There is Nothing More Important Than the Customer Experience!

For all of the social and digital media advice and trends I provide on this website, as I preach at conferences, keynotes, when I’m teaching, and anywhere people will listen—all of the social media engagement and listening in the world is trumped by remarkable customer service. 

If you provide remarkable customer service, people will tell others through word of mouth and through social media. Conversely, if you have poor touch points with customer service, people will tell others.

I was flying cross country a couple of weeks ago and had a layover at DFW. Now I know airline gate agents are stressed to the max and have to deal with some outrageous people and situations at times, but watching what was happening for a few hours was amazing.

This happened to be American Airlines. I’m sure American has thousands of amazing people who go out of their way to help customers and make them feel good. However, on this day, at this gate, for a few hours, that wasn’t the case. The customers who would approach these gate agents did so politely. For three hours, never did I see a smile. Never did I see anything other than multi-tasking, transaction agents, mostly looking down while “customers” approached them.

Here are a few things to think about:
1. Love your job or leave it. It’s not prison.
2. Love your customers or leave them. Your job isn’t prison.
3. Provide remarkable customer service that people will talk about, otherwise your business is invisible and no different than any other business.

(c)  Joseph Barnes 


What’s the Magic Word for Ecommerce Sites?

I consider Roger Dooly to be an expert on the subject of Neuromarketing. In fact, he’s the author of a book by the same name.

He has a great post on his website about a research study by Kantar Media which surveyed 2,500+ shoppers to determine what would motivate them to place an order. “Which of the following would encourage you to place more orders online?”

  • 77% Free shipping
  • 56% Free returns
  • 43% In-store return option
  • 41% Ability to use in-store coupons online
  • 41% Faster shipping
  • 41% In-store pick-up option

As Roger says, what stands out? FREE.

Roger writes about “The Power of Free.” It’s an important read for anyone interested in understanding why consumers buy.

This is Joe talking now—-Yes, they buy primarily based on word of mouth recommendations from friends and if you do things right—price. Treat your customer extraordinarily well, and they will love you in return. As Andy Sernovitz would say: You must provide “remarkable” customer service — that is — customer service so special people will tell others how great you and your products/service are.


"It’s the Relationship Economy—Stupid!"

Remember when Bill Clinton was running for president? The key strategic phrase the campaign used everywhere was, “It’s the economy, stupid!” They didn’t say it like that to the public but that was the phrase that everyone, including Bill Clinton, used to remind themselves to stay on target with their messaging.

Today, whether you are an online business, brick and mortar, education or nonprofit your phrase should be “It’s the Relationship Economy—Stupid!”

Everyone throughout your business needs to view customers, clients, patients, donors and/or students as “family.” Without each one of them, your business goes nowhere.

Today word of mouth about bad experiences can be shared to hundreds, even thousands of people. One needs to look no farther than the backlash at Bank of America’s attempt to start a debit card fee or Verizon’s attempt to charge a fee for paying your bill in a certain way. “It’s the Relationship Economy—Stupid!”

Whether you like it or not your brand is at stake in every touch point, right down to  how people answer the phones at your business.

The only way to build a trusting relationship with your customers is to demonstrate it. Every part of your business needs to be “remarkable.” That means, an experience that your customer feels so good about they will tell others—-otherwise you are only average. And average isn’t good enough.

Want your business to grow? Ask yourself these questions:

  1. When people in our business answer the phones, is it a “remarkable” customer experience?
  2. When people go to our website, is it a “remarkable” customer experience?
  3. When people to to our Facebook page, is it a “remarkable” customer experience?
  4. When people come into our business, is it a “remarkable” customer experience?

If you answered “no” to any of those questions,  create a plan to fix that immediately. Stage a remarkable customer experience. Train the staff to create remarkable experiences.

 Remember: “It’s the Relationship Economy—Stupid!”
(c) Joe Barnes

If You Market: Content is King!

Here’s an important message for you: If you are in the public relations, marketing or advertising business at a company or organization, you need to be in the content-generation business.

People are tired of traditional ads. If they have TiVo or DVR’s, they are skipping through the ads. If you are buying print, broadcast or Internet ads ask yourself this: Is my ad truly remarkable? That is, will your ad truly get people to change their behavior? Sure if they are ordering something, but short of an online retail purchase, most ads are just that to consumers: An Advertisement.

If you really want to change behavior, change how you do things. YOU need to be in the content generation business. People read interesting stories. If you start an interesting and relevant story in an email newsletter or on Facebook and link the rest to your website, they will click through as long as it is interesting and relevant.

Shoot interesting pictures your stakeholders care about. Shoot interesting videos — especially “How To..” videos your stakeholders care about. Give your stakeholders interesting and relevant tips and information THEY care about.

It’s not about the tools, it’s about how you use them. And if you are interesting and relevant, they will come.

NEW: The Power of Word of Mouth Marketing Revealed!

Word of mouth as a marketing force still trumps social media according to a new study by 
Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact Communication and Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide.
New findings from the Dynamics of Cause Engagement study show that while Generation Y is significantly more likely than older counterparts to use social media to learn about causes, more than 4 in 10 Americans age 18-29 still get their information from family (48%), friends (46%) and TV (45%). 
Nearly two-thirds of Americans (62%) report that being told in person is the way they are typically informed of causes and social issues in which others want them to be involved. 

For more information, visit

Goodbye CRM, Hello Real-Time Customer Relations!

There, I said it! Goodbye CRM.

In today’s fast-paced world everything is happening in real time: Customers are researching products and services, they are buying, they are experiencing your brand, and most importantly—they are telling friends and family about their experiences with your brand and your people.

It’s no longer about who is in your database. It’s about your customer, at every touch point, and whether or not you are giving them a “remarkable” experience. If it’s remarkable, they will tell others to try you. If it’s not, you lose.

So what does this mean?
Don’t concentrate on databases. Concentrate on real people, real customers.
Give them remarkable experiences.
Forget traditional advertising. When is the last time you tracked an ad and said it converted to a sale?
But…..give one of your fans a remarkable experience and they WILL talk positively about you. It’s happening every day — word of mouth, on Twitter, on Facebook, on sites like Yelp, YouTube, etc.

Sometimes It Takes Spontaneous Guerilla Marketing!

Here’s a great story I haven’t shared before that created great word of mouth marketing with no cash out of pocket.

When I worked as Vice President of Marketing at Pacific Science Center and flew Southwest back into Seattle I would always carry at least a dozen business cards.The reason? On the back of each card was a free pass into the science center.

While the flight was in progress I would approach one of the flight attendants, introduce myself, tell them about Pacific Science Center and the latest exhibit, and suggest they do a plane-wide contest for the tickets.

It always worked. They were nice enough to always create a great contest for the giveaway, and in the process I sat there in my seat thinking how great it was having 130 people hearing all about what was new at Pacific Science Center. Simply by using some spontaneous guerilla marketing.


(c) Joe Barnes

Social media for social change for social good.

Social media is so much more than marketing, creating communities, listening to customers and having a two-way dialogue. It’s also about using the tools and platforms for change—real change—that makes a difference in the world.

Whether you are an individual, an organization, an association, or a company—it’s your (our) responsibility to use these tools for social good.

I’m reminded of a story from 2010 in which a social media leader had a real epiphany — a real “ah ha” moment about social media for social change. As he tells the story here he is pounding out his blog every day with thousands of readers when his wife comes home and says she wants to help a mother and kids after they became homeless because of a domestic violence situation. The writer took the family in and then  tweeted the need for $5,000 to help set the family up in an apartment. 

Was he surprised. By the next day people had sent in $17,000 via Pay Pal — and he didn’t even know most of these people. 

The moral of this story is to do the same thing. Use your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn connections to help others. Social media for social change for social good.
Joe Barnes

This is a GIANT! Ads on Homes!

This is BRILLIANT….I’m tell you brilliant. Ads written on a house! Talk about getting word of mouth going…..

At the National Advertisers’ Agency/Client Forum in New York, Jeff Goodby chairman and co-founder of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners showed his 117-year-old Victorian house in California, which has lots of words painted on the exterior. (c) 2009

Goodby created a Web site about the house, called Then, he posted it on Facebook. He said people just went crazy.

How To Market To The Digital Mom

Great post by Tracey Hope-Ross “How to Market to the Digital Mom.” Tracey says moms increasingly view traditional media as intrusive and disruptive. Social media cuts through the clutter. Moms use social media to swiftly pass along ideas and product assessments to others. She says the majority of moms are “social researchers” who seek out online reviews.

She says to connect work realistically within moms’ daily schedules. Intimate events and parties can be used as catalysts to ultimately drive sales and attendance to larger brand events in the area. Social media provides creative new ways to establish or augment connections with moms.