Tweeting Budget Rent A Car to and from Siesta Key Beach paid off!

MarketingMel’s tweeting Budget Rent A Car to and from Siesta Key Beach paid off!

Seeing the Rolling Stones prancing on stage this summer reminded me of a favorite song from my youth. “You can’t always get what you want,” croons Mick Jagger who still looks good despite the years on his craggy face. The next line, “But if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need” was indeed true as I used twitter to resolve an issue with Budget Rent A Car.

How, you might ask, did I get from the Stones, to twitter, to a rental car?

Well, it all starts out with a girls’ mini-vacation in Florida.

My BFF since age 5, Kim, and her friend Laurie, invited me for a few days of sun and fun in Sarasota. Their timing was perfect since I had just wrapped up campaign management for the grueling Lisa Rice for Criminal Court Judge campaign. (Lisa, who worked very hard, took a decisive primary victory and now moves on unopposed in the August general election.)

When we arrived at Tampa airport the SUV that we scheduled was not available. Instead we were offered a “Mom van.” (No thanks, we were three moms on vacation!)  The agent “upsold” us a Lincoln Navigator at about twice the original price. None of us was happy so I took to the twitter “airwaves.” The great thing about twitter is it affords each of us an opportunity to have our voice heard. We are no longer just a number.

In a series of tweets, I gently nudged @Budget about the upsell and asked why our first car wasn’t available. It took them a couple of days to get me the response I needed but I will give Budget full credit for what they did right. Here was their response, four tips we can all learn from:

1-    They took the conversation offline ­­– Instead of letting this play out in front of everyone on twitter Budget asked me to send an email direct to their social media help desk.

2-    They apologized – Yes, in private direct messages they apologized!

3-    They made it right – At first they promised a rebate of one-half of the upsell but…

4-    They delighted the customer –In the end, Budget gave us the “upsell” vehicle at the original vehicle’s price. Thank you Budget and now I am writing a column and blogging about you in a positive way. I know my two friends are also thrilled and “singing” Budget’s praises. Wonder what the value of that word of mouth is?  As you head out on summer vacation remember, knowing how to use twitter effectively can help you “get what you need.”  Do you have some vacation/communications best practices you would like to share?

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Editor’s note: Throughout the month of February I’ll be concentrating on a theme of Relationship Building here on the MarketingMel blog. 

A client of mine recently shared an excellent book on customer service with me. The book is called “Surviving the Middle Miles: 26.2 Ways to Cross the Finish Line with Your Customers”  by Darryl Rosen. The author, a one-time marathon runner, draws an analogy between business and running. Just like in a long distance race, the shiny newness wears off after you’re underway for a few miles but inside you know it’s still a long ways until the finish line!  As runner I loved the book’s name and related to its running/business theme. Rosen, who operated a very successful wine business, shares ways to provide the best for our customers. I’ll share some of my favorites here with you.

In his chapter titled “Appreciate Your Customers and Show it”  Rosen offers the following tips:

1- Say thank you- Now that may not seem like such a clever concept but you would be surprised how people, starting at a very young age, are not being taught those simple words. Rosen likes to send off hand written notes to customers. He even suggests making up reasons to say thank you!

2- It’s never too late- This example happened to me once. I was a recipient of a *long* overdue thank you from someone and guess what?  It felt great to be remembered. I really appreciated the gesture even if it was late, and it helped to cement a good working relationship between us. Even if you think the time has passed  to to say thank you, say it anyway!

The last chapter of the book is called, “Cheering for Others.” If you have competed in a running race or other athletic competition you know how much it means to have “cheerleaders” standing along the sidelines, particularly as you’re heading toward the home stretch. I’ve always loved it when my family makes it out to one of my running races and I see them cheering wildly at the end.  Rosen has that uplifting feeling in mind with the following common-sense tips.

3. Be flexible- Go with the flow and embrace change

4. Be likeable– Rosen says likeability is actually good for your health! It increases our self esteem which in turn lowers our stress levels!

5. Be real- Be honest and ethical and show credibility

6. Be a good communicator- Show humility

7. Be interested in others-Remember to turn the conversation back to your customer and CHEER!

This book is a quick read and I highly recommend it for anyone in the service business. Let me know which one of these tips resonates with you as you appreciate your customers.




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create_something_remarkableMarketing guru Seth Godin likes to talk about being remarkable. He loves to show purple cows and the value of standing out from the crowd. I’ve found that in today’s social media world you don’t have to be as outlandish as a purple cow. You just need to differentiate from the pack.

As a PR person I recently needed the assistance of a major wire service. For several months now Jon Stephenson of Marketwire has kept in touch with me. He followed me from my last job at a tech firm into my new world of PR entrepreneurship. He was a salesman who had sold me nothing but had kept in touch occasionally for more than a year. Then it was time for me to use a wire service. At first I turned to the “tried and true” standard; The Big-Kid-on-the-Block whom I had used several times before in my previous job. But a few things happened. When I called the Big Kid their account rep. continually interrupted me on the phone. Then their news department told me I couldn’t run the release the way my client wanted it.  In frustration I turned back to Jon. And somewhere in the course of all this Jon subtly and quietly began following me on twitter.  It was a deal clincher. It was today’s equivalent of showing up at Starbucks at 10:30 because you know your client often goes there. He reached out to me in the place I like to frequent and he was providing useful PR information to his followers.

Jon stood out in a field of brown cows for just  being himself.  He didn’t argue with me, he didn’t interrupt me and working with his L.A.-based newsroom editor was a delight. Did Marketwire get my business? Yes. Was my client pleased with the work? Yes. Will I use Jon’s company again? Definitely!  Perhaps Seth would call this a purple cow story. I just call it old fashioned customer service in a new, social media world.

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Why should people care about social media? Allow me to introduce you to three real people whose stories bring social media marketing to life.

1- Making Money: Meet LauraVPG_Printing[1]

People are growing their businesses using social media.  Take Laura, the printer I met on twitter as an example. She runs VPG Printing in San Diego and she is both a printer and a graphic designer. Laura tells me that she gets 1 to 2 new customers per week (including me) through actively working her social media channels and connections. Her “USP” is that she provides excellent customer service and the warm “human” touch to all of her customers and she makes a point to thank people. She also has excellent quality work and charges a reasonable price. Through the relationships she forms using social media, Laura is building her business, one customer at a time

2-  Turning Negatives into Positives: Meet EricKetzer[1]

Eric the Charter Man makes a living rebuilding a brand. Eric tweets under the name UMatter2Charter from his office in St. Louis. Since February when he started reaching out to customers through twitter, online forums and discussion groups, he has seen Charter’s negative comments move to the positive column in significant numbers. (One of his success metrics is number of positive posts about his company.) Furthermore he’s added three more communications specialists to his staff in order to keep up with all of the social media work. Eric is using Social Media  to recreate the Charter brand, one customer at a time.

3- Finding a Job: Meet Allisonallisonstewartweb[1]

In this economy people are reaching out to old friends and making new ones in order to expand their job networks. Allison, one of my former MBA school colleagues, connected with me on LinkedIn right about the time I became aware of a marketing position opening at a local tech firm. Allison had all the right credentials and she’s now been happily on the job for a year. Using social media she reached out to her school colleagues, one friend at a time.

Three real stories from three real people who are thriving using the new social media marketing model. What’s your story? How have you successfully used Social Media Marketing?

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