Tag Archives: reputation management

Sep 29

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Blogging, Stage Two

Stage Two Announces Greg Franzese as Head Writer: Gets Even Awesomer

Regular readers of the Stage Two blog may have noticed a new name popping up on newer posts.

That name is me, Greg Franzese.  I am the new Head Writer for Stage Two and you can follow me @GregoryFranzese

I recently joined the consumer electronics marketing, positioning, and product experience shop and I am pleased to be working with the amazing folks at Stage Two. I am excited to engage our readers and help grow the Stage Two brand. I will also be blogging for Legacy Locker and creating other marketing collateral for the group.

My passion for media, technology and writing makes this a great opportunity for me and I am excited to connect with our readers on a daily basis.

Professionally, I have experience writing for the entertainment and technology industries. I was previously Head Writer for ReputationDefender, a northern California reputation management firm. There I managed their official blog and oversaw corporate social media strategy. While at RD, I motivated teams of creative and technical professionals and created custom online campaigns for clients in the financial, tech, energy and medical industries. I also launched their testimonials page and managed an aggressive deadline calendar.

Earlier in my professional development I served as Associate Editor for National Lampoon.com where I wrote daily content and worked closely with the Editor-in-Chief to build an interactive humor brand.

I studied American Literature at UCLA, where I founded an improv comedy troupe and hosted several radio shows. I also wrote a feature film that was optioned and produced. You can Netflix it.

In my free time I enjoy reading, playing my vuvuzela and exploring Northern California.

Stage Two is an amazing company full of amazing people. My hopes for this blog are grand. I want to provide relevant information to help companies build better products that resonate with customers. I want this blog to be honest, opinionated, relevant and engaging. Hopefully the posts here connect with a wide audience of end users, tech press, tech companies and thought leaders.

Stay tuned for more content, more knowledge and more fun.

Sep 28

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Stage Two, UI/UX

Why User Experience Matters For Brand Loyalty and Customer Retention

Have you heard the one about the San Francisco designer who got so frustrated with a company’s website that he literally redesigned it himself in a couple hours? Oh, and in the process he managed to create an internet firestorm and get a company UX designer fired (but not for the reasons you think).

The designer in question is Dustin Curtis, and the company is American Airlines. Mr. Curtis was so frustrated by the confusing site design of aa.com that he swore to never fly with American again.

But before he took his business elsewhere, he wrote American Airlines a letter documenting his frustrating user experience.

Dear American Airlines,

I’m a user interface designer. I travel sometimes. Recently, I had the horrific displeasure of booking a flight on your website, aa.com. The experience was so bad that I vowed never to fly your airline again. But before we part ways, I have some questions and two suggestions for you.

He also took an an hour or so and redesigned the American Airlines homepage himself.

A clever move by a creative designer that shows not only how disgruntled customers can disrupt a major corporation online but also shows how central a great user experience is to brand loyalty.

But the story doesn’t end there.

After Mr. Curtis posted his very public complaint, an unnamed UX architect from American contacted him via email. The short form? “You are right, our website is a mess.”

Curtis published the email from the American Airlines UX designer and even though Curtis did not mention the American employee’s name (calling him only Mr. X) the company got wind of the email and fired Mr. X less than an hour after his response was published online.

What happened next presaged the Kevin Smith “too fat to fly Southwest Airlines” tweakout of 2010 (an epic customer experience fail that went viral and even got picked up by USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, ABC News and others). The internet picked up the story (1.2 Million unique views) and then the MSM ran with it, as well.

While American Airlines did a poor job of managing its online reputation and provided poor customer outreach, their chief failing was poor user experience on their website.

As Mr. Curtis notes:

Customer experience is the new brand

I’m not referring to a brand as a logo and a typeface. I’m referring to the new kind of brand, the one is formed by the entire experience of a customer’s interaction. That experience gets branded into his or her memory and leaks into the buzz of modern culture. If you can’t make a good customer experience from start to finish, you’ve failed to generate brand value that will attract customers to come back for repeat business and tell their friends to come back, too. That’s how good customer experience directly affects the bottom line.

Exceptional companies deliver exceptional customer experiences, even when things go wrong. Just look at Virgin America. They recently had their Australian computer system crash for 21 hours. 50,000 passengers were left stranded amid the chaos. Virgin quickly worked to remedy the situation.

The airline offered stranded passengers with free accommodation, traveling to airports (to and fro), re booking on Virgin or any other airline and a free flight ticket that can be used in the coming twelve months.

The company has a history of putting customer needs first. Last year a man wrote a letter to Sir Richard Branson complaining about the food on Virgin Air. Was he ignored like Drew Curtis and American? Hardly. Branson invited the troubled diner to the Virgin headquarters and had him help select future food offerings for flights. The airline turned a negative into a positive through responsive, thoughtful action.

Creating a great experience for customers translates to increased customer retention and greater brand affinity. It is not only the right thing to do, it makes business sense. If a company or brand that people love makes a mistake, the consumer is quick to forgive and forget. Building goodwill through proper customer care is key to navigating the ups and downs of business today.

At Stage Two we interweave marketing strategy with product experience work because we believe they are highly related. When your customers love your products, they’ll love your company, and when they love your company, they’ll tell people, they’ll forgive your mistakes, and they’ll stay your customers for a much longer time than if they just buy stuff from you.