SMBME #16 – Communicating with your Customers Online

We have talked a lot about some of the tools you can use with social media and we have heard from our friends and neighbors about how they are using social media for business. What we focused on this month was WHY we are doing this. Ultimately, no matter the tools or methods, we are trying to communicate with our customers online. We want to build on our relationships with them, we want to find new customers and we want to help our businesses grow.

This month we knew just who to call for this topic. We have gotten to know Bob O’Brien over the last few years and he is doing such an amazing job with using Twitter for his company Noyes, Hall & Allen insurance and with their company blog. We also called Rob Hatch, COO of Human Business Works, even though their business is still very new, the whole basis of their organization is connecting with people and creating communities online.

Bob O’Brien started the morning off by telling us how his company is using social media tools to create trust, educate the community on information in and around the insurance space and to meet new people in our region. He also shared with us a story of an agent (@Carrie_AGIns) from Ohio that really helped out a client in distress using Twitter. In real time people followed along with this excellent customer service example.

Bob’s business is all about the quality of service you get with having an insurance agent. That relationship is built on trust and knowing that your agent is an expert in this space. Social Media is almost a natural progression for a business that is really built around relationships, like Bob’s is.

Next up we had Rob Hatch, from Human Business Works. Rob was recently persuaded by his long time friend, Chris Brogan, to leave his current line of work to join him in creating Human Business works. Rob’s approach to communicating with their customers online has been to listen, be human and be helpful.

During one piece of his presentation he told us two stories of troubleshooting live webinars. What we loved most was his ability to take responsibility for the problems they were having and he took the time to help everyone and anyone. His efforts were recognized and praised from the attendees and without his quick response, the events wouldn’t have been as successful as they were.

By being helpful online he has built relationships and helped to grow his business. At Human Business Works, they are trying to help businesses and communities grow, learn from each other and do their business better. Again, using forums, blogs and social media tools is an easy extension to help provide these services to the exact people they are trying to help.

Overall, this was one of our best breakfasts. We had a great group of attendees and two awesome and smart presenters. Thanks everyone for making it a success! Carl Natale also did two great recaps and reflections of both Bob and Rob’s presentations.

Rob Hatch

Rob HatchRob Hatch is currently the COO of Human Business Works, an education and community company founded by Chris Brogan. Our goal is to help grow sustainable, relationship-minded businesses by helping with personal development and business growth education and strategies.

Rob has been working with humans for 20 years. He has led businesses and organizations large and small, serving children and families throughout New England. Most recently, Rob served as Executive Director of a non-profit organization in Western Maine. His entrepreneurial spirit helped create new programs and a new facility, leading the organization through the largest growth in its thirty year history.

Rob’s experience extends to positions of leadership throughout the State of Maine. He has earned appointments by the Commissioner of Education and Speaker of the House and served as a member of Maine’s Task Force on Early Childhood. Since 2006, Rob has trained professionals throughout Maine in Touchpoints, Dr. T. Berry Brazelton’s approach to working with children and families. Rob recently joined the national training team at the Brazelton Touchpoints Center and has served as chair of the National Touchpoints Conference.

Rob is also a founder and contributor of 501 Mission Place, a Human Business Works community dedicated to supporting non-profit leaders and Executive Directors improve leadership skills and grow their organizations.

Robert J. O’Brien, CPCU, CIC

Bob O'BrienBob O’Brien is the Vice President of Noyes, Hall & Allen Insurance.

Bob is a graduate of Cheverus High School and the University of Maine. He has more than 25 years insurance experience, and joined the agency in 1994. He holds the insurance designations of Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) and Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) . Bob manages the Personal Insurance Department and the operational activities of Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance.

Bob is a past president of ASCNet Maine, The South Portland Waterfront Market Association, and the Maine Chapter of the CPCU Society. He is also a Junior Achievement instructor and chairman of his church’s finance committee. He is a part-time bike commuter and full-time dog lover, Mac fan, and tuition-poor father.