Posts Tagged Customer Service


Tim Rueb:

The Pareto Rule is an awesome tool and can be used in many situations. Here Paul Coles shares his insights with how companies focus on the wrong side of the equation at times.

Originally posted on Paul Coles's Blog:

When I left university I joined the British retailing institution that is Marks and Spencer, and of the many things that I learned about business, the most precious of all was that you set your business up for the 99% not the other 1%.

I know you are thinking what the hell is this guy talking about? So I will explain. Back in those heady days of the mid ’80s I queried why we were merchandising some of the most expensive product that was prone to shop lifting right next to the doorway. The answer was simple, 99% of our customers don’t steal, so make it easy for them to buy what they want, and don’t ever lose sight of this, setting yourself up for the 1% you will be destined  to fail. This lesson is beautifully illustrated in a great book “Sway: The irresistible pull of irrational behaviour” by…

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HootSuite Extends Google+ Pages to All Users


This is a big deal for anyone that manages multiple pages across several social media platforms.  Up until now, adding content to your client’s Google Plus pages was an large extra step.  You couldn’t schedule them, so you had to use your calendar to remind you to update a campaign post.  Well that all changes now!

HootSuite Extends Google+ Pages to All Users

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HootSuite is pleased to announce that Google+ Pages is now available to nearly 5 million users worldwide!

Whether you’re on a Free, a Pro or an Enterprise plan, you’ll be able to efficiently manage Google+ Pages alongside other social channels, providing brands a better way to capitalize on the social power of this rapidly expanding social network.

To add Google+ Pages: Access your Profile from the side menu, then select + Add a Social Networkunder My Social Networks.

I know the HootSuite Pro account had this already, but it’s a nice add for the smaller companies still using the Free version of the tool.    Good Job HootSuite!

Good Hunting!

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Make it Easy for Customers


The other day I was helping a new client plan out marketing materials for an upcoming event and asked if he was using QR Codes on all of his materials.  I explained that many people are now scanning them and then using them to do research or deal with retention issues associated with information overload.

The items in your QR Code should be:

  1. Direct link to the landing page for the event or product promoted at that event so the visitor doesn’t have to hunt down what they were interested in.
  2. Your phone number
  3. Your Email Address
  4. other pertinent information that you wanted stored in their contact list
    1. hours of operation
    2. Your name
    3. Your Address
    4. Other web sites you want them to know about (blogs, product micro sites, etc.)

Oh, and if the back of your business card isn’t already in use, put a QR Code there.  It shows you respect their time by having them avoid manually typing the data into their contact database.

Is It Important?

Well if  you don’t think this is important enough to add to your marketing material, maybe this article might change your mind:

Half of U.S. shoppers rely on phones for in-store research

Good Hunting!

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Empty Carts Go Here


Prior to reading the sign below, posted in the parking lot of a local super-store, I could only image how many fully loaded carts were left standing at the cart return areas by the patrons of this establishment.  In fact,  if I had not looked up and read the sign I might have done just that.    Thank goodness this company went out of their way to educate me, their slow and stupid customer,  on this critical step in the process … empty the cart first before returning the cart.

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Imagine the full carts left in the lot before this sign was put up!

Doubly perplexed were the gas station operators of this establishment.   Having their customers show up with full gas tanks, only to top off the tank with a few pennies worth of gas, caused them to jump into action and ask for some verbiage on these educational signs for their dimwitted customers.  Obviously, the educational campaign of letting people know that you go to a gas station to fill your car when the tank is near empty was a great public service to the community.

Maybe I’m being to hard on the gas station operators.  Possibly, this was simply a kind paternal attempt to avoid seeing their idiot customers in long lines of vehicles, with bone dry gas tanks, waiting to be filled at the empty cart return areas.  I guess we’ll never really know.

Words Matter – Silly Signs

OK, I’m having some fun with a poorly worded sign.  I had to get it out of me.  After all, we are not talking about a street sign with missing punctuation for brevity being let loose on a unsuspecting neighborhood.  The sign that comes to mind is “Slow Children Playing”.  What a difference a little comma makes.  This sign has often created an instant and deep sensation of pity towards the parents of these slow children, in which the city went out of their way to let everyone know that retarded children can found playing in the upcoming neighborhood.

The words we use matter to some.   I think we don’t spend enough time evaluating how our  statements shape the  opinions of others and assume that everyone has the same point of view or intention as we do.

Sending Messages

So what messages are we sending to our customers?    Does your company have any phrases, tag lines, signs, etc., that could cause a customer to think they are ignorant and  ill-informed persons,  and would remain so if it weren’t for your existence on this planet?

If you have any other examples, please share these examples with me in a comment below.  These (word) pictures make for great presentation fodder when speaking in public engagements.  I would love to hear from you.

Good Hunting!

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Ditch the Office: Next Week is National Telework Week


More than 35,000 companies and organizations have pledged to participate in the event. According to the official Telework Week Website, this would save an estimated $2,451,069 and more than 1,600 tons of pollutants from entering the atmosphere. Where these numbers come from is not entirely clear, but it stands to reason that fewer people commuting would help save money and reduce pollution to some extent.

National Telework Week is sponsored by Telework Exchange and Cisco, which makes telepresence and communication products, as well as other tools to facilate remote working.

via Ditch the Office: Next Week is National Telework Week.

To: Non-Teleworkers

I would suggest you spend some time understanding what it would take to perform your work outside the office.  As I would explain to past staffs, just because a weather day or some unplanned disaster occurred, project deadlines remain the same.  If you and your manager, or if you are the manager, haven’t spent enough time creating a work force that is flexible enough to handle the unique demands of performing all department requirements outside of the normal office space, you will find yourself in the awkward situation of losing value to the company.

Disaster Recovery Planning

OK, maybe it’s because my first job in a large IT organization was helping implement the annual remote disaster recovery test plans that I seem to gravitate to this fact.  I ask all my clients, if your office burned down this weekend, what you do on Monday.  Close shop?  Declare bankruptcy? Put everything on hold until you get a new office leased?  What about your paper records?  How about your leads?  How about your contracts in progress? Are you’re files stored off-site, and if so how long would it take to get them back and running at the new location?

These are all questions that should bring a leader or manager to the point of understanding how important teleworking can be to this scenario and their organization.

Improved Productivity

An important factor in improving your productivity is to design a work environment that helps you accomplish your work faster and smarter then your competition.  Well how about all the time you are not in the office?  Are you tied to a paper filing system … how could you change that? (Evernote.com)  Can your assistant and team members update file and get them to your quickly? (DropBox.com) Can your team, partners, and client see your calendar and plan accordingly?  (Google Calendar)  Can you conduct training sessions without having to be on-prem at the client’s location? (WebEx) Can you brainstorm with your team, partners, and clients regardless of their geographical location? (MindMeister.com)  Can you manage your To-Do list, or better yet, can your assistant manage your list for you? (Remember the Milk).

My guess the most difficult thing to change in your work space is the paper trails you live with.  You probably have become so accustomed to getting something in paper, working on it, then passing it on.  Reguardless, it is possible to go paperless.  It’s worth the time to implement also.

My Office

Over the past 10 years I have moved to a paperless process.  That is how I had to look at it.  I focused on the process, not the piece of paper or some other physical object.  Many of the web based applications I mentioned above I use today.  It allows me to complete my client requests while knowing that all the items I need are right at my fingertips.

So what have you done to make it possible to telework or telecomute?  I’d love to compare notes some time.

Good Hunting.

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Customer Experience Investment Opportunities (Revisited)


[Note: this is an older post but the "Ill Advised Investments" example came up in a recent meeting and brought a smile back to my face so I'm recycling the post.  I've also added another great quote from Godin as well]

I love the way Seth Godin’s mind works. In a resent post, “How much extra for nice?” brings up the critical point of how much we are willing to pay for better service but reminds companies that creating this environment costs a fraction of what people are willing to pay. The benefits can last longer.

I also read another great thought from Seth Godin as well:

No matter what your job is, no matter where you work, there’s a way to create a project (on your own, on weekends if necessary), where the excitement is palpable, where something that might make a difference is right around the corner.

Hurry, go do that.

Godin in “What are you working on?

Beneficial Investments

In a recent post, I identified three example of customer service excellence. How much money was budgeted to create this customer service environment? These types of examples have a lasting benefit that far outweighs the cost of implementing them. If companies can recognize this before dismissing these opportunities, the rewards have an exponential effect.

Some examples:

  • Hiring the right people
  • Having the right people perform jobs they love to do best.
  • Continuous improvement of the customer experience at all levels of the company
  • Reward excellence and avoid promoting people out of their natural strengths.

Ill Advised Investments

Although I agree with Seth’s premise, as consumers, here are some examples in which we should avoid paying extra to have someone be nice to us!

  • $100 to the Police Officer at a traffic stop – will only produce untold number of stories for your grandchildren around the campfire, sometime in the distant future.
  • $100 to $10,000 to the triage attendant at the local Emergency Room – will get you absolutely nothing at all except a lighter wallet.
  • $100 turned in with your exam – results may vary, but don’t expect them to be positive.

So do you have any beneficial or ill advised investments to share?

Good Hunting!

See also:

Great Customer Service and Peer Recognition

Customer Service Excellence Examples

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Social Media: Reducing Customer Support Costs?


OK, there is an item in this chart that caught me off guard.  57% responded that Social Media is effective tool for reducing support costs.  I would love to know more about this item.  I can understand the others.   We help help clients achieve many if not all of these claims, but reducing support costs is a shocker to me.

In many cases, Social Media is another skill set and talent set that needs to be created and matured and thus takes time and energy to grow into excellence.  This time and energy is usually a new cost to any organization.

New Chart: Rating the Effectiveness of Social Media in Terms of Objectives Achieved

MarketingSherpa.com Chart of the Week

Source: New Chart: How Effective is Social Media in Achieving Target Business Objectives?

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Ban All Mirrors!


We handed out our traditional Christmas gifts to the contracted cleaning crew today. Nothing special, just some home made cookies my wife worked on for several days. One of the ladies, now a regular we have come to know and appreciate, made some funny statement like “Great, that’s all I need is some more pounds!” We all laughed.  She explained she walked by a mirror in her house the other day and her reflection shocked her. My response - “Ban all mirrors! That would solve the problem!”

The Real Problem – Not Enough Mirrors.

In truth, we don’t have enough mirrors in our lives. In business, we become so focused on the next deal, the next deadline, the next pay period, the next ….. OK you pick. We lose sight of our reflection in the mirror.  We don’t even bother to look most times.

Mind you, everyone else still sees us. Our employees. Our family. Our friends. Our Vendors. Our clients.  They don’t see us as a reflection in the mirror.  They have the luxury of simply watching us in our daily struggle to focus on the next thing.

Difficult Solution – Put up more Mirrors!

The strategy is simple, create an accountability network.  The tactic is difficult to implement.  There is a reason why peer accountability groups work.  Left to ourselves, we are our own worst enemies.  Finding a peer to trust is hard enough, finding someone you look up to is very bold.

Customer Service Mirror – find someone, maybe a trusted client, and review your company’s performance.  What’s working, what’s not.  What are they seeing your competitors doing.  What do they wish you would do

Leadership Mirror – are you creating bold audacious goals for you and your teams?  Who is reviewing them with you before you make your presentations.    Who is raising the bar, making you think of options outside your comfort zone?  Who laughs at you when you come up with a real stinker but you think it the next revolutionary idea?

Management Mirror – who is helping you improve you systems, processes, and staff?  Who’s helping you develop a performance model that fits your team’s talents and abilities?

For the sake of this post leadership and management are defined this way.  If a ladder was leaning against a wall, management would be focused on the most efficient and productive use of that ladder where it stands, leadership would be responsible for making sure it’s leaning on the right wall.

Social Media Mirror – it’s not just the people around you any more folks.  As Matt Hames states in his Web 2.0 posts, now it’s also your digital presence that is being looked at.  What you do on the internet, but also equally important, what is said about you on the internet becomes the new dimension to the mirror’s reflection.  Do you have someone helping you with your global perception?

Conclusion

Wow, all this from a bunch of home made cookies for Christmas.  I hope this post has a longer lasting quality then my wife’s baked goods.

I hope in the future when you walk by one of the mirrors in your life you are not shocked by what you see.  And I hope, for your sake, that it’s not too late to correct what you see.

Good Hunting,

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Great Customer Service and Peer Recognition


I guess I’m stuck on a customer service theme in my head. I seem to be attracted to articles and work that focus on the subject. It could simply be a residual affinity based on my recent experiences with customer service excellence. Nonetheless, recently I read a very interesting article in the Incentives Magazine (digital version at incentivemag.com). In the article MetLife uses peer recognition to promote better customer service.

Peer Review Critical

The article goes into the multi-year process of creating a culture to use recognition as a means to increase customer service. The “Best of the Best” program mentioned is a key to their success. There is an organizational role assigned to these types of programs.

“We really wanted it to be peer recognition in local offices, let local recognition champions create the program. It can’t be top-down.” says Marge Rody, the vice president of customer service operations

The article breaks down the tiers of the “Best of the Best” program:

The first is On the Spot, which Hayes-Brown describes as “your immediate recognition, your pat on the back, thank-you” from a manager or supervisor on a day-to-day basis.

Next is the more structured middle tier, known (perhaps somewhat confusingly) as “informal.” This is a Web-based system with a nomination process based around four corporate objectives. Nominations are vetted by each office’s committee of two to five volunteer recognition champions, generally on a monthly basis, and winners can choose a gift from an online catalog.

Finally, there’s the “formal” level, an annual selection of a few names from every business unit (up to five from the largest office) will be sent to Brennan’s corporate recognition committee, which will choose 33 winners—one percent of the 3,300 employees—to be recognized at the corporate level and travel to a ceremony hosted by the company’s president. This award is handed out by the recognition champions committee, overseen by the recognition chairperson. All of those nominated by their local recognition champions are honored, whether they are selected or not, Hayes-Brown says.

Your Action Plan

Let’s face it, it’s easy to find fault. You can search for customer service examples on the internet and you will find the majority are people venting on their recent bad experiences. With the exception of helping the PR and HR departments of these companies ‘locate opportunities for improvement’, nothing really comes of it.

Here are some things you can do:

  • Create an ‘instant recognition’ program – doesn’t have to be elaborate, maybe simply creating a goal that you hand out a ‘At-a-Boy’ each day to someone
  • Plan recognition into events – set aside time in your schedule or project plan to actually think about or review the past few days and determine who could be recognized.
  • Formal Incentive Goal: Create a budget that would include a gift/prize/incentive for someone who reaches a level of customer service. Maye incorporating the above two mentioned items as milestones to quantify the person’s level.

This is something that could easily be implemented in your family, work, church, or team. I hope this post has helped you. If you have any other ideas or comments, I would love to hear them.

Good Hunting.

See Also:

Customer Service Excellence Examples

Customer Experience Investment Opportunities

Reference:

Leo Jakobson (September 2008). MetLife Rethinks Recognition. Incentive, 20-24

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Customer Service Excellence Examples


My family took the typical last summer vacation before the beginning of school sports seasons and school. My wife planned a surprise two day trip that , which in theory, would keep our four boys, 14 year olds to 5 years old, entertained and exhausted. The location was Gurnee Illinois and the Six Flags Great America theme park with an overnight stay at KeyLime Cove, a new indoor water resort.

On this trip, three examples of customer service excellence surfaced.

Excellent Customer Service Example #1KeyLime Cove

Let me set the stage. It’s 9:45PM and the KeyLime Cove water park closes at 10PM. The tube slide lifeguard, a 6 foot something lean athletic looking young man, has been given the all clear that no other patrons will be coming down the tubes and he can begin his duties of stacking the double and single inner tubes that have just traversed hundreds of water park miles today. But first, he must deal with a small object, a third his size, our 5 year old son, Justin. The noise in the cavernous indoor water park is deafening and causes even people sitting next to each other to speak rather loudly so as to overcome the constant white noise of splashing and falling water.

Our Justin walked over and began a conversation with this end-of-day lifeguard. This young man spent 5 minutes (mind you that’s like 1 hour in adult time) face to face, sometimes only two inches apart, never losing eye contact, always smiling, asking for the occasional high-five when he thought it was appropriate. The young lifeguard probably couldn’t understand or hear the young boys declarations of how this day was just simply awesome and 5-year-old’s attempt to share it with someone. Somehow this young man knew (and maybe has seen this played out several times at KeyLime Cove) the significance of this little person’s desire to share, so he patiently waited while the little man continued expanding on his wonderful day.

We finally took pity on the young worker and asked Justin to return to our sides. I gave the young man a thumbs up and smiled. He also smiled and nodded his head, understanding fully that this was just as much of his job as making sure the patrons were safe while having fun.

Excellent Customer Service Example #2

No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service. We’ve all read this sign. It’s a typical health code requirement in all restaurants. In this case the “No Service” portion was replace with “Exceed your Customer’s Expectations” by the restaurant manager.

The above mentioned Justin had broken his cheap flip-flops during the day’s adventure. Our car was parked about a mile away from the front entrance of KeyLime Cove. I’m tired and I thought that since this was a water park that they would let us slide (no water park pun intended) on the rule. NOPE! They explained that we would have to come back with the correct attire. Something on our son’s face caused the manager to jump into action. She said we should go sit down and she would check if they had any extra flip-flops. EXTRAS?????? Well, I guess it was a water park.

A few minutes later, the manager returned after visiting the upstairs gift shop and placed on my son’s feet a new pair. We offered to pay but she refused, She explained that she noticed how disappointed my son was that we might not be able to eat at her establishment, so she couldn’t allow that to happen.

Excellent Customer Service Example #3KeyLime Cove

At the end of the long day, we still had one special event planned. Our traditional “Un-Birthday” celebration. This is simply a necessity because our families can not attend all the birthday parties of all the different families, so when we do get together, we celebrate one “Un-Birthday” to make up for it.

My sister-in-law brought a sheet of brownies and we wanted to eat it at the restaurant. You can image the typical response from most eateries. Not at this one. The same above mentioned restaurant manager focusing on customer satisfaction jumped in again and took the sheet over to the ice cream parlor area of the restaurant and had it decorated. Not just adding a word or two, but on the borders, and added fruit as well to give it some color. This was really over the top and just capped the end of this two day adventure with a sense of true customer service excellence.

In fact, on the 3 hour ride home, I began to form my thoughts for this post. This small family vacation trip, and the customer service examples forever etched in my mind. And I declared to my wife, “We will be going back there again!”

See also:

Customer Experience Investment Opportunities

Great Customer Service and Peer Recognition

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