Friday, April 26, 2013

Webinars as Part of Social Media Strategy

Webinars, or online workshops, are very popular these days and have begun to form an inseparable connection with social media strategy. But do they really deliver?

First used in 1998, the term “webinar” comes from the words “web” and “seminar”. It means a presentation, lecture or workshop transmitted over the internet. Webinars are generally slide show presentations. A presenter speaks for a particular period of time showing some slides to complement the speech. To make it easier for the audience to follow the content, the presenter can use a mouse pointer to highlight content as he goes. It lasts anywhere from 15 minutes to 2-3 hours, and at the end of the webinar the audience can brainstorm, ask questions to the presenter and get replies. There are dozens of webinar platforms in the market, both free and paid based on the variety of features they offer.

Webinar Types
Depending on the webinar purpose, its format may vary. One or more people can be engaged in the webinar. If it’s a complex webinar, besides the presenter you may need an assistant who understands the subject well and can help with answering questions. Although a solo-approach is highly recommended as a single presenter is generally treated as an authority.

The number of slides as well as duration of every slide shown during the webinar varies. Timothy Koegel, the author of “The Exceptional Presentersuggests that for virtual presentations, a slide may only be on the screen for 3 or 4 seconds. He argues that the most important element is to keep the presentation moving. Using Koegel’s model, a 60-minute presentation breaks down into 3600 seconds. One slide every four seconds would mean a total of about 900 slides.

In many cases the webinars are recorded to be used for later viewings. Sometimes it happens so that you register for a webinar but have no time to participate. The organizer follows up with you via email, including the link to the webinar recording. 

The promotion of a webinar starts long before the date it is transmitted. It’s usually done via social platforms, such as Twitter, the company’s Facebook page, an email newsletter and even on the website.

So why have online workshops become such a widely used strategy? 

Webinar vs. Webcast
Webinars are used for a variety of purposes, including product promotion, training, and sharing information about a new product or service. It’s an effective way to reach potential customers. It informs, educates and at the same time inspires. Webinars are an interactive, live, online meeting, which can provide excellent information. I’ll come back to this later.
Now let’s make a distinction between a webinar and a webcast. Many people don’t see a difference between them, thinking that it’s the same thing.

Both webinars and webcasts transmit information to the audience. But…

A Webcast is a one-way broadcast, i.e. there is no interaction between the presenter and the audience. The term itself comes from “web” and “broadcast”. You hear and/or see what’s being transmitted without any interaction. You cannot ask anything or get a reply. It’s usually a pre-recorded material and is widely used for education.

As I already mentioned webinars inspire the audience. But the most inspiring should be the final slide of the presentation. It can contain a link to your website which will give another opportunity to see your product in its full functionality. Why not include your Twitter link or even a hashtag specific to your webinar content? Many people like to share their opinion after the webinar. It will become feedback which can help you in both promotion and future improvements.

And don’t forget to promote future webinars at the end of the current one.

Ultimate Customer Service Starts with YOU

Nowadays it is becoming increasingly complicated for entrepreneurs to find people well suited for customer service roles. Experience is not the only essential component. In most cases the customer cannot see the rep he is talking to, so a smile and positive attitude must reflect in spoken or written words. Not an easy task,especially when you recognize the importance of every single customer.
“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises; he is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.” Mahatma Gandhi
The more you interact with your customers, the easier it will be to define areas for growth and future improvements. As long as customers are actively engaged, your service team has the opportunity to ensure long-term loyalty; if they leave dissatisfied, chances are they have now already become some other company’s customer. Only about 4% of dissatisfied customers complain.  96% just go away.  (Harris Interactive, 2011 Customer Experience Improvement study). So why let it happen?
To clarify the most significant aspects of delivering customer service satisfaction, I’ve listed below some “must have” skills and strategies along with relevant quotes, which can help you form your company’s success story.

Co-Browsing for Customer Service

Be reachable, if you want to succeed in your business!
One of the most common mistakes begins from the homepage of a company’s website. You search for a way to contact someone for help, but cannot find it. Sometimes even after a long search throughout the whole website you find only a “Contact Us” form which can take a long time to answer. As a customer, I have dealt with this frustrating experience many times. In such cases, I often think that perhaps the company doesn’t want people to reach them, as they are afraid to fail in giving a proper answer.
Be polite and make your customer feel at home
Politeness is the art of choosing among one’s real thoughts” - Abel Stevens
After reaching the customer service team, a customer should feel at ease. A quiet, friendly tone has never made anyone upset. Your reps should give full attention to the person they are speaking with, be polite and make them feel as if his problem is their own problem. And then they should do their best to solve the problem as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Be patient and understanding
“Patience is the companion of wisdom.” –  St Augustine
It’s natural that in dealing with people of different characters, situations will arise that can push the limits of one’s patience. Communicating over the phone or through chat can introduce many challenges. Some customers may not even know what exactly they want or need. Train your team to keep calm and try to understand every single word; listen and give a simple answer to every question in a friendly tone.
Be happy and make your customer happy 
Happy staff = Happy Customers = Happy Business!
Be accurate, complete and reliable, and you’ll make the customer happy. People are happy when treated positively. Besides answering the customer’s questions, your customer care team can introduce other products or features, making sure to communicate the value to the customer and a commitment to ensuring all of their needs are met.
Be an expert on your product!  
Make sure the customer is confident that you know the product inside and out!
If your reps don’t know your product well, the risk of miscommunicating or failing to solve the customer’s problem is huge. Ensure your customer service team is well-trained, with a deep knowledge of the product and the company so they are ready for any question.
Be confident and never say “no” 
With confidence you have won before you have started” – Marcus Garvey
Encourage your customer service team to pronounce every word with confidence even in cases where they are unsure and need to get additional help. They should always avoid using the word “no” – it’s not a word any customer would like to hear.
Be the face of your company 
First impression is the best impression!”
People form an impression of your company based on a single call or chat with someone representing the company. Your customer service team is often the face of your company, so train them to represent you well.
As John Freshney said: “There’s nothing clever or complicated about delivering excellent customer service, but there is something magical about achieving it!”
It’s important that companies commit to doing their best to make customer service a pleasant and effective channel!