Sophisticated Guides for Sophisticated Consumers

The Next-Generation Retail Associate will be the cornerstone of personalized and unique shopping experiences.  They will be the ones wielding the mobile point of sale (POS) and information devices; and will be the face of the brand with the consumer.

“ They will be engaging individuals who are capable of building strong emotional connections with consumers, and they will be supported by technologies that will help them to achieve this.” – Doug Stephens @RetailProphet and author of The Retail Revival

This evolving new breed of associates will barely resemble those we have become used to (put up with) over the last two or three decades.  They will be computer and mobile savvy and have superior interpersonal skills. And the more languages they speak to accommodate the customer, the better.  Let’s take a glimpse into their technology-enabled world in the not-too-distant future …

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1)     Mobile-Device Enabled

The mobile device will be the most important tool for working in this new environment.

“Retailers surveyed for the 2013 RIS News Store Systems Study, released in August 2013, identified ‘mobile for associates’ as their top store system priority, chosen by 61% of respondents.” – Retail Info Systems (RIS)

2)     Access to In-Store Wi-Fi

If mobile devices are the embodiment of this new era of retail, in-store Wi-Fi is the behind-the-scenes magic that will make it possible. It will arm associates with:

  • Source: Operating Seamlessly: Integrating Operations to Deliver the Non-Stop Customer Experience, 2013 via @AccentureRetail
    Source: Operating Seamlessly: Integrating Operations to Deliver the Non-Stop Customer Experience, 2013 via @AccentureRetail

    Store and company-wide inventory

  • In-depth product specifications
  • Product reviews
  • Customer name, demographics, purchase history
  • Customer loyalty program information
  • Employee collaboration and social tools

3)     Workforce Management Solutions

These systems offer many sophisticated tools for managers and associates to plan, record and optimize their tasks, including:

  • Scheduling information
  • Recording time worked
  • Shift bidding (where associates can swap shifts with others according to guidelines)
  • Exchanging information with HR

4)     Superior Customer Service Capability

Armed with easy access to information about the customer standing right in front of them — and what the store can offer to them — the associate will be empowered to deliver excellent and personalized customer service:

  • Greet customer via mobile phone upon entering the store
  • Guide customers on how to leverage loyalty program perks
  • Answer customer in-depth questions about products and selection
  • Offer customers information on useful add-on or additional products
  • Check stock without leaving the customer
  • Order on-line for them and arrange delivery, if not in stock (“endless aisle” concept)
  • Complete transaction via mobile POS so customer doesn’t need to wait in line
Source RIS: Preparing Associates for a New Paradigm in Customer Service
Source RIS: Preparing Associates for a New Paradigm in Customer Service

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The challenge for brick-and-mortar retailers will be to find these people.

perlsThis will require rethinking the value of the associate to the organization. Better compensation and training will be needed to mold these associates into ambassadors for their brand.

“ Retailers seeking to prepare their associates for a new paradigm will need to start thinking of that workforce as skilled users of technology, and train them in managing and meeting customer expectations that continue to climb.” – Retail Information Systems

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Additional Information:

@LinaArseneault Retail Blog Roll:

Potpourri Food for Thought: 10 Business Lessons Learned

I’m not quite sure how I came across this presentation but I do remember that it was about 2 years ago, at an especially trying time in my career.

I know nothing about its author.  All I know is that the perspective it offers has a calming effect on me.  Every once in a while I pop it up on my screen and go through it.  It suggests that “Success hinges on teamwork, trust, ethics and a new lesson—lead by example. …”

10 Business Lessons Learned: A quick snapshot of important leadership lessons learned in business.

 

What do you keep around your office and how is it helpful to you?

 

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Turbo Charge Your Career Development Plan With IMU

Is it that time of year? Is your heart racing at the thought of having your performance evaluation and career development discussion?

Anemic Career Development Plan?

Whatever you call them; employee reviews evaluate our performance on the job. They often determine raises, promotions, and sometimes whether we get to keep our jobs. It’s no surprise that these “report cards” often make us feel uneasy.  Have you become a “human-doing” and neglected to invest in your development plan?

In any learning organization, continuous improvement means growth through learning events and experiences.  It can be applied to individuals and teams.  Cost and time need not be barriers to your continuous learning investment.

If you’re looking to sharpen your content marketing skills, consider Inbound Marketing University (IMU)

IMU is a free (yes, free! management will love you for it) educational program powered by HubSpot, a software company that helps marketers and small businesses grow their business online through inbound marketing.

IMU Online Training and Certification Course for Internet Marketing Professionals

Because IMU courses are self-paced, you can watch the videos whenever your schedule allows and you can download all the materials including videos, handouts and case studies. The sessions are moderated by the who’s who of content marketing. In total, there are 18 modules covering a wide range of topics from blogging basics to SEO tactics, inbound lead nurturing as well as social media for big business; to name only a few. The training curriculum concludes with a certification exam, where one can become an “Inbound Marketing Certified Professional” (providing you score 75% or higher on the online certification exam).

GF101 as in “get-found-101

The first course covers how to blog effectively for business.  It goes over the basics of blog layout and content. Ann Handley (MarketingProfs’ Chief Content Officer) and Mark Collier (Social Media Consultant) moderate this lead off session. The dynamic digital duo offers advice on how to draw in an audience and maintain quality engagement through feedback and interactions.

“Anything in life worth having is worth working for.” Andrew Carnegie

You’ll have to roll up your virtual sleeves to obtain the IMU certification.  Each module includes a homework assignment that helps you put into practice the learning of each session.  Specifically for GF101, you need to write about three best practices that you will adopt into your blogging strategy.

Fortunately for me, I’ve been blogging for a while. CaféLina is my virtual café where you’ll find tips, ideas, best practices, references and discussions on all things marketing, communications, digital, mobile and social. I’m always looking to improve the CaféLina reader experience (it’s a labor of love!)

Specifically, I want to get better in the following areas:

  1. Analytics: better understand the nuances in the data and plan out my editorial calendar accordingly
  2. Engagement: greater comment interaction on each post
  3. BlogRoll: develop an area where readers can easily find and reference resources they value (people, blogs, information)

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No more Excuses!

If leading edge marketing is your thing, build in a bit of time in your calendar over the course of the next few months and the next thing you know, you’ll obtain one of the industry’s hottest certification.  You’ll even be looking forward to your next performance evaluation and career development discussion

It’s up to us as individuals to make a commitment to our own development.

Considering the explosive evolution of technology and business processes, it’s not difficult to understand why leading organizations strongly encourage employee self-driven quest for knowledge.  These organizations understand that a culture of continuous learning is directly linked to competitiveness and business success. However, a company’s training department is seldom able to provide everything that employees need to be great at their jobs and prepare for the jobs of the future.  It’s up to us as individuals to make a commitment to our own development.

What’s in your development plan? (leave a comment below)

Additional Information:

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TV Talk Show Host Caught in Double Whammy Twitter Gaffe

Margaret Thatcher Is Not Dead …

TV Talk Show Host Caught in Double Whammy Twitter Gaffe

One of the key benefits of social media is that your messages can reach more people faster. But this also means that your mistakes can too.

A social gaffe can lead to an awkward situation and can be quite embarrassing especially if it’s as a result of your own actions.  Make sure you have your story straight – go social without the facts and you’ll have egg on your face.

Mario Dumont is a television personality and former Québec politician.  He was a member of the National Assembly of Québec from 1994 to 2009. He now hosts a daily news and talk show.  In May 2012, Mario Dumont wrongly twitted that Margaret Thatcher was dead, by tweeting the following message:

 R.I.P. Margaret Thatcher, a woman of vision and decisiveness. A rarity,

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Related Posts: 

OOPS : Best of Social Media Blunders and Recovering from a Social Media Gaffe

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The road to hell is often paved with good intentions

The same medium that made your mistake widely visible can help broadcast your apology.  Be up-front about the mistake you made and apologize.

Despite having the best of intentions, Monsieur Dumont faltered on many fronts:

  • He was deceived by a spoof Twitter account attributed to former French first lady Carla Bruni.  The fake-Bruni falsely announced the death of “Margareth Thatcher”, notice the misspelled first name with a “th” at the end of Margaret.

Key take-aways: beware of rumors, famous fakes and misspellings

  • He caused outrage since people took offence to him calling Margaret Thatcher a “rare” woman of vision and decisiveness.  This was interpreted as an unintended slight to women.

Key take-away: carefully word your tweets; it’s amazing how much trouble you can get into with as little as 140 characters

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7 Tips on How to Apologize in the Business World by Tom Searcy

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Apologies Galore

  • Monsieur Dumont retracted himself and issued an apology in which he explains being duped by the fake Bruni Twitter account.
“The news about Mrs. Thatcher — not a reliable source. News came from a fake Carla Bruni account. Sorry.”
  • LesNews, a French speaking Twitter feed that reports breaking news via social media also found itself apologizing for the gaffe.  They had reported based on Monsieur Dumont’s initial Thatcher tweet.

The resistance to apologizing does all sorts of bad things professionally.  The longer issues are left unaddressed, the deeper the resentment and the harder it is to move forward.

Unintended Benefits

  • In a follow up tweet, Monsieur Dumont said he was surprised by news reports about his mistake – and by the number of new Twitter followers he now has.

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You can run, but you can’t hide

Politwoops: deleted tweets from politicians

We all tweet things we don’t mean to share, but now – thanks to Politwoops – politicians have no way to hide them. The service allows you to discover tweets that politicians shared and then promptly deleted.

The original version of Politwoops was developed by the Open State Foundation of The Netherlands to follow the country’s members of parliament and town council representatives. The US version is operated by the Sunlight Foundation.

Several other international versions of the site exist though not operated by Sunlight.

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Don’t be an Autrich

… although sometimes you might want to.

Did you Tweet something, then change your mind? Don’t worry! It’s easy to delete one of your Twitter updates. Keep in mind that you can only delete tweets that you have made, you can’t delete other users’ tweets from your timeline and you can’t delete someone else’s retweet (RT) of your post.

How to delete one of your Tweets:

  1. Log in to twitter.com.
  2. Visit your Profile page.
  3. Locate the Tweet you want to delete.
  4. Hover your mouse over the message and click Delete.

Watch a YouTube video demonstration.

Facebook lets you edit your comments by Nancy Blair via USA Today

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Know when and how to apologize

Remember that despite your best efforts, mistakes happen at some point.  Be sure to have a plan to respond to both positive and negative events.  Apologizing opens up the doors to communication, which allows you to reconnect and move on more easily.  Apologizing doesn’t have to be difficult, and can come from a place of strength. Learn the art of apologizing effectively and you may find a significant reduction in the negative effects of highly charged situations.

When everyone can see what you’re doing, you need to act with transparency, honesty and credibility.  In doing so, you’ll avoid having eggs thrown at you.

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Related Posts

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The Ultimate Glossary: 120 Social Media Marketing Terms Explained via HubSpot

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Coping with Natural and Social Media Disasters

Apologizing doesn’t have to be difficult, and can come from a place of strength. Learn the art of apologizing effectively and you may find a significant reduction in the negative effects of highly charged situations.

On April 27-28 2011 hundreds of tornados spread destruction across the Southern, Midwestern and Northeastern United-States. The state of Alabama was especially hit hard on the day of the outbreak. April 27 2011 would turn out to be one of the worse tornado days in United States history with a record 205 tornadoes touching down that day.

Lina – skiing, North Lake Tahoe

I’m a big fan of Backcountry, I love to browse their site for skiing gear.  Friends often tease me that I should be awarded stock options in return for my enthusiastic endorsement of the company. Not a ski trip goes by when I don’t bring them up in conversation.

Founded in 1996, Backcountry is an online outdoor retailer that specializes in high-end outdoor recreation gear.  Backcountry.com was named the 2009 Backpacker Magazine/SNEWS Online Retailer of the Year and consistently makes the ranks of Internet Retailer Magazine’s Best of the Web Top 50 Retail Sites many times.

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Related posts: OOPS : Best of Social Media Blunders and Recovering from a Social Media Gaffe

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I plan my shopping and purchases based on the site deals.  More often than not, I am made aware of the deals by way of the regular emails I get from the company.  You can imagine my disbelief when the following appear in my inbox on April 27 2011:

“Mother Nature Hates You”: Backcountry email blast on April 28 2011, as hundreds of tornados spread destruction across the United-States.

A Tasteful Apology Arrives the Next Day

Backcountry Email Apology – April 28 2011

The apology by CEO Jay Layfield is timely, sincere and to the point.  The communication leads with the apology and also includes an explanation about the realities of email marketing.  Backcountry is up-front about the mistake. They are able to resolve this unfortunate issue and move forward while being sensitive to those affected by the devastating tornados.

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Apologies take the energy out of conflicts

Apologies separate time into past and future, problem and resolution

Apologies allow for recognition and shared accountability

Source:  7 Tips on How to Apologize in the Business World by Tom Searcy

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Related posts:

Blended Communications for Better Social Media Crisis Management 

Elton is Right:  Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word

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Examples of Timely Updates

Amazon cloud outage takes down Netflix, Instagram, Pinterest, & more

On July 29 2012, an outage of Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud in North Virginia took down Netflix, Pinterest, Instagram, and other services.  Amazon Inc.’s web services division provides web services and data storage facilities.  Netflix, Instagram and Pinterest used Twitter and Facebook to update subscribers after violent storms across the eastern U.S. caused server outages for hours.

Many Instagram’s users were searching for answers. “Instagram” was the top search term on Google on June 30th, according to Google Trends.

Read the full article via Sean Ludwig on Venture Beat

Related Articles:

Amazon Web Services Knocked Offline by Storms by Nick Bilton via New York Times

Amazon Cloud Goes Down Friday Night, Taking Netflix, Instagram And Pinterest With It by Anthony Wing Kosner via Forbes

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The art of communication is the language of leadership.   James Humes 

Apologizing Opens up the Doors to Communication

Apologizing doesn’t have to be difficult, and can come from a place of strength. Learn the art of apologizing effectively and you may find a significant reduction in the negative effects of highly charged situations. Apologizing opens up the doors to communication, which allows you to reconnect and move on more easily.

Related Posts

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Elton is Right: Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word

Social Media Blunders: It’s best to think in terms of “when” instead of “if” situations

Everything you do, and everything you don’t do, communicates about your brand. A mistake speaks volumes about your (in)ability to manage social media effectively.  Remember that despite your best efforts, mistakes happen at some point.

You said something, disclosed confidential information or shared images that are not supportive of your business.  How do you recover from such a slip up?

Irrespective of its origins, you must respond quickly to a social media crisis. Successful crisis management depends largely on developing a planned and integrated communications approach.

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Social Media Preparedness References:

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You’ve Blundered

Whether you accidentally tweet an insensitive message or a customer posts a disparaging video about your product, don’t panic. The starting point is to apologize via the same medium where the highly visible mistake originated. Offer an apology in public comments. Explain how you will take steps to ensure that the situation doesn’t happen again.

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Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.  George Bernard Shaw

Action and Apology: It’s a two-step process

  1. You must first publicly acknowledge that there is an issue whether you are at fault or not.
  2. Apologize: this is an opportunity for you to separate out the past and future through problem and resolution.

Elton is Right:  Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word

For both romantic and professional relationships, apologizing has got to be one of the most difficult things to do. To put yourself in the right frame of mind, consider the lyrics to“Sorry seems to be the hardest word”written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin; recorded by Elton John and released in 1976.

    • What I got to do to make you love me?
    • What I got to do to make you care?
    • What do I do when lightning strikes me?
    • And I wake to find that you’re not there?
    •  
    • What I got to do to make you want me?
    • What I got to do to be heard?
    • What do I say when it’s all over?
    • Sorry seems to be the hardest word
    •  
    • It’s sad, so sad
    • It’s a sad, sad situation
    • And it’s getting more and more absurd
    • It’s so sad so sad
    • Why can’t we talk it over?
    • Oh it seems to me
    • Sorry seems to be the hardest word
    •  
    • What I do to make you want me?
    • What I got to do to be heard?
    • What do I say when it’s all over?
    • Sorry seems to be the hardest word
    •  
    • It’s sad, so sad
    • It’s a sad sad situation
    • And it’s gotten more and more absurd
    • It’s sad, so sad
    • Why can’t we talk it over?
    • Oh it seems to me
    • Sorry seems to be the hardest word
    •  
    • Yeh…..sorry
    • Nah…….
    • Sorry
    •  
    • What do I do to make you love me?
    • What I got to do to be heard?
    • What do I do when lightning strikes me?
    • Yeah…..What do I got to do?
    • What do I got to do?
    • When sorry seems to be the hardest word

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Related Posts

OOPS : Best of Social Media Blunders

 Recovering from a Social Media Gaffe

 Blended Communications for Better Social Media Crisis Management

Follow Lina Arseneault on Twitter

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Making an apology can be complex but it has to sound simple and sincere

It is very simple to apologize but constructing the right words to say will take some time. Whenever possible, personalize your response to a specific person or through the face / voice of your corporation.  Be sure to strike the right tone.

Consider the following references and excerpts on the subject of apologies.

Three Little Words Every Leader Needs to Learn” by Ernest L. Arbuckle Professor of Business Administration Rosabeth Moss Kanter – Harvard Business School.

  • There are three little words that extraordinary leaders know how to say, and I’m not thinking of “I love you” (but those are pretty good). The magic words areI was wrong.”  Husbands and wives know that saying those words to each other can be even more endearing than endearments. When leaders say them to their teams in a timely fashion, they build confidence and can move on to a better path.
  • The simple sentence “I was wrong” is the hardest for leaders to utter and the most necessary for them to learn.
  • If a leader cannot admit being wrong in a timely fashion, he or she can never correct mistakes, change direction, and restore success. The consequences get worse the longer the denial prevails.
  • Of course, we don’t want leaders who are forced to say “I was wrong” too often.
  • Perhaps apology training will become a growth business. Actually, I hope not. But I do hope that smart leaders will be more alert to problems, and if mistakes are made, they can utter the three magic words and take corrective action.

Smart Apologies Should Be Strategicby Rosanna M. Fiske via Harvard Business School Blog Network

  • Throwing half-hearted apologies at an issue will just exacerbate a festering problem — and people will view it as an obvious and empty attempt to quiet the masses.

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 Know When and How to Apologize

While you might want publicity to be the end result of your public relations effort, this is not always the case. You don’t always govern the source and means of public attention. Publicity is not always positive and is not always under the control of your organization.  You and your brand are open to general observation.  Be sure to have a plan to respond to both positive and negative events.  Know when and how to apologize.

Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them. Bruce Lee

Additional Insights: 

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Blended Communications for Better Social Media Crisis Management

Successful Crisis Management = Planned and Integrated Communications Approach

In her books “Les Médias Sociaux 101” and “Les Médias Sociaux 201” (Social Media 101 and 102 respectively), en français), social media expert Michelle Blanc includes many cases studies that illustrate the dos’ and don’ts of public relations crisis management in a social media era.

One of them focuses on Maple Leaf Foods, a leading consumer packaged food company; headquartered in Toronto with operations across Canada and in the United States.  In August 2008, deaths were linked to listeriosis from contaminated meat originating from a Maple Leaf Foods plant.  The company reacted quickly and without hesitation.

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Related posts:  OOPS : Best of Social Media Blunders and Recovering from a Social Media Gaffe

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Investigative reporter Abby Martin wrote a blog post that chronicles the steps taken by Maple Leaf Foods in response to the crisis (How They Handled This).  She concludes with the following sobering comment:

However, ultimately, the company’s swift and thorough response will not be considered enough. Because their actions will be of small comfort to those who have been sickened or who have lost loved ones to this nasty bacterial outbreak.

For the most part, Ms. Blanc agrees with Ms. Martin’s assessment of Maple Leaf Foods’ operational execution from a traditional crisis management standpoint (newspapers, press release, web site updates) and that the company reacted swiftly to the situation.

However, Ms. Blanc carries her analysis a bit further and exposes where the company fell short on the digital and social media fronts.  While Twitter and Facebook were not yet widely embraced by corporations in 2008, she argues that a corporate blog and digital media integration would have helped Maple Leaf Foods fair better in its operational response to the crisis.

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Ms. Blanc points out that a regularly nurtured blog helps with search engine referencing and develops strong ties with key constituents.  The company would have greatly benefited from a social media listening strategy (proactive reputation monitoring) and a corporate blog (to complement press release and regular updates).  A response via a corporate blog is easily passed around and has some degree of permanence.  However, you don’t want to create a blog just for the reply.

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InformationWeek: Sentiment Analysis: How Companies Now Listen To The Web

and   7 Ways Sentiment Is Hard To Decipher Online

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Not only did Maple Leaf Foods suffer from poor search engine indexing, it failed to purchase key words such as “maple leaf” and “listeriosis”.  As it turns out, these key words had been purchased by a law firm seeking support in a class action suit against the company. Consequently, at the height of the crisis, a web search on “maple leaf” and listerioisis” weren’t optimized to the company’s response in top search engine results.  This is clearly not the type of social lessons that a company wants to learn in the midst of a crisis.

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Related posts:  OOPS : Best of Social Media Blunders and Recovering from a Social Media Gaffe

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Recovering from a Social Media Gaffe

Social media is legendary for its transparency and speed.  This can turn out to be a double edge sword as mistakes can  be highly and widely visible.

Did you have a slip of the key? Perhaps it was an accidental tweet, an unfortunate typo or a well-meaning but poorly worded Facebook post?  Maybe the brewing crisis originated from outside issues such as a customer complaint or an economic, political or a natural disaster.

Related post: OOPS : Best of Social Media Blunders

Irrespective of its origins, you must respond quickly to a social media crisis. Offer an apology in public comments. Explain how you will take steps to ensure that the situation doesn’t happen again.

Plan Ahead:  It’s best to think in terms of “when” instead of “if” situations

Depending on whether or not you subscribe to the Scouting motto (be prepared), this will be your first step or you may only devote time to it once you’ve survived a social catastrophe.

Successful crisis management depends largely on developing a planned and integrated communications approach.

Following are two examples of social media preparedness plans:

  • The United-States Air Force has a blog response assessment process.  The flow chart lays out a range of possible responses.  Read more here.
  • Cisco’s Social Media Response Strategy is based on the US Air Force blog triage approach.
Cisco Social Media Response Strategy

Listening: Recognition through active monitoring

  • Whether you take this on yourself or entrust it to a reputation management firm, it’s essential for you to know when trouble is brewing.
  • Listen all the time, not only on weekdays.

More on “listening” via  @LaSandraBrill, Senior Manager Social Media at Cisco :  [SlideShare] Cisco and the Social Web: Listening and Responding to Your Customers and Prospects

The Science of Listening in Social Media and Blogs via Kuno Creative

InformationWeek: Sentiment Analysis: How Companies Now Listen To The Web and 7 Ways Sentiment Is Hard To Decipher Online

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Action and Apology: It’s a two-step process

It’s time to spring into action, something needs to be done. It’s important to respond quickly.

1) You must first publicly acknowledge that there is an issue whether you are at fault or not.

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Don’t try to come up with a perfect answer at first; a speedy reply that indicates you’ve heard and understood is better than a detailed one that’s a week late.

Source: Social Media Firestorms – A First Responder’s Guide, ComputerWorld

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2) Apologize: this is an opportunity for you to separate out the past and future through problem and resolution.

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After your first acknowledgement, take time (not too much, though) to craft a more detailed response. It doesn’t have to be exponentially longer than your original note, but it should contain three things:

Your understanding and acknowledgement of the problem

Affirmation that you have learned from the situation

The steps you’re taking to correct it now and prevent it from happening in the future.

Source: Social Media Firestorms – A First Responder’s Guide, ComputerWorld

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10 Things to Keep in Mind as you Craft Your Apology

  • Be honest and transparent
  • Embrace criticism: think of it as free market research
  • Don’t be argumentative
  • No matter how justified you feel, don’t be defensive
  • Be humble or you will tumble
  • Think about what you’re trying to accomplish
  • Pick the right tone and keep it simple: save the corporate talk for a press release
  • Select the right communications channels: respond where the complaint or issue originated, and leverage complimentary sources (e.g. your corporate blog)
  • Personalize when possible: in response to a specific person or through the face / voice of your corporation
  • Making an apology can be complex but it has to sound simple and sincere

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Believe it or not, there are lots of bad ways to apologize. A few examples of what not to say:

I’m sorry you feel that way.

You have to admit, a big part of this is your fault too.

There’s lots of blame to spread around here.”

Source:  7 Tips on How to Apologize in the Business World by Tom Searcy

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@CiscoSmallBiz Turns a Negative Into a Positive via @LaSandraBrill, Senior Manager Social Media – Cisco

Lessons Learned? Assess your response and its impact, build knowledge into the plan

Everything you do, and everything you don’t do, communicates about your brand. A mistake speaks volumes about your (in)ability to manage social media effectively.  Remember that despite your best efforts, mistakes happen at some point. The key is not to panic, but to implement a social media response plan to quickly restore credence in your brand. Invest in “listening” as it offers the ability to learn from what your customers are saying.

Related post: OOPS : Best of Social Media Blunders

Follow Lina Arseneault on Twitter

“Recover from Social Business Mistakes” was featured on October 7th 2011. This tip is adapted from “The Simple Way to Avoid Social Media Failures” by Jeff Stibel.

The Management Tip of the Day by Harvard Business Review offers quick, practical management tips and ideas on wide ranging business topics including managing people, innovation, leadership, leadership, and more (more information and to subscribe).

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Top 10 Tips for Effective Communication

You’ve done the work, packaged the findings, laid out the business case, and developed the ask and recommendations. Whether your software of choice is PowerPoint, Keynote or SlideRocket, you’ve turned your presentation into a work of art. Crafting and packaging your message is very important but the rubber meets the road when you communicate it.

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Follow Lina Arseneault on Twitter, read her blog.

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In 1967, UCLA sociolinguist  Dr. Albert Mehabrian published papers based on two studies: “Decoding of Inconsistent Communications” and “Inference of Attitudes from Nonverbal Communication in Two Channels”.

In his studies, Mehabrian comes to two conclusions. The first one being that there are basically three elements in any face-to-face communication:

    • Words,
    • Tone of voice, and
    • Nonverbal behavior.

They are often abbreviated as the “3 Vs” for Verbal, Vocal & Visual.

I’m so thrilled to be here …

The second conclusion emphasizes that the non-verbal elements are particularly important for communicating feelings and attitude, especially when they are at odds such that if words disagree with the tone of voice and nonverbal behavior, people tend to believe the tonality and nonverbal behavior.

Mehrabian combined the results of the two studies to obtain the ratio 7:38:55 which is known as the 7%-38%-55% rule.

The rule argues that overall credibility in communication is distributed as follows:

  • 55% of meaning comes from presentation,
  • 38% of meaning comes from tonality, and
  • 7% of meaning comes from the words themselves.

Building on the 3 Vs in Mehrabian’s 7%-38%-55% rule, I’ve included an introductory piece and packaged the “Top 10 Tips for Effective Communication”.

Read the Tea Leaves: Catch the Cues

The art of tasseomancy (reading the tea leaves) involves interpreting patterns that loose tea leaves leave in a cup or in a saucer. Some believe that the pattern made by the leaves can be interpreted to tell the future of the one who drank the tea.

In preparation for your presentation, you should try to “read the virtual teas leaves” so that you’ll  be able to catch the cues and maximize your chances of success. I summarized them as follows:

1. Understand The Rules Of The Game

2. Dress For Context

3. Know Your Audience

These three tips will help you set the stage for your presentation.

Visual: Body Language

Jerry Weissman is undoubtedly one of the best corporate presentation coaches. In one of his blog posts, he explains the notion of the “body wrap” which is a natural anxiety response and the opposite of owning your own space.

This is not Jerry Weissman!

4. Self Awareness

5. Own Your Own Space

6. Demonstrate Competence With Confidence

Verbal: Voice

I recently enjoyed the audiobook version of Tina Fay’s bestselling book Bossypants. Her book includes business advice through the use of humorous examples. In one such example, she explains that in order to convey confidence, you must not finish every sentence as though it had a question mark.

7. Project With Passion & Volume

8. Use Downward Inflections

Upward Inflection

When you use downward inflections, you essentially get rid of that implied question mark. Amy Gonzalez, Director of Women Unlimited’s Western Region thought me a technic that I’ll never forget and that works perfectly well for mastering downward inflections. She recommends that you silently say <damn it> to yourself at the end of each statement.

For example:

  • My name is Lina Arseneault <damn it>,
  • I’m here to present a business case <damn it>,
  • You’ll walk away from this meeting thinking that xxx is the best solution <damn it>

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Not only will it eliminate the diminishing silent question mark, it will also provide much needed pauses allowing you to breath (and possibly prevent you from fainting).

Contrast that with:

  • I’m Lina Arseneault? (upward inflection with an implied question mark):

Implication: audience is wondering if you’re actually even sure about that?

Words: Message

9. Focus On How You Say It

10. Eliminate Qualifiers, Tags & Diminishing Words

In this Harvard Business Review blog post, Jerry Weissman discusses the importance of avoiding filler language in presentations.  Filler words are short phrases or questions that have been used and abused to the point of diminishing your connection with your audience.  Examples include:

      • Does that make sense?
      • Like I said …
      • You know … 

 

Watch the YouTube video of Top 10 Tips For Effective Communications.

To communicate the message of your presentation with confidence and competence, remember to read the virtual tea leaves and mind the 3 Vs” of communications:  verbal, vocal & visual.

 

Would you add anything to the list of tips?

 

 

Additional Information:

Download the Slideshare companion presentation.

Are You Preparing An Important Presentation? Be Sure To Avoid Filler Frankenspeak

Read a summary of Jerry Weissman’s Power Presenter

Lina Arseneault is Millennial at heart. Follow her on Twitter.

Cafélina uses Royalty free images.

Potpourri Food for Thought: 20 Proven Things All Great Leaders Always Do

What do you keep around your office and how is it helpful to you?

When I’m in need of inspiration and perspective, I look over at the bulletin board in my office. That’s where I’ve placed various clippings and pictures. Recently, I added 20 Proven Things All Great Leaders Always Do.

In an unstable, inconsistent world, great leaders are consistent and stable

writes Dan Rockwell a.k.a Leadership Freak. Dan’s blog has an engaging format that aims to help leaders reach higher in 300 words or less. Follow Dan on Twitter @leadershipfreak

Check out 20 Proven Things All Great Leaders Always Do and identify which behavior you find most challenging and/or effective? 

I especially like:

  • Always act in the best interest of your organization,
  • Get results through others,
  • Receive criticism, and
  • Listen more than speak.

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In my office, 20 Proven Things All Great Leaders Always Do is pinned it up next to Everything I need to know about business I learned from playing golf.

“Everything I need to know about business I learned from playing golf” by Rick Spence.

You can find the Everything I need to know about business I learned from playing golf presentation companion here.

What do you keep around your office and how is it helpful to you?

 

Send suggestions for future Potpourri Food for Thought features.

Lina Arseneault is Millennial at heart. Follow her on Twitter.

Cafélina uses Royalty free images