Author Archives: Christine

About Christine

Entrepreneur & business owner. Single mom. I love dogs, the ocean, fashion, marathons, the Red Sox, wine, humor and kindness. I champion women in business, technology and small business and enjoy helping others make their dreams come true.

A Customer Service and Marketing Lesson from Club Wyndham Resorts

CW_Twitter_Icon_400x400We’ve all been there – on a well-deserved and long-awaited vacation, when you get “the pitch.” Someone from the resort interrupts your day to ask if you’d give them just 90 minutes to come look at a time share. They’re aggressive, but you really don’t want to give up time in the sun having fun with your family, so you politely say no. Most of the time they accept your decline, encourage you to call if you change your mind, remind you of the lovely dinner gift certificate you can get, and move on.

Well, not Club Wyndham. They don’t take no for an answer.

My family arrived in North Myrtle Beach Thursday night after a very long car ride from Boston. We were looking forward to a nice, quiet beach vacation. When we pulled into the parking garage, we were greeted by a lovely gentleman named Bill, who happened to also be from Boston (Watertown, to be exact) and was a former Harvard University police offer. Bill was awesome.

Bill’s colleagues could stand to take some lessons from him. 

We proceeded to the third floor to check in. Annie at the front desk was pleasant enough. Then she sent us to another desk to “get our parking pass.” This process was less about getting our parking pass and more about three women accosting us with more paperwork than a plastic surgeon, and a hard core pitch on spending 90 minutes the first morning of our vacation attending a “presentation” that was “just so you can get to know more about Wyndham, because we don’t advertise, so we’d love for you to tell people about your experience.”

You got it, Wyndham. Here’s our experience.

I very politely declined. They then “upped the ante” with new offers of dinner certificates, “cruise” packages (more dinner certificates on a cruise if you paid to take the cruise) and more. They didn’t seem to get that 90 minutes taken out of my very short vacation with my family was not worth $200 to me. My time with my family and in the sun was way  more important.

But they wouldn’t take no for an answer. When my fiancé came back to get us, I was so overwhelmed with all the paperwork that had just been shoved in my face, that I very politely again said we would need to go talk about it, trying to get him (and my four kids who were sitting there still holding their bags and very tired) to walk away before they wasted 20 more minutes of our time. The woman – we nicknamed her “Manhattan” because that’s where she was from (and she never told us her name) – suggested that I take the bags and go upstairs with the kids, and they would then repeat the pitch and tell my fiancé all about the “deals” that we “really shouldn’t pass up.”

I again stated that we would need to talk about it, we weren’t going to commit right there, and that we both had work conference calls the next morning anyway, so it was unlikely we would attend. I was trying to be nice.

Nice doesn’t work.

They filled out paperwork and signed us up anyway, and told us to “let them know if we decided we wouldn’t attend.” Fine, whatever it took to get out of there and get out to the pool!

When we finally got up to our room a half hour later, we dropped of our bags and my fiancé  needed to go park the car. But… no parking pass. The women had been so busy with their pitches for the 90 minute presentation and the push to all of their suggested vendors to patron, that they forgot to even give us a a parking pass!

So my fiancé  had to go back down and get the pass. And he got pitched again. When he finally flat out explained that our time with family was more valuable than a $200 gift certificate, he was given a rude wave, shooing him away and a “fine, goodbye” from Ms. Manhattan.

Class act, Wyndham, class act.

So we were pretty upset. The entire situation set a very negative tone. But we had said no and so we went about our evening.

This morning we awoke to a note under the door, indicating we should call Amber at the Hospitality Desk. We were excited, thinking maybe they were going to upgrade our room to an oceanside view like we had requested.

Nope.

The call was so that Amber could “reschedule us” because we hadn’t shown up for the 8:30 presentation. Apparently, Ms. Manhattan didn’t take our “No” to heart and left us on the list anyway.

We checked out Friday morning and got our money back. We weren’t about to spend our vacation continually bullied and pressured into a situation we didn’t want. It was beyond uncomfortable and Wyndham didn’t deserve our dollars.

There’s a customer service and marketing lesson or two in here:

  • Know your audience – when I filled out the form indicating our preferences, household income, etc., it should have been clear that $200 for our time wasn’t something that would really entice us.
  • Listen to your audience – look, we’re all in sales. We get it. But when your audience isn’t responding favorably to your tactics, you don’t do more of the same. You figure out a new strategy.
  • Train your marketing, sales, customer service and all departments that the customer experience relies on all of them to do their job well. It didn’t matter that Bill was nice and welcoming – his colleagues didn’t follow suite, and thus, we left and they lost revenue.

There are more to be had but like I said, I am on vacation and, thanks to Wyndham, have lost nearly a full day in the sun with my kids to rescheduling, rebooking and moving to another hotel (also adding a half hour more to our drive home). It’s time for me to get out in the sun.

One last note – our check out was lovely. The manager was pleasant and understanding and apologetic. Ironically, he, too, was from Massachusetts, one town over from us. So our two most pleasant interactions at the Wyndham Towers on the Grove were with people from our hometown. Way to go, Boston.

Two Simple Tips For Building Brand Community

What makes a community? This week I was on a social media panel at MIT Sloan, where we began the conversation with this topic – community building. How do you use social media to build a community around your brand?

There are two key words that come to mind when I think of community:

  • Helpful
  • Resourceful

It’s easy to broadcast on social media, but if you’re looking to build a community and advocacy around your brand, lead with these two values. Be helpful – post tips, tricks, and hacks – tell people how they can do things better or easier. Be resourceful – build up your thought leadership around key subjects that you know are important to your connections. Offer insights, experiences or opinions. Be thoughtful. When people know they can rely on your for quality content, they will continue to come back to your channels. You have become a resource to them.

Another simple approach is to think about walking into a party in your new neighborhood. Let’s say you’ve just moved in. If you want to become a part of the community, you don’t barge into the party loudly broadcasting how great you are and pitching people on what you do. You’d likely take the time to introduce yourself, get to know what matters to your neighbors and, if appropriate, offer up insights on things you have in common, sharing your experiences.

Online isn’t really all that different. Brands lose sight of this. Just because you can broadcast on social media doesn’t mean that all you should broadcast is information about yourself. Brands especially need to take care with how they establish and build community. It’s okay to share information about your products and services but in the end, by being a resource and offering ongoing information about topics related to your business – and to what your audience cares about – you will develop stronger relationships.

For more on this and other social media tips, check out the video from the panel. Bobbie Carleton of Innovation Women was our amazing moderator. Thank you for the opportunity, Bobbie!

 

Changes to Change Your Life

“Ordinary people seek entertainment. Extraordinary people seek education and learning.”

As I grow older, I’m constantly on the lookout for ways to improve my life. I get the “itch” to do something drastic and different. But maybe it’s about changing more of the little things rather than just one big thing.

This is undoubtedly one of the most inspiring posts I’ve read this year. I’m going to strive to follow the advice here, (although I already do a few of them). Check it out and let me know the changes you see if you take these on! I’ll be sure to share my experiences as well.

50 Ways Happier, Healthier, And More Successful People Live On Their Own Terms

Ladies, Join Me At The Inaugural Opening Night For MACFW

2015-opening-night-headerThe Massachusetts Conference For Women kicks off next week with its first-ever Opening Night — an evening of speakers, signings, shopping, learning and networking. The event will be held December 9th from 5-9pm at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Many of the Conference-day speakers will be participating in talks, interviews, book signings and meet and greets. I’ll personally be happy to see Tory  Johnson, contributor to ABC’s Good Morning America and #1 New York Times best-selling author of The Shift. Tory actually included me in one or her earlier books, Will Work From Home, and I was lucky enough to be invited to speak on her Spark & Hustle tour a few years ago.

Opening Night attendees can take advantage of LinkedIn profile makeover workshops, volunteer for a local nonprofit, watch live product pitches and support local woman-owned businesses in the Expo Hall. It’s the Conference experience on a smaller scale and I’m excited to attend! You can, too! Tickets are only $25 and can be purchased at maconferenceforwomen.org.

The Massachusetts Conference for Women offers the community and connection, the information and inspiration, the motivation and momentum to help you discover what you want—and go get it! The Conference features nationally recognized speakers who share their wisdom and expertise on a wide range of personal and professional development topics, helping you find clarity on your goals and what you need to accomplish them.

Unfortunately, conference tickets are sold out. But I have two tickets to the Opening Night event to give away*. If you’d like to join me there, please be one of the first two readers to leave a comment below with the best piece of advice you’ve received that inspired you to reach great heights personally or professionally. The first two readers to comment will win free registration to the Opening Night event. Please be sure that you can attend if you are going to comment!

I look forward to seeing many of you next Wednesday.

 

*Giveaway Details:

No purchase necessary

First two people to comment will win a free ticket to Opening Night

Winners must confirm they are able to attend the Opening Night event

Prize value: $25.00

Comments must be received by Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Winners must provide their email upon request – a registration code will be sent to the winners via email

Free registrations sponsored by The Massachusetts Conference For Women

Boston 50 On Fire – Thanks!

I was happily surprised and super grateful to be named a finalist in BostInno’s 2015 50 On Fire awards in the Professional Services Category. From thousands of nominations, a judging committee chooses 200 finalists that are “companies and individuals who are disrupting their industries and making an impact in Boston and beyond.” Wow – I’m flattered to be recognized in the city I love so much!

50onfire

I am grateful to my clients, staff and industry colleagues for the opportunities to work with them on such fun and interesting campaigns that allow me to be nominated for such cool awards. We’ll find out in a super fun ceremony on December 3 who the winners are. Grab your tickets, here.

Sunglass Hut: One Simple, Smart Marketing Move

sunglasses

Prada sunglasses available at http://www.sunglasshut.com/us/prada

Sometimes small businesses get overwhelmed with the idea of creating marketing campaigns. They often think effective marketing has to be expensive and intricate. But the truth is, sometimes the best marketing comes in the form of simple, smart moves. One example comes from Sunglass Hut.

When you buy a pair of sunglasses at any Sunglass Hut, they’ll ask you if you’d like to purchase one of their cleaning kits. Great. But did you know that if you do, they offer free refills of the cleaning solution for life?

Pretty smart, eh? Here’s why:

  • Doing so means you’ll come back into the store. Getting customers in the door is always key in retail.
  • By getting customers in the door, they’re more likely to make a repeat purchase – they see new merchandise, engage with sales executives, etc.
  • Offering “free for life” increases loyalty and brand stickiness.

The company offers several other smart marketing examples such as free shipping, fittings and returns. For marketers who understand the psychology of “free,” you know these are smart moves. You don’t have to be a large corporation to implement some kind of repeat business campaign. Maybe you can’t afford to provide free shipping or products, but I bet you can afford to give loyalty discounts or other creative reasons for a shopper to return to your store. Perhaps it’s a free pair of earrings with every necklace purchase during the holidays, or a Free Refill on a shopper’s Birthday. Get creative and remember, you’re trying to get them back into your store – online or off – to encourage additional engagement.

Marketing doesn’t have to mean a huge, flashy campaign. The best marketing keeps the customer in mind, and looks at offers and promotions from their perspective.

What “I Love You” Means

Love is complicated. Love makes people crazy. Love can be euphoric.

I think the best summation I’ve read of love is from Cheryl Strayed, bestselling author of “Wild” and “Tiny Beautiful Things.” In the latter, she explains her definition:

“A proclamation of love is not inherently ‘loaded with promises and commitments that are highly fragile and easily broken.’ The terms you agree to in any given relationship are connected to, but not defined by, whether you’ve said ‘I love you’ or not. ‘I love you’ can mean I think you’re groovy and beautiful and I’m going to do everything in my power to be your partner for the rest of my life. It can mean I think you’re groovy and beautiful but I’m in transition right now, so let’s go easy on the promises and take it as it comes. It can mean I think you’re groovy and beautiful but I’m not interested in a commitment with you, now or probably ever, no matter how groovy or beautiful you continue to be.”

This is part of one of her Sugar advice columns, where she continues:

“The point is, Johnny, you get to say. You get to define the terms of your life. You get to negotiate and articulate the complexities and contradictions of your feelings.”

You get to say. And if anyone you love starts to tell you that your definition of love must match theirs, it’s time for a serious conversation. Perhaps this is why love goes so wrong so often – we stop accepting our partner’s definition and instead try to make them fit into ours. Accept the love, or don’t. But don’t try to change it.

She concludes with, “Be brave, Be authentic, Practice saying the word ‘love’ to the people you love so when it matters the most to say it, you will.”

Happy Valentine’s Day.