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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

Customer service is what I’m all about. It is my life’s mission to help companies create a customer service experience that customers think is amazing. So, I thought it would be nice to own the domain name CustomerService.com. But, surely some company that is totally focused on their customers would already own it. So, I typed the URL into the Internet browser and found out… it was for sale. Nobody was using this domain. Really? Continue reading

Anticipatory Customer ServiceSome of you may be familiar with the 1970’s and 80’s hit TV show M*A*S*H, based on the novel and movie by the same name. The series premiered in 1972 and played for eleven seasons. While, most refer to the show as a sitcom, some view it more as a “dramedy” than a comedy series because of the heavy dramatic setting, which was a medical unit in the Korean War. Sure, there were a lot of laughs, but the message behind the show was very serious. So, what does all of this have to do with customer service? Continue reading

Just imagine if you were the Director of Sales for a private jet company. Would that be a dream job?

Jordan Zabel deals with high-end customers who expect high-end customer service because he is the Director of Sales for Jet Linx, a private jet company that offers their services to corporate and private members. As you might imagine, anyone that can afford to fly in a private jet has very discerning taste . . . and often along with it, sky-high expectations. Continue reading

Common sense must always prevail – especially when it comes to customer service. That said, sometimes companies create strict rules and policies or have a “system” that makes it impossible for an employee to deliver the customer service the company actually wants them to deliver. Continue reading

Last week United Airlines had a computer outage that lasted two and a half hours and caused 200 flight delays and six cancellations. Keep in mind, this wasn’t a single unhappy customer complaining to a gate agent at the airport. This situation involved thousands of people who were inconvenienced. I would describe a two plus hour delayed flight as a Moment of Misery™. Continue reading

Recently one of our subscribers asked me, what traits a person must possess to deliver a good customer service experience. I asked if this was for a customer support rep, and he said no. He was hiring for his IT department. We went back and forth via email, and I thought that a summary of my answer might be worth sharing. Continue reading

A few weeks ago I had breakfast at one of my favorite places, First Watch. On that particular day I wasn’t that hungry so I ordered just one pancake. Typically, when I add a pancake they charge a dollar. When the server left the check on the table I noticed they charged me five dollars for the pancake. I asked about the high-priced pancake and learned there was as difference between adding a pancake and ordering just one for breakfast. He was very nice about it, and I was happy to accept the reason. He then jokingly told me the next time I came in he was going to give me a pancake for a dollar. I thanked him and left him a nice tip for his great service and his outstanding attitude. Continue reading