An Uber Lesson in Customer Service

It seems all too often that the world of technology has numbed us to a point where weak customer service is expected, bad is tolerated, and horrible gets an angry tweet.  Too many parts of the process have been automated.  Too many steps have been added to keep you from getting where you need to go for the help you need.  Too many people who don’t have a vested interest in making happy customers end up on the other end of the line with the understandably annoyed ones.  It’s all too much, but customer service can and does live on even in the most technologically based companies.

I present to you UBER – “Everyone’s Personal Driver.”  Since its inception Uber has made customer service a priority and they deliver in a big way.  Two personal anecdotes:

  1. Mid winter I left one glove in my ride – After one email the Boston Community Manager was on the case.  My glove was delivered back to me personally by the drive who took me home that night.
  2. Recently Uber noticed I had some difficulty using the service.  They proactively got in touch with me, apologized and offered a credit for the trouble. Unbelievable.

I know many other people have had just the same experiences, and anyone who has ridden with them knows this personality flows down to each and every driver.  Top to bottom this company takes care of it’s users.

Now these are nice heartwarming stories, but what does it amount to?  Where is the bottom line?  We’re in an age of amplification – good or bad.  Uber has me willing to sit down ad write this piece praising their work.  They have my friends and my loyalty to their service, and most of all they have us all recommending them to anyone who will listen.  This is something a commercial or billboard could never do.  Even more than this they are building a fortress that cannot be knocked off by another app/company in 6 months.  Talk about a barrier to entry.

Cheers and much success to you Uber!

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What is Your EST?

It’s one of the most important question in business (maybe life) – What is your EST?  Sadly, it seems to be the most overlooked question as well.  It’s not because you don’t know what EST is – you were born knowing.  It’s because too many people think it’s implied so they never ask themselves.  EST is not a fancy new acronym; it’s more of a suffix.  What are you bEST at?  Are you the fastEST, smartEST, cheapEST, kindEST, longEST lasting?

The first question a business owner should ask is, What do I do?  This should be immediately followed by what makes me different?  Why would someone choose to give me their money?  Why will my business survive?  In other words, what is my EST?

You can’t skip this critical step in building a brand because it’s going to be your Inception Top grounding you with purpose when reality seems to spin around you.  It’s something you can go back to when making important decisions, and when you stick to it you will see the results pay off in your brand.  You answer this question at the beginning and you need to believe in your own answer.  When this question goes unanswered it leads to a lack of focus and compromised brand value.

This applies to your personal brand in life as well.  Take a second to think about your career direction, your love life, your part in the community.  Have you defined and embraced who you are?  Have you set goals for who you want to be?  Have you figured out your EST?  Once you start answering these questions you’ll find your life progress at a new rate.  It’s just like the career counselors tell you, you have to market yourself and this is one of the most basic principles to start with.

Of course this can evolve through time.  The world does not stand still and neither should you.  Whether in your life or your business it’s a good idea to sit down from time to time evaluate where you are, where you want to be and what it takes to get there.  That’s where your EST comes from.

What Is The First Question?

What is the first question to ask in Marketing?  Whether you are marketing a company or marketing your personal brand, I believe the first question is What am I?  What is my product?  What is my service?  What industry am I in?  These all define what you are and it will make a big difference in progressing forward.  I know it sounds obvious, but if someone asked you on the street who you are or what your company does, could you answer in a sentence or two?  If not, then it’s time to sit down and take a second to define yourself.

Once this is clearly defined you will find future decisions and efforts start becoming easier.  You can always ask Does this fit who I am?  It’s a quick and easy dividing line in the decision process before you proceed to the next steps and I think you will find it invaluable.

Strike Oil – Or at Least Cook With It

It always makes me happy to see a business hit every detail just right.  I’m not talking inventing something shiny, making McDuck Money, or crushing the competition.  I’m simply talking about conceiving a vision, believing in the vision, executing the vision, and most importantly, doing it so well that the casual visitor can interpret your vision at each touch point.

This is what I see in a fledgling company called Oliovera.  Oliovera is a small company out of California started by two sisters (Milena and Desi) setting out to share with the world a joy of their childhood, proper food.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil is hardly a new business but Milena and Desi step in at a time where it is seriously trending in the US and has a lot of growth potential for years to come.  Shops are springing up in cities everywhere with the sole purposes of selling quality EVOO and hosting wine style tasting of their wares.  That’s just good decision one, and something any analytic person could easily conclude.

What I really love about Oliovera is the passion and attention to detail, which gets back to my original point of consistently living your vision.  The sisters grew up with healthy, local, quality foods to the point where the word “organic” wasn’t a marketing term; it was just the way things were.  Now they battle to return to that simplicity in their product and business model.  Their passion pushes through in each aspect including a hand written note included with my order, and the reminder that they were giving back to the community with each purchase.  Even the elegantly designed bottles echo the simplicity of small town, natural living.

Now, no good write up could be done without trying some product so I ‘sacrificed’ and grabbed myself an 18 Year Balsamic and Roasted Garlic Olive Oil.  As I write this I can still smell the delicious scent of garlic in the air and taste the sweet finish of the balsamic.  I was more than surprised with just how much you can tell the difference from whatever you might pick up at the grocery store, and I just might be spoiled for life.

From their passion to your palette, Oliovera delivers a consistent message of quality, simplicity and wholesomeness that has become so rare in 2K11.  Its a truly genuine brand and product line that should see great success.

Check out their Twitter and their Facebook to catch up with a great new company.

Marriott Accidentally Sponsors the Infamous Marching Band Quitting Joey

For all of the great innovations we have seen in advertising in recent years the web lacks one important aspect.. common sense.  To be fair, Humans don’t always rock at that one either, but I have to imagine they would spot what is wrong with this pciture.

Internet sensation Joey made a viral smash lately by quitting his job at the Residence Marriott in Rhode Island by hand delivering a resignation, backed up by a marching band.  He made several news and radio stations and brought quite a few laughs to me included.

But the greatest laugh of all is when I watched the report on CNN.Com which was sponsored by none other than…. RESIDENCE MARRIOTT!  That’s a marketing WTF if I ever say one.

I understand how these ads are distributed and you often get funny results, but perhaps brand managers should reconsider this approach when they find themselves sponsoring the man who made a mockery of them.  I don’t even need a clever analogy to show how ridiculous this is.