zappos

Assuming the Solution – The Great Time Waster - 12/3/19


Here are 3 customer service scenarios for a college IT department: A staff member calls in and says that they’re having trouble logging in.  The employee responds:  “I can reset your password for you.” A faculty member calls IT and says: “I need help showing a video during class Read more

Become a Best Practice - 11/26/19


When evaluating the service that our clients provide to their customers, we look at all sorts of things – from employee attitudes to knowledge, from service skills to procedures, systems, and technology.  We look at navigation to and within the facilities, and we look at layout and signage and Read more

Serve with Integrity - 11/19/19


I’ve been reading a book recently about a Charlotte-based service company, and the author of the book conveys the CEO’s perspective on management, culture, and serving customers. At the back of the book, the author noted the organization’s Core Values. They are honesty, integrity, fairness, and respect. I literally Read more

Bring Out the Best - 11/12/19


As a management consultant, oftentimes my job is to identify the key issues, determine the root causes, and provide solutions. We do a lot of strategy work, we conduct many research projects, and we train and train and train our clients. However, improvement usually involves pointing out what needs Read more

Know What You Don’t Know - 11/5/19


Twitter, Instagram, Facebook – yak, yak, yak.  In the social media world, there’s an awful lot of talk that goes on and a lot of opinions shared.  But sometimes those opinions are not based on any level of deep knowledge. Sometimes they are based on assumptions. In the world of Read more

Service, Sports, and Self-Control - 10/29/19


When I was growing up, I played a lot of golf. I practiced a lot, and I could score pretty well. However, when something went bad, when I hit a tee shot into the woods or dumped an iron shot into a lake, I would become unglued. Then every Read more

What it Means to Respect Someone’s Time - 10/22/19


Whether it is with a client when I realize that the meeting might go long, or possibly it’s in a workshop where I’m trying to end one conversation so we can move on to the next topic, there is a phrase I’ve used many times, and I mean it Read more

Be the Director of First Impressions - 10/15/19


Whether it’s in a hotel or in a coffee shop or a bank branch, first impressions mean a lot. First impressions mean “this is who we are” and “this is what you should expect.” First impressions mean “this is our definition of excellence” and “this is how much we Read more

People will Pay for Customer Service - 10/8/19


Sometimes all you need to read is the first paragraph in an article. Here’s the title from Business Insider: Amazon charges sellers as much as $5,000 a month for customer service if they want a guarantee that they'll be able to talk to a real person. The first paragraph reads: Amazon Read more

New Ways to Celebrate National Customer Service Week - 10/1/19


The week of October 7 is National Customer Service Week. No, this wasn’t another holiday invented by Hallmark, so you have to go to work. Hopefully that’s the good news! This week is typically thought of as a time to rejuvenate relationships with customers, to refocus your efforts on treating Read more

Add a Hint of Salt and a Pinch of WOW – 2/25/14 TOW

Posted on in Customer Service Tip of the Week Please leave a comment


The restaurant always did something a little special. It was the free dessert, the personalized menu, the visit from the manager, an appetizer that was compliments of the chef, or the upgrade to a nicer table.

Every time it was a WOW to the customer. We define a “WOW” moment as an “Unexpected Positive Event.” And while these WOWs may be obvious for a restaurant, many of us don’t work in restaurants. We work at events, at colleges, at hospitals, and at banks. We work in government, in manufacturing, in clinics, and in sports.

Does this mean the WOW’s not possible? No, it just means that the WOW sometimes isn’t a financial expenditure, but it’s still possible. Zappos strives to give each customer a WOW moment. Surely they don’t spend $10 per customer to WOW them.

So what UPE can you create for your customer that costs virtually nothing? Put your twist on some of these ideas:

  • Stand up when they approach your desk (this RARELY happens nowadays).
  • Convey sincere excitement when they walk in the door (how happy do the people at the vet seem when you bring in your kitten for an exam?).
  • Come out of your office to greet the customer (it makes them feel important)
  • Respond to voice mails and e-mail messages as soon as they’re received, particularly if there’s an issue (speed is vital in Service Recovery).
  • Provide them some “educational” information that enables them to have a better experience in working with your organization (it’s not just about reacting to their need; it’s also about being proactive and helpful).
  • Call somebody by name throughout the discussion (it makes them feel that they matter to you).
  • Sincerely thank them for their business – noting that you really appreciate their being your customer (be patient in the close).
  • Send them a handwritten “Thank You” note after the encounter (another RARE activity nowadays).
  • Call them after an appointment to check-in, gauge their experience, or ask if they’re enjoying the use of the product (WOW with the follow-up).

Think of the little things that are UNEXPECTED but so good that they make the customer remember you positively.

Think of something that brands your encounter as a “WOW!”


A Tale of Two Minutes and Two Employees – 8/20/13 TOW

Posted on in Customer Service Tip of the Week Please leave a comment

Needing a water filter for my fridge, I walked into a home improvement store. Now this is a chain that I’ve been in probably over 100 times, but this particular store was new to me – it was on my way home – so out of convenience, I stopped.

As I entered the store, there was an employee (think “Wal-Mart greeter”) about 15 feet ahead of me standing by herself. She didn’t look my way or smile – in other words, the greeter didn’t greet. I didn’t know where to get the filter, so I walked up to her and initiated the conversation. I told her what I needed, and as she was pausing/thinking, I noticed the Appliances section at end of store. “Is it down there?” I asked.

“Yeah, that’s where they are.” She didn’t say anything else, so I thanked her and moved on. Now keep in mind that this is an ENORMOUS store, and the Appliances section had to be a good 4000-5000 square feet, so the search process took a while once I got there.

Now juxtapose that experience to my experience with the cashier. As I walked up, he was smiling with the couple that was ahead of me in line. He greeted me pleasantly, smiled the whole time we talked, took the gift card I was using for the purchase saying “That’s great that you get to use a gift card!” and closed by asking if there was anything else he could do and inviting me to come again.

Despite only being with the two employees a total of about two minutes, one can draw several conclusions:

  • This store doesn’t put much weight on customer service-orientation when hiring; if so, the greeter would not have been hired.
  • The level of customer service is based too much on which employee is helping you as opposed to an organization intentionally trying to create a culture of customer service.
  • Store management is not customer service-focused; if they were, they wouldn’t have put a “greeter” with that demeanor up front.
  • They have not conducted (and/or reinforced) effective customer service training (the greeter wasn’t specific on where I should go in the Appliances section, she didn’t offer to walk me there, she didn’t have positive body language, didn’t open, and didn’t close the conversation).

You can tell a lot about an organization in two minutes with two employees, so compare yourself to co-workers in terms of how you address customers.

Learn from your differences to improve your customer service.