Customer Service, Marketing 101

How does a Spa website transaction become so very stressful?

UPDATE: Four days after $2,000 was taken out of my account, Spafinder.com was able to return the funds, and I was able to get any overdraft protection fees refunded. They offered me a 20% off coupon, but my intention was to just get my money back. I will deal directly with any spa in the future.

Dear Spafinder:

I sent you an email on Friday but wanted to follow up. After unsuccessfully attempting to purchase a $350 gift certificate on Friday due to an error message after each attempt with those encouraging words of “try again” in the message, I contacted your Customer Service department twice. The first time, the female told me to include my middle initial. So I did. The same error “Your card was declined. Please check your number, blah. blah. blah.” After several more attempts, I contact my bank, thinking it was an error on their part. They indicated at that time that there were $2,000 in charges pending on my account from you folks. As you can imagine, I was outraged, not too many people have an extra $2,000 laying around in case an e-commerce company’s process fails so completely and utterly.

Wells Fargo suggested I put in a fraud claim, which I did immediately. This did not, however, prevent the charges from hitting my account and causing an overdraft over the weekend. I know that Wells Fargo will reverse the charges because they understand excellent customer service. It’s Spafinder that I want to address.

When I contacted your call center again, after speaking to my bank, I spoke to a male with a completely nonchalant attitude toward the entire complaint. He said that the money was just being held and would release later that evening, which is clearly not the case. He also said I should try using a different credit card as your “website doesn’t like some credit cards”. Finally, he decided to try and look me up in you system. He could not find me with my email and didn’t bother asking for any other information to do a more thorough search. His response was “I don’t find you or any transactions”.

As someone who works in e-commerce and does everything from web content, customer service, product development, etc., I can tell you, first hand, this is not the way to handle a serious customer complaint. He should have been empowered to research the transactions and correct the problem, on the spot. Your Web folks need to be made aware of this issue ASAP. If your Authorize.net account gets many of these fraud complaints, they’ cancel your account. I could go on and on, but why am I concerned with what your issues are?

I want Spafinder to investigate this blatant error, fix their website and return all my funds, along with a promise to return any overdraft fees that were caused by this horrible event. I have been posting this on my blog Dear Spafinder.com: Why is it impossible to give you money (an open letter)? and will continue to do so until this is rectified.

Marketing 101, Social Butterfly

Video is the Yang to Social Media’s Yin with These Easy Apps!

First, a disclaimer. I am new to the video scene. These are observations and suggestions from what I’ve learned in my research so you won’t have to.

I think Adobe Premiere Pro is so much fun! I made my first, very short video today by cutting and combining two videos and, of course, here’s a link. I know, I know. I’m sorry I made you go and watch my cat claw at a pigeon, but isn’t he cute!

I think the most important lesson of the day was that, as amazing as Adobe Premier Pro is, it is quite a cumbersome piece of software for the casual user. It’s really something the “Pros” use to create incredibly slick ads, videos, etc.

The good news is, there are so many easy ‘shoot, upload and post’ apps with a ton of fun features. It will seriously take you about five minutes to shoot and upload a video–even a GIF. Now you can showcase your business, employees, products and more, often. And, “often” is the key word here.

VINE – I downloaded this app which works in conjunction with Twitter. You simply touch the screen to start recording and release to stop. The fun part is you can start and stop how every much your creative, little heart likes. All Vine Video’s are a mere six seconds but it’s incredible how much you can convey in six seconds. Download and play today. Lowe’s just launched a Vine campaign. Check it out.

GIFboom –  It’s an incredibly easy tool that makes creating GIF’s a cinch. If you don’t know what they are, here’s a link (I promise no cat). Can you see the possibilities in having fun demonstrating a product, feature, tool, etc.? These are even shorter than a Vine video. I mean, we’re talking frames here. But, download the app and play around. You will definitely have a good time.

Of course there is nothing like a YouTube video for longer  and meatier messages, but the world is moving faster and, with it, our information is coming at is a lightning speed. Grab on to your phone and embrace the new media. How will Vine and GIFboom make an impact with your message?

Marketing 101, SEO, Social Butterfly

Quick Read: You Should Make your LinkedIn Company Page a Priority. But, Why?

It breaks my heart every time I research a company and find nothing on LinkedIn; or I find a sad little sparse page with the company name, address and that’s about it. There aren’t any images or descriptions or products/services listed. It just about makes a marketer break down and cry. Why, you ask? Oh, don’t worry, I’m about to tell ya…

LinkedIn-company-page-Infographic-Image1. When future employees, customers, investors, vendors, creditors, shareholders; you name it, go looking for information about your company, they look on LinkedIn.

2. When Google, Bing, Yahoo, and so on go looking for information that future employees, customers, investors, vendors, creditors, shareholders type into that magical search field, LinkedIn is a crucially important link that COULD show up on results instead of your competition. SEO 101: the more results in a search with your name and website on them, the more traffic you’ll get.

LinkedIn is a necessity in today’s business environment. Get on the band wagon already and update/create that page. Here’s a great infographic that will help motivate. If you need help with your page, I’m here.

Oh, and upload a picture on YOUR profile page, too,  while you’re at it. We are all tired of seeing a shadowy outline when we run across your name. Not many of us like to do business with shadowy outlines.

Marketing 101, Social Butterfly

Building Relationships One Post or Tweet at a Time

Ahem…let me step up on my soapbox for just a moment. If you’re not utilizing resources for social media, the gap will only widen between you and customer engagement. I see proof each and everyday with clients that “don’t want to spend any time or money on something so silly.”

I have an example I always love to share. It was just after Hurricane Sandy. I jumped on Facebook to see what was up and saw that The Humane Society of the United States had set up shop in the depths of the destruction to help out. They had a post which included photos of their makeshift shelters and, most importantly, supplied a link to donate. I didn’t hesitate. I had already given funds to The Red Cross but didn’t want to miss an opportunity to help the four-legged victims.

A few months later, my cell phone rang and it was The Humane Society of the United States. It was the typical call center set up. I could hear other operators talking in the background which immediately turned me off. When the operator asked for a donation, I politely declined. At that moment, she said something snarky which made me mad.

This whole scenario got me thinking. Why did I jump at the subtle plea on Facebook and got miffed at the phone call? It’s simple. I am an intelligent and savvy consumer and giver (at least I want to think I am). When the “post” on Facebook showed up, I felt I was making the decision with no one pulling my strings. It empowered me and made me feel unique. I even “shared” the post with my 267 friends and I know, at least one of them gave too.

While the phone call made me feel intruded upon and like my Mom was calling and telling me what to do. I haven’t needed my Mom to order me around since I was 13 (okay maybe 22). The woman on the phone completely put me off and offended my intelligence and independence.

I let this be a lesson that I attempt to share with whomever will listen. It is an important one, I think. Digital has changed the consumer and we need to change with them or fail.