- Bulleted lists
- Customer satisfaction survey
- Customer service
- Customer service e-mail
- English as a second language
- Government web writing
- Grammar and usage
- Help desk
- Hypertext links
- Plain language
- Press release
- Public relations
- Quality standards
- Social Customer Service
- Social media
- Style guides
- Subject line
- Visual display
- Web Writing
- Word cloud
- Writing resources
- Writing Skills
- Writing training
Post archive for February, 2012
February 21, 2012
I've learned about a couple of prime job openings in the D.C. area for writers. The first is at the Investment Company Institute (ICI). I've worked with ICI, and it's a great environment for intelligent wordsmiths who understand the financial services industry. I would be thrilled if a great candidate for their Writer/Editor job picked up the lead through this blog. The second is at the World Resources Institute (WRI). I haven't worked with WRI, but this is D.C., so I know someone who went to college with someone whose cousin knows someone who's worked there.
Good luck, smart people! Apply now. And please let me know if you get the interview or the job.
- "The Investment Company Institute, the trade association for U.S. investment companies, is looking for a Writer/Editor to join their communications team. Provides writing and editorial support for ICI communications and policy initiatives; supports development of content for web and social media; provides support to media team; assists in defining priorities and identifying opportunities for creative strategic communications. Bachelor's degree and 5 or more years of communication or publication experience; strong writing and editing skills; knowledge of financial services industry desired; web and social media skills a plus. ICI offers competitive pay and benefits. Email resume, cover letter, and writing sample to firstname.lastname@example.org. EOE."
"The World Resources Institute (WRI) seeks outstanding candidates for the position of Online Editor/Writer in the External Relations department. WRI is a fast-growing environmental organization with diverse programs that operate both globally and within specific countries and regions. WRI’s work includes climate change, deforestation, ecosystem protection, sustainable markets, environmental governance, and sustainable transportation. This position works with WRI’s program and communications staff to expand WRI’s visibility and impact, and influence decision makers to advance solutions for today’s top sustainability and environmental challenges." Learn more at WRI's Careers page.
February 20, 2012
This guest blog post comes from writer and publicity expert Erin Flynn Jay of Flynn Mediaand it goes out to all the book authors. In these lean times, you'll probably have to do your own PR. Read Erin's practical suggestions on how to draw attention to your book.
"Many authors decide to promote their own books. Are you publicizing yours? Perhaps your publisher is not allocating a lot of in-house PR for the book, and you don’t have a budget to hire a PR firm. If this is the case, it will be important for you to do some PR for your own book.
I’ve been in the book PR business for over 10 years, working for agencies as well as my own author clients. Here’s how to best do it without annoying busy editors:
Determine your target media.Who do you want to cover your book? To start, I suggest developing a list of 20 to 30 editors, reporters or bloggers. If you write about parenting, what are the key parenting magazines and online outlets? Ask yourself, “How can my book benefit this contact’s audience?” Nothing annoys editors more than receiving pitches that are completely off-target.
Track down editorial contact info. This will be easy to do via the Internet. Better yet, have an assistant do it. Email addresses and direct phone numbers are key.
Customize your email via an intro pitch. This pitch should be two to three paragraphs on the book and on your author background. Always try to tie your book into what is happening in the news. If you have time, go even further: Research what these media contacts have written, and suggest a story idea that would complement what they have covered prior. Here's a sample intro pitch:
Story Idea: Good News for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered People
The place of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people in the Christian churches is a highly controversial and debatable issue now. Rep. Michele Bachmann is one politician with an aggressive anti-gay agenda.
As a gay activist and gay Christian writer, Keith Sharpe challenges ignorance and prejudice about LGBT people. His new book, The Gay Gospels, stands against the 'clobber texts' which condemn gay people and powerfully affirms that gay lives are validated in the Bible.
The Gay Gospelsoffers a strong defense against the 'clobber texts' with a powerful affirmation that gay lives are validated in the Bible, all grounded in Biblical scholarship and written in popular accessible style.
The subject line is key. Media are bombarded with hundreds of emails daily--What will interest them to open yours? Make it short and make it sell.
Here are a couple of sample subject lines:
- Story Idea: Good News for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered People
- Interview Opportunity With Gay Activist and UK Author Keith Sharpe
Send the email and then follow-up. How often, what is enough? A few days later, try a follow-up email first, and see what comes back. If you don’t get a response, call them. Try to get these contacts on the phone Live before leaving voicemails. Always better to get an editor on the phone than to leave them several voicemail messages. You’re a savvy author and businessperson--use discretion. You don’t want to be overbearing and have the media cringe and say, “Not you again!”
Toot the coverage on social media. Traditional media coverage will always be critical---now social media is vital, too. When you start getting some traditional media mentions (magazines, newspapers) you will want to post on social networks. Post a mention on twitter—make sure your twitter is connected to facebook and LinkedIn. Presto--one tweet will let your social media friends know about your placement.
Here's a sample Tweet:
- Keith Sharpe’s “The Gay Gospels” in Washington Blade: http://bit.ly/pg3BRN. Interested media may contact me for review copies.
PR has changed with the rise of social media. Some of the traditional outlets had had to lay off staffers in droves due to the economic downturn. There are more independent bloggers with their own audiences. The rise of Mommy bloggers nationwide is astounding. So in addition to editors and reporters at traditional outlets, make sure you add bloggers and twitterers to your target list. Yes, twitterers are listed in media databases.
Bottom line: There is a whole new crop of media who can write about your book.
Are you trying to pitch your own or someone else's book? If so, tell us your story. What's worked and what hasn't? Share some of your PR strategies here.
February 7, 2012
Someone needs to tell Verizon: "Customer service chat is supposed to help the customer." Read through the transcript of this truly painful chat, and you'll hardly believe your eyes. The customer, Marianne, endures:
- One hour and 17 minutes of chat
- Dialogue with no fewer than five chat agents: Kevin, Daniel, Maurice, Anoop, and Benita (not their real names...)
- Redundant requests for her account name, e-mail address, and phone number
- Contradictory information. One agent tells Marianne she'll need to place an order to change the number of rings, and another tells her she can make the change herself online.
- An absolutely galling closing, given the circumstances: "Have a nice day"
- A 15-minute wait period during which she's repeatedly asked to be patient
Now, I am usually pretty good about finding something a customer service writer can learn from each chat transcript or e-mail I share in this blog. But this Verizon chat has me stumped, as it is an extremely painful service experience for the customer and for Verizon. Because the chat is so bad, even best practices – restating the customer's question, for example – backfire. (See 15:06:57)
So, I dug into our archive and found some practical writing advice to share. If you want to improve your customer service chat writing skills, review these blog posts for tips.
- "Doing the needful"? Does Odd Wording Harm the Quality of Customer Service Chat?
- Five Top Writing Techniques to Effectively Communicate through Chat
- A Pretty Good Chat with Comcast Yields Do's and Don'ts for Writing Customer Service Chat
And, in a nutshell, don't write like Verizon.
Transcript of Live Chat with Verizon
Customer's Question: I have my phone set up so that it goes to voicemail after 4 rings. I'd like to change it to 6 rings. How do I do that?
A Verizon eCenter Representative will be with you shortly. Thank you.
Agent Kevin has joined. (14:29:35)
Kevin: Chat ID for this session is 0123456789. (14:29:35)
Kevin (14:29:40): Hello. Thank you for choosing Verizon and visiting our chat service. I will be happy to help you today.
Marianne (14:30:27): My question is at beginning of chat.
Kevin (14:30:43): What is your phone number?
Marianne (14:30:59): 888-123-4567
Kevin (14:31:25): You will have to chat with our Tech support team for a resolution. I can transfer your chat session if you would like.
Marianne (14:31:45): yes, thank you
This session is being transferred. (14:31:55)
This session is transferred to Daniel. (14:32:50)
Agent Daniel has joined. (14:32:50)
Daniel (14:33:25): I will be happy to help you. In order to pull up your account and for Account Verification purposes, Would you please confirm your complete physical home address (including street, city), contact number, and the first and last name of the account holder? What is your Email address?
Marianne (14:34:43): 1234 Main Street, Anytown, MD, 888-123-4567, Marianne Jones, Marianne@aabbcc.com
Daniel (14:36:44): thanks
Daniel (14:40:29): it wont let us permanently Change that for you - You will need to place an order with our Order Dept to Add the feature to edit/Change your Ringcount yourself. once that add that, you go to Verizon.com/fiosvoice
Daniel (14:40:35): to do that
Daniel (14:42:01): want to speak with them Now?
Marianne (14:42:18): Yes,
Daniel (14:42:58): ok, Again - you need an Order to Add the feature to edit/Change your Voicemail Ringcount
This session is transferred to Maurice. (14:43:18)
Agent Maurice has joined. (14:43:18)
Maurice (14:43:27): Hello. Thank you for choosing Verizon and visiting our chat service. I will be happy to help you today.
Marianne (14:43:33): Yes, This incredible, I keep getting transferred. Can you get me to someone who can actually do this. Is there a charge?
Maurice (14:44:03): I am reviewing now for you and apologize for the delay.
Maurice (14:46:18): I am working on this for you now Ms Jones.
Maurice (14:50:34): Thank you for holding. With the FiOS Digital Voice, you are able to change that yourself by going towww.verizon.com/fiosvoice.
This session will automatically timeout in 1 minutes. Please respond.
Marianne (14:53:07): I am at the webpage and I have 2 choices. Set backup number, Create Nickname.
Maurice (14:55:58): Once in, you are able to change the rings to anywhere from 5 to 12 rings. Let me get the information for you.
Marianne (14:56:58): Can someone please help me!!!! I am getting nowhere. Changing the rings doesn't seem to be an option.
Marianne (14:58:14): This is taking a very long time for a simple request.
Maurice (14:59:34): If there is not a link when you are signed in under Voicemail-user, then that option is not available to you.
Marianne (15:01:07): What do you mean. i started this chat a half hour ago, I must be able to do this. Can I have a supervisor or someone who an do this!!!!!
Maurice (15:01:53): FiOS Digital Voice, for the calling features is accessed through the customers account manager.
Marianne (15:03:12): Please connect me to a PERSON who can do this!!!!
Maurice (15:03:33): One moment please.
This session is being transferred. (15:03:39)
This session is transferred to Anoop. (15:03:50)
Agent Anoop has joined. (15:03:50)
Anoop (15:03:54): Thank you for contacting Verizon FIOS technical chat support. My name is Anoop, I see that the chat has been transferred to me and I will be glad to help you. May I confirm your telephone number as 888-123-4567?
Marianne (15:05:11): Yes, you are the 4th person I've been transferred to. I am extremely annoyed. Can you change the number of rings to 6?
Anoop (15:06:02): Sure. I help you with that.
Anoop(15:06:08): For your account security and to assist you better, please confirm the below mentioned details:
1) Name on the account:
2) Complete address on the account:
3) A good Callback number for future reference:
4) Email address:
Marianne (15:06:57): I've already done this! See above!!!
Anoop (15:07:18): Okay.
Anoop (15:07:28): Thank you for the information.
Anoop (15:07:59): I understand that you want to set the 6 rings to the voice mail. Am I correct?
Marianne (15:08:14): YES!!!
Anoop (15:08:55): Let me check the account information and change it from my end.
Anoop (15:09:05): Please be online for 2-3 minutes.
Anoop (15:12:52): I am still working on your issue.
Anoop (15:12:57): Thank you for being online.
Anoop (15:16:48): I appreciate your time and patience.
Anoop (15:17:18): Due to the technical issues at our end, I am unable to make it fast.
This session will automatically timeout in 1 minutes. Please respond.
Marianne (15:18:39): I'll wait
Anoop (15:18:49): Please be online for few more minutes.
Anoop (15:19:05): Thank you so much for understanding us.
Anoop (15:23:50): I am still with you.
This session will automatically timeout in 1 minutes. Please respond.
Marianne (15:28:05): still waiting
Anoop (15:28:56): Yes, Let me connect to our billing team and check with them.
Anoop (15:29:01): Please be online.
Inviting Benita to conference (15:29:16)
Agent Benita has joined. (15:29:16)
Anoop (15:29:31): Hello Benita.
Benita (15:29:31): Hello. Thank you for choosing Verizon and visiting our chat service. I will be happy to help you today.
Benita (15:29:56): We offer Control Ring for the Voice Mail. Give me a moment to get the information
Marianne (15:30:21): This is getting Unbelievable, Please see my question above. I have been on chat for an hour!
Anoop (15:30:42): We have Marianne online. As we have technical issues at our we are unable to do the changes on the customer account.
Anoop (15:31:02): Please take care of our customer issue.
Benita (15:31:37): Yes, I am in the process of getting the information for the Voice Mail Control Ring for the customer. This will take a moment.
Anoop (15:31:47): Alright.
Anoop (15:32:03): Thank you for your help.
Anoop (15:32:24): I am dropping the chat from my end. You both have good day.
Anoop (15:32:30): Thank you for choosing verizon FIOS.
Anoop has left the conversation. (15:33:35)
Benita (15:35:50): Thank you for your patience. To change your ring count for your Voice Mail.
1. Sign into your FiOS Digital Voice Account Manager.(https://www36.verizon.com/FiosVoice/SignInNewSSO.aspx)
2. Select the "Voice Mail Settings" link on the left side of the screen.
3. Select the "Telephone Settings" tab.
4. Select the number of times (between 2 and 6) you want the phone to ring.
5. Click "Save Settings".
Benita (15:36:20): This can only be done online with the FiOS Digital Voice services.
Marianne (15:37:44): I don't have those options, please see above.
Benita (15:38:24): Have you signed in to your FiOS Digital Voice at the link I have provided?
Marianne (15:38:38): YES!!!
Marianne (15:39:51): When I click on the link you gave me, I am redirected here!
Benita (15:41:47): That is correct, this site will allow you to manage your FiOS Digital Voice services online.
Marianne (15:43:33): I'm not getting that choice. I don't have a voiceMail setting on the left side.
Marianne (15:46:21): I can't spend anymore tie online. Please figure out how to do this and make the change or email me with CORRECT Information.
Your session is now closed. Thank you, have a nice day.
February 2, 2012
What? Monster trucks in government?! It's a video throwdown from GSA's First Fridays Product Testing Program. They're sponsoring a contest: make a two-minutes-or-less video explaining why your agency deserves a free usability test. You could win. That means testing your site or app with real live customers and getting expert guidance on how to improve it.
Want to do usability testing on your federal website but don’t have funds or staff? Enter the "Win a Free Website Usability Test" Video Contest. Contest deadline is February 29, 2012.
Submit a video (two minutes or less) addressing why your government website or web application is a good candidate for a free usability test. Make a creative video explaining the importance of your site, the problems you think need fixing, and a creative push for why you should win.
- Your site must be a public-facing .gov or .mil website
- Your team must work with First Fridays to plan the test
- Your site stakeholder or designee must observe a First Fridays test
- If you win, your site stakeholder must attend your usability test
The GSA First Fridays Product Testing Program has tested over 25 government websites. After a morning of in-depth testing with real website customers, the team meets over lunch and identifies quick-fix solutions to the top three problems.
Now’s your chance. Contest winners must be willing to make site improvements within 30 days of the test and learn to do simple usability testing. Why? Because small changes have a BIG impact on customer experience.
To sign up to observe a First Fridays test, email FirstFridays@gsa.gov
Get email updates
- Why a 280-Character Customer Service Tweet is a Bad Idea
- How to Use LinkedIn to Your Best Advantage
- In live chat, don’t argue with customers who are trying to pay
- Writing for the Web: Register for this course on March 15, 2013 in Silver Spring,MD
- Using Twitter for Customer Service? Answer the customer’s dang question
- 456 Berea St
- Bad Language
- Beth Kanter's Blog
- Business Writing
- Communication in a Web Saturated World
- Compete on Usability
- Debbie Weil
- Earley Blog
- Good Experience
- Grammar Girl :: Quick and Dirty Tips
- I'd Rather Be Writing
- In the Box
- Learn How to Write from the Best Blogs
- Manage Your Writing
- Plain Language Matters
- The Writer Underground
- Words to Good Effect
- Writing for the Web
- Wylie's Writing Tips
- Your English Success
- April 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- July 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
- December 2010
- November 2010
- October 2010
- September 2010
- August 2010
- July 2010
- June 2010
- May 2010
- April 2010
- March 2010
- February 2010
- January 2010
- December 2009
- November 2009
- October 2009
- September 2009
- August 2009
- July 2009
- June 2009
- May 2009
- April 2009
- March 2009
- February 2009
- January 2009
- December 2008
- November 2008
- October 2008
- September 2008