Write Your Customers Love Letters

A note from my maid at the Hotel Palomar

So… I’ve been thinking more and more about how you can “make love to your customers.

I was really blown away during my last trip to San Francisco.  I was staying at the Hotel Palomar, which is part of the Kimpton Hotel chain.  It’s on 4th and Market.

After a day of running around, I came back to the personalized note that is pictured above.  It was the maid assigned to my room telling me thank you for staying and asking if there is anyway that she can help.    I was incredibly impressed.

There was nothing more that my maid or the hotel could do to make me feel more comfortable but I was just blown away by someone taking the time to write me the note.  If anything, it endeared me even more to hotel chain and will guarentee that I stay at a Kimpton Hotel during my next trip.

This jived with some practices I do with my community.  When a user signs up for an account at Clearspring, I’ll send them a note and say thank you.  Yes, it’s the same note but if I know the person who’s on the list I’ll personalize it.  Regardless, people love it when I take the time to say thank you for creating an account.  The e-mail isn’t automatically generated.  It’s me sitting down and sending them out because I really am thankful.

Just as there are a lot of hotels in San Francisco, there are even more things for people to occupy their time online.  So when someone takes the time to spend time on your Web site or application, say thank you.

Saying thank you and letting people you know you appreciate them will just endear them more to what you’re trying to do.

So… have you had a cool experience where someone has written you a thank you note and really just knocked your socks off?

This Week in Library of Congress Photos

The Library of Congress has put up some really awesome photos on Flickr this week.  I thought I’d highlight a couple of them.

This one is of guys tearing up the floor at the chamber of the House of Representatives at the US Capitol building.

This one is a great drawing of Grand Central Station in NYC.

This one is of a Greek church service for King George in NY.

Follow Clearspring’s CEO Hooman Radfar on Twitter

As you know, I’m a big fan of Twitter as a way to talk to and listen to your personal community.

Well I’ve been having this conversation with the CEO of Clearspring Hooman Radfar.  He’s incredibly active and has a MASSIVE personal community. He didn’t use Twitter.

I think it’d be a HUGE service for him.  Yet, he was skeptical.

Well, he’s still seems a little skeptical but now he’s experimenting with Twitter. So all I ask is, follow @hoomanradfar.

WordCamp: Achieving sustainable virality means not being a dick

Just sat in a really good session by Ben Huh. He’s one of the dudes behind I Can Haz Cheezburger. His talk was entitled “LOLcats and the Secret of Virality.” It rocked. Here’s the gist:

He talked about how most achieve virality by shotgunning invites out to as many people. This works in the short term but there is one big downside. People will see you as a dick. Plus it doesn’t achieve sustainable traffic. People will come to your site, find out they don’t like it, leave, and never come back.

The key is sustainable traffic. You’re not going to get it fast. It takes time but they’re users who’ll come back over and over and over

You do this via… having a good product that someone wants. People like good content.

You need to show love to your users. Engage your users. Show them you appreciate them. This will build goodwill with your users.

Then make it easy for your users to share your content with their friends. (Maybe do this with widgets/Clearspring? :-))

If you wanna check out his slides, go here: http://icanlol.com/ichc-wordcamp.pdf

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WordCamp, Widgets, and Blogs… Oh My!

So… today I’m at WordCamp (the WordPress conference). It’s cool to see so much energy around blogging and how to take blogging into the future.

Of course, I think widgets play a big role in blogging.  Widgets allow you to take that blog content and bring it into more of an aggregated environment (i.e.  Apple Dashboard, iGoogle, Netvibes, and even mobile phones).

With the KickApps Widget Studio, I just created a widget for this blog.

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Feel free to grab it and use it.

Not only do you want to share content from the blog out to the world, you want to be able to bring content into the blog.  It’s important to be able to share widgets into a blog.

So… I’m here to figure out how we can make this whole eco-system easier for people to use.

If you’re here at WordCamp, come find me and say hi.  I’m wearing a Clearspring t-shirt.

Listen to the Love Doctor Saul Colt About How to Master Customer Service

As part of my crazy adventures traveling around the country, one of the people i’ve gotten to know and have developed a friendship with is Saul Colt, the Head of Magic at FreshBooks.com.

Last week at SocialMediaCamp NYC, he gave a talk entitled “How to Make Your Love to Your Customers,” which I think is hands down one of the smarter talks I’ve ever heard.

The idea is that if you have a community that uses your product that you need to listen to and care for that community.  You need to serve them.  You need to show them love.

Howard Greenstein over at INC magazine has a great article on Saul’s talk.

Saul’s company, Freshbooks.com, where he’s Chief of Magic, spends time, effort, people, and resources on creating relationships with customers. The central assumption in these relationships is that Freshbooks employees love their customers–even if the customers have something bad to say. Saul considers this a great opportunity to turn a detractor into someone who realizes how much Freshbooks loves him or her.

For Saul, the goal isn’t to always be telling people about FreshBooks and how amazing it is (It is amazing. Use it.), his goal is to love. Period.

He’ll listen when you have problems, find the answers, or advocate on your behalf  in order to get bugs fixed. He buys customer’s dinner with no expectation of getting anything in return.  He even bought a customer who was having a bad day flowers.  All just to show love.

Saul and I share this tenant that good customer service is the best marketing.  It’s something that every customer needs to pay attention to.  It’ll be the difference between whether you succeed or you don’t.

In the words of Gary Vaynerchuk, “Give, give, give until your face falls off.”

Don’t close the door on an opportunity without peaking your head through first…

I’ve been having a lot of conversations with folks about oppotunities in their lives.  What frustrates me is when I see them having opportunities, which could be really cool for them, but they then shoot it down without even really seein’ what it is.

An opportunity could be this huge blessing but you don’t know unless you investigate.  So… INVESTIGATE.  This doesn’t mean that you need to commit to anything but you owe it to yourself to take a look and see if you’d get anything out of this opportunity.

If you currently have a job and are happy with it but get presented with another opportunity, don’t shut the door on it right away.  At least hear the party out, you never know.  You may find that the new job would better meet your needs or make you more happy.

I guess my moral of the story is… don’t close doors, unless you’re absolutely sure.

My Thoughts on the Facebook iPhone App

I’m surprised the more folks aren’t writing about the different iPhone apps.  Thought maybe I’d put down some notes about the different ones that I’ve used.

I’ve already spoken about my love for the Pandora app.  The next one I thought I’d write about was the Facebook app (iTunes Link).

It has 5 major sections: Home, You, Friends, Chat, and Inbox.

The Home Screen doesn’t give me access to my newsfeed but it shows me all the recent status updates of my friends.  From here I can quickly update my own status or post a photo.

The You section allows you to see your own profile information, wall, and photos. It’s not that exciting.

For the Friends section, you can quickly page through all of the different friends that you have in Facebook.   This is awesome.  If more of my friends posted their contact info on Facebook, I could see this becoming kind of an Address book in the cloud.  In this section you can also, view your friends photos and write on their walls.

The next section is really cool.  In the Chat tab, you can talk with your friends from your iPhone to their Facebook Chat accounts.

Lastly, you can check your Facebook message inbox.  Nothing to exciting here.

One thing that is noticeably absent is the ability to accept friend requests.  This is something that you can do from the iPhone Web app.

This raises the question.  Why does this need to be an iPhone app?  Other then having access to the camera, which is kind of compelling but not that big of a deal, why does this need to be an iPhone app.

With the Web app, you can actually see the whole newsfeed and not just status updates.  Generally the design seems to be more inlign with what your used to seeing on Facebook.com.  With 3G, the Web app is just as responsive as the software application.

So… why get the Facebook iPhone software app?

The State Department Embraces Social Media; What’s the Overall Strategy?

The US State Department about a month ago wrote a blog post about all the different ways that they’re moving to embrace social media.  It’s pretty cool.  You can find them on:

But I ask… what’s the overall strategy?  It’s great they they’re using all these different tools but what are they looking to accomplish?

I’m not really sure what the answers are to these questions.

Hopefully as the State dept goes through what appears to be their “lets see what sticks” approach to trying new things out, they’ll start to identify how all the different pieces fit together.

Library of Congress Flickr Photo of the Week – Where Wilson “will be” sworn in, East Front of Capitol

I found this photo in the recent upload of Library of Congress photos to Flickr.  I thought it was pretty cool so I figured I would share it with you all.

It’s entitled “Where Wilson ‘will be’ sworn in, East Front of Capitol.”

Considering before too long we’ll be inaugurating a new president, I thought the photo was fun and appropriate.

Plus I think it also displays the little known fact that up until recently that the inauguration happened on the East side of the Capital and not the West side like we do it today.