The rise of the Internet has made good, fast customer service a necessity.
The majority of those who own businesses understand that the biggest mistake that they are able to make is disregard their customers as it can result in very negative results. Just take, for instance, the author’s case back in 2005 when he had gotten a Dell laptop. Unhappy with the customer service that he had received when he had called in for a support request, the author ended up posting a rant on his blog about what had happened. Not long after, a lot of other unhappy customers began adding to it and his post ended up becoming one of the top Google searches for Dell. With time, Dell’s positioning got worse. This type of situation is just where unsatisfied customers can put a big dent to a brand.
Dell thought that its customers only provided feedback on their own site and on their terms, but they ended up finding out that customers were talking amongst each other on another platform and on terms of their own.
Later on, the author ended up sending an open letter of advice to Dell, outlining how losing one customer today can have a huge impact in the long run as that customer will most likely tell all of their friends about their bad experience, too. The thing is, today, one customer can have many friends as the world is so connected.
As a result, companies don’t have a single place to hide; each mistake is made public right away on the Internet. Therefore, if you left a customer on hold for too long, you should expect to find public, unsatisfied rants about it on the Internet within a moment's time.
So, if you are the running a business, what is it that you can do?
It’s key that you make sure that you offer great and quick customer service since this can keep damages from occurring and it can fix damages, too. Have conversations with unhappy customers and attempt to figure out and solve their issues. Don’t forget that a customer bought your item because they want to like it. If you are able to solve their issue, they’ll most likely tell everyone else about your good service.
In addition, read the blogs that your customers write in and discuss your items. This will allow you stay tuned to what it is that your customers think about your item without the need to spend a lot of money on consumer research. Afterward, you’ll find even more ways that you can involve them into your company.
Involve your customers in making and marketing your products.
Ask, “Who cares the most about a business’s items?” Of course it’s the customers. As a result, businesses keep trying to involve their customers into the creation process of their items.
Businesses used to think that they’ve got a competitive advantage and that they should keep their plans entirely secret. Today, though, being open and interacting with customers is what makes that competitive advantage. For instance, by blogging out into the open about their plans, they can get invaluable feedback and new thoughts from their customers.
When Michael Dell, the founder of Dell, had realized this opportunity, he said, “I’m sure there’s a lot of things that I can’t even imagine but our customers can imagine.” As a result Dell had released IdeaStorm in 2007, which was a site where customers could make contributions of their ideas to Dell. One of the ideas that had actually ended up being implemented was the one that helped Linux computers rise to prominence.
Indeed, almost each new service that Google provides is in beta form at first; this means that it’s an experimental item that customers can try out and offer feedback on which helps Google enhance it.
Another place that businesses can benefit from interacting with customers is in marketing. Satisfied customers readily advertise and suggest items that they’re happy with to their friends. If you want proof, don’t look any further than Google as it had become the fasted growing business in history mainly by word of mouth instead of marketing.
As you’ll learn later, word of mouth also means that you need to be completely honest with your customers.
To succeed today, companies must communicate honestly and admit mistakes openly.
Not too long ago, businesses had been so consumed by the secrecy surrounding their items, especially when it comes to their mistakes.
Today, not only can businesses not afford to lie, but neither can anyone else in the public eye.
Take, for instance, this example from the media world. The journalist Dan Rather, back in 2004, had presented military documents that were crucial to the military service of President George W. Bush. Bloggers had doubted how real it was and with time, one of them ended up proving it. Instead of deciding to admit to it right away, they decided to ignore the comment storm that was forming for eleven days and then they disregarded the critics as they claimed that they were politically motivated. This caused even more criticism to arise since today’s post-media generation has been brought up on both honesty and directness. As a result, they expect others to tell the truth, too.
Therefore, how should businesses act in this new open and clear world? They’ve got to be honest.
If you are running a business, make sure that you admit to your mistakes out into the open since this will boost your credibility. For instance, bloggers had let Reuters in 2006 know that one of its photographers had doctored a photo of Beirut during Israeli bombardments. As a result, Reuters got rid of the photo, fired the person who took the photo, and thanked the bloggers. This is the right way to deal with issues.
That being said, on the flip side of the coin, you want to make sure that you only do the things that you wouldn’t mind admitting to the public about. Google’s motto, for instance, states, “Don’t be evil.” For Google, that means that they offer unbiased search results that clearly show whenever they’re advertising something.
In the transparent world that we live in today, whatever benefits that you could get from doing something wrong will outweigh the costs as soon as word spreads. Don’t forget that anything that you say and do can be found with ease on Google. Indeed, you could look at Google as the angel on your shoulder, letting you know how crucial it is for you to be honest.
Up next, we’ll outline how you can turn yourself into something more noteworthy on Google.
Make your site informative and Google-friendly to help many more people find it.
The backbone of any site is the traffic that it receives and the most crucial channel to receive visitors from is Google. People are always asking it questions and then from there, they find their way to the sites that are able to give them answers to them.
So, if you’re managing a site, how are you able to get more traffic?
First things first, your site needs to be incredibly informative as this is how you’ll gain the attention of those with questions. Indeed, you should attempt to have answers to every relevant question that you can think of.
For instance, people typically look for things such as
- Item details and support information on the websites of manufacturers’
- Both opinions and voting records on the websites of politicians’
- Nutritional information on the websites of companies’
In order to find out more about which answers you need to have on your website, take a look at the searches that bring people onto your site. They will let you know what people are actually looking for.
Take, for instance, About.com, which is a content service that features more than a million useful, narrowed, and often timeless articles that talk about niche topics; anything from car repair all the way to thyroid disease. This service is made up of 700 websites which are sustained via independent writers that are taught to create headlines, page titles, as well as keywords that way Google can find them with ease. Writers also track the queries that visitors utilize so that they can answer new questions in a preemptive manner.
Yet another way that you can boost more traffic to your site is to make it more Google-friendly by boosting your PageRank, which is also known as drinking “Googlejuice”. People often call it magic as this virtuous-cycle-inducing elixir sends a lot of traffic your way, boosting the number of clicks, links, as well as the amount of mentions that you get. This helps boost your Page Rank even higher.
So, how do you actually make your website more Google-friendly? Make sure that the information on your site is presented in an easy and understandable way for your customers as well as for Google’s computers. Therefore, the message can’t be misinterpreted or misunderstood. There’s no need for fancy gimmicks such as animations or sounds as, anyways, they annoy the majority of people let alone the fact that Google won’t recognize it.
Up next, you’ll learn how the Internet has entirely altered the way that media works.
Links between web pages have changed the structure of media: they drive specialization, quality and cooperation.
With it, the Internet has brought some serious alterations to the media landscape. Since pages of various sites are now able to be linked to one another, the way media works has been completely altered and is now more collaborative and information in the way that it works.
For instance, take the author’s experiences back on 9/11. The first plane had hit when he had been close to the World Trade Center which is why he could talk to the survivors there. Later on, he had used those notes to begin a blog about that experience. Los Angeles bloggers had read what he wrote and then wrote about it in their blogs, linking it back to them. He responded in return, linking back to them.
That new form of media allows anyone to speak their mind while allowing everyone else to listen and contribute to the conversation. Those types of distributed conversations that occurred in various places in various times have been made possible thanks to being able to link both pages and information online.
This ability for content to be linked online is also what helps push specialization. For instance, in the time of print media, journalists were supposed to have background paragraphs in their stories that way the readers would know what happened thus far. Today, though, they just have to add links to articles prior. In addition, they don’t have to have specialist reporters on niche topics such as golf since they only need to link to other websites, resulting in better and less expensive coverage. Those factors let newspapers both specialize and focus on what they are good at.
This specialization helps push a lot more collaboration and boosts quality since people can pay attention to what it is that they do well while they allow others to “fill in the blanks” with whatever it is that they do well.
Companies need to take a page from this book by focusing on what they do best and then link the rest of it. For instance, for those customers that are looking for product information, retailers need to link to the manufacturer, and the manufacturer should link to forums and blogs where customers are talking about their items.
Figure out which companies are the most successful online in the next section.
The way to build a business in the Internet age is to join a network or provide a platform for others to build networks on.
With the growth of the Internet, both people and businesses are now able to collaborate and create networks in a remarkable way. Savvy businesses and people are able to benefit from this.
Founding that type of network can be quite profitable as each person will add to the network, bringing it more value. In the same way, becoming a part of a network is beneficial as each member is able to benefit from that type of collaboration. Therefore, the greater the network, the more valuable it ends up being.
Glam is one example of that type of network, which comprises of 600 independent websites that cover women’s fashion, health, stars, and many more. It has turned into an incredibly popular network of curated information and advertising. In fact, they’ve got more than 81 million users around the globe.
The websites that become a part of Glam gain importance since the network is very selective. This causes traffic to increase as those sites that are in the Glam network send users to other sites on the network, which multiplies the effect. This is beneficial to Glam as they sell advertisements on these websites. They are able to charge a premium since advertisers understand that their ads will show up in high-quality places.
Yet another effective way to create an online site today is to offer a platform that others can work on. An effective platform lets users make their own items, businesses, communities, as well as networks over the platform.
Google Maps is a good instance of this. Once they had come out, the service was so useful to users that the old-school mentality would’ve guided Google in the direction of simply holding onto its own site as well as taking control of it. However, Google lets other sites embed Google Maps onto their pages, even allowing apps to be created based on it. For instance, one coder had created a new app that put together Craiglist ads and Google maps. Instead of suing him for utilizing and changing their items in an unauthorized way, Google ended up hiring him.
Since companies can use the platform with ease, they’ve really become invested in it, which makes it hard for both Microsoft or Yahoo to draw them away. Google Maps has turned into the standard when it comes to map services and local data.
Up next, learn why niche markets are expanding.
The age of big companies selling to the mass market is over; small specialized companies are on the rise.
Selling items to the mass market was once looked up to as the pinnacle of success for any business as they were going after everyone in any location.
Today, however, selling to the mass market just isn’t an option anymore. The copious amount of various customizable items on the Internet lets each person find the items that they’d like instead of just sticking with the generic ones. There isn’t a mass market anymore, but rather there is simply an infinite amount of little market niches. As a result, you need to make sure your resources are focused on catering to your niche well instead of serving everyone in a poor manner.
A consequence of this is that little businesses are taking the previous dominant positioning of large businesses.
Of course, large businesses are still here and doing well. In fact, Walmart is the greatest business on the planet, media businesses are turning into big conglomerates, and even Google is a behemoth along with other businesses. However, little businesses are also on the move to the top.
Take, for instance, how in 2007, little stores had sold $60 billion worth of items through eBay. Although that’s still nothing in comparison to Walmart’s $345 billion turnover, it is more than Federated, which is America’s biggest department store chain; they only sold $26 billion worth in items.
Another instance is the increase in the rise of blogs. Back in 2006, blogs already had 57 million readers in total, while only 50 million were purchasing daily newspapers only a couple of years later.
Small businesses are on the rise as today as it’s much simpler for little companies to succeed than it had been for bigger ones before. You don’t need a store anymore, inventory, staff, and advertising in order to be in retail. All you need is to find customers on eBay, Amazon, as well as Google. Without those costs, profits can add up at an alarmingly quick page.
Up next, were you aware of the fact that lots of businesses are in the knowledge business, even if it doesn’t seem like it?