Between You and Me, There's PR

Exploring, learning and using social media, public relations and marketing.

Are eBooks the future? September 15, 2013

I’ve been cheating on you with my iPad. I’m obsessed with reading lately and it’s all because of the convenience of eBooks. Between that and Fairway Solitare, it’s the only thing I use my iPad for.

photoJust like when mp3 players came out, I wasn’t sure I wanted to read an electronic book. I knew I’d miss holding it in my hand and turning a physical page. In the end, convenience (and price) won out.

I can go to the library from my couch and never have to worry about returning the book on time. Instead, they just take it from me. Meanwhile, I forget to pick-up a book I request at the library and am charged $2 for a  book I never even touch.

I do miss the fact that I can’t skip back a few chapters to see if that character that was just mentioned was the same one they mentioned in chapter one to find out if I just solved the mystery. It also makes it hard to join a book club or use it for a textbook. I also miss looking at how thick the rest of the book is to determine if I can finish it in one sitting, or if I should just go to bed. I’m suspicious of whether or not eBooks will replace paper books or not because there are so many benefits to both.

When I go to the pool, I can’t take my iPad with me-; it’s the most expensive book I’ve ever purchased! But when I go on a plane, I’d much rather pack a less bulky book that can also check my email and Facebook all in one.

Studies show that hay-day of the eBook was in 2010 and since then, has had a dramatic decline, including a signs that sales are beginning to level off.  It also shows that while ebooks are popular, they have yet to match the demand for printed copies.  Is it nostalgia, resistance to change, or both? When we made the switch from CDs to digital music downloads the same trend occured. CDs continued to dominate for the first few years after their introduction, but they now dominate the market.

closed-shop1It reminds me of the moment Meg Ryan’s character turns off the lights of her empty boutique bookstore in You’ve Got Mail. It’s such a sad moment. Nearly as sad as driving past abandoned Borders stores after they went out of business. Can you imagine a future where our children don’t know what it’s like to visit a bookstore? It’s really not that hard these days.

I have faith that people will still crave a tangible book to supplement their digital readings. There are certain circumstances when you just need one over the other. Then again, if we look at sales trends of CDs to Digital music or how DVDs made VHS obsolete, chances are we’ll eventually live in a eBook only world. Brace yourself.

Do you think print books will remain in the market in the future?

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Customer service best practices:Online support January 8, 2012

Have you ever spent time in a call center or worked in any form  of customer service? Everyone says you should work at least one service job in your life to better appreciate what those people go through. Usually, this refers to restaurant services, but I’d have to argue that retail services is equally as challenging and does not result in a tip at the end of the experience.

I know this statement is unfair because I have never worked as a server, but I think it is important to recognize retail customer service as a demanding field as well. It’s easy to complain about something, but it’s even harder to listen to the complaint and resolve it with a big smile on your face.

It started when I was 17. I was working at Toys R Us on Christmas Eve and was faced with a very unhappy customer who accused me of being blind and racist when I literally exchanged no words at all to her. How do you listen to someone throwing drastic accusations at you and manage to still smile and offer to assist them with their needs? It’s not easy!

Knowing what it is like to be on the other side of customer service doesn’t necessarily guarantee you will be an angel when you have your own problems as a customer. You know the feeling. Your furnace broke, your computer froze  or your Christmas gift didn’t show up  on time, or at all. It’s time to talk to someone, but the dread of waiting on hold on the phone or in line at a store makes you re-think your situation and in turn, gives you more time to spend with your problem making your angrier.

I think the most brilliant move in customer service is the ability to chat with a representative online. My first attraction to this method is that I don’t have to wait long to talk to someone! The representatives are extremely timely. I also like the fact that you can surf the net while they type and entertain yourself. They can also send you to helpful links which is less confusing in type than over the phone. I also like that I don’t have to talk to a person. I think typing something calms me down and I don’t get as worked up about my situation; that may have something to do with the surfing the net component as well.

I recently contacted Sony to question why my three month old computer was freezing and going blank. It’s funny because you can always pick out their scripted phrases like: “I’m sorry to hear that,” “Thank you for confirming,” and “I understand your frustration.” Here is an excerpt from my online support chat:

My representative was very helpful and listened to my questions. I have also used online support with Charter, Sprint, Dell and an apartment complex- to name a few. Not only does online chat support ease the pain of customer/company interactions, it also benefits a company’s sales. Answering a question before the potential customer leaves, and the ease with which it can be answered, increases the chances that a person will purchase something for the first time. It also can relieve a customer’s anger so they might return again.

When given the choice, I always turn to online chat support to resolve my issue before calling, emailing or putting on shoes and visiting the store. What is your preferred method of customer service?

 

The Square… (ooooo…ahhhhh) November 19, 2011

I love nothing more than lazy weekends. Sleeping in, finally having the time to blog and craft fair shopping!

I hadn’t been to my high school’s craft fair in years and was excited to add this unique activity to my plans this weekend. As though shopping wasn’t enough fun, Taylor Saleem, owner and designer of The Rare Bird, allowed me to be her assistant to help sell her jewelry at the fair! I spent the day greeting shoppers, telling people they looked beautiful in Taylor’s jewelry and ringing orders.

The coolest part was getting to use her new Square, a credit card reader that talks to your iPhone, iPad or Android device. I had been part of a market research group for this tool, so I was really excited to see it in action. The Square is, literally, a square. It is a small square with a plugin that attaches to your phone. There is an additional application to download, and it must be connected to a checking account and WiFi.

It works by clicking the app, typing in the cost, waiting for it to calculate sales tax (Awesome!) and swiping the card. After swiping, it has the person sign for their card using their fingertip and asks if they would like a receipt emailed. Then, bam! The transaction is over.

The Square is also very concerned with security. For instance, the business will never see full credit card information. Instead, an encrypted code is used as soon as the swipe is complete. You can read more information about their security measures on their website.

We could track sales all throughout the day, and I think customers really appreciated that we were able to take all forms of credit cards in a speedy fashion. And I know Taylor was excited not to have to use her big old credit card machine!

I noticed several vendors using the Square throughout the craft fair. Although the day could not be outdone by The Rare Bird’s incredibly beautiful designs, I know this gadget-nerd (me) was definitely impressed by the Square’s performance.

Now since the day is not over, I will continue my assistant duties and recommend that you visit The Rare Bird’s website, Facebook page or follow her on Twitter. If you visit Taylor at the Lindbergh craft fair tomorrow and purchase one of her gorgeous pieces, you too can use the Square! 🙂

 

 
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