customer care

Should I Stay or Should I Go? - 2/23/21


Should I stay or should I go?  That’s not just a classic song by The Clash.  It’s also the question customers ask more and more, especially during difficult economic times. A recent study in the Charlotte Business Journal noted that 50% of North Carolina businesses are concerned with how to Read more

Optimism – A Force for Good in Customer Service - 2/16/21


Will 2021 be a better year than 2020?  I have absolutely no idea.  Maybe it would be nice to see into the future and know for certain, but I can’t and I don’t.  But as I wade further and further into this year, I can hope that the water Read more

To Assure, Ensure You Do This - 2/9/21


Vince Lombardi – famous professional football coach – became a big hit on the speaker’s circuit during his time coaching.  He applied many of his principles in football and life to business, and one of his great business quotes is:  Confidence is contagious and so is lack of confidence, Read more

Let Your Goal Determine Your Question - 2/2/21


In the early 2000s, when the economy hit the skids, companies realized that they couldn’t take their customers for granted.  They needed to ramp up customer service.  They needed to listen to the Voice of the Customer. During the Great Recession in the 2008-10 timeframe, much of the “new marketing Read more

Excellence is Not Perfection, and that’s OK - 1/26/21


Surveys have questions with ratings that range from Excellent to Poor.  We custom-design and deliver Service Excellence Training.  Tom Peters wrote the book “In Search of Excellence.” But how do you define Excellence, particularly in customer service?  Let’s start with what Excellence is not.  Excellence is not something reflected in Read more

Bring Magic to Your Account Management - 1/19/21


One of our first sports-industry clients was the Orlando Magic.  They were a true leading-edge organization in the early 2000s when it came to dedicating resources to season ticket holder retention.  They didn’t make customer service, relationship-development, and renewals simply a function of the Sales department.  They broke it Read more

Customers Want Easy, but Easy is Difficult - 1/12/21


New employees go through days of training to learn products and services.  They have formal workshops to learn how to use their office applications, web functions, and whatever programs are specific to their department.  They test new technology, and they get quizzed on knowledge of policies.  This is hours Read more

Make 2021 the Year of Building Relationships - 1/5/21


I’ve been very fortunate over this company’s 20+ years in business to have great and long-lasting relationships with many clients, colleagues, business partners, and co-workers.  It’s a gift to be able to call on these individuals for advice or referrals or to be a sounding board.  And it’s just Read more

Bring Warmth During Winter - 12/29/20


Winter is upon us.  Now, winter can mean different things to different people in different regions, but just the word conjures up cold.  It conjures up visions of snow.  It conjures up feelings of wind and lack of warmth. Although some of us may like the cold at times of Read more

2020 Holiday Poem - 12/22/20


When in the role of customer service,We are wired to give and give.It’s built into our DNA.It’s simply the way we live. In order to give to others,We need to find ways to give them their fill.We need to pour empathy and openness into them.To serve, we need to have Read more

A Flurry of Best Practices – 4/8/14 TOW

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In less than ten minutes, I saw a flurry of customer service best practices. They were all performed by someone named Linda, and here’s what happened…

I was at the Miami airport for the first time in years, not remembering much about how to get to ground transportation, let alone how to find the shuttle service the hotel recommended.

When I located the shuttle kiosk outside the terminal, I experienced and witnessed Linda – the dispatcher – weaving some wonderful customer service.

As she was helping a man and his young son when I walked up, she engaged me with a smile and asked where I was heading. She responded “Great! I’ll help you as soon as I’m done helping this gentleman.” Linda asked the father if she could give his son a piece of candy; the dad confirmed that was fine; she gave the boy a piece of wrapped candy, the child opened the wrapper, and he quickly dropped the candy on the ground.

“Please don’t eat it,” Linda said. “I don’t want you to eat that, and I don’t want you to be sad. Here’s another one.” She gave the child a new piece and picked up the one that dropped.

As she helped me, she confirmed the details, mentioned the price, and wrote it on my receipt along with the shuttle number. She told me the driver would take care of my luggage, told me it would be a five minute wait and a 25 minute drive, and completed the scheduling. She said that I could pay the driver, and she noted how his credit card machine would look. She set every expectation, and Linda twice updated me on my shuttle’s status – even though it was only a five minute wait.

While I waited, another shuttle drove up; she asked the driver where he’d been since she hadn’t seen him in a while – she was concerned about his health. As we were waiting, she engaged a policeman riding a Segway for chit-chat and did the same with a nearby Taxi dispatcher. She also had time to toss some bread on the ground for some small birds, and when she caught me watching her feed them, she smiled with a sheepish grin.

I was around her a total of 8-10 minutes, and in that short time it was clear that Linda was personable, proactive, pleasant, and professional. She managed my expectations, conveyed caring for co-workers and others, took personal interest in a small child, and was productive the entire time.

Sometimes a few minutes can result in a flurry of customer service best practices.

Let’s all learn some lessons from Linda.


Anatomy of a DMV Experience – 3/25/14 TOW

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The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) employee was very nice and patient with me on the phone. I’m sure that any supervisor that was listening in on the call would give the representative good marks for addressing my need and thanking me for my call.

But it was a horrible experience. Why?

As Paul Harvey would say, “Here’s the rest of the story.”

A friend had just recently received a car from a relative, and it had a 10-day temporary authorization to drive without an inspection. Prior to getting the car inspected, my friend unexpectedly got very sick (she is well now, thank goodness), and my friend was afraid that she’d miss the deadline to get an inspection. So she asked that I call to see if she could get an extension:

  • Call #1 – I went to the State DMV website and didn’t find the answer, but I did find a phone number to call. The recorded message asked me to wait and gave no specific expected time for the call to be answered. I waited on hold for 10 minutes and then hung up.
  • Call #2 – I called a local DMV office (let’s call this Office “A”); after 8 rings, it started to buzz like a fax machine; I hung up.
  • Call #3 – I called another local DMV office (let’s call this Office “B”); it rang busy.
  • Call #4 – I called a 3rd local DMV office (let’s call this Office “C”); there was a pleasant message noting whether they would accept payments; they suggested I press “0” for Operator; so I pressed 0 and got a busy signal.
  • Call #5 – I called Office “C” back a few minutes later, thinking that maybe they didn’t have a call queue; after the pleasant message, I pressed 0 and got a busy signal.
  • Call #6 – I called Office “B,” hoping that it too just was overloaded and maybe didn’t have a call queue; it rang busy again.
  • Call #7 – I called Office “A,” and – again – after 8 rings, it started to buzz like a fax machine; I hung up again.
  • Call #8 – I called the State DMV again, and – after 14 minutes – the representative picked up the call as I noted at the beginning of this Tip.

We cannot assume that because one conversation went right on the phone that the customer had a great experience. For all we know, the customer may have had 7 bad experiences before that one conversation that went right.

If this was a private business, I wouldn’t have called 8 times; I would have gone to a competitor, and just like the DMV, they never would have known why.

Mystery Shop your services, or ask the customer about their experience. Never assume that because one moment-of-truth went right that the overall experience worked for the customer.

Know what you’re missing about the full customer experience.

 


C.A.R.E. for Customers – 2/11/14 TOW

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In our analysis of customer satisfaction data for a client recently, we identified the survey attributes which had the strongest correlation to the customer’s feeling that the organization cared about them as an individual.

These “Care Perception Drivers” fit nicely into an acronym (C.A.R.E.), and we shared the analysis in a brief educational session with our client. Maybe these tips can help you, too:

  • C = Communicate before and after the transaction. The customers appreciated it when the employees engaged them upfront and proactively thanked them or addressed them in follow-up communications after the transaction. It’s not just about the task; it’s the start-to-finish experience.
  • A = Ask them about themselves and their situation. Customers perceived that the employees cared if they were inquisitive and sought to learn about what made that customer unique.
  • R = Relate on their level. The customer cares about the customer, so relate to them in a way they’re comfortable – with your tone and body language, tailoring your style to appeal more to them.
  • E = Educate them on how to have a great experience. Customers aren’t usually experts in your business – you’re the expert. So they appreciate tips or directions that can maximize their enjoyment.

When customers feel that you care, they’re more likely to come back to you, to be open to your suggestions, and even to cut you some slack when something goes wrong.

Ask yourself “Have I conveyed I C.A.R.E.?”