By Trish Fontanilla, VP of Community & Customer Experience at Vsnap
(screenshot of me testing out our beta site in 2011)
Yesterday was my Vsnapiversary! 3 years and 12,000 vsnaps later, I’m here because…
I want to make the web feel like a smaller place. - I joined Vsnap without ever seeing the product. I was going off of Dave’s drawings on napkins and whiteboards about the company vision and what the future of video would be. And from the very beginning, we set out to help our Vsnappers feel more connected to the people that matter. This has been especially true for web-based businesses that may not get to interact with their customers in person. I’ve had a chance to give a high five and sing happy birthday to people from Boston to New Zealand, Sweden to Malaysia. It’s crazy how these little video messages have brought people together despite language and oceans between us.
I want to be surrounded by people who genuinely care about their customers. - The kind of people that always have thank you notes and stamps at their desk. That pull in extra weekend shifts if they know their customers have a big deadline. That help old ladies cross the street even when they’re rushing home to see their families. I’ve gotten the chance to meet a lot of those people because of Vsnap. Which leads me to…
I want to build the community that brings these people together. - Dave has been my chief advocate in this regard. Giving me the space to connect with our community, but also pushing for the Customer Love Summit to happen and then handing over the reigns. For all the community and support folks out there, you know that on par with helping someone with your own product, is connecting your customers with like-minded individuals and resources that’ll help them succeed. It’s been a pleasure to get to know people that are not only full of heart, but that are people of action as well.
We’ve got a lot of amazing things in store. I’m nervous and excited and so thankful to be bringing you along this next leg of our journey. This summer we’ll be launching an entirely new product, starting with our web app — all based on our learning and all of the stories and feedback you’ve given us. Our core is unchanged, helping customer-facing folks use short, one to one video messages to convey tone and trust in order to grow business. But now that will be paired with the ability to put video messaging wherever you want: on your website, in your apps, etc. Wherever you and your customers are, that’s where we want you to have this tool.
And I’ll be here for you (we all will), every step of the way.
I’m accepting pies and comments below (well the pie we need to work out), or you can send me a vsnap / email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts. Here’s to a fantastic summer!
By Guillaume Delloue, Director of Marketing at Vsnap
Anyone who’s worked in customer support understands how grueling the job can be. On a daily basis you must guide customers, many of them irritated, through complex problems. All the while you’re supposed to remain calm, positive and on-brand. Doing all those things at once is challenging. Here are 5 proven ways to keep you going and motivated when the going gets tough.
1. Surround yourself with positivity.
Sprinkle your work station with “happy things” — pictures of family/friends, inspiring quotes and trinkets that make you smile. (Foursquare takes that concept to the next level with a live kitten webcam.) Another good practice is to maintain a “happiness” folder on your computer. Whenever you hear a customer or co-worker say something awesome, save it in there for when you need an easy “pick-me-up.”
2. Show off your stuff.
We all derive satisfaction from creating or building things. Whether that’s a painting or a piece of code — it feels good to gaze on a finished product and be able to say, “I helped build that.” Customer support folks also create. They create brand loyalty through positive customer experiences. That’s no small task — it’s crucial to the survival of any business. Own your job by keeping track of your most memorable customer experiences (Google Drive or Evernote work well) and sharing them with the team.
3. Be proactive in your career.
It’s easy to slide into autopilot: reply to customers, help with their problem, repeat. But when monotony takes over you’re more likely to get hung up on negative encounters. Instead, take charge of your destiny. Go to networking events, learn a new skill, ask for feedback about your performance. The more you invest in yourself and your career, the faster you’ll stop sweating the small stuff.
4. Celebrate customers on social.
This is more of a community management tactic (thanks Trish!), but it works well for customer service reps too. Spend some time each week on social media to celebrate those special moments in your customers’ lives, like birthdays and work anniversaries. It will help strengthen your relationship with them, and create a more human connection. Also, next time they run into issues, they’re more likely to initiate that conversation in a positive way.
5. Don’t take things personally.
Yes, we know, the classic support adage to “never take things personally” is as old as the profession. But it’s still relevant. At Vsnap — where much of the team interacts with customers — our first reaction is to always put ourselves in our customers’ shoes. How would we feel if something didn’t work like it was supposed to? We’d feel frustrated, like everyone else. That’s why you can never take the customers’ frustration personally. Remember — all they want is to have a good experience using your product.
Over to you Vsnappers — what are your tried-and-true techniques to stay motivated? Leave us a comment…or send me a vsnap at email@example.com. We’d love to hear your thoughts!
By Trish Fontanilla, VP of Community & Customer Experience at Vsnap
When Stan Phelps of 9 INCH MARKETING signed up for Vsnap after the Delight Conference last year, I was super excited. It took me back to the first time I stumbled upon his Marketing Lagniappe website, which has more than 1,000 examples of customer love (the subject of his first book, “What’s Your Purple Goldfish?: How to Win Customers & Influence Word of Mouth”). It’s awesome to see so many companies that believe that creating customer delight is the fastest way to build a successful business. Since Stan first started Marketing Lagniappe, he has written three books. His last book, "What’s Your GoldenGoldfish: The Vital Few - All Customers and Employees Are Not Created Equal", was released this past April. In this Vsnapper Spotlight, Stan shares his thoughts on the origin of the Purple Goldfish, employee and customer experience, and of course, pie.
What’s the origin of the Purple Goldfish?
A purple goldfish is signature added value in marketing. It’s the idea of exceeding the expectation of your customer by giving little unexpected extras. I call it GLUE for short. It’s the small things that differentiate a product/service, drive loyalty, and promote positive word of mouth. The color purple is a different reference to Mardi Gras. The concept is based on a principle from Louisiana called lagniappe. In New Orleans its customary for a business to give a little extra at the time of purchase. Something that gets thrown in for good measure. Mark Twain was so enamored with practice that he called it, “a word worth traveling to New Orleans to get.”
Are there any companies that are hitting it out of the park right now when it comes to GLUE?
I have a group of 37 companies in my Hall of Fame (see Slideshare). There are some well known brands like Lexus, Zappos, and Apple. Perhaps one of the companies I like the most is also part of the inspiration for calling it a goldfish. Kimpton knocks it out of the park. It does the little things such as complimentary Starbucks coffee, fresh fruit and wine tastings. But my favorite is a program called Guppy Love. Perhaps you are getting a little lonely during your stay, Kimpton will give you a pet goldfish to keep you company.
At our last Customer Love Summit, we talked about how office space and employee experience can really benefit the customer experience in the long run. I know you also run employee programs, what are some tips you tell your clients when it comes to the employee experience?
You are absolutely correct. You can’t have happy enthused customers unless you have happy engaged employees. My second book Green Goldfish addresses the little things you can do for employees to drive engagement and reinforce culture. Here are a few tips:
1. Space matters - invest in great common areas. The bigger the kitchen the better.
2. Recognition isn’t an afterthought - Great workplaces use recognition early and often. They realize its a driver of performance.
3. Transparency - Be open. Employees need to know that you are acting in their best interest. Research shows this is the single biggest driver of engagement.
How do you use Vsnap in your business?
I use Vsnap to follow up with my colleagues and clients. I love that it provides the personal touch of a handwritten note with the immediacy and trackability of email.
Any interesting reactions from those who have received a vsnap from you?
It’s generally surprise. I typically get the “Awesome” reaction. Love that.
And of course, what’s your favorite kind of pie?
I’m going to go with savory. Having spent a year in Australia while in college, I’m going to have to go meat pie, specifically minced steak and mushy peas. Delicious. (see attached picture)
Thanks for the interview, Stan!
What about you? Do you want to share how you’re using Vsnap in your business? Contact Trish at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out this form and you could be in our next Vsnapper Spotlight!
By Bill Harris, VP of Sales at Vsnap
Reminder: there are 20 business days left in the quarter!
As a sales manager, you have to execute by getting your team to rake in as much revenue as possible ahead of the summertime vacation exodus. One thing you should do is make sure that everyone on your team knows their buyers’ calendars.
Most salespeople on your team can demonstrate the importance of knowing calendars. They’ll have stories from years past — deals lost because of client vacations, and deals won because they got ahead of that question.
No sales rep should ever make the mistake of having a “surprise” vacation departure on the buyer side. Good sales reps know the importance of walking the buyer backward from June 30th to know where everyone in the signatory process is going to be, their availability, and best ways to reach one another.
Have your salespeople cover the following steps:
Identify ALL stakeholders for signature.
Determine if the signatory approval process is manual or electronic.
Determine if the approval process is informal (conversational approval usually involving 1 or 2 people) or formal (requiring a business case, multiple approval levels based on dollars spent, and legal).
Walk the buyer backward from June 30th to put a deadline date to each task that each person in the process will be responsible for.
Establish a written, mutually agreed to Sequence of Events.
As the manager, you can track how your team implements this practice of mapping customer availability, tasks and the buyers’ calendars. A simple spreadsheet will give you a good balcony view of your outcomes.
One more reminder for all reps — the quarter really ends on Friday, June 27th. With July 4th the following week, the lion’s share of approvers and signatories will be heading out at the close of business on Friday.
Good luck with quarter end!
By Trish Fontanilla, VP of Community & Customer Experience at Vsnap
After 8 events at different companies in Boston and NYC, it was so great to host last week’s Customer Love Meetup at Vsnap HQ. It’s truly an honor to be able to open up our doors to a community of people that are really proving the value of taking time to make customers feel special. And speaking of community, that seemed to be a theme for last week’s meetup. Some people forget, while you’re building awareness around your product, it can’t just be about you and your company. It’s about the community - how the product fits and improves their lives, but also how they can connect and identify with other members. Here are a couple stories that our CustLove guests shared about their communities.
Have fun bringing together your community
At the co-working space WeWork, they have a mobile app that allows members to book conference rooms and connect with other people in the space. Kelsey Schachter shared that they recently built a direct messaging feature into their app, and then ran a special campaign to get their community to use it. When members logged into the app, they had the option to send a Super Special Right Now message to another member. Part of the special, was an option to send a drink (vodka lemonade or regular) that would be delivered by the WeWork community managers, along with a high five. The campaign was incredibly successful because it allowed members to not only connect with each other, but essentially give each other a gift that they didn’t have to pay for. It also helped the WeWork team to follow up with their members in a non-traditional way.
Give your community tools to connect with each other
At Stackdriver, one of their community tactics is to empower their customers to hold meetups. Kelly Rice shared that to start, the team sent users handwritten notes and some swag to say thank you. Then they took some time to build relationships with their customers (while making sure they were getting the most out of the product), before reaching out to gauge interest in being involved with the community. That’s how Meetup-in-a-Box came about. Stackdriver would send over a big box of materials that would help a user hold a successful meetup, from shirts for attendees to a flash drive with examples of other presentations. They also created a page called Community Hub, that showcased open-source projects, presentations, and photos from their users. That provided a central place to both show off their customers but also connect them to other community members. It’s important to take time to help your customers feel confident about spreading the word, whether that’s through education, digital assets, or physical products.
Thanks again to our very awesome sponsor, Grasshopper (and Taylor Aldredge), for keeping our guests fed and hydrated. And of course, thank you to everyone that came out! And to stay in the know about our summer meetups, subscribe to our mailing list (sign up here - emails strictly for the Customer Love Meetups).