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I’ll never forget having dinner with my close friends, Kim Tucci and the late John Ferrara, more than 30 years ago, at a fancy restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona. John’s twelve-year-old son, Ben, was also with us. The server came over to tell us about the specials and take our order. One of the specials was a seafood dish. Kim asked, “Is the fish fresh?” Continue reading

Your people attend customer service training. They learn techniques and tactics on how to deal with complaining customers, angry customers or customers who just need a little support. They are taught the right answers to some difficult questions. This is what customer service training is all about. But… Continue reading

There is an old joke in the dental world that a patient asked his dentist, “Which teeth should I floss?” The dentist answered, “Only the ones you want to keep.” Customer Service is the same.

All customers are good customers. Okay, maybe not all. Every business has customers – or should I call them former customers – that companies choose not to do business with. But, for the purpose of this article, let’s assume you’re willing to do business with everyone who wants to do business with you. Continue reading

There’s an old joke that goes something like this: A guy goes to the doctor. He raises his arm and complains, “It hurts when I do this.” The doc says, “Then don’t do that.”

In other words, “Stop it!” Continue reading

My brother, Rusty Hyken, was on a trip to Utah with his wife and two dogs. It’s a leisurely three-day drive for them. He made their hotel reservations, and for each hotel they planned to stop at on the way to Utah he asked, “Is your hotel dog-friendly?” All of them said, “Yes.” But to his surprise, while checking into one of the hotels he was told there would be a $120 charge for the dogs to stay in his room. This was a surprise as he called and specifically asked about dogs, and the hotel never mentioned the fee for the dogs. Continue reading

I will always remember my first marketing class in college when we learned about the 4 P’s – Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. Well, now there is a fifth P.

Before I go any further, as a customer service and experience expert, I believe that service and experience are all about marketing. Continue reading

It was a major meeting for my friends at Volkswagen Australia. This was their Customer Experience Summit, and the theme for the meeting was “Think Small: Big Differences Come from SMALL Details.”

Jason Bradshaw, the Director of Customer Experience, shared his vision about Volkswagen Australia being recognized and known for their amazing customer service. His goal is for VW to be one of the best in the industry. His bold move was to tell the audience, which consisted of the ownership and management of the Volkswagen dealerships throughout the country, that everyone should think small. Really? How can thinking small propel you to greatness? Well, it turns out Jason was onto something… BIG! Continue reading

My buddy went to dinner with his wife to celebrate their anniversary. The server overheard them talking about how many years they had been married and was flattered they chose to spend their special night at the restaurant. So, he brought them over complimentary champagne. They were surprised and most appreciative. That is, until the bill came.

As my friend looked over the bill he noticed there were two complimentary glasses of champagne on the bill had a charge of two dollars per glass. Since it was only four dollars, and rather than have a confrontation with the server, he just paid the bill. A perfect evening derailed when the surprise champagne turned out to be a bigger surprise than he expected. Continue reading

We must always be honest with our customers. Even if it is something the customer doesn’t want to hear.

Many of you will be able to relate to this. My wife holds up two pairs of shoes and asks me, “Which pair of  shoes do you like better?” I know I’m in trouble. Is she really interested in my opinion? Or is it a trick question? In her mind she already knows the answer. She just wants me to confirm the answer. I have a 50/50 chance of giving her the correct response. And, even if I choose the correct pair of shoes, she is going to wonder why I didn’t choose the other. Only one other question she asks could get me in more trouble: “Does this dress look good on me?” But at least she didn’t ask, “Does this dress make my butt look big?” Although she just might as well have. Continue reading

Every week, I’m asked, “What is changing in customer service?” The expected answer is that I’ll talk about all the new ways customer service and support is conducted – and I do. There’s self-service solutions that include robust frequently asked questions and video. There’s social media customer service with multiple channels like Facebook and Twitter. And, AI (Artificial Intelligence) that the experts – myself included – say will potentially change everything. Continue reading

I’m often asked, “How many people in an organization does it take to create a culture focused on Customer Amazement?” The short answer is: all of them. But, the process has to start somewhere. Usually it’s at the top with leadership. But sometimes it can come from someone inside the organization at a different level. I refer to that person as The Force Within. That person delivers Amazement within the larger group, which may not necessarily be operating at the same standard as he or she is. Continue reading

Not long ago I was interviewing Kevin Berk, founder and CEO of ServiceGuru, on Amazing Business Radio. We were talking about the word fine. He commented that it is a four letter that begins with the letter F that you never want to hear from your customer. I then joked that fine is the “F-Bomb” of customer service.

Ask someone how their experience with your company is. If they say, “Fine,” and you dig a little deeper, you may find out things really aren’t so fine. Continue reading

I recently had the good fortune to meet Frankie Saucier, the former director of social media customer service (also known as social care) for a major cable company. When the cable goes out, upset customers call, email, tweet, post on Facebook, etc. her cable company for two reasons. One, they want to express their complaint and anger. Two, they want to know when their cable TV will be fixed.

So, Frankie sat down with her team to brainstorm how to handle a tweet that a customer posted asking how long it would be before their cable TV was restored. She asked them, “What would be the best response?” Continue reading

I recently checked into a hotel in Chicago. The front desk clerk was so enthusiastic. Upon checking me in she stated, “I’ve put you in the best available room.”  I was only there for one night, so I thought she was upgrading me. To match her enthusiasm, I responded, “I bet that room has a view of the ocean and the beach!” Of course, there’s no ocean or beach in Chicago. I was just joking.

She then said, “Oh, you’re looking for a view. You could upgrade to a room with a view, if you would like.”

I was surprised and said, “But, I thought you told me you were checking me into the best available room.” Continue reading

When was the last time you called your business?

I recently spoke at a conference. After the speech, the client gave me a gift: the list of everyone in the audience with their contact information. She suggested I pick up the phone and let everyone know they should hire me to speak at their next meeting. (Now, that’s a nice gift!)

So, a week later our team picked up the phones and started “smiling and dialing.” We connected with a good number of the people who responded positively to our calls, but that’s not what this is about. It’s about how a company’s phones are answered – and you can probably guess, this is more rant than rave. The number of companies that messed up their first impression was ridiculously high. About a third of the way into the calls I realized we should have done a formal study. Continue reading

Every week I stay at different hotels around the world as I travel for my speaking engagements. And, every morning I get up in these hotels and take a shower. I reach in to turn the knob for the water, which is usually a few feet below the showerhead. I turn the knob to what I hope is the correct water temperature and pull my arm out just as fast as I can – to avoid the cold water that is about to shoot out of the nozzle and hit my arm or other parts of my body.

Okay, that doesn’t seem like a big deal – and it’s not. That is, until you experience something better. Continue reading

Last week was a bad week for the airlines. The United Airlines customer service debacle hurt all airlines, not just the United brand. It’s not uncommon for flights to be overbooked, delayed and cancelled. Passengers get angry. Airline personnel get angry. “Travel hassle” can be very stressful on everybody.

I love it when I take a flight that is on time. And, I love it even more when the flight attendants on those flights understand that after their number one priority, which is safety, their second job is to be brand ambassadors for the airline they represent. And, that goes for all other airline personnel. By the way, that’s a pretty good way to operate any type of business. Continue reading

My wife and I were on the phone with our bank. They take care of our checking accounts and credit cards for our entire family, and we were having a problem transferring money from one account to another.

The frustration began with fifteen minutes of hold time. Once the customer service representative came on the call, Cindy briefly described the problem. The rep asked a number of security questions, which included her full name, address, where she was born, mother’s maiden name, social security number and driver’s license number. While more than the usual questions, I understand they are for our protection. That said, the entire interaction, including fifteen minutes spent on hold waiting for the rep, was now approaching twenty minutes and thus far nothing had been resolved. Continue reading

One of our faithful Shepard Letter subscribers, Warren Danziger, emailed a great story worth sharing with everyone. The short version of the story is as follows:

It was time to call the HVAC company that Warren had used for years to come out for the semi-annual inspection of his air conditioner and furnace. As usual, he received excellent service. Shortly after the service call he received an email requesting he complete a survey, which he was happy to do. Upon completion of the survey he was sent a $15 coupon to print out for the next service call, which he must provide at the time of the next service. Continue reading

Just last week I attended Social Media Marketing World in San Diego. So, what does a social media marketing conference have to do with customer service? Plenty!

It’s been said that customer service is the new marketing. If that is true – and it is – then social media customer service is the updated version of that. And, if you’ve been following my work, you’ve heard me talk or write about how social media is a viable way to deliver amazing customer service. Regardless of the customer interacting with you in person, on your website or through social media channels, the experience should be one that brings the customer back, and more important, gets the customer to talk about you to their friends and colleagues. Continue reading

Congratulations to Squaremouth, who just won a Gold Stevie Award for Customer Service Department of the Year – for the fourth time! (For those that don’t know, the Stevie is an international business award that recognizes top performing organizations in several categories including customer service.) Squaremouth is an online travel insurance company that compares travel insurance products from every major provider in the United States. They allow travelers the opportunity to compare and purchase travel insurance using their “comparison engine” that has over 40,000 customer reviews. Continue reading

Every day I get an email from RetailWire.com, a daily publication that is read by thousands of people in the retail industry. It’s the number one forum for discussions about hundreds of important issues in the industry. Now, before we go further, even though RetailWire.com focuses on the retail industry, what I’m about to share is relevant to every business in every industry.

A recent article in RetailWire posed a question about virtual reality and if it will make brick-and-mortar stores less relevant. By the way, if you haven’t experienced virtual reality, you must. It’s incredible. You put on what looks like goggles and you see the most amazing three dimensional images and videos. Okay, back to answering the question. Continue reading