Transforming the Customer Experience

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Spreading Holiday Cheer with an AMAZING Customer Experience

This just made my heart warm!  West Jet in Canada did what most of us would dream to do for our customers… took an ordinary situation and made it extraordinary!

I know, I get it… your business can’t afford to go to the lengths that West Jet did, but you can take the same premise and deliver the same feeling.  Ask your customers (or a percentage of them) what their favorite charity is and help organize an evening of volunteering for them.  Or, ask a select few what they’d like for Christmas and do exactly what West Jet did.  Or, ask a few of them what their favorite chocolate or coffee indulgence is and make a special delivery for them or have it on hand at your next meeting.

Spreading cheer is what this season is all about.  For our customers we should have this mindset all of the time, but what a special opportunity to really focus on this.  Do something special, whether large or small, just do something special and unexpected to put a smile on your customers face!

Click on the image below that is linked to the video and enjoy! It will be the best 5 minutes of your day…  I promise.


Hampton Inn Personally Reaches Out to Customer Reviews to Strengthen Customer Relationships

Small Gestures Build Customer Intimacy

I noticed today on the the TripAdvisor Site that there were some reviews for the Hampton Inn in Manhattan/Times Square in New York.  In the review section there were numerous extremely favorable responses and just a few non favorable reviews.

What got my attention was not the reviews themselves, but the responses.  Luis Santiago is listed as the Front Desk Supervisor and has responded to each and every review given for as many pages that I was willing to flip through.  When I hit 15 pages containing at least 3 reviews each, I was satisfied and happily impressed.

The responses that Luis gave were not canned responses at all.  He took the time to craft each and every one.  Now, the beauty is that these responses were just a few short sentences, not lengthy at all.  That’s the point, it doesn’t take an enormous amount of effort or time to connect with customers.  It just takes a small step.

Now, for those of you who may be wondering if there any negative feedback, yes there were a few.  I couldn’t find any that were a “One Star” or “Two Star” review, but I did find some negative feedback imbedded in an overall favorable response.  Luis addressed those topics specifically with the reviewer and thanked them for the feedback.  He also told the reviewer that he would take it under consideration to see if any improvements could be made.

Bottom line… This is an example of building and strengthening the customer relationship after the interaction or transaction has been made.  Just the small effort of thanking for the review, thanking the customer for their business, encouraging them to return and addressing any incidental issues is huge in the mind of the customer.

And, it just may garner some unintended unsolicited marketing… as I’m doing here in this blog.  I have no ties whatsoever to the Hampton Inn or plans to visit New York anytime soon.  I’m hoping that this post serves two purposes… 1) to show business leaders that the little things count massively in the overall customer experience; and 2) to send a little extra business to the Hampton Inn in New York.  Please be sure to tell Luis hello!

Please comment below to share your thoughts….

Increase Customer Loyalty Through Social Media

Just a quick note on a blog post I ran across today…..

A gentleman wrote a blog post about loyalty marketing.  He had an anecdote regarding a car rental tweet that earned the loyalty of a new customer.

“Chris Brogan, one of the social media mavens that I thoroughly respect and actually like too, told a story on Callie Lewis’s Geekbrief TV the other day about how a car service that that was supposed to pick him up to get him to Microsoft headquarters didn’t show. He tweeted his anger/anguish and a CEO of a national car service sent him a tweet with “here’s my cell.” Call it whenever you need a car and I’ll take care of it for you.” Car came, Brogan happy, loyal customer. As Chris rightfully said, “Yes, you may say its opportunistic, but he listened (to the tweet) and he solved my problem and now I’m loyal to him.”

That’s what I’m talkin’ about!”

Paul Greenberg wrote the post to talk about the emotional needs of the customer. By using social media in the above manner, we can connect to prospective customers in their moment of pain, fix the issue, and win their loyalty.  These customers will most likely be far more loyal than those who never had issues in the first place.

Social media provides a new connectivity to customers that we have not previously had.  Now, we can delight our customers in real time AND the benefit is that others will see us resolve the issues in the process.  As a result, your customer service, satisfaction, and loyalty levels will certainly increase.

Can You Use Social Media To Reach More of Your Customers?

Are you looking for the newest way to connect with your customers?  Well, since you are on the internet reading this post, you have access to the newest way companies are taking initiative to interact with their customers – Social Media.

Facebook and Twitter are the top two players in the social media world.  These two sites enable companies to look at what their customers are saying about them, both positive and negative. The customer feedback in a public forum has many advantages that are just now being discovered.

Las Vegas is doing this on a daily basis.  Most of the casinos are looking for posts about them and finding out what customers like, what they don’t like, solving problems, and even recruiting new customers.   A recent article, Casinos use social media sites to reach customers published in SF Gate gives many examples of what they are doing to improve customer service and satisfaction through the social media sites.

“Resorts are setting up fan pages where executives can monitor customer suggestions about how to improve business. They also can collect guests’ kudos, offer immediate assistance to customers in distress — and cringe when unhappy patrons post critical remarks.

For their part, customers are discovering the Web sites offer an unprecedented voice, with comments and reviews not only reaching casino managers but wielding influence with an untold number of customers and potential customers.”

There is a certain degree of risk involved with social media being a public forum for all the world to see any dirty laundry being aired.  However, I see this as an advantage because when the public can see the initial problem online, they can also see how effectively the service recovery was handled.  I’m a firm believer of the fact that when consumers see companies making a situation better for a customer through excellent customer service, then they will be far more likely to remain loyal customers and also drive more traffic to those companies than those who do nothing to resolve issues online.

We Are All in Sales….. Like It or Not

The perception of your company’s customer service is only as strong as it’s weakest link.  Where ever that weak link is, that is the point where your customer will make the decision to stay with you or go elsewhere.

Today I’d like to address a point that so many of us forget from time to time……  No matter what your position, you are a salesperson for your company.  The service that you give your customers is a direct reflection on your organization as a whole.  Even the delivery people, phone operators, front desk personnel, everyone who even briefly comes into contact with customers is in sales.  We are all selling the perception of service and relationships in our interactions.

Companies that have truly successful customer relationships have embraced some sort of a corporate culture that ingrains excellent service.  Be it a decision to give a brief warm smile each and every time they pass a customer on the floor, to  developing a service oriented scripted response, each and every interaction gets filed into your customers mind.  All of these interactions form the feelings that the customers get when they interact with your company at any level.

Be sure that everyone in your organization knows the service culture that is desired.  Be sure that they know what is expected of them and give them the tools to deliver that.  One sure way to undermine the best service standards is to have some staff that don’t deliver them.  Make sure that your phone staff, your support staff, your delivery personnel, your sales team, everyone in your company has the same customer service standards.

When the service standards are consistent throughout your organization,  you will set yourself apart as the service leader in your industry.

Resolutions for Excellent Customer Service

Customer service

“Our second resolution is for businesses, including the Craig Daily Press: Remember how important customer service is to success.

Many local businesses have worked in 2008 to boost up customer service, but there always is room for improvement in this area.

We urge everyone to keep moving forward in delivering excellent customer service, no matter the business or industry. When we do, we all win.”

I ran across this article the other day and thought that this was a wonderful way to be proactive for the new year.  There are so many ways that companies and businesses can win loyal customers and so many customers that will reward them with their patronage and dollars.  It actually turns out to be a highly reciprocal process.  As stated in the quote – we all win.

My wish for you all in the new year is to Focus On Your Customers and have a Happy and Prosperous 2009!

Keep Social Networking Sites in Mind When Handling Your Customers

The article, How Companies Use Twitter To Bolster Their Brands by Rachael King appearing in CRM just goes to show how powerful social networking sites actually are.

Keep in mind the statistics….  Happy customers tell four to five people about their experiences. On the other hand, dissatisfied customers tell nine to twelve people about their dissatisfaction.  To make it worse, the dissatisfied ones go out of their way to tell people.  Now, throw in the instant communication of Twitter and Facebook, and those numbers become exponentially important.

The damage that one or two disparaging remarks can make will need to be considered by all companies and organizations these days.  There just needs to be an intensified awareness as to what the ramifications can be, especially when handling a dissatisfaction issue.  The more immediate the response, the better.  That rush to make things right is more than likely to show up on Twitter or a blog that is read by many.

As the article states, companies often have personnel dedicated to monitoring the remarks made about them on the social networking sites.  Most of them use these personnel to identify issues that they wouldn’t otherwise have been aware of.  Most would agree that they would rather have the customer inform them of negative issues before broadcasting them on the internet, but if they are smart, their prompt and effective follow up will also be reported.

Hopefully, more and more companies will recognize that in today’s market, customers are more demanding and sophisticated than ever before.  They will  report their satisfaction levels to their networks, but their dissatisfaction will also be instantly broadcast.  The smart companies will use this to their advantage and do everything possible to make it known that they will make the customer happy…. no matter what.

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