zappos | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

The New Burger Experience - 7/16/24


Floyd loves a good hamburger. Any chance he gets to try a new spin on an old standby, he takes it. Recently, a burger joint opened near his house, and Floyd was very excited! It was owned by and named for a world-renowned chef, so it had to be Read more

Boost Customer Happiness - 7/9/24


There’s a cooking show that a friend of mine watches, and the premise is all about reverse engineering food.  They may take a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, analyze it, and determine the ingredients just by tasting it.  Then they figure out a recipe.  The cook will try to make Read more

Brainstorm to Better Yourself - 7/2/24


I’ve led enough sessions with clients on continuous improvement topics to have solid experience on how to lead ideation exercises, brainstorming to develop new ideas.  Oftentimes these sessions start with the right question; the first answers may not be the ultimate solution, but they can serve as a jumping Read more

The Power of the Pause - 6/25/24


When I’m facilitating a meeting, and it feels like it’s going off-track or the discussion is going a little longer than it should, I may say something like “let me pause the conversation so that…” or “let’s pause just for a minute and consider…” I don’t like the word STOP. Read more

Handle Interruptions Heroically - 6/18/24


In the middle of a project, Jimbo, the customer service team member, had to stop what he was doing because he received an e-mail from a customer complaining about their experience at a recent event. Later that day, Jimbo was asked by his boss to put everything on hold for Read more

From Employees to Teammates: The Shift - 6/11/24


Be a great teammate. Be a good team player. We’re all part of the team. We’re no longer employees, we’re team members! The phrase “Team” is used in describing co-workers so much more than it was used years ago.  Then, we would be talking about employees, talking about staff, talking Read more

Nurture New Relationships - 6/4/24


Freddie was a new business owner in town.  He was launching a franchise, had acquired some funding from a local bank, and was in search of staff who cared about customer service. All the while, he was in the process of renovating a storefront for his business, so he was Read more

There’s Positivity in Patience - 5/28/24


The employee at the financial services firm was working with a new client on a relatively simple loan.  The documentation was about as clear as it could get to the employee, but the customer had lots of questions.  The employee calmly, clearly, and specifically answered each question.  The meeting Read more

The Goal – A Great Experience - 5/21/24


The following is a narrative of a great experience (people, process, service, facility) at a minor league sporting event – key points that could apply to any business are in bold… Mark and I pulled into the parking lot, excited about the game.  The Slapshots had been on a roll Read more

Your Best Ability is… - 5/14/24


I enjoy watching sports, and I’ve even listened to some sports press conferences over the years, just to hear what coaches are saying.  Basically getting the leadership perspective from the sports industry either out of my interest or curiosity, or to figure out how to apply it to the 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!”


Speed the Transformation of Your Customer’s Experience

Posted on in Business Advice, Education Please leave a comment

I’m constantly flummoxed by executives who feel that the only good idea is a new idea, the only means to success is through their own innate creativity. A COO once told me that trying to create simplicity in operations for staff (so they could more consistently deliver a great experience to their customers) wasn’t challenging enough.

The best executives need to realize that there’s a multitude of great examples of customer service cultures and wonderful customer experiences in other businesses, other industries. And there’s no shame in learning from others to speed the transformation of an organization.

In the article City School District taking lesson from Wegmans, the Rochester School District announced that it was going to train staff on many of the same customer service principles and techniques that Wegmans Grocery Stores (with a reputation for great customer service) utilize. This includes quick issue resolution and fostering a WWWD (“What would Wegmans do?”) mindset.

The point is not to say that we all need to look to our local grocer for customer service tips. Rather, in Education or other industries (local government, healthcare, etc.) that are not always known for a great customer experience, sometimes it’s better not to look at industry peers. It’s best to look to those who have the reputation for being the best in a particular aspect of business. Think Zappos for culture, Chick-fil-A for consistent customer service in a transactional environment, or Amazon for personalization in a high tech/high volume world.

Speed the transformation of your customer’s experience by benchmarking with best-in-class performers OUTSIDE your industry.

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Create a Patient-Centered Culture

Posted on in Business Advice, Healthcare Please leave a comment

Zappos delivers great customer service, but its leader seems to talk mostly about his corporate culture. Disney is always brought up in seminars we provide for their great customer experience, but so much of what makes it a great experience is the consistently high performance of its “cast members.”

Culture and customer service are intertwined in great companies, and that’s why it’s no surprise that the article NY nurse executives focus on positivity addresses how to drive higher patient satisfaction by creating a patient-centered culture. According to the article, successful healthcare organizations possess a “strong unit and organizational leadership that promote a service culture tied to operations and finance; effective partnerships with patients and families; an engaged and satisfied workforce; and a strong performance improvement focus.”

Note what’s being discussed here…leadership that’s strong…leadership that promotes service…an organization that realizes patient/customer satisfaction is intertwined with operations (processes) and finance (business outcomes). They address partnering with customers, having motivated staff, and continually improving.

I agree with all these points; most cohesive cultures are created and fostered by leaders who have a well-articulated vision, who practice what’s preached, who understand the process impact on patient satisfaction and the patient satisfaction impact on financials.

But some of the “hows” are missing from the article. How do you get an engaged workforce? How do you continually improve? Leadership is the start, but that focus on patient satisfaction has to begin with your hiring process and criteria for staff, what you reward them for doing, and how you hold them accountable. A patient-centered culture requires training and an internal communication plan that is proactively conveying the messages to staff that you want repeated to patients. Patient-centered cultures require smooth information flow from patients and families to staff and leadership, so data-driven improvements can be made real-time when needed and through root-cause analysis when recurring issues occur.

To create a patient-centered culture, get leadership on board, and get the ball rolling through hiring, motivation, accountability, training, communications, process design, and continuous improvement.

Create a great culture with your people to create a great experience for your customer.

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