Fault vs. Responsibility – in a service business.


At Sircle Media, we are a service-based business working within the social media industry. I tell my team that we all have a responsibility to ourselves, to our company and to our clients to take ownership of any situation and deliver hard work and great service at all times. It doesn’t mean the customer is always right and in fact, they are often wrong in their approach and treatment of situations with us.

The reality is that most people struggle with managing their own work, let alone people under them or agencies that are serving them. Most people don’t respect authority and don’t know how to be their best selves or to deploy empathy and understand the other side of the conversation. If you want to be “a boss” when it comes to customer service, then you need to dare to be different.

I encourage my team to lean into the issues and never shy away from them.  To be vocal and confident and not cower and acquiesce just to play nicely. We work hard to make sure our clients are happy, but at times the path to happiness might be bumpy and unpaved. Some clients don’t want to be told what to do or that they need to improve on their end and as a result, they have a high churn rate with agencies. They won’t change and so the vendor is the one to go automatically. They place fault on the outsider rather than taking responsibility to fix it.

It is on us then to dig deeper, be even more solid in our work product and communication and to win through taking responsibility and owning our own actions.  When we do that, we are on the right side of history with each relationship and we will win much more than we lose. Those are just the facts.

I love this little rant about fault vs responsibility from Will Smith. I think it applies to our work with clients and is a great guide for life in general. Things happen to you personally and professionally all the time. The question is, how will you respond and fix the situation?

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On only wanting to work with good partners…

On this episode, Adam talks about wanting to only work with good partners/people and being ok with walking away from those who don’t fit that description. We are big believers in top-notch service, hard work and lots of over-delivering for our clients and in return, we look for respect and solid collaboration.

At times, we (as all agencies do) experience partners who do not live up to their end of the bargain. Some clients can be rude, unprofessional and just terrible to work for/with and in those instances, it is ok to walk away. When the client/agency relationship ends, it is usually seen as the agency who took the “L”. That might be the perception, but the breakup might have been the client’s doing and not the vendor.

As Sircle Media has grown and matured, that has become more and more apparent and we have really gotten comfortable with that. We know what we offer, and most of our clients do too. For the vast majority of you, we appreciate you more than you know!

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Not all social media wins can be counted in numbers…

Social media is about so much more than fans and followers. Sometimes the best wins can come from simply paying attention to your audience, caring about what they have to say and then reacting in a courteous and professional way. If you want a community and want to empower positive WOM (word of mouth) marketing opportunities, then you need to listen and react accordingly.

Screen Shot 2017-01-30 at 8.53.57 AM

This past weekend a follower tagged our client @MichtersWhiskey in a tweet that included the picture to the left and the below message:
“Welp……guess I gotta drink it all. #idontwantto #ihaveto #nochoice #sacrifice #brokencork #qualitycontrol #michters @MichtersWhiskey

The tone was not super negative, but the person was not very pleased with a malfunction on the cork of his newly opened bottle. We sprung right into action and direct messaged him to get more details regarding what happened.

After some back and forth with him we remedied the situation and we explained that quality control is very important to us. We wanted to let him know he was heard and that the brand cares.

Michters- Customer Service

He was very appreciative and thanked us via DM and then went ahead and tweeted out a message letting the Twittersphere know as well. Here we quickly turned a negative situation into a positive brand engagement and forged a deeper relationship with a fan. The WOM from this engagement is also sure to put the brand in a good light with anyone he shares the story with. Mark it as a social “small ball” win.

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On core values…

Sircle-Core Values

I am a big believer in being very clear and transparent with your core values.  Both personally and professionally, people should know what they can expect when dealing with you. It is best shown through your actions, but it is a great idea to document them and then use them as a guide to help point your compass in the right direction.  At Sircle Media we do that and we use these as our governing principles on the daily.

Who We Are:

Sircle Media is a serviced based business that helps brands navigate the social and digital media landscape. We provide outsourced solutions that help clients win online, while not being dragged or slowed down by bloated payroll. As a result they can invest more time + funds into actually advancing their business.

While we happen to work in social and digital media, our actual business is service.  In order to give great service you need to have the right foundation and approach in place.

10 Core Values:

1. We provide Four Season’s level service at all touch points.

2. When we say something will get done, we make sure it does.

3. We believe in transparent, open and honest communication.

4. We employ a “can do” attitude and go above + beyond for clients.

5. We believe in constant growth and learning.

6. We are honest and forthcoming with our clients + coworkers.

7. We promote a positive team and family spirit.

8. We believe in being scrappy and doing more with less.

9. We are passionate and determined to be great at what we do.

10. We deploy a gratitude attitude and we genuinely appreciate the opportunities we are given.

I would hope that clients, employees and/or vendors who read this would agree that these are a big part of who we are.  If they do, then we are doing it right.

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Win of The Week- Customer Service 2.0

Sircle- Monitoring

With social media, the sexy topics are content creation, influencer collaborations and even the paid efforts that lead back to measurable KPI’s and ROI’s.  Those are the things most clients and prospects want to talk about and will ultimately use to gauge whether social media efforts are working. While they are both important, they are more about talking than listening, and it is in the latter category where brands should be focused a bit more.

We believe that content and growth efforts are 2/3 of the puzzle, but engagement is where you really can set your brand apart from the pack. One of the most important roles that a Social Media Manager fills is – Customer Service Manager. In today’s day and age, people will chime in and comment about bad (or good) experiences and it is mission critical to have your ears open to the feedback.

Our client Bombas cares very much about servicing their community, referred to as The Hive. Like any brand they have had negative and positive feedback and commentary, and together we remain committed to auditing, listening and tackling their needs head on. Sometimes it can turn a negative comment into a positive one, or even a sale.  As you see here:


Remember, your community is watching and sometimes they will chime in and have your back when others are complaining too.


They appreciate authenticity and that a brand actually does care. This is the “blocking and tackling” component of social media and while it doesn’t show up on the scoreboard each day, it is everything if you want to win online.


In general the commitment to being a great community and a brand who actually cares is a long play and not a short one. It is a daily grind and takes a lot of man hours and work, but in the end of the day it is all about creating something that is built to last.


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The Customer Is Always Wrong?

customer is always wrong

Well not really, but the subject is sure to get me some eyeballs right?  Hear me out though…

I find that most companies are making bad decisions these days either based on lack of knowledge, insecurity and/or fear. When they are feeling insecure or scared they tend to be conservative and not forward thinking. This is the wrong POV and a surefire way to go out of business. I am convinced that to succeed you must be proactive, confident and be willing to experiment and go outside of your comfort zone.

Many brands hire a Social Media Agency, because they feel pressured to by the market, but don’t really understand what that means. They do it from a position of weakness, rather than a proactive and positive decision to implement what they know deep down needs to get done. Because they are not 100% sold on the value of social media for their business they often are “half pregnant” with the decision and therefore play in the middle of the tennis court.  This sometimes makes for an awkward engagement and it almost seems like they are waiting for them to screw up and/or looking to prove that it was not a good hire. Almost like in some perverse way, they want to show them that the decision was a bad one.  What is the sense in that?  Again, just the wrong POV.

I suggest they take a different posture.  Make a threshold decision that online efforts are mission critical for the brand, determine what they want to see happen and then staff to those goals.  They will need an excellent Social Media Manager (or an agency like ours that serves as one) who is well versed in all nuances of social media, understands the importance of excellent customer service and perhaps most important, feels like a dedicated employee who works each day to outperform their pay grade.  In the end of the day, great companies are driven by great employees who are committed to the cause. Jim Collins talks about that in his book, Good To Great and it all comes down to having the right people on the bus, working on clear objectives.

So when I say the customer is always wrong, what I mean is that in my experience most just have the wrong POV. They either don’t buy in, or they do so half heartedly and don’t allow for the effort to (fully) succeed. At Sircle, our best clients are the ones who have full confidence that social and digital media are a “must have” for their business and either give us full autonomy and/or work with us to solve for X and find the can vs the can’t, in any effort we deploy.  When as a team we believe it as religion over tactic, it takes hold and we see amazing things happen.

Clients want and need me to speak my mind and stand my ground.  Not to be argumentative or combative, but to be a voice of reason and the usher of change.  If I employ a customer is always right mentality, we all fail.  So I try to tell them the opposite, with a smile of course. :)




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Developing Loyal Customers


Social media has given brands the chance to get to know their fans and customers, and to build relationships with them. It can also help brands to cultivate loyal, long-term customers if they use the platforms correctly. Take a look at some tips from Social Media Examiner to grow your brand’s relationship with customers.

1)   Personalize the experience. Make each and every fan feel like they matter to you, because they do. End your posts with your name, so they can see that there’s a human behind your brand, or try allowing fans to personalize products.
2)   Reward them. Give your entire social media following a discount code, sneak previews, or contests to let them know you appreciate them.
3)   Give them a surprise. Whether it’s a discount code for reaching a social media milestone, an unexpected birthday gift, or a holiday surprise, do something kind to shock and delight them from time to time.
4)   Remember to listen. Engage with your fans, hear their complaints or suggestions, and take action. Let them know you value their opinion.
5)   Be knowledgeable. There is so much information on the Internet, so make sure you can offer your fans something they can’t find. Know your products and services inside and out so you can assist them with anything they might need.
6)   Don’t forget to follow up. Even if you’ve already answered a question for a customer, make sure to follow up with them at a later date. It’s important they know you value their experience.
7)   Build trust. Keep your promises to fans and always make sure to be transparent. If you make a mistake, own up to it and apologize. People will respect the honesty and will trust your brand even more.
8)   Share values. Every brand has core values they were built on, so share them with your fans. Nothing will create a long-term relationship with a customer faster than knowing you share their values.

The most important thing for building long-term relationships with customers is for the customer to know they are valued. Follow these tips to grow these relationships with people who respect and trust your brand.

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Consumer Engagement: Keepin it Social, With Social!

Social-Media-For-Customer-EngagmentConsumer engagement: the resulting impact of a brand interacting with consumers through a variety of marketing initiatives. With social media at it’s peak, brands are taking advantage of every opportunity to speak to their customers. Whether it is responding to an issue, a complaint, or acknowledging a feature on the brand, there is a fine line of interaction, before it becomes too “fake”.

Consumers want to feel like they matter. It is the job of any brand to make their customers feel like they are listening to them. “A new study conducted by the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) has found that 90 percent of consumers would recommend a brand to others after interacting with them on social media.” It has been proven that social media can drive sales and ROI by consumer engagement, which ultimately increases brand loyalty. It all starts with customer service, which is why it is essential to use a more humanistic approach. Consumers care about the little things, the simple things, such as a response, and a quick one at that. If real-time isn’t an option for a brand, a response within 24 hours is a must.

  • More than 50 percent of Facebook users and 80 percent of Twitter users expect a response to a customer service inquiry in a day or less (Source: Consumer Views of Live Help Online 2012, A Global Perspective, Oracle)
  • Social customers will tell an average of 42 people about a good customer experience, and will tell an average of 53 people about a bad customer experience (Source: 2012 American Express Global Customer Service Barometer)

What type of brand interaction resonates with you or your clients on social media? What brand do you think does the best job?

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