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Technology is great… until it’s not. You are on a website. A little box pops up and there’s a picture of a customer service rep with a typed message asking if you need help. So, you type a question, and just a moment later you get a response. That’s the perfect scenario. But, what happens when the response is wrong? I was on a website looking for a camera for my notebook computer. The chat box popped up, asking if I needed help. I typed in a question about the camera and the response was about what computer I was interested in purchasing. I had no interest in buying a computer. The digital experience had gone awry. Continue reading

There is an old saying in the real-estate industry: The three keys to success are location, location and location. I have a similar take on the customer service and customer service world. The three keys to customer experience success are consistency, consistency and consistency. Continue reading

It’s morning and you’ve just had breakfast. What are you going to have for dinner? 49% of people in the U.S. do not know what they are going to have for dinner. That stat comes from David Portalatin’s address at the Art of Beef Summit, sponsored by Cargill. As he was addressing foodservice executives and salespeople, he emphasized that not knowing what’s for dinner, just hours before consumers are supposed to eat it, is a problem. Not for the foodservice people, but for consumers. They don’t know what they want, and whether they know it or not, they are looking for help. Not necessarily in the form of a plea for help, but in the form of wanting an easy and convenient way for them to decide what they are having for dinner. Continue reading

Two years ago I reported on NewVoiceMedia’s “serial switchers” report that indicated that $62 billion was lost due to poor customer service. That number, in their new report now has that number pegged at $75 billion! That’s a lot of lost business!

Here’s my take on this. Customers want and expect more than ever before – because that’s what we have we taught them. Continue reading

A successful customer experience strategy is a result of the company’s culture. In other words, and I’ve said it many times before, what’s happening on the inside of the company is going to felt on the outside of the company by the customer.

So, let’s look at the inside of the company. Let’s look at the EX, which is the Employee Experience. The EX is part of the culture. It starts with how leadership wants their employees to feel about working for their company. One of my favorite concepts to write and talk about is the Employee Golden Rule, which is to treat employees like you want the customer to be treated. The EX is what will make or break the CX. Continue reading

The other day a buddy shared an experience he had with a company that sold him mulch for his yard. When the truck arrived, he asked the driver and his co-worker to put the mulch in the backyard. The driver said, “I’m sorry. Dropping the mulch off in the backyard is considered white-glove service. You needed to let us know you wanted the mulch in the backyard when you ordered it.” In this case, sorry had a double meaning. Maybe the driver was saying he was sorry to apologize, and at the same time, he was also saying, “Too bad. Pay more money if you want the mulch delivered an extra 50 feet to the back of the house.” Continue reading

The short version of my story is this: At a recent conference, the client gave their speakers a gift – a backpack filled with swag that included fancy water bottles, fleece pull-overs and more. This wonderful gift was a little large to fit in my suitcase, so I decided to box it up and mail it to my office. As I was heading to the FedEx office, one of my fellow speaker-buddies told me he took his to the front desk of the hotel where they conveniently accommodated his request to ship the gift to his home. I decided to do the same, but my experience was the antithesis of his. Continue reading

There are many great customer service stories that can serve as a template for how to handle a problem.  I always fall back on my five-step service recovery process to handle all complaints and problems. For those that haven’t been following, the five-steps are: 1) Acknowledge the problem and thank the customer for bringing it to your attention. 2) Apologize for the problem. 3) Fix it or discuss the resolution. 4) Have an attitude of ownership. 5) Act with urgency. Continue reading

Lately, I’ve been asked about loyalty programs. Any company can create a loyalty program. But, there is some confusion around what exactly a loyalty program is. A Wikipedia definition of a loyalty program summed it up well: Loyalty programs are structured marketing strategies designed by merchants to encourage customers to continue to shop at or use the services of businesses associated with each program. Continue reading

A potential client called for help. His plea was, “We are so NOT customer-focused, and we need to be!” He then shared what may be one of the most crystal-clear examples of the difference between a company that is customer focused and one that isn’t.

By the way, the name of the company has been “changed to protect the innocent,” as they say. We’ll refer to them as Company X. Continue reading

I’ve got good news and bad news for you. The good news is that you no longer have to keep up with your competition; the bad news is that now you have to keep up with your customer – meaning your customer’s expectation of the service that makes you competitive.

Perhaps you just heard that your competitor is working hard to take away business from you – maybe they’re announcing a new product; maybe they’re advertising a major sale; maybe they’re opening a new location. Will any of these decisions cause your customers to leave you to do business with them? Continue reading

I love a good hockey game, and my favorite team is the St. Louis Blues. I recently went to a game where a puck fluttered over the protective glass and hit a fan squarely in the head just a few rows in front of me. The blood started to flow and within seconds an usher was beside the gentleman who, other than the gash on his head, seemed to be okay. What happened next was a system or process that had been honed to perfection. Continue reading

You have a problem. You call the phone number listed on the company’s website. You wait on hold for what seems much longer than the ten minutes they said you would be holding. You finally get to a customer service rep. You tell your story and the customer service rep responds, “I’m sorry, that’s not my department.” Then you’re transferred to someone else and the “game” of holding and telling your story starts all over again. Continue reading

The other day I was talking with a gentleman who was as passionate about customer service and experience as I am. He had worked with support centers and we were discussing how important the team in a customer support center is to an organization. Yet, it surprised both of us just how low paid some of these support people are.

That made me think about the teller at a bank, the person who is the “face” of the bank for all intents and purposes. They greet the customers, handle their money, and work directly with the customers – more than anyone else in the bank – yet it is typically one of the lower-paid positions.

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Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, once said, “The best customer service is if the customer doesn’t need to call you, doesn’t need to talk to you. It just works.”

In other words, the best customer service is invisible. It just happens. The customer doesn’t have to ask for it. It just gets done the way it’s supposed to. What does get done isn’t always noticed, and shouldn’t be. Invisible service means it happens without you ever seeing it. Continue reading

Not long ago, I had a somewhat tenuous conversation with one of our suppliers. I mentioned to him that it took too long for him to call me back. This time it took three days. His response was, “I called you back the same week. That isn’t good enough?”

No! It’s not! That’s not what good service, at least for me, is about. But, that’s not what this lesson is really about. It is actually about this guy’s assumption that three days would be an acceptable response time. The key word here is assumption. Continue reading

What if your customers said they would be willing to pay you twice what you normally charge? All they want in return is an amazing customer service experience.

Really? That’s it? That’s all they want? We already give great customer service. This will be a piece of cake! (Or, will it?) Continue reading

It drives me a little crazy when I receive an advertisement in the mail from my cable TV or phone company offering me an incentive to sign up with them. First, I’m already a customer and can’t understand why they can’t figure that out. Second, why is the price they are offering a new customer lower than what I’m currently paying? Continue reading