Why you should buy a Keurig

Edit: Imagine my horror today when I discovered one of the main reasons we hated the Vue was *still a problem* with the product Keurig sent to replace. The problem**: they added DRM to their 2.0 coffee machines! Not to fear, you can get around the problem http://www.keurighack.com/ Plus coffee + starwars, let’s just say the video is a fun watch regardless. And here is some CNN Money coverage of the topic.

**Not being in the market I hadn’t researched the product offered to me by Keurig. I still can’t fault their stellar customer service.

AKA how Keurig just made me a customer for life.

Put simply: they know how to turn frustration into an amazing customer experience.

In more detail;

We had purchased a Keurig about 6 months ago. My wife saw a “great deal” on Groupon for a fancy new “Vue”. We had loved our original Keurig machine. We discovered it via a friend. He loved his and when we visited we enjoyed it for the whole weekend. We *had* to get one. So we did. The K-cups were reasonably priced and there was a whole ecosystem around them. Third party brands, different types of coffee. You name it.

The “Vue” was none of that. Oh, yeah, it had the same benefits as far as automation is concerned, and some fancy new features. However within a few minutes of opening the box we discovered to our horror, the cups were different. Wait. What? Different? Why would they do this*. We had been conditioned by Keurig to think the K-cups were Keurig. We never expected a different cup. An incompatible cup. Cups that are hard to come by, are quite a lot more expensive, and in our case Costco never seemed to sell.

*to differentiate, add value and innovate and to their credit try be more ‘green’. Unfortunately in this case it seems to have back fired. The Vue doesn’t appear to have been well received, or successful and never really got great reviews.

This mornings caffeine related needs were the straw that broke the camels back. I decided to tweet my frustration, as I sipped a cup of English breakfast tea. Don’t be fooled, I was enjoying my tea. I love my tea. I love my coffee too.

The tweets;

coffee

They replied. Then DM’d. Seven hours later I had a phone call. With a very kind offer. 60% of a “Keurig 2.0” system <reels of list of features>. When pressed he offered to throw in two free boxes of coffee. I expressed my appreciation but that frankly at $70 added to the $70+ I spent on the “Vue” that I wasn’t really a happy customer still. It was ‘ok’ but I didn’t want to spend any more money on a company and products I didn’t feel great about, at that time. I suggested that I would continue sharing my experiences and that I’d be more than happy to return the old unit to Keurig in exchange for a replacement, a “2.0” if you will. I’m not out to scam any one. I just want an awesome automated coffee maker. And to do business with great companies.

After asking for the serial number the nice chap on the phone asked if I minded being put on hold. Several minutes later he returned, and, voila. Keurig agreed that for the return of the ‘brew head’ from our “Vue” they would send me a “2.0” which is now on it’s way to us and should be here in 5-7 business days.

And that leads us to this post.

The reason why this matters is, put simply, as follows; In today’s customer centric economy there are simply too many options for you to afford losing any customers. Let alone treating customers in a way that will result in them bashing them to their friends, and quite frankly their thousands of twitter followers, LinkedIn contacts and Facebook friends. You have to aim for AMAZING. “Good” is just that, it’s OK, it’s good, it’s as our friends in the valley so like to say “table stakes”. It doesn’t retain you, it certainly doesn’t make you loyal and you as a customer are primed to jump ship at a moments notice… Good isn’t good enough, not any more.

If you want to be REMARKable, to be REMARKED upon in a positive manner in this highly connected over saturated world where opinions matter and spread like wild fire then you have to aim to create AMAZING customer experiences.

Kudos to Keurig. They just won a customer for life. And I’m happy to share this experience with you.

What was your best recent customer service experience? Or worst? What did it leave you feeling? What was the outcome? What was the company involved?

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Don’t waste my time

Disclaimer: This post involves fast cars and the drinking of beer.

Here’s the scenario; you are at a dinner party, you meet a new person, maybe you are introduced, maybe you introduce yourself. Either way the experience is one of discovery, “What can I say that will interest this person and get me permission to continue the conversation?” Even if you don’t think this, your amazing and ancient brain is doing it on auto pilot for you.

As marketers we have an opportunity to infuse our message with storytelling, and I mean real stories. Ones with heroes, villains, inciting incidents, conflict overcoming of adversity and dealing with change. When we do this we open the door to a journey, one where our customer will want to join us for the experience.

“Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.” – Kurt Vonnegut

Here are two examples of content I recently created designed to help break the ice at that proverbial dinner party and connect you with something that could be of value to you. The videos below are designed so that you should find the content innately interesting. You may want to learn more about the story. And if you are in my target audience you will certainly want to do so. And if I earn your permission further still I then connect you to find out more about what we can do for you so that you can have an experience like the one that got your attention in the first place.

That being said I have two questions for you, and some FUN content.

#1 – Q: Do you like either cars, high-tech, or auto-sports?

A: Then watch this featuring Lotus F1 Team

150 Days (Preview, 60 secs)

150 Days (Trailer, 30 secs)

Full Nano-Documentary:

#2 – Are you interested in Craft Beer (or foods), or businesses that care not just about money but positively impacting the environment and the world we live in?

Q: Then watch this featuring New Belgium Brewing

Love in a bottle (Preview, 60 secs)

Love in a bottle (Trailer, 30 secs)

Full Nano-Documentary:

So, what do you think?

Was your time waste with this? With the videos? How do you approach content marketing and the customer experience when it comes to your content?

Epilogue

When I consider existing customers or prospects and the services, and apps we provide I have one key thing in mind “why should they care?”. There are many potential paths in actions you take but having this singular question held front and center is critical.

When serving up content we have to consider the whole experience of the customer. From never even knowing about our apps and services to being a RAVING fan.

In many ways I like to think of existing customers as prospects, that we should work hard to keep them engaged and interested. When someone at a [potential] customer company is already a fan you have trust, you can go to certain conversations more quickly than with a person with whom you haven’t yet built that trust. However there is always a place to invest more in a relationship, to reinforce that trust, to keep the romance alive.

Surviving the death of traditional marketing

(cheesy overload of information © Matthew Woodget www.fluidpixel.com)

You probably won’t read this whole blog post. It’s true, CMO.COM recently had a great post on this; distraction. I’ve come to terms with it 🙂 This post will cover a lot of [very important] ground, I promise, so it will be worth it. Without further ado; welcome to the year of Blade Runner (2014). Building sized billboards and all.

Maybe it was MTV that messed us up. Maybe it was something else. All I know is that despite my four year olds apparently distracted behavior (I guess I just have to come to terms with the fact that he’s simply not listening to me) he’s actually very focused on what he does. When I try show him a trailer for a movie three out of four times he’s left confused and dumfounded (I’ve probably done it a maximum of four times). Go watch a trailer right now, come back when you are done. It leaves my son feeling uncomfortable, confused, he genuinely doesn’t like the experience. Brash, speeding images, a rapidly sped up narrative. As a father of young children I’m faced with the fact I’m part of a society in which this is par for of the course. Whatever caused it, we need to accept that distraction is paramount. We are bombarded with thousands of marketing messages a day. Research by Huge says 5,000 daily, in urban environments, double what it was three decades ago (as above). That’s just marketing messages. You think you consume all of that? You brain goes into auto pilot, it’s why you often can’t remember you work commute. Our brain is unimaginably complicated and deals with an even more impressive array of ridiculously tiny things each day. It’s good at filtering out the crap and getting us to where we are going. Thankfully it does this with the marketing noise too.

That’s my point. It’s NOISE. I turned up the volume on that on purpose 😉 We live in an attention economy, well covered by Jeremy Epstein. We have limited time, focus, bandwidth, hours in the day. When it comes to communicating with our customer are we going to keep fighting this fact? Or are we going to start with a strategy that engages? Whether or not you realize it you have a complex set of filters to deal with all of this noise. The thing is your filters break. What’s that? I hear you cry? My filters break? That brings us full circle to why we need to respect distraction and leads us to how we can deal with it. Jeremy has been banging on about this since at least 2007. CMO.COM blogged about it this summer. At some point this thing is going to reach critical mass, and blow up.

Good content needs a good story. It doesn’t have to be 500,000 words long. It doesn’t have to be an NPR series on the creation of a tee shirt in the current global economy (a great story by the way). It can be as simple as effectively conveying a feeling and a sense as can be done in a single photograph that invokes thoughts and ideas that you end up filling in the blanks to complete the tale. It does have to have a character(s), tension, depth, meaning, it must reveal something and needs to have a narrative. Different mechanisms can be employed to convey this. Storytelling is a cornerstone in our ability to get ideas to stick. It is the informational genetic code that enables an idea to survive and be passed on from one generation to the next. It’s why religion, Santa, the boogeyman, organ theft, and love stories all virally spread between and stick with us.

Push marketing is dead. Advertising is dead, banner ads on websites, radio ads, billboards, popups that appear before you can load a site, popups that appear as you start reading a site (and by pop up I mean the ones that are ‘in’ the webpage, not the 1999 version of a separate window adding itself to your desktop clutter. Yes, unfortunately those still exist). They are all dead. It’s only a matter of time before the last tombstone in the last graveyard of advertising is set in the ground. Blade Runner I love you but our future will not include those bill boards. There will not need to be. And I disagree with the assertion that it’s not dead, it’s evolving or simply changing. The point here is that push marketing is dead. And that to all intents and purposes the future doesn’t include advertising as we see it today. Marketing is often mischaracterized as being only about promotion, advertising et al. It’s so much more than that, it’s about a deep understanding of the people who might want your product, your product/service, how those things intersect and how you communicate about that.

One day there will be no advertising. Not as we know it today. There will be content. Content that you want to consume. That is shared because it has value in and of itself. Content that appears in relevant context to what you are doing and connects you to new things, services, experiences that you probably want. It will be more effective. Less annoying. With the evolution of big data and the internet of things it becomes broadly real sooner than you think. If you are a fan of Stephen Hawking you might enjoy watching Grand Design – The Meaning of Life. Where he covers that all of our choices may well all end up boiling down to a complex predetermination any way. If anyone every figures out a Theory of Everything they can monetize it by selling it as a marketing service. That’s a bad physics joke and I’m aware of how beautifully cynical it sounds, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it covered somewhere by Douglas Adam, Terry Pratchett or Ian M. Banks.

It all boils down to is Propaganda vs. Relevance. The crafting of propaganda has existed for as long as humanity itself. I’m told that after practicing law it’s the third oldest profession. Every conflict, war, work related butting of heads uses it as a tool. Its essence is that of one human being trying to convince another so it doesn’t comes across as such. If you are truly relevant and able to convince your customer to do something without them realizing it then you attain that mythic status immortalized by the quote "the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist". As evil as that may sound really it’s all about a respect for your customer, reaching them in a relevant way to connects them with something which they will be care about. Not wasting their time. Not adding to the noise.

Putting this into practice takes progressive engagement (Gartner, Hank Barnes). It’s about leading a horse to water. Stepping stones. Phases. Conversations. Moving forwards through and to something. I love presenting and I feel like I can always do better, so when I’m given the opportunity for "presentation skills training" I lap it up. Sometimes it’s screwed me up, made me over think myself. But it’s all good. One time I was preparing for a presentation, that I never actually gave because I ended up getting horribly sick and missing the whole event. The guy who did the training laid on a really salient point that interestingly maps to this topic. He said "What do you really think you can get across in an hour?" Great question. Right? Think about that for a second. You can’t educate, much. You can’t deliver all the details of your subject. It might take you ten times that amount of time to prepare the presentation. Aside: arguably if there are 100 people in that room then you owe it to their time investment to invest a hell of a lot of time in the prep, that’s another blog post entirely. The point is you can’t get it all across at once so don’t try.

The same goes for "marketing" or "advertising". Give your audience enough to want more, to come back, to take the next step, the "next action" where they consume your content and embark on a journey of relevance with you. The future of marketing is about storytelling via content that creates progressive engagement, not one of billboards.

If there is one thing Ridley Scott got right with Blade Runner it’s that in 2014 we’d still have billboards. What do you think? What sort of science fiction of marketing and advertising can you dream up? Leave it in the comments…

FitBit FTW (previously “Fitbit Fail (#fitbitfail)”)

Update July 16th 2012: I must say that after a recent customer service experience I had with FitBit that despite the prior issues I had with their changing the website in confusing ways that they have just made a customer for life. They went out of their way, in  a big way, to help keep me in the FITBIT game after some colossal user stupidity on my behalf and for this they should be commended. THANK YOU FITBIT team! I’m in love again!

I used to love my fitbit! It wasn’t the device itself but the service component. As a device I far preferred my Omron HJ-112. Why did I love the fitbit? Being able to track how active I was through the day, and across the days. In particular I loved the granularity of a day. Being able to see what activities yielded the best results, sometime I was surprised. It certainly helped me push myself to get out and about more. 

When I logged onto the website yesterday I was confused. It looked ‘newish’. The rather useless and real estate hog of ‘summary of daily progress’ was still there, which I can already see on my fit bit (daily goal aside). Before that was forgivable. Below this no longer could I see the breakdown. Now I’m provided with two utterly useless things (for me). Food Plan and “Body” (weight). I don’t track these things. OK so occasionally I track my weight but that’s it. Fitbit support informed me the changes are for the new Aria Wireless Scale. By all means enhance your offering but don’t change it on the people who made you what you are. And no, fitbit, I will not be buying your scale.

I’m kind of ticked at the $99 I spent on my fitbit.

The change might not have hit you yet. Enjoy that whilst it lasts.

The website still promotes fitbit as an ‘activity tracker’ but here are some of the key things activity tracking things that have gone.

  • Day: Hour by hour activity view (sedentary/lightly-active/fairly-active/very-active)
  • Month: Activity view across the days (with any granularity). Now it’s an either or and is a clunky bar chart vs. the prior detailed line chart.
  • Day: Pie chart has gone
  • I won’t go too far into the granularity of it as that would get tedious, but you ge the point?

 

A Bing search throws up lots of example images/screen shots of the detail that used to exist which has now gone.

In short I want my old website back or I go from raving fan to the opposite. I’ll be looking at the Nike Fuel Band and other alternatives. Worst case I can go back to my Omron HJ-112 (which was awesome) and have a battery that lasts for ever and a view of my past weeks data in the palm of my hand*.

image

*fitbit still don’t even have a Windows Phone 7 ap!

One Dead Samsung Focus, One Challenging AT&T experience

My Samsung Focus died yesterday. It crashed for the first time on Tuesday, a forewarning? Then yesterday is froze up. I left it for a while (15 min or so) before taking the battery out. It tried to boot, crashing at the AT&T screen a few times. Then it loaded, default tiles, theme etc. “Oh No!” I exclaimed. I rebooted it to be on the safe side. It never started again.

It’s under warranty so I will get a replacement. These things have a bath tub failure curve so I’m cool with that and it’s why we have warranties. Certainly not a smite on Microsoft as the OS didn’t seem to be responsible. Nor on Samsung, stuff fails. My guess is a component on the system board or in the memory.

As far as use goes I’ve been a power user. Dozens of apps. Some came, some went. Games trialed, purchased. Heavy social media and geo-location usage. So if anyone’s phone was going to ‘burn out’ just from normal use on that bath tub curve it would be me. I’ve noticed my phone is slower than my wife’s identical device e.g. 5 vs. 60 seconds to update the People Hub. I put it down to more apps, pics, music, contacts (if so then that is an opportunity for MSFT to improve), however now I wonder if it was something going wrong with my phone.

AT&T’s Customer Service Experience

Score: 3/5 Stars

I’m always impressed with how many people I deal with when I have to call AT&T for support. What is even more amazing is how un-empowered they all appear to be. I dealt with no less than nine AT&T employees yesterday. Nine. Over a period of about three hours. Both on the phone and in person. I’m guessing an analysis of efficiency is done? What about efficacy?

This is the first time my call to AT&T support also involved a real world wild goose chase…

In Summary

AT&T are working to make this right. My issue is under investigation with promise to look into and resolve for the future (I expressed how I wished this on no one, OK on very few people). AT&T have credited me $135 in total through the day. Still I’m left with a bad taste in my mouth and as such the rest of this post is intended to document for two reasons a) to help you as an AT&T customer navigate such issues ,should you come across them and b) to provide AT&T with insight into their customers’ experience should they wish to use it in their ongoing efforts to improve customer service.

Some recommendations;
  1. Only send customers to a device service center if a device is confirmed to be there and you can have it set aside.
  2. Over Invest in overnight shipping / devices in store to enable resolving customer issues over holiday weekends.
  3. Reduce number of employees involved in decision making. Empower the knowledge workers/technicians. If you need ‘approval’ you could do via phone with “central approval command” to prevent local abuses.
  4. Save your money by doing small things that fix it for the customer vs. escalations which cost you more in time and actual dollars (example below is $30 vs. $100 cost to AT&T)

Perhaps consider optimizing the issue handling process to reduce your costs and improve customer experience (less people, deeper ‘relationships’)

In Detail

AT& #2 (the second “611” person I spoke to) informed me that they couldn’t get a me a phone overnighted – it’s a holiday weekend and I have plans. My dead phone is my only phone but luckily I had Microsoft Lync on my laptop to call the 800 #. She said I could go into a device service center and located two “with phones”. I agreed to do this vs. having a device shipped. To their credit she did reimburse me $25, I guess for the hassle of dealing with the situation, and the eventual rebuild and reconfiguration of my phone.

AT&T #5, 30 Min later, downtown Seattle, $10hr parking and AT&T #5 informs me there are no devices. Yes #3 & 4 are various stages of handling me in the service center. Note: No warranty devices. They have devices for sale ~$500. Again a very polite man, very “understanding” and “sorry”. He fetches #6, his manager.

AT&T #6, “Manager”. Now the purpose of this employee in the chain of command baffles me. He has no authority to do anything for me. Not even give me a “$30 basic unlocked phone” (keep this number in mind for later) to get me through next week. He spends his time asking #5 under his breath if there is “anything else we can do?”. I’m not sure who he’s hiding it from as I can hear it. Other customers? Suggestion; Maybe just give #5 the authority as he knows the systems and the lay of the land. #6 does say they can approve reimbursement of my parking ($10) but it’s A#5 who finds the person who’s responsible for helping, let’s call them AT&T #5b “Customer service rep” who approves and logs it in the system.

Some time later, back at home on my wife’s phone. 611 again;

AT&T #8 Was doing everything her script said. She too was “understanding” and “very sorry”. By this point those words had lost their meaning. She quickly credited me some hours to my account for my wasted time, roll over minutes we never use up any way. I did have to explain everything to her again. At this point I simply wanted to flag a complaint with AT&T to how this was handled. About seven minutes later she got a supervisor on the line.

AT&T #9. A supervisor who will “investigate” the issue for me. She credits me $100 to my account. $70 more than it would have cost AT&T to just give me that cheap phone in the store to get me through the next week, that $30 I mentioned above.

And that’s the end of my tale…