The First of Five Tips for
Customer Service Week
So I’m thinking that it’s wonderful to have Customer Service Week to encourage our teams to work in the best interest of the customer and improve our service delivery, but I have one question…
Why are we dedicating only ONE week per year to focus on Customer Service and the Customer Experience?
We should be doing this Each. And. Every. Week. All. Year. Long.
Tip #1 – Communication is a Two Way Street
We know that customer relationships are built on trust and communication. The same holds true for your internal teams.
You need to be sure that you are in touch with your teams and understand what they see as an opportunity and where they are facing challenges.
I’m a big fan of huddles. Huddles are something that football teams do before a play. Business leaders need to huddle either as a team or one-on-one with their team players to discover what they need to know and how to encourage and set them up for success.
The huddle is also a fantastic time for leaders to be open to ideas and suggestions from their teams. After all, they are most likely spending more time interacting with customers than the leader is.
Customer Service Skills – Do You Train Well Enough?
86% of consumers quit doing business with a company because of a bad customer experience, up from 59% 4 years ago
Source: Harris Interactive, Customer Experience Impact Report
Consumer confidence increases when consistent results are produced. They will return to you again and again when you have not only built a sold relationship with them, but when they are certain that they can count on consistent results time after time.
Customer satisfaction increases based on consistency and relationships. Relationships, whether professional or personal, are built on the solid foundation of trust. This trust extends into a level of service that is depended upon.
Fluctuations in service will result in disheartened referrals. Should your consistency fluctuate, the referral will sound like “Try XYZ Company. Sometimes they do a pretty good job.” The referral that you want is “I recommend that you call ABC Company. They consistently deliver a quality product and they will treat you well. I know you’ll be happy with them.”
They want to know that what they see and feel one time is what they can count on in future interactions.Regardless if you are going into a chain coffee house, hiring a caterer, working with a realtor, or working with a large office furniture manufacturer, customers want consistent quality products and services. Customers will be much more likely to refer their associates to you when you have consistently shown a track record for results.
Relationships factor greatly into the consistency equation. The customer is looking to see if they are being treated well each and every time. They are looking to see if they are treated the same way by everyone in the organization. Customers will figure out quickly who will and won’t help them in a company. Your customer service reputation is only as strong as your weakest link. All associates in your company need to be delivering excellent customer service, in each and every interaction.
Review your core values regularly to determine that they are being considered in every interaction with your customers. The customer will recognize the consistency of exceeding their expectations while holding true to the core values your company was built upon.
Please comment below with your thoughts!
Own Up and Step Up When You Blow It
A few weeks ago, you may have seen CNN or been made aware of an incident involving a salon owner allegedly berating a young mother whose child was crying during his haircut. Once the mother was brought to tears, she was heard by other patrons saying “I’m sorry. He’s autistic.” The mother left the salon in tears and the stylist followed her outside to continue the haircut while the child sat in his mothers arms.
This story originated with a post by one of the onlookers on Facebook, was carried to the local news stations, then on to CNN.
It was a sad situation all around. According to news reports, the lawyers responded that the owner was concerned for the child’s safety. They stated that she meant no harm. They then proceeded to state that perhaps the salon would consider donating some profits for autism awareness.
The public apology that the owner offered was ridiculous. She basically said that she never meant her actions to result in consequences. Subsequent to this event, half of the staff has quit, the bad press surrounding this situation continues to grow, and social media has barely started to subside.
Why am I writing/ranting about this? Because this is an extreme example of what we see each and every day in business. The owner of the salon blew it. She clearly was annoyed by the commotion of the crying and fuss by the little boy and lost her cool.
1) At the time, she should have offered to help in any way. She should have tried to see if there were any other areas in the salon to continue the cut, ask the mom if she knew of anything that may help her son, ask if she wanted to continue with the cut despite his upset, or if they wanted to come back later. Clearly, there was a scene, but using some compassion and empathy would have helped immensely. Sometimes, there just are no other options and you just have to push through it and be as helpful as possible.
2) Once she blew it, she should have owned up to it.
Upon reading the public apology, I’m amazed that the owner actually permitted it to be printed. It was so robotic and “legalized” that it took away any apologetic intent.
She could have said something along the lines of…
“I’m so sorry about the way I handled this situation. It seemed to be a bigger disturbance than it actually was and I completely mishandled it. Berating or confronting someone in an already emotionally charged situation is never helpful and I just didn’t think at the time. I was off my game and for whatever reason wanted to squelch the situation rather help.
For those who take particular offense because of the child’s autism, I’m truly sorry. That really had nothing to do with my poor judgement and handling.
Although it may be far too late, I’d like to reach out to the family and offer free salon services for one year. I’d like to personally apologize for my actions and for the embarrassment and distress that my outburst caused the mother. That is not who I am, nor ever want to be.”
I’ve waited to write this post in hopes that I’d eventually be made aware of something genuine coming from the owner. But, as of this morning, no amount of searching has turned up anything after the “apology” that was issued.
Please understand that people blow it. We have outbursts. We make mistakes. We say things or act in a way that we wish we could take back when the dust has settled. When that happens, take ownership of it. That genuine humanness is all people are looking for today. Concern for others is the best way to build and repair relationships, both personally and professionally.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue or any others that you are currently involved in. Please comment below and share.
Helping you focus on your customers,
We Were Good at Dating, But Terrible at the Marriage Part. They Left Us For Someone Else.
I walked into a local nail salon today and realized that they didn’t know a thing about giving good customer service or providing a great customer service experience.
My intention was to purchase a gift certificate for a client of mine for her birthday. When I walked in, there were four nail techs working on customers. The one closest to me didn’t look up, make eye contact. She just raised her voice and said “Hello, pick a color and have a seat.”
So, I turned around and walked out.
It’s not a huge deal and isn’t going to alter my world, but I’m not going to pay $50 to someone who doesn’t have the courtesy to make eye contact, greet me with a friendly greeting, and ask me how they may help me. She made an incorrect assumption about what I wanted and barked out orders to me. So, I’ll find something else for my client.
Small businesses have the power to drive the economy and to thrive right now. But it’s amazing to me how many just fail to understand that it takes a simple focus on the customer. Treating people well. Engaging with customers. Smiling. Getting to know what our needs/problems/issues/goals are. Asking for feedback. These are all the simple things that I cover in my 5 Steps to More Loyal Customers emanual. Large companies can do the same thing, yet customers tend to gravitate toward the smaller businesses because there is more of a personal touch, a connection, that sometimes is lost in the bigger companies and organizations.
Connecting with customers is much simpler than most people and businesses realize. It just takes a conviction from the leaders and owners that there needs to be a mindset shift on how they serve the customers. They need to instill this to everyone works with customers, either face to face or behind the scenes. So, basically, everyone in the company. Because if you aren’t working face to face with a customer, you are working to support someone who does.
Your goal is to set your small business apart from the competition. If you’ve been a reader of this blog for any length of time, you know that I’m going to say it’s all about the customer service experience you deliver. Here’s a lesson I recently gave on how to do just that.
I recently had the privilege of delivering a webinar for Zendesk, a superb CRM software company, and many of their customers. Because the response was so favorable, I’d like to share the webinar with you. You may watch it here…
Here are the points covered as well as Zendesk’s summary of them….
1. Asking questions is key to serving your customers
Your customers have a lot to say. Asking them questions is a great way to learn about their likes, dislikes, and pain points. By listening to your customers, you can better understand what they want and how to meet those needs.
2. Give each customer that “one customer” feel
How would you treat a customer if they were your only customer? You would probably make a major effort to ensure that those interactions are positive and genuine. Making small talk, taking time to understand them as individuals, and learning how they use your products and services will go a long way toward providing a personalized customer experience.
3. Answer requests with “I’m here to help”
Many people don’t like asking questions, out of shyness or a fear of sounding uninformed. Saying things like “I’m here to help” and “I’m glad you asked that question” will help them feel more comfortable and make it easier to solve their problems.
4. Think “best / better / next” practices
At staff meetings, take a look at the real world challenges you’ve had helping customers, and pay particular attention to what worked and what could be improved.
5. Hire “nice,” train the skills
Don’t hire customer service professionals that have the skill set you want but aren’t nice people. “Nice” is a skill that should be innate to anyone involved in customer service. You either have it, or you don’t. You should hire nice people and train them how to be customer service superstars.
6. Don’t be afraid to make the decision
Have the guts to make a decision and help your customers. Work within the guidelines you’ve been given, but work with the customer and provide them service with their best interests in mind. More often than not, doing so will be in the company’s best interests. If you make a mistake, reread #4.
7. Make a difference each and every day
Every single customer interaction matters, so you have to make the most of them. When reviewing a call, ticket, or email exchange, ask yourself, “Did I really do absolutely everything I could?” Striving to be the best you can be with every single customer interaction will go a long way toward setting yourself apart as a truly customer-centric organization.
Please leave your comments below as to which resonates the most with you and your business.
Last night as I waited for my daughter at dance class, I joined a group of other moms that were waiting. One was lamenting about how unhappy she was with two of her coworkers. Apparently, it had been a really rough day…
Connecting with customers is essential to customer loyalty and satisfaction. It takes a special company, and a special representative, to really make that connection one that makes the news and touches hearts.
Luka is a little boy at the age of 7, but is the customer in this case. He saved up all of his money and bought a special Lego set. After taking one of the Lego characters to the store, it unfortunately was lost. These things happen. But, Luke wasn’t about to give up. He wrote a letter to Lego to see if he could get a replacement.
Now, so far, this story isn’t too special. Yes, he’s a cute kid and many kids and customers write letters to companies when they need some help.
What is so special about this story is the response that he received from Lego. Here is a copy of that letter he received from Lego’s superstar representative Richard. Richard wrote that he had spoken to Sensei Wu, a master from the Ninjago line.
I told Sensei Wu that losing your Jay minifigure was purely an accident and that you would never ever ever let it happen ever again.
He told me to tell you, “Luka, your father seems like a very wise man. You must always protect your Ninjago minifigures like the dragons protect the Weapons of Spinjitzu!”
Sensei Wu also told me it was okay if I sent you a new Jay and told me it would be okay if I included something extra for you because anyone that saves their Christmas money to buy the Ultrasonic Raider must be a really big Ninjago fan.
So, I hope you enjoy your Jay minifigure with all his weapons. You will actually have the only Jay minifigure that combines 3 different Jays into one! I am also going to send you a bad guy for him to fight!
Just remember, what Sensei Wu said: keep your minifigures protected like the Weapons of Spinjitzu! And of course, always listen to your dad.
Not many companies bother to respond to letters, much less respond on such a personal level. This is a stellar example of not only following up, but following up consistently with the branding of the company and making a true connection with the customer. You bet your last dollar that Luka and most folks that read this story won’t go out of their way to do business with Lego or buy their products at the next opportunity to do so.
Bottom line… When you get a letter from a customer, respond to it. And don’t bother to send a canned response. Folks just don’t like those. Go ahead and use a framework response if needed, but customize it as much as possible. Use the sender’s name and reference their specific issue in the way they described it, not just your internal “issue or reference number.”
How many of you can site an example as great as this one? Unfortunately, I bet it won’t be too many of you. If you have one, no matter what role you played in the situation as the customer or company, please share below… I love hearing stories and examples of companies that do things well.
If you’d like to read the original article, click here, then come back and leave your comments below here on this page…
In the customer experience field, we all pay a lot of attention to the first impression we make with customers.
“You Never Get a Second Chance to Make a First Impression” – We all know this saying and drum it into the minds of our teams.
But – what about the last impression?
This really struck home with me this morning as I dropped my daughter off at the bus stop before school.
We had had a wonderful morning. She woke up on time with her alarm, got dressed, and went downstairs humming a cheerful little song.
Since it snowed a little this morning, I decided to make it an extra special last day before winter break and turned on the fireplace and we ate breakfast in the family room by the Christmas tree and just took our time and chatted.
As we drove up to the bus stop, we talked about some of the fun things we have planned as a family for winter break and what she can do with her friends. Once we reached the bus stop we waited for the bus to come. As the bus was approaching, she panicked and remembered that she needed to put her lunch box in her back pack and was doing that as the bus came to a stop. When she finished, I unlocked the door for her and leaned in for my goodbye kiss and…… That’s where the magic stopped.
She was frustrated as the bus was now loading kids on and was worried it would leave without her. A goodbye kiss was simply not on her list of priorities at that moment. She got out of the car and headed for the bus and got right on with barely a glance back to me.
I sat there for a moment feeling a bit defeated. I questioned why this bothered me so much since we’d had such a fantastic morning. Seriously, the morning could not have gone better if I’d planned it right up until that last 90 seconds, and that’s the part that bothered me.
Now, I’ll get over it. I know she’s 9 years old and didn’t mean anything by it and I know we’ll be fine when she comes home from school today. But it got me thinking about the way that we leave our customers. Now, I don’t think there are many businesses that would go so far as to kiss the customers goodbye, but how much attention to you pay to the way that you say goodbye to your customers or consider what happens at the last touch point with them? You need to be sure to thank them, to look them in the eye, to smile, to do something that signifies a connection of some sort. For my daughter, it would have been the quick kiss on the cheek goodbye. For a client or customer, it’s a sincere handshake, a “Thanks for coming in today.”, you get the idea.
Yes, the first impression is extremely important. But always remember that the lasting impression the customer has of your business or the last person that worked with them is just as important, if not more so. The last impression lingers far longer than the first.
Please comment below with your thoughts….