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This is the first time we have flown with QATAR Airways and I have to say I was impressed. The aircraft was a 777-300ER.  J (Business) class was spectacular and the service impeccable. Great menu selection and any amount of nibbles along the way are available upon request. Nothing was too much trouble for any of the crew at any time.  Meal was very nice. Wine selection wasn’t extensive, but what was there was good.  15yr old Glenn Livet wasn’t a bad scotch either. Seats were comfortable and sleeping was easy. Arrival at DOH was a little early and alhtough we were only transiting, we still had to go through security, albeit this was very efficient and 20 mins after disembarking, we were sitting in the club.

 

J Cabin QATAR 777-300ER

 

Leg Room – J Cabin – QATAR 777-300ER

 

J Cabin QATAR 777-300ER Spacing

 

Sparkling Rose (or BRUT) before take off.

 

Huge Screens – touch control or remote in seat

 

Men’s Amenitiy Kit


Ladies Amenity Kit

Sleeping Kit with PJ’s

 

Lamb Shank Main – Delicious

After spending Christmas morning with the family, we headed for BNE for a late lunch at the QF Buiness Lounge. Aircraft for the flight was an a300-200. Crew were great – flight a little early into PER. Bus trip to Int. terminal was a little longer than expected – walking is definitely not an option. A couple of hours in the QF Lounge at Terminal 1 before next sector.

Christmas Day Traffic BNE

Lunch at BNE Qantas Lounge

ng ready for Flight 2.

If you have an Internet business, or are curious about starting an online business, this Infographic will interest you. You see, it’s important to analyze major trends that are likely to make an impact in the next few years if you’re going to stay ahead of the pack in Internet business.

Here’s an excellent Infographic from the Staff.com team on Seven Shocking Stats & Trends about the Internet, so you can see what’s coming.
7 Shocking Stats & Trends About the Internet Infographic | Staff.com
Staff.com – Connecting Great Companies with Global Talent

 If you’re looking to do great work or want to build and manage teams of awesome freelancers, the online global outsourcing arena may just be the perfect fit for you.

Online global outsourcing is growing at a rapid pace with a projected growth of over 40% for the industry. The biggest platforms are oDesk, Elance and Freelancer. 99designs is really in a different category as it’s a crowdsourcing site more focused on design, whereas the other platforms encompass any type of online work. (Source: Biz 3.0)

The infographic below shows funding received, number of freelancers and jobs posted, percentage they charge and cumulative earnings of freelancers. Great information if you are interested in the online outsourcing space!

If you live in Australia you no doubt have heard about the comments of radio announcer, Alan Jones over the weekend.  You may have also heard that the response of some of the radio programs advertisers could be costing the station more than $80,00 a day in lost advertising revenue.

But are you aware of the fall out for one particular advertiser, “Woolworths” due to actions of a staff member at the same meeting and their subsequent handling of the negative customer comments on social media?  I don’t want to get into (another) debate over whether Woolworths actions are ‘right or wrong’ but rather pose the question about “How should Woolworths be responding on social media?”.

The company response to the tirade of angry comments on their facebook page to date has been well…. no response.  Woolworths have not stopped comments on their page (see them in action here: https://www.facebook.com/woolworths ) but nor are they responding.  There has been a stock standard media release issued by the company that only seems to have fueled the messages.

But what should Woolies do?  If they stop comments then are they seen to be limiting free speech and expression of their customers opinions?  If they continue to allow comments but make no response is this doing them more harm than good?

General consensus amongst our social media contacts is that the worst possible response to negative comments that a company can make is to immediately remove all offending posts.  As Rachel Strella, in her article “Social Media & the Consumer: How to Handle Negative Feedback” over at SocialMediaToday.com stated, “The only thing worse than deleting comments would be to respond defensively and thus initiating a battle with the audience.  I highly recommend not deleting negative feedback unless it’s an extreme circumstance such as inappropriate language or lewd comments”.

Woolworths invites comments and participation on their Facebook page and, on their website, even encourages customers to connect on Facebook to “Tell us how can our people make your visit to Woolies better?”.

So while Woolworths has given their audience free reign to voice their opinion, and displeasure, all over their Facebook Page, by allowing a barrage of negative comments to be posted without responding, to my mind, they are not only allowing untold damage to their brand, but inflaming the situation.

So what should Woolworths do?

Really the question is what should Woolworths have ‘done’?  No business should even commence social media marketing without first having a strategy and policy in place with a clearly defined process to follow when negative feedback is received.  A plan for brand reputation and management must extend to social media and internet properties generally.  This is important not onlyto protect your business brand but from a legal liability point of view as well.  Check out this great guest post on The Creative Collective blog by Jamie White from Pod Legal on “Your Legal Obligations When it Comes to Facebook”.

In the aftermath of a public relations nightmare though, remaining silent can be a critical error in judgement.  Ms Strella sums it up this way, “Don’t ignore the feedback, either. Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away any more than deleting it.” Instead Sharon recommends, as I do, that a business acknowledge the feedback in a way that either seeks to better understand the situation or simply as a way of being seen to care enough to respond, explaining “When done correctly, acknowledging negative feedback and responding appropriately is an opportunity to demonstrate excellent customer service. How a business handles negative feedback says volumes about the integrity of the business and how much the business values its customers.”

It may come as a surprise then that the majority of Businesses respond to negative comments on social media exactly the way Woolworths have on this occasion.  A recent study by Satmetrix®, highlights that the majority of organizations of all sizes across B2C and B2B are blind to the opportunities and threats of social media.

According to Richard Owen, CEO of Satmetrix, “Businesses recognize the need for a social media strategy, however many are challenged in putting an effective strategy in place. While 77 percent of consumers post about products, 67 percent of businesses have no means of measuring what is being said, and less than one in 20 have any insight into the sentiment of what is being said. This is both a huge threat and a massive lost opportunity. Not only are companies running the risk of losing customers by not addressing their issues shared online, but they are also walking past the opportunity to capitalize on positive comments made on the social web.”

And yes, even in this case, there are positive customer comments that are not being capitalised on.  In amongst the flood of negative posts about Woolworths perceived support of Alan Jones, there are a smattering of thank you posts from happy customers.  On one of these posts, thanking staff for helping a customer that was unwell, there have been 1358 ‘likes’.  Of the 69 comments (to date) some have been negative but when these referenced the ‘Jones Affair’, many page members asked that the topic remain on that of the original (positive) post.

Several of the comments were from Woolworths staff members that it appears are feeling somewhat helpless and without a voice.  There is a community of people waiting to support Woolworths, ready to post when there is something positive they can contribute to but not wanting to be drawn into the Alan Jones fallout posts that have taken over the page.

There’s a great post here by Mike McGrail on “How to Handle Negative feedback on Social Media“.  But, in this case specifically, what should Woolies do?  I will leave the advice to their lawyers now but, if they were to ask me, I’d advise them to start talking. By finding their voice in the face of negative feedback they may well empower their community to find theirs as well.  At the very least the community will know they have been heard and Woolworths will have exercised their right of reply.  In the end that’s what social media is really about – a two way flow of information and open expression of ideas and opinions.

At the moment this conversation is one sided due to Woolworths intentional lack of response. It pays to remember which part of your anatomy points to the sky when you bury your head in the sand.

Do you agree? Disagree? What should Woolworths do?  As always we invite comments, encourage sharing and often respond.

 

That may seem like a strange title for a blog post but recently Mark and I were getting ready for a long weekend with family. We live in a beautiful part of the Sunshine Coast in Australia, and quite often, especially on public holidays, family chose to make the most of our great location and visit, as was the case on that long weekend.

We decided it was beautiful sunny weather so we would go upstairs and clean our rooftop terrace so that we could spend some time up there on the deck. Mark came home from shopping and realized that I was still on the terrace and had been up there for quite some time. He came upstairs and asked, “What are you doing?” I was inside the spa bath, that we have on the terrace, and I said, “I’m just cleaning the spa.”  When he said “You’ve been there for so long! I quickly responded “I know because I need to make sure it’s perfectly clean.”

Mark reminded me that “it’s our family, they really don’t mind” and, without hesitation responded, “but my Grandson will be in the spa.”

I expected that our daughter was likely to  bring our 4-month old grandson up into the spa bath – they use it as kind of mini-swimming pool for him to help him soak: he loves his baths ;-) And it struck me that the way I approached the cleaning and preparation was totally different when I realized that my brand-new grandson would be in that spa.

It really made me start thinking about priorities and how that reflects in everything we do in life but particularly in our businesses. I thought to myself “Wow, would I recommend my products and services to people that I love?” Would I sell to my Grandson?

No, I am not saying here that your product and service must be suitable for your grandson. I can assure you that Reece has no interest or understanding of my social media marketing training, nor any use for it, and I understand that several of my clients have products and services that would be completely unsuitable for their grandchildren. But, think about it, if the people you love, your family members, your best friend, your colleagues: if they were looking for your product or service, would you recommend YOU?

Are you really the best in your field? Are you providing the best service that you possibly can?

Why that has become so vitally important, and why I’m asking you to put your products and services under a microscope is because social media will magnify whatever you are in terms of your business, service and product strengths. If you have fantastic customer service and you’re offering a great product at the right price, with sensational followup then social media will magnify that. You’ll get wonderful third party testimonials and viral recommendations that would be mainly positive. In fact in marketing terms, we all go searching for that holy grail of viral third party endorsement.

If however, your business is lacking in any areas, perhaps you’ve been really busy and your follow up is not so great or you have certain staff members that maybe aren’t that great in dealing with the public or are cutting corners – that also will be magnified by social media. But when corners are cut, or your businesses are not performing, then your social media presence would be mainly negative.

If you know already that you’re not quite keeping up with demand, your prices are too high or value too low, your quality is not where it should be, CHANGE IT. If you wouldn’t recommend your products and services to the people that you love most in the world, why should you be promoting it to anybody else?

Think about how you would act, how you would feel, and how you would care for your customers if they were your 4-month old grandchild about to get into the spa bath. Would you clean it differently? Would you provide a different service? Would you go above and beyond and care just a little bit more? Because your ideal target client, the client that you wish you had thousands of, is deserving of that level of service and care.

You have to strive to be the best in your field – I’m not saying that you are going to please everybody all the time. The very nature of working with the public means I find that impossible, but unless you strive to provide the very best possible service that you can to your clients then, quite frankly, you shouldn’t be in business and you definitely should not be using social media.

Social media will magnify your brand, purpose, intent, service and support. So make sure that what it’s magnifying is positive.

Have an awesome week!

 

You may well think so based on current news reports in Australia. But is there really a silver lining to our silver haul? Or has Australia really developed an attitude of “If it’s not gold it’s not good enough”?

What do you think? Mark pondered this in his latest post on his Wanderings and Wonderings blog that I have copied below:

OLYMPIC DREAMING

Over the past week, I, like billions of others world-wide, have been watching the Olympic Games in London. And I, like billions of others world-wide, have been cheering my countrymen and women as they battle it out with the best athletes in their respective sports.

Today, I opened up my Sunday newspaper to read page after page with headlines “Where did we go so wrong?”, “Water Torture” (referring to our Olympic swimmers) and “Failure to Launch” – a particularly nice 3 page article (yes 3 pages) about one particular swimmer. Excuse my language, but what the hell is happening here?

Australia is a proud sporting nation, but because we have won (at this stage) one gold and 12 silver medals, suddenly every athlete and coach is a failure and the millions of dollars spent on sports programs have been wasted. All of this is emanating from journalists masquerading as experts. I will concede that many of them know much about the sports they report on, but they obviously have little or no compassion or idea of what The Olympics are all about.

You only have to look at the “Medal Tally” so often flashed on our screens. The countries are listed in order of how many gold medals each has won. Countries do not compete at the The Olympics, individuals do. The Olympic spirit is not about who goes home with the most gold. It is about competing at the highest level against other individuals or teams – it does not matter which country they represent. It does matter that they are there because they are amongst the best in the world.

These individuals make huge sacrifices to compete at this level. They give up social lives, employment opportunities (and the ability to earn money) and relationships just to train at the highest level, many for years on end. To say they have failed by not winning is shameful. Some have “failed” by fractions of a second – I am sure they are devastated enough without having it plastered all over news bulletins and magazines as a failure. They should be hailed as winners – just for being there.

I am sure I speak for the vast majority of Australians in saying to all our Olympic Athletes “You have done us proud”. Don’t listen to the naysayers – none of them have won a gold medal. It is best summed up by the quote:

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.” Pierre de Courbertin, French Educator.

To all our Australian sportsmen and women – you have fought well.

FOOTNOTE FROM ZOE: And we’re incredibly proud of you all. “It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game that counts”. Making it to the biggest sporting event in the World, challenging yourself against the greatest athletes in the World is an accomplishment in itself.

What do you think? Is it unrealistic to expect nothing but Gold? Are we supporting and pushing our athletes to great heights or berating them for only being the 2nd or 3rd greatest athlete in their sport in the World? Let us know in the comments below and, as always share this post far and wide.

 

photo credit: geckoam via photo pin cc

The Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sales have come and gone for another year but in it’s wake this year I have been left with not only an empty credit card but an empty mailbox!  Today’s events have shown me how crucial customer service is to the success of your social media marketing and in fact your business success in general.  Let me explain…..

I’m a sale junkie (ask Mark)!  I’m prepared to plan, research (a lot), plot and wait to get the ultimate bargain.  In fact I hate buying anything that’s not on sale.  I don’t consider myself ‘cheap’ but rather savvy enough to want to get the ultimate value for my dollar, particularly when this is on discretionary goods (ie things I want rather than need).

So was the case with buying Mark a new Digital SLR for Christmas. For anybody following us, you know we were recently married and have held the honeymoon off until the end of the year.  So, with a month long holiday to capture, Mark’s camera became the focus of my bargain hunting activities.

I signed up for Cyber Monday updates, I was on all the mailing lists – I had done my research. I was on watch lists and deal alerts so, when I saw a great package for a Canon camera pack (2 lenses, case etc) at Target, I knew it was fantastic value.  A quick skype conversation to Mark to confirm he was willing to move from Nikon to Canon, and the deal was done.

I knew I needed to make a fast decision to take advantage of a deal that represented hundreds of dollars in savings.  Order placed online, credit card provided, order confirmation received, and camera was on it’s way – or so I THOUGHT?!?!

That afternoon, I received a call from my bank to confirm that this purchase was a legitimate transaction on my credit card as I was using our USA address for shipping (we are global citizens with businesses, addresses and telephone numbers in several countries).  All confirmed and camera was on it’s way – or so I THOUGHT?!?!?

The next day, after 3 emails confirming my order and showing me how to track it’s progress online, I received an email from Target headed, “Your order was canceled.”  The email stated simply, “There was a problem with your order…. as a result, we had to cancel it.  Still want the items you ordered? We can help. Just contact us”. So I used the link to their online form to contact them, thinking the bank authorisation may have been the ‘problem’, to have the order re-processed and the camera would be on it’s way – or so I THOUGHT?!?!?!?

That’s where the frustration and complete lack of customer service begins!  I’ll give you the short version to save your sanity and make my point.  Some 4 emails, 10 Twitter messages and Facebook posts later – we do not have a camera on it’s way to us or the money back on our credit card.  What has infuriated me the most is that 3 days later, the camera is still available for sale on their website at the same price!

So you have to ask, was this really such a great deal or are there hundreds or thousands of “us” out there that have given Target our money for orders that are never going to arrive?

There has been considerable backlash on social media about cancelled orders and orders that are not going to be delivered for 6-8 weeks (well after Christmas).  The social media team has stopped responding – Big Mistake – HUGE MISTAKE!

Now disgruntled customers like me are taking a small legitimate complaint to the internet and making a very big deal out of it.

This could have been handled (I believe) in one well crafted ‘personalised’ email with an explanation, apology and here’s how you get your money back information.  A gift card with ‘please do not let this stop you from shopping with us in the future’ would probably have prompted a blog post and social media exposure on how to turn a bad customer experience around!

Instead I’m writing this post and investigating where else to buy the camera from immediately.  I still have not received an explanation as to why the order was cancelled let alone an apology and/or solution.  Target still has a hold on the funds from my credit card and has not offered to ship the order even though the camera remains for sale on their website – what tha?

To top it off, the only non-pro forma email I have received advised me “Don’t worry” the charge will “drop off your account in the next few business days.”  BUT “If the charge does show up on your next statement, please get in touch

Hmmm - Is This Customer Service?

with us right away.” SERIOUSLY that’s what it said (see screen shot).

 

How do you think I feel about shopping with Target ever again?  Do you think I would recommend them to family and friends? I have spend thousands of dollars with them in the past – my Son even works for them!  But I have turned from loyal customer to anti-target campaigner in one bad transaction.

Hmm what would you say to Target if you were me? And, more importantly, what are your customers saying about your business and service? And how are you responding?

I ask that last question because I believe, from their side, Target does not feel they have done anything wrong.  For their own (unexplained) operational reasons, they cancelled an order they could not deliver, they will process a refund to my card and I can then go and buy a different product or from somewhere else.

BUT, put yourself in my shoes, or in the shoes of your client, and you see a disappointed, disgruntled person that has paid for an order that was cancelled without notice or explanation, now does not have the camera for a very important occasion, does not have the funds to go and buy elsewhere while sale prices are available, has been frustrated by lack of a personal response on the medium that I chose to order on (online) and am now venting my grievance on social media.

So there is the lesson in this for all business owners.  Put yourself in your client’s shoes and then respond as you would want to be treated.  Take the time to understand their grievances – truly listen and then respond in a personal fashion on the medium that is most convenient for them – not you.

In the era of digital commerce and two-way conversations on Social Media – mass automated, non-committal responses pumped out to prompt customers to chase you for service is simply “Right OFF Target”.

Oh and Target if you are listening,  I’d love you to chose to turn this experience around and happy to report back on the blog if you do….. we’re waiting.

Mark, this means I’m back to looking for the ‘perfect’ camera deal for you – sorry don’t blame me, blame Target!

 

Tell Us….
Have you had a terrible customer experience?  What did you learn from it to improve your own business? Or how could the company have turned your bad experience around?
We’d love you comments below or on twitter at:
www.twitter.com/MarkandZoe
or share with our Facebook Community at:
www.facebook.com/MarkandZoe

Have an awesome day, I’m off camera shopping…….

 

My new business cards arrived and, as I was going to a networking event, I popped a bunch in my pocket and headed out. It wasn’t until later that night when I was asked, “Do you know Zoe deLuca?” (while the person looked straight at my card I had just given them), that the value of a name really sunk in for me.

You see my new business cards have my ‘new name’ on them. When I say new name, I should probably explain…….

After 11 years together Mark and I finally got married last week. And along with the ceremony (and party) I also ‘got’ a new surname. So Zoe deLuca is morphing into Zoe Wyatt.

So what? I know lots of people get married each year and take on their Husband’s surname. But, when you have spent the last 8 years building a brand online based on your personal name (as I have) then this becomes a major “issue”.

If a person standing in front of me with my card, did not automatically make the connection that I was the same Zoe then how is my market, and potential clients, going to do this on the internet?

The reality is that I ‘could’ retain deLuca for my professional branding. In fact I still have, www.zoedeluca.com and my Twitter profile is still @zdeluca but do I really want to have to juggle two names going forward? One for personal use and one for professional? What a hassle.

What this has brought up to me is the importance of not just your ‘name’ but your ‘Branding’ in internet marketing (including social media marketing). So, what does your name or brand online say about you and your business right now?

Are ‘you’ your brand? Is your business based around your personal name and, if so, is this optimal for you? You may not be thinking about changing your name any time soon but what if you change your core product or service offerings?

My Social Media services did not even exist 5 years ago and they continue to ‘evolve’ (ie change) rapidly. Imagine if I’d branded as ‘MySpace Specialist’ three years ago, I’d need to re-brand anyway.

Even if your branding is not based on your personal name, the name you chose to brand on is vitally important in business generally, but in internet & social media marketing especially. When developing your online brand consider these aspects:

  • Does your brand name accurately reflect your business?
  • Does your brand instantly identify what you do/offer?
    If not, do you need to incorporate a tag line to do this?
  • Can you secure the .com web address for your brand name?
  • Is your brand name consistent across all social media sites?
  • Is your brand already in use in social media accounts and will this cause confusion for your clients?
  • Have you considered transition of your business? Will you want to sell in the future or pass to a family member?

With all of this to consider “branding” is a huge decision to make.  In fact, to answer my original question, “What’s in a name?” – obviously, in the world of internet marketing, a great deal.

My decision has been to establish three clear brands:

  • Social Media ShortCut – for my Social Media Marketing Training
  • MarkandZoe – for our virtual, multiple income stream business together.  With the tagline of
    “Make The World Your Office” to make it easier to understand what the business is all about, and
  • Zoe Wyatt – for personal social media use and interacting with family and friends.

I’d love to hear of your branding decisions and challenges.  Are you looking to re-brand or overhaul your brand?  Leave your comments here or over on our facebook page at:
http://www.facebook.com/markandzoe (you’ll notice it says Zoe deLuca at the top that I can’t change ;-) )

I’m off to start the great name change……

There had been much hype over the last few days about the number of Facebook users dropping  in a few markets.

It was claimed that users in the US declined  from  155.2 million at the start of May to 149.4 million at the end of the month, and that its’ user numbers in Britain fell by more than 100,000 too.

I wonder if the entities making the claims expect everybody in those countries to sign up for Facebook?

More than half the population in the US and the UK have already done so, so one would imagine that, like any market, Facebook will find its’ level in time.  Does that mean that Facebook is going the way of My Space?

Let’s take a look at the numbers – Facebook is heading for 700 million users. More than half of the current users – somewhere over 600 million – log in every day. Average time spent on the site is between 23 and 55 minutes (*1).   With an average of 130 friends (*2) It’s hard to imagine that all those users are suddenly going to abandon it anytime soon. I think many would  find it harder to give up than smoking.

Despite all the criticism about privacy settings and the amount of information Facebook commands, the numbers continue to grow. The reason – Facebook is a social site and we humans like nothing more than to socialise. More and more users share their thoughts, their actions, their likes and their hates with millions of other users.

Is it any wonder that “Angel investors and venture capitalists have showered hundreds of millions of dollars on entrepreneurs with an idea for a new social networking business, but the money is parcelled among thousands of developers.

This is not the dotcom era of a decade ago when you had to invest heavily in servers and computer storage, and blow a wad on marketing to win visitors to your site. Now you pay-as-you-go, renting computers in the vast data warehouses created by the likes of Amazon, while marketing takes care of itself thanks to enthusiastic early users sharing their experience. *3.

Facebook – not so liked and less friends – I think not.

What do you think?   –   Mark

  1. http://www.quora.com/How-much-time-does-the-average-user-spend-on-Facebook
    2. http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics
    3. Stephen Foley in “The Independent” 15/6/11.

 

*Footnote from Zoe

Facebook have been clamping down on dual profiles, particularly where users are setting up a profile for their personal use and then another to promote their business.

I can’t help but feel that the decline in Unique Users is a result of this action and in fact a very good thing.  Weeding out fake accounts and duplicates can only serve to strengthen the use by existing members.

If you currently have both a personal profile and a PROFILE for your business then you need to convert your business profile to a business PAGE immediately.  If Facebook locates your duplicate accounts they will delete both profiles!  And all your hard work in building these will be gone.

The difference between a profile and a page is that people request to be your ‘Friend’ on a profile while members chose to ‘Like’ your page.

Need help with fixing your Facebook structure – let us know in the comments below or pop on over to our Social Media advice Facebook Page at:

www.facebook.com/SocialMediaShortCut

And check out our live trainings to help you market your business with Social Media – the right way!

www.SocialMediaShortCut.com/events