Tuesday, June 30, 2015

What’s the point of having “freedom of speech” if we don’t have “freedom of thought”?

"What impacts me the most is that 
we always have talks, and rightly so, 
about freedom of speech. 
Obviously we have to have that freedom, 
but what we should really have, first and foremost, 
is freedom of thoughts. 
Why do I care about freedom of speech 
if I can only come up with stupid things to say? 
What’s so important about freedom of speech, 
if you can’t even think, 
if you don’t have your own criteria, 
if you aren’t free to think by yourself? "

Emilio Lledó - Spanish philosopher.

This was one of those reflections that gets deep into your head and doesn´t go away. It’s so deep, true and valid and has become so much relevant in the society we're living in nowadays, where social networks have given anyone a voice that can be as strong and powerful as one desires.

And I have covered this topic on my blog a couple of times before. "Let's make a responsible use of our voice in social media", "Popularity and influence in social media: Create your own voice” and also this one," Social Media: Who is responsible? The ball or the player who kicks it?"

Always revolving around the same premise: Use always your own judgment, think about the value of things you’re posting and sharing, stand out from the crowd by the value of those things and share always on a responsible way.

And the topic lends itself for a very deep reflection: Are we making a good use of the tools we have available? Or are we simply becoming repeater antennas, which disseminate information without even knowing what it is about?

Are we really adding value to conversations? Do we really have the capacity to make the world a better place?

As Emilio Lledó says: "What is freedom of speech, if you can’t even think by yourself with common sense?"

It’s worth to remember the saying: "More dangerous than a monkey with razor".

Throughout history there have been many situations in which human beings’ nature has made clear that depending on people’s discretion and their ability to think properly, good things can happen, but also terrible things.

For example, scientists discovered atomic energy. If they had followed the right approach, if they had been able to think properly, this amazing energy could have been used only to do good things for mankind. What have we used it for instead? For the creation of mass destruction weapons.

If we go a little bit further, our ancestors discovered fire. They may have taken it calmly and use fire for benign purposes such as heating cold nights, scaring away dangerous animals, brightening dark nights, and so on. However, they also found out they could use it to burn the neighboring villages and to hurt their peers.

Without proper discretion, even the most advanced technology can become your worst enemy.

Hence the saying: "More dangerous than a monkey with razor" because the razor blade itself can be used for good things, like giving you a wonderful shaved, for example. But put the same razor on the hands of an individual without judgment and you’ll see the atrocities that can be done with it, starting by taking peoples’ life.

Never forget that, on top of everything, the most important rule is to do things with discretion. And to make things this way, we must develop the ability to think by ourselves, according to our own criteria and following our own path.

Freely expressing yourself doesn’t mean you shout the first thing that comes to your mind.

And unfortunately that’s what we see happening more often: individuals who simply open their mouths because they have the freedom to do so, but only say not-making-sense things, nothing to add value, or even to help those of us listening to live a better life.

That's where I think they are making the big mistake: They're sharing solely to be visible but not to be remembered by what they have said.

It is not simply about being visible, but also to be remembered by the things you say.

That should be our motto and the best reason guiding the freedom with which we use our ability to express ourselves: that what we said is valuable enough to other people so they keep us always in their minds.

Let’s get the most advantage out of the opportunity offered to us by available platforms nowadays to express ourselves with total freedom, but let's always do it judiciously.

Keep in mind that "Why do we need to have freedom of speech if we are only going to say stupid things?"

An interesting reflection to always bear in mind.

Thanks, Emilio Lledó, for your words.

Here you have the links to the posts I mentioned to you above.
Popularity and Influence in Social Media: Create Your Own Voice
Social Media: Who Is Responsible? The Ball or The Player Who Kicks It?
Let us Make A Responsible Use Of Our Voice In Social Media.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Your Company Does Not Only Live Of Good Web Positioning

The first time I read the book "Positioning: The Battle for consumer's mind," by Al Ries and Jack Trout, was quite a while ago while pursuing my studies. It’s an easy-to-read book which explains the positioning concept on a masterful and very simple way.

Positioning is nothing but occupying a specific spot somewhere, at a specific point in time.

For you, as an entrepreneur and business owner, that "somewhere" is simply your customer’s mind. What you really want to see happening is that, when your customers are about to make the decision to buy the kind of products or services you sell, they choose you instead of your competition. It’s quite simple.

Much ado is being made lately with regard to SEO and the “kind-of-an-obligation” you have to place your business within the first few pages of Google’s SERP (Search Engine Results Page), if not the first page.

And that's fine especially when you manage, for instance, an ecommerce site and you need to generate as much traffic as possible with the hope it will drive more sales.

However, despite all the noise that is being made about the subject, is not the only positioning you should be looking for nor the most important one. What happens with companies whose clients do not perform Google searches to look for product information but refer to industry specific directories and forums instead?. Do they have to be focusing their efforts into appearing on the first Google’s SERPs as well?

Of course they don’t. They should be interested on showing up in places where their customers go to look for relevant industry and product information.

Do you really think any fast food company needs to appear on top of Google’s SERP to sell more hamburgers? The answer is, again, a big no.

It’s not about being on the right place, but being able to stay there the longest.

And going a little bit further, the positioning thing is not just about being visible. In advertising, there is a word which is closely connected to positioning: remembrance. And it refers to the fact that any advertising message should not only be seen, but also generate a strong enough impact as to remain in your customer’s mind, so that it can be easily remembered, associated with the brand and kept in mind long enough to be brought back up when the time to make the purchasing decision comes.

Only the message that hits strongly enough as to be remembered is the one which stays in your customer’s mind.

If this impact level is not reached, the message is like the seed that falls between rocks and dry soil: it won’t germinate and bear fruit. Your message will just become another one among the bunch of messages your customer will not remember.

How can you start developing a positioning strategy to make your business memorable?

On top of everything, you should have clearly established how you want to position your business (or yourself if that’s the case). What I mean, in other words, is that you must know how you want your customers to perceive your business.

Please keep in mind your positioning proposal can be of any kind: "The best wine in the market", "the most technologically advanced running shoes", "the more flamboyant artist" or something as simple as "a book you will not forget". Anything.

One of the examples included in the book "Positioning" referred to a water distribution company whose positioning proposal was something like: "We are the second best in the market." Yes, you read it right. They did not aimed to be perceived as the first or the best one in the market but to be recognized as the second one. No matter how weird it might sound, it continues to be a valid positioning proposal.

Your positioning proposal can be as unique and radical as you want. The important thing is that it needs to be consistent.

However, it doesn’t matter how “radical” or "killer" your positioning proposal is, but how effectively and strongly you can deliver it to your customer’s minds throughout all different channels available that you can choose from to communicate and interact with them.

Please note the wording I use here is extremely important: "throughout all different channels available that you can choose from to communicate and interact with them". Why is it important? Because Internet (and more specifically search engines) is not the only channel you can use to communicate and interact with your audience.

Yes, it’s one of the most important channels indeed, but far from being the only one. What about the sales people you have in store? Aren’t they directly in face to face contact with your customers day after day? Don’t they have the ability to strengthen (or weaken) the positioning proposal of your company every time they service a customer?

Your positioning proposal should be comprehensive, multichannel and consistent.

Note that you don’t need to aim for achieving the best "positioning ranking" in Google only, but to build a comprehensive positioning proposal, covering each and every one of the spaces in which you relate and interact with your customers.

In addition, your proposal must be consistent, meaning it must be reflected in each and every one of your business areas having direct contact with your customers, not only sales and customer service.

Obviously, your positioning proposal should be clearly reflected in your product (or your services when applicable), in all texts and messages used in advertisements, as well as in promotional materials. If we want to put it briefly: It must be perceivable throughout all spaces and channels, whether they are digital or traditional ones, and even if we talk about human beings (your employees or yourself).

If each and every area of your business, from vendors who work on the road to the people who pick up the phone, are aware of how the company wants to position itself among its audience, and if you've also done what was required to create a positive and satisfactory buying experience for your products, then your proposal will clearly be one of those which impacts firmly in your customer’s minds and stays there for a longer time.

Photo credit: Gstudio Group | Ver portfolio

I recommend you reading the following posts in this blog:
Customer Experience: The importance of delivering a consistent message.
I already bought your product. Now what?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Beware With Customer's Tantrums Nowadays

Customer's Tantrums Nowadays
There have been more than one situation in which I’ve felt the need to write this post. The last one was at a government’s office, while I was doing some personal errands.

As it is a normal procedure in this kind of situations, one has to schedule an appointment online before showing up at their offices. When you make the appointment, you are provided with a specific date and time to be there so that your specific situation is addressed and, God willing, properly resolved.

Well the fact is that a young girl came in that day, looked at the screen where the numbers that are currently being serviced are showcased, as we all do when arriving at the place, and I assume she was confident there was plenty of time before her number would show up in the screen.

A few minutes later, the girl got a call on her mobile phone, and apparently while she was on her conversation, her appointment’s number appeared on the screen but she did not notice it, and continued talking on the phone while the following numbers continued to appear on the screen, one after another.

When she was done on the phone and realized her number had already been called, she got really upset and went in to talk with employees in the office to complain why nobody had told her it was her turn and demanded to be attended immediately.

Very politely, I have to say, employees explained her it wouldn’t be possible to do as she demanded because there were other people in the room waiting for their turns, and that she would need to wait for all people with appointments to be taken care of first. She was so upset that even asked to speak with the office director, the person in charge and even threatened to fill out a legal claim.

A client’s tantrum can easily generate a reputation crisis for your business.

Thanks God this time, and after some good ten minutes of show in which the girl in question uttered all kinds of threats and recriminations, she finally agreed to leave the office and make an appointment for another day.

I don’t know if she finally understood that everything was her responsibility by being so distracted while talking on the phone, but what was totally clear on my mind that any of your customers, rightly or not, might make your business go through a difficult time as a result of its own outburst.

You should always have a plan prepared in advance to handle a reputation crisis.

What truly caught my attention was how calmly employees in the office handled the situation. It was obvious that either they were specifically trained for such situations, or it was not the first time something like that happened and they already knew how to handle it.

In any case, they were able to help the girl calm down, stop complaining, listen to what could have been the reason behind the whole thing and go back to her house to follow the corresponding procedure recommended in situations like this. Obviously, whether or not they had a plan, which they did worked for them.

But what happens if it doesn’t work and the customer continues upset and then ragingly storms to social media to vent its frustration towards your company, even when there is no reason for it?

A customer who complains, even for the wrong reason, continues to be a complaining one.

It is therefore necessary to know in advance how to handle a situation like this. The first thing to do is properly identify if the customer is upset by a valid reason, that is, to find out what the reason is behind the whole situation.

If the customer is right and its complaint valid, it makes total sense to recognize the error immediately, apologize as necessary and offer the solution that better suits the specific situation. Don’t ever get into endless discussions with the client trying to convince it otherwise if you already know its complaint is valid.

This will only result in burning out the relationship and an unnecessarily increase in  frustration towards your brand and business. If your customer is right, recognize it. Then provide a prompt, adequate solution to the problem and move on. Move even faster if your customer has taken its complaint to a public space or social networks: the less it lasts, the better for your brand’s reputation and company.

You must do everything in your power to make a reputation crisis last as little as possible.

However, if there is no reason backing up your customer’s complaint, then you should proceed to explain clearly what the situation is and which could be the reason behind the whole problem. In our story today, the reasons were obvious: our girl got so distracted while on the phone that she didn’t pay attention to the screen when her appointment number was called.

From that point on, its claim ceased to be valid. In such situation, offering your customer a clear explanation of the situation and what could have led to the misunderstanding, will help him or her to calm down faster.

If the client calms down quickly and clearly understands the situation, the crisis will have been nothing but a rough time, and will not last long.

We customers have to learn to be less arrogant and spoiled.

And I’d like to take this opportunity to make a wake-up call for all of us as consumers and customers we are: We should stop being so arrogant and acting as spoiled kids. We must learn to live in community, to respect other people’s rights and honor our own obligations.

Stop being spoiled consumers and learn to claim only when there is a valid and verifiable reason.

Having “Complaint forms” available or simply knowing we can initiate a legal claim against a company when we feel something went wrong, shouldn’t mean we can complain for the reason that better fits our whims; or that we can compromise other people’s seriousness at their jobs simply because that day we decided to pay more attention to our mobile phones, instead of being aware of when our appointment number would appear on the screen.

It makes no sense to put the reputation of a company in jeopardy just because you had a tantrum and decided to act like a child instead of an educated consumer, or does it?

Photo credit: evilratalex - Dollarphotoclub

I recommend you reading the following posts on this blog:
Let's Make A Responsible Use Of Our Voice In Social Media
All it took was a bad experience one day with one employee