zappos | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

“You’re the Boss” - 2/20/24


Terrence is excellent at what he does.  From a technical standpoint, he knows how to keep the facility clean.  He’s the lead custodian, and he knows that keeping things straight does not necessarily mean keeping things sanitary.  He knows what chemicals to use and not to use, how to Read more

Customer Understanding Leads to Relationship Growth - 2/13/24


We’ve worked with educational organizations at all grade levels over the years.  One special and unique characteristic about the staff who work in these organizations is that there’s a clear intent to know about the students as individuals, to focus on them rather than purely focusing on what’s delivered Read more

Define Customer Service Success Differently - 2/6/24


When I’m watching television, listening to the radio, or listening to a podcast, it’s always interesting when the topic moves to the question:  How can you be a success?  The speakers often discuss the process of becoming a success with the assumption that people believe success is defined by Read more

Care Enough to Give Them a Heads Up - 1/30/24


Nothing bad at all might happen.  Every day in the office could seem like every other day.  Sights and sounds and smells might continue to be the same.  But we have a lot of construction going on around our offices, and the building manager knows the type of work Read more

Be Better than AI Customer Service - 1/23/24


There was a recent CBS Sunday Morning Show story called: How artificial intelligence is revamping customer call centers. The journalist described how artificial intelligence is being used in customer service, and he noted the millions of pieces of information that can be processed in a matter of seconds. There are clear Read more

Recognize the Situation, and Pivot - 1/16/24


The customer has a complaint, or they may have an important question about an order or their account.  You may be talking to them in an emergency room, in the lobby of the government building, on the phone, or in a video conversation.  And in many of these Moments Read more

Sharpen Your Service Delivery - 1/9/24


You work so hard at being responsive and providing high quality information.  You work hard at fixing problems.  But is your delivery…dull? I’m not saying that it has to be exciting, but let’s think of the word “exciting.”  It means that something’s interesting, has energy, is positive.  Just by its Read more

Make Empathy Your Superpower - 1/2/24


I was facilitating a Service Excellence Training class for a Higher Ed client in the Northeast several years back.  As I was walking through the portions of our technique for defusing the angry customer, I talked about empathy.  I talked about accepting responsibility. Immediately, one of the hands in the Read more

Holiday Poem 2023 - 12/26/23


The days are getting longer, The skies are getting brighter. Festivities behind us, And festivities before us.   There’s ups and downs and change coming, And we can’t predict when or where. There’s challenges and joys and opportunities around, Of which you may or may not be aware.   But one thing we know as we look at each Read more

Refresh, Rejuvenate, Refocus - 12/19/23


It’s that time of year.  We’re going 100 miles an hour, and holiday time is upon us.  We not only have all the work to do, but we somehow have less time to do it.  We somehow have other things that are of competing interest, and even though those 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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