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Bill Harris Joins Vsnap as VP Sales

By Dave McLaughlin, CEO & Co-Founder of Vsnap

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Yesterday was a great day because Bill Harris joined Vsnap as our VP of Sales. Bill has been serving as an advisor for me on sales for over a year now, and it’s just fantastic to have him on the team full-time.

Vsnap’s clients are in Sales and Support. They’re customer-facing, and they need easy, measurable tools to make sure those customers feel cared for. Bill’s mission is to help them understand how to use one-to-one video messages to bring warmth into the customer interaction – and measurably grow business.

If you read our blog regularly, you know we have a set of six simple beliefs that guide everything we do. One of them says: “Only help. Never just add noise.” That mandate is essential to our vision of customer engagement. Only help. That’s what you get from Trish Fontanilla and from me. And that’s what you can expect from Bill. 

By way of background, Bill has helped lead sales teams at several great companies, most recently at NetProspex and OneSource. If you want to reach Bill, you can email (or vsnap him) at bill@vsnap.com

And while we’re talking hiring, we are about to post a new position for another full-stack developer. If you want to solve hard problems as part of our quest to bring the human layer back into business, we want to hear from you. You can find me on Twitter (@davemacboston) or you can email me.

Editor’s note: We were just so excited about Bill joining the team, we started eating the pie (key lime) before we took the picture. 

Filed under dave blogs new hires vsnap sales bill harris

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Recap: Social Media Week 2014 - NYC

By Trish Fontanilla, VP of Community & Customer Experience at Vsnapimage

Last week, over 800 events took place in Bangalore, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Lagos, Milan, New York, and Tokyo for Social Media Week. More than 25,000 people attended SMW and hundreds of thousands of people streamed online and connected with their mobile apps. I was one of the many social media fans that flocked to NYC to attend events at the Highline Stage and AOL. Here are a few of the common themes I saw throughout the week:

Stop focusing on content length, start focusing on value and how your content is being consumed.

More and more, we’re typing in 140 characters, but that doesn’t mean all of our communication needs to fit into a text message. Editor-in-chief at The Atlantic James Bennet, emphasized during the panel “Is Social Killing Storytelling”, that as human beings, we’ll always want long-form pieces. He believes (and I do too) that we all have a basic need to deeply understand the world around us. But, you have to be a great storyteller and provide value if you want to keep your audience’s attention. Content that’s overly salesy or even bland is what drives customers away, not the length.

Once you’ve pulled together a great piece, you need to think of what your customers are ready to experience and when. Are they reading your blog on their phone during an hour long morning commute? Glancing at your newsletter between meetings during the day? Or looking at your website on their tablet during TV commercial breaks at night? And speaking of phones and tablets, Mashable CMO, Stacy Martinent, shared that 45% of their traffic comes from mobile. On top of that, 2013 was the year that mobile met desktop/laptop usage for social networking. You really can’t afford to have a site that isn’t mobile-friendly! 

PS - Don’t forget, advice without measurement doesn’t mean much. See what works for you and your audience.

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The center of every great business is community.

I can’t really write a blog post without mentioning community or “being human”, can I? The best SMW panel that paid tribute to both was, "Build a Brand that People Don’t Buy, they Join" with panelists from Zady, Naked Wines, and charity: water. While those companies all have a “social impact” slant, they’ve all worked to build amazing brands as well. Just like customers won’t read a piece that doesn’t provide value, they also don’t want to associate with a company or community that doesn’t speak to them like human beings.

Paul Young from charity: water talked about how important it is to map out the community experience. How are you inspiring people to use your product? What are you doing to make your customers feel connected? Make your community a part of your story.

You should also empower them to be evangelists with a clear story they can share. Let them know the valuable role that they play, and don’t forget to say thank you. By the way, I love how much “thank you” was emphasized during SMW. Via letters, tweets, or videos, the power of thank you goes a long way.

Social video = more sales.

If you’re a Vsnapper already, you probably believe in the power of video. And a big topic for SMW was around shareable video (I refuse to call it viral). While there are differences between one to one video (where Vsnap falls) and social video, I think a lot of the insights work both ways. One of the sessions I went to was Unruly’s, “7 Key Insights To an Always-On Video Strategy”, which focused on their measurement for social video success (share rate equals the number of shares divided by the number of views - droppin’ science).

According to a McKinsey study, shared video increases purchase intent by up to 50X via word of mouth. But why do people share videos? 2 reasons: There’s a psychological aspect - inspire emotion (more on that below) and people will share. Also with social video, you have to consider social motivation. This is what Unruly refers to when measuring videos:

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Some of the other research findings shared by Unruly COO Sarah Wood were:

  1. Make videos emotional - 65% of viral videos using exhilaration have brand recollection, followed by hilarity at 51%.
  2. Be positive, and your video is 30% more likely to be shared.
  3. Think beyond babies and cats - this is really just a callback to number 1.
  4. Be true to your brand.
  5. Take the time you need to tell the story - They actually found no correlation between shareability and runtime. Another reminder that good content is everything!
  6. Don’t over invest in content and under invest in distribution - A video that’s seen by few cannot be shared by many.
  7. Reach light buyers outside owned channels to increase market share.

Whew, and that was just a few of the things I learned in NYC! For more on Social Media Week, check out the hashtag #SMW14 for tweets from all over the world.


Filed under smw14 trish blogs vsnap smwnyc smwunrully smwaol smwmovement social media week social media

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How To Find Your Lost Credit Card And Other Amazing Customer Service Lessons From Reddit

By Guillaume Delloue, Director of Marketing at Vsnap

As the “front page of the internet” Reddit draws millions of visitors each day thanks to the unique content shared by its many passionate users. It’s a bustling community with opinions on just about every topic. So I plucked my courage and plumbed its depths to see what redditors had to say about customer service. I’m not going to lie, a lot of it wasn’t appropriate, but there were some genuine insights too.

Get to Know Your Customers’ Habits

After calling to report a lost credit card, a Discover customer was advised by the phone rep to first check the space between his car’s seat and the center console. Skeptical, he put the phone down and headed into his garage, only to find his card between the seat and the center console. Wizardry? Hardly — that’s a just case of really understanding your customers and using that knowledge to help them in very practical ways.

Takeaway: Create data-supported reports about your customers’ background, lifestyle and habits and share them with your team members.

Encourage Employees to WOW Customers

Here’s an awesome idea that every company should consider: give trusted employees the ability to spend an allowance on delighting customers. In this particular case the owner of Mail Boxes Etc. would permit his workers to spend $20, every day, to make customers happy. He felt that the benefits of making customers feel special far outweighed the costs. Although this specific example may not be appropriate for your company, it’s a system every organization could benefit from.

Takeaway: Come up with a simple way to empower your employees to make a difference in the lives of customers. For inspiration, check out our recent interview with Ruby Receptionists — they have an amazing system in place.

Don’t Underestimate The Value of Support

After two bank tellers and a manager couldn’t help a customer in need, the bad experience led him to immediately switch to an online bank. If customers feel neglected because no one’s taking the time to speak with them, they’ll take their business elsewhere, even if they like the product. That’s how vital support is to your business. Brand loyalty, once a reliable way to keep customers coming back, isn’t as powerful as it used to be. And with services like 24/7 support and online chat, digital platforms can now offer just as good support as physical locations.

Key Takeaway: In a crowded marketplace where great products abound, support has become a key differentiator. So offer the best support you can afford—it will pay off in the long run.

 

Filed under guillaume blogs Customer Love customer delight reddit

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Vsnapper Spotlight: Ruby Receptionists

By Trish Fontanilla, VP of Community & Customer Experience at Vsnap

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While I do love vsnapping and video chatting, it’s always great to be able to hug, high five, and just sit with our amazing community members in person. So last October when I was in Portland for the Delight Conference, I knew I had to stop by the Ruby Receptionists office. If you’re not familiar with Ruby, they’re a decade old virtual receptionist company with two offices in Oregon (Portland and Beaverton). On top of having some really great core values, they’ve landed on FORTUNE’s Best Small Company in the US list two years in a row (#1 in 2012 and #3 in 2013). Oh, and most near and dear to our hearts, they’re Vsnappers. Recently, I had a chance to chat with their awesome Online Marketing Champion, Katie Wilson, about customer wow, favorite vsnaps, and pie. 

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How did the Customer WOW initiative (campaign?) start?

A few years ago, our CEO, Jill Nelson, met with every employee in focus groups around our core value of “Practice WOWism.” She asked how we WOW clients already, and what other ways we could really brighten our clients’ days. A receptionist said that she would like to send gifts to clients on special occasions. That idea sparked a lot of the WOWing we do today!

Alright, break down WOWing for me. How are employees empowered and what can they do? 

Ruby employees learn on their first day that they can buy anything, for any client, at any time with the mission to make their day, solve a problem, or show them how much we love working with them. We have various prepaid retail accounts, including Amazon, where Rubys can purchase gifts, and they can wrap them at our “WOW Station.” This desk stands in the middle of our break room, and its drawers are filled with tissue paper, boxes, wrapping paper, and blank notecards that employees can use to make their gift special. Inspiring stories, compliments, and thank-you cards decorate the space, and we even set up an internal website where Rubys can see past gifts, get ideas, and learn how they can build on a connection. After learning about Vsnap last year, we also created a “Vsnap Station” so anyone can stop by to record and send a quick vsnap!

Do you measure customer WOW?

We track the number of WOW gifts and vsnaps we send out, but we also track the number of compliments we get on a daily basis. We share every compliment we receive with the rest of the company; last year we averaged 19 unsolicited compliments a day! We also monitor our referral rate. Most of our new clients were referred to us by existing clients, and we see this as a direct result of the meaningful connections we’re cultivating.

image(Ruby has a Vsnap station in their office!)

What’s one of your favorite times to send a vsnap?

We love sending vsnaps to new clients after they first sign up. We work with businesses across North America, and typically only get to speak with them on the phone, so a short video clip may be the only time they see us “face-to-face.” For example, one of our receptionists talked to a new client for the first time recently and decided to send him a vsnap to say hello. He replied, “That is too cool; thanks for saying hi! Never received a video welcome before” and went on gushing about how much peace of mind we’ve given him, and that he just got his first message from us and thinks it already may lead to a new client for him. We might not have had that conversation if not for Vsnap!

Any crazy stories? Reactions from clients or funny/silly vsnaps? 

We have a tradition at Ruby where instead of a “Casual Friday” we have a “Not-So-Casual Friday.” Since our dress policy is rather laidback during the week, we like to get a little creative on Friday and dress in a theme. One Friday our office was packed with zombies, another day it was 80s sitcom stars – you get the idea. “Punky Brewster” once sent a vsnap to a client, and he got a real kick out of it.

Can Punky send me a vsnap next time? Please and thank you. 

And last, but certainly not least, what’s your favorite pie? 

Definitely my mom’s apple pie. She makes the crust from scratch and docks it with our family’s initials!

By the way, here’s a pic of an apple pie my mom made me the last time I visited. Thought you’d appreciate! 

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Are you a Vsnapper with a great story to share? Feel free to email me directly or fill out this form and you could be featured on our blog! 

Filed under vsnap trish blogs customer love customer delight ruby receptionists pie

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What Customer Love Means

By Dave McLaughlin, CEO & Co-Founder at Vsnap 

On Valentine’s Day, we hosted our 2nd Annual Customer Love Summit. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing videos of the different talks. I want to kick this off as we did with the Summit, by sharing a few thoughts on what we mean when we talk about Customer Love – and why it matters so much to growth-focused businesses.

Simply stated, we believe that focusing on customer emotion is the fastest path to growth. It’s our experience that making customers feel valued and even loved increases customer acquisition, loyalty and referrals.

Also, it’s our belief that employees are happier and more productive at Customer Love companies than at companies that have a purely transactional view of the customer.

That’s the Why of Customer Love – why it is so important. What about the How? How do companies build Customer Love? What are the tools & tactics that help you create and nurture this all-important emotional connection?

Well, that’s what the Customer Love Summit and our semi-regular Customer Love Meetups are all about. They’re simply conversations among business people who share tangible tools and tactics that other Customer Love believers can test and implement. The Summit is structured, and our Meetups are informal. But both are an action-oriented dialogues, not academic ones. (BTW - to stay in the know, you can sign up for the mailing list and you’ll only be emailed when the meetups are scheduled.)

We think of the How in three buckets: values & culture, user experience, and interactions. Most companies can meaningfully deepen their connection with customers – and grow business – by making improvements in each of those areas. And often there’s low-hanging fruit where you can create impact without lots of additional cost. The Customer Love conversation is a living, breathing resource to help folks do just that.

Okay, enough of me talking about this. Can’t wait to start sharing some of the actual talks from the Summit. We’re really looking forward to your thoughts! And in the meantime, you can check out the tweets from the event by scrolling through the Storify below. 

Filed under dave blogs customer love summit customer love vsnap custlove14