips on how to break down silos?  Check out Busting Silos: Workplace Design Offers a Smart Solution, Barbara T. Armstrong. Click to Tweet

 4.  Reduce costs

Silos not only increase confusion, they increase costs.  Creating a social media council can ensure that the right number of resources are identified and trained to monitor and engage on behalf of your company.  This will reduce costs.  Click to Tweet A social media council will also ensure that multiple resources are not carrying out the same function at the same time.

3.  Manage & Protect Reputation

Eisner  Amper’s 4th Annual Board of Directors’ Survey continues to show Reputation Risk at the top of the list, primarily due to the concerns around social media.  Developing and implementing a social media council is your first step in your defence. A social media council should be made up of people from different disciplines, including Human Resources, Legal, Public Relations, Marketing, Sales, etc.  Including Human Resources and Legal is absolutely essential.  Their approach will provide a different perspective that will make your overall effort more focused.  They will also learn about the issues of Sales, Public Relations and Marketing in a new context.  This will further foster collaboration and learning for all. Click to  Tweet

2.  Create an Informed and Educated Workforce

Creating a social media council, when done well, means that you are building a multidisciplinary   team.  This group of people should not only bring information, ideas and issues to the Council, they are also to bring information, ideas and issues back to their respective departments.  A successful, highly functioning Council gives and receives information.  It becomes a powerful communication channel for the entire enterprise – from the frontline workers all the way up to and including the C-suite.  Click to Tweet

1. Identify and Mitigate Risk

It all comes down to this.  If there is just one reason to implement a social media council, it is about identifying and mitigating risk.  When you look at each of the reasons above, it can all be boiled down to this.  I don’t know one organization that isn’t concerned about mitigating risk.

If you would like to learn more about social media councils and mitigating risk, let us know.  Check us out at TaylorMade Solutions.