Archive for Next-Gen Customer Service


Clienteling Not “Client Telling” !

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The latest buzz word in retail is “Clienteling“.  This is where stores are getting their sales associates to proactively communicate with previous customers to inform them of news.  From a customer’s perspective, this means that you will soon be getting “cold calls” from MANY stores in the very near future !!  I’m sure that some stores will do clienteling correctly, but most stores will do client telling.

Here is my definition of the two terms:

Clienteling:  The act of contacting a customer for the purpose of mutual benefit. (two way)

Client Telling: The act of contacting customers to TELL them about irrelevant and trivial info. (one way)

So how should REAL retail clienteling be done correctly ?

1) An honest introduction to the concept – Sales associates need to be honest and inform the customer that their role is being expanded so that they can contact customers directly (if the customer agrees).

2) An introduction to the sales associate -  The sales associate needs to communicate exactly who they are and why they are worthy of being a “point of contact”.  A picture, a short career bio, and some insight into the sales associate’s expertise and personality will make a huge difference when building a relationship.

3) A written statement of benefits – Give the customer an itemized list of the benefits that they would get by participating.   If they are NOT convinced of these benefits in the early stages of communications, they will always view these contacts as annoying.

4) A formal opt-in process – The customer should fill in a form with their preferred method of contact (email, text, phone), and their personal interests (sales, new product introductions, events, etc), and any other requests regarding the associate-customer relationship.

In conclusion, I recommend that EVERY sales associate needs to have their own personal flyer that contains the four elements above.  This is how one starts a professional two-way relationship.

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Mobile Phones Influence Gravity

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OK… bear with me here…  this might get a bit technical, but I think I can explain this in a way so everyone can understand what GRAVITY and MOBILE PHONES have to do with each other !

When a store owner is looking to open a retail store in a particular geographic region, they perform an analysis on the surrounding shopping options to determine how many shoppers will potentially visit the proposed location.  They use a formula called the “GRAVITY MODEL** which calculates the size of the retail area around a specific location based on a comparison of shopping alternatives, driving distance, and population size and demographics.   This analysis identifies a “ring” around any given location where potential shoppers reach their “breaking point” (BP) and make a decision to go to store B instead of store A !

For this example, lets assume that one is evaluating a retail location in a densely populated city with evenly distributed customer demographics.   In this case,  the main factors that get plugged into the “Gravity Model” equation will be:

- Competitors Strength – A popular brand competitor or a larger grouping of stores exert more “pull” and gets consumers to visit from a greater distance.

- Distance to walk / drive – If everything was equal, a consumer will tend to visit the store that is closest.

- Product Offering & Price – Each product type generates it’s own “gravity ring” showing the number of potential buyers in each product category.


Well…   one thing that is NOT mentioned in the existing gravity equation but should be are MOBILE SALES, MARKETING, and SUPPORT APPS.  These APPs are able to put influential store services in the palm of your hand.   This is a strong factor when comparing the attractiveness of “store A” vs “store B”.   Consumers will shop at a store that is further away if it offers superior OUT-OF-HOME services such as better product information, greater convenience, relevant discounts, personalized solutions, and reduced time spent on non-essential tasks.

In my example city (densely populated), it is easy to imagine that adding mobile services might make your “circle of potential customers” grow from 1/2 MILE to 1 MILE.  Calculating the increased area of these circles results in a 400% increase in potential customers !   That is an extremely powerful opportunity for ANY business to increase their revenue.  So…  I rest my case… Mobile phones really do influence gravity (and have a great ROI ).

** The Law of Retail Gravitation, William J Reilly

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I was reading a study by “Marketing Sherpa“  which gives a lot of details about how Businesses are using new media technologies such as blogs, social networks, multimedia, and more.  Since GeoHelp uses a Real-time Business/Customer microblog, it jumped out at me that they found that microblogging was judged as “most effective for the least effort” new media technology for businesses… very interesting !

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Benefits of Business Engagement

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What are the Benefits of Social Engagement for Customer Service ?

  • BRANDING – establish expertise and build awareness of what your business does.
  • EXPOSURE – communicate with existing customers and expand your customer base
  • SPREAD NEWS - Tell about new product deliveries, new sales initiatives, etc using less time and less money than traditional media.
  • PROMOTE ALL TOUCH POINTS – drive traffic to all media initiatives (newspaper ads, blogs, web site, flyers, etc).
  • PROVIDE FAST SUPPORT – answer customers questions instantly
  • MARKET RESEARCH – get instant feedback from your customers.
  • EMPLOYEE or TEAM COMMUNICATIONS – enable communications between employees or between project teams.
  • BUILD LOCAL PARTNERSHIPS – both learn from and teach your fellow business owners.  Identify co-op opportunities.

2du’s GeoHelp Platform lets you use leverage these benefits, and these apply to ALL TYPES of businesses including manufacturers, retailers, non-profits, religious organizations, and many more !

Please click here to see an example. 

Click here to read more about our GeoHelp Platform.

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By adding a GeoHelp Community to your website, you can have FULL CONTROL of your brand, the ability to capture leads, promote customer loyalty, offer superior service and capture valuable customer data to a hosted SQL database.  Here is an example of a customized GeoHelp by 2du® Help Community that is added to an existing website:










LOYALTY features include:

  • POINTS for participating in the conversation !
  • CUSTOMERS get their own PORTAL
  • REWARDS can be given INSTANTLY to conversation participants
  • DELIVERY method is chosen by the consumer (Mobile, Email, Portal)
  • Customer inquiries can be initiated via MOBILE SMS
  • Individualized or group promotion targeting
  • REDEMPTION tracking using linear & QR Mobile barcodes
  • LOCATION, mobile position statistics

This combination of features is bundled in a very easy to understand consumer and admin interface that makes it FUN for everyone involved !  Social engagement + loyalty rewards is a WIN-WIN !

Click here to see the example above.
Click here to see the GeoHelp Portal
Click here to see the GeoHelp ADMIN portal.

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Remember the days when retailers knew their customer’s names and preferences when they walked in the door ?  Well… neither do I !!  I think I’ve seen this on an old “GUNSMOKE” rerun !

For many centuries now, retail marketers have been directing their messaging towards broad categories of customers (mass marketing). This is now changing due to the application of technology into the retail space.   Recording of purchase history and identifying buyer behavior is common now-a-days, but REAL change is just starting to happen… mass marketing is changing to personal marketing.


Put yourself in the shoes of a business owner…  you don’t want to take advantage of anyone, you just want to make a living…  a completely normal urge to provide value to customers AND feed your family (ok build your business) !  How would you do that with the least amount of pain ????    In short, the least expensive and most effective way to build a business is to influence customers at the EXACT time that they are making a purchase decision.    So how do you do this ?

Personal marketing means offering customers RELEVANT information and RELEVANT offers.  Relevancy requires knowledge.  You need to know about your customers’ interests and preferences… this is worth money because it lets you stop doing “shotgun” advertising.  You can tailor your offers to match the needs of individuals ! This is the concept of the GeoHelp Platform.  2du creates a WIN-WIN system so businesses get relevant information and customers save money.

The chart used here is from: NextGen of Merchandising and Marketing – Customer Insights at the Point of Decision  – An ebook written by DemandTec and downloadable from

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We will soon be launching our  GeoHelp platform which has many state-of-the-art features.  Customers can use our iphone app to ask “How late are you guys open today?”, or “Do you carry Gucci sunglasses?”, or “I bought some paint from your store last year… how can I match the color when I buy more?”  Businesses answer these questions using their own iphone app or via a simple SaaS support screen.  This IMMEDIATE gratification makes for happy customers !

Now that a “conversation” has been started, why not send something special to that customer so they come to your store ?  GeoHelp lets you instantly select from premade messages and send these to one or many customers in less than 30 seconds !  We call these messages “Super Messages” because they contain over 25 pieces of information including a YouTube video, QR code for redemption, links to all social media, and much more.

GeoHelp includes the following features which a business accesses on the GeoHelpAdmin web site:

  • GeoRewards - automatically send incentives to customers when they are close
  • Mobile Chat - offer VIP service and be “top of mind” when customers have questions
  • Instant Mobile Messages – send a mobile video message to any customer in 30 seconds
  • GeoMap- make your business stand out on our location-based business map
  • Instant Promotion campaigns - send mass mailing with powerful targeting filters
  • Build your database – easily add notes and details to customer files
  • No POS redeem system - the GeoHelp redemption system does not require POS integration
  • Verify your ROI – track customer behavior from initial contact to in-store purchasing

So, hopefully, you agree that…  location-based customer service has arrived !

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The 2du team has concluded that we need to not just offer online new media tools, but we should also offer a FULL-SERVICE option to our GeoHelp Platform (i.e. REAL people who help you !).    The challenge here is that when Microblogging is used as a Sales & Support tool, it is similar to the telephone from the standpoint of  immediacy…  if a customer asks a question on your microblog and no one answers… then that is a BAD THING for your business !

So who is going to be answering these messages ?  Some companies will have “new media savvy” employees, but most will not…  so 2du has decided to offer a relatively inexpensive service where people with customer relationship skills act as your “Social Help Specialists”.  Now, typically… your Help Community will not be getting a huge number of posts all of the time, so this specialist will be “on call” to answer your microblog in the same way a 3rd party “answering service” helps with your phone calls.  This Microblog Answering Service will be offered at a price level where it is less expensive than hiring your own employee AND we will be training your specialist to be a DISCUSSION person and not just an ANSWER person !

Discussions about your products and services adds interest and value to your business, and brings customers to your store or venue !  So here are some of the skills or characteristics that a Social Help Specialist should have:

  • Answer in a timely manner
  • Welcoming and friendly
  • Conversational personality (here to “help” and not “sell”)
  • Honesty about their role and knowledge level
  • Ability to broaden topics which initiate discussion
  • Respect customers as important neighbors
  • Communicate the WIN-WIN relationship
  • Clearly define any issues and the path to a solution
  • Identify and contact appropriate colleagues when necessary
  • Manage and follow up on the status of longer term issues
  • Accurately report new media status to upper management

If you are interested in more info, please go to our web site ( GeoHelp Admin ). NOTE: contact us at if you are an independant contractor who would like to be one of our microblogging specialists.

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GeoHelp for Sales, Support and Branding

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The GeoHelp platform is undergoing final testing ! This system features a Help community for ALL participating BUSINESSES so they have their own “Mobile Support” page.  Here is an example:

Anyone can view and READ this interactive dialogue happening between each business and interested followers. When you join GeoHelp (, then you can participate in the discussions online or using your mobile phone. Use this medium to 1) ask sales or support questions, or 2) find out about the latest news, or 3) to discuss relevant topics around this company’s products or services !

GeoHelp is a completely unique social networking concept: A verified user environment where participants (customers) are anonymous, yet businesses get maximum non-identifiable demographic information about customers who specifically REQUEST a dialogue with them. This concept allows businesses to customize their sales and support efforts to be more relevant to individual customers interests. This system enables businesses and consumers to have a much more personal dialogue !

Customer preferences are the TOP priority - The GeoHelp platform ( ) puts the customer in charge of the business/customer relationship. Who to contact, when to contact, and how much contact one desires are all issues that THE CUSTOMER controls.  Click here to see: Business selector or Mobile settings.

Privacy & Security are a priorityGeoHelp consumers are anonymous to businesses, (but “known” to 2du) because everyone’s contact information is VERIFIED to protect against fraud and enable the ability to blacklist a troublemaker, an optional PIN code can be used in SMS text messages to protect against identity theft, no 3rd party URL shortening is used to protect against links to malware, and much more !

Real-time Messaging- Imagine a restaurant that is having a slow night so the owner takes out his mobile phone and creates the following message on their microblog; “2 for 1 on all entrees for the next 3 hours” . This message is automatically sent to ALL opt-in members who “follow” this restaurants microblog (via web, email, RSS, or mobile texting). I think this example says it all… the power of real-time messaging will revolutionize many business sectors !!

Microblog admin tools are a priority – Businesses get multiple support tools which send notificationswhen new microblog posts are received, demographic data for each participating member is easily viewed, posts can be labelled with priority levels and issue status(answered/being investigated/unanswered), your microblog integrates easily to Google Analytics, customer historical data and sales/support notes are available together with each post, and much more !

BRANDING is a priority - GeoHelp communities let businesses have a “personality“, participating tells customers that your business brand is CUSTOMER-DRIVEN, GeoHelp has security features that keep your brand away from spam and malware, GeoHelp has features which encourage honesty and accountability, GeoHelp compliments all of your other marketing vehicles (web sites,blogs,social networking sites, etc), and GeoHelp lets you communicate ONE-ON-ONE in REAL-TIME so you can “WOW” them every day !

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High-Touch Customer Service Using New Media

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Everyone makes mistakes…  what REALLY matters is how you react when it happens.

Remember the FIASCO when Toyota announced that the brakes in their cars didn’t always work?  These types of problems highlight the need for a NEW WAY of doing business communications.  I am an avid fan of using NEW MEDIA TOOLS to offer personalized help, so lets look at the communications challenges that Toyota was facing:

1) customers had general questions (What is the problem?, Why did this happen?, What will be done?)
customer had specific questions (Is my car model one of the ones at risk?, where do I go to get it fixed?)
3) customers and local Toyota dealerships needed to arrange appointments for all of these service visits
4) Toyota service personnel needed to explain repair details of each car model to each individual owner
5) Local dealerships needed to explain the safety risks of waiting for your repair (or lack of risk?)
6) Local dealerships needed to keep customers informed of the status of this repair challenge (where are you “in line” ?)
7) Dealerships needed to show their customers that they are customer advocates when it comes to safety.

In the past, ALL of this communications between Toyota customers and local Toyota dealerships would be done by telephone… ONE customer at a time.  A purpose-built PUBLIC social media solution (like GEOHELP) would have been a much better solution.

EVERY Toyota dealership in America would have their own LOCAL Help Community where local customers and Toyota representatives could discuss the situation in a way that is much more PERSONAL and RELEVANT to their customers.  YES…  1,200 unique GeoHelp customer service communities can be activated in less than an HOUR to immediately create a communications channel between every dealership and their customers ! 

Customers could ask (or read) general discussions about these issues in the evening as well as during normal office hours.  PRIVATE questions could be sent to the dealership such as “This is Sally Smith with the 2006 red Prius, I was going to go on vacation next week and I’m concerned that I might need new tires as well.  Can you look at my brakes and tires on Monday for me?”.   This is what PERSONAL service is all about.  I’ll bet that if Toyota took advantage of these next generation customer support tools that they could have turned this massive recall into a POSITIVE experience for their brand so customers forget the initial problem, and remember your RESPONSE to the problem!   


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