The other day I was at my hotel waiting for my client to pick me up for a meeting. I wanted a quick breakfast, so I went to the hotel’s coffee shop to pick up some oatmeal. They had instant oatmeal in a cup. The cashier added the hot water and $4.00 later I was on my way. I sat down at an open seat in the hotel lobby and noticed that my oatmeal looked more like soup that oatmeal. Usually, you just wait a few minutes and the oatmeal thickens up, but that was not the case. So, I walked over to the coffee shop to see if they had any suggestions. Her response: “People always complain about that.” Continue reading
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One of my favorite restaurants in St. Louis, where I live, is Tony’s. You may be familiar with Tony’s if you have been following my articles and videos for a while. They are an outstanding example of a great product – their food – and amazing service. So, good in fact that they are one of the businesses that don’t have to exceed expectations. They are so good at what they do, all they have to do is meet expectations to amaze their guests. Continue reading
We can train people on how to deliver good customer service. We teach people how to greet customers when they walk in the store, how to properly answer the phone when customers call the company and much more. It’s easy to teach the basics. They are part of the operation and the process. They happen every day. But, sometimes there are opportunities to deliver customer service when it’s not expected. An employee does something, not because they were taught to do it, not because it’s expected, but simply because it’s intuitively the right thing to do. Continue reading
When you treat employees like rock stars, they will treat your customers like rock stars. That is what employee engagement is all about. Great leaders have preached that when you treat your employees well, they treat their customers – and fellow employees well. My friend and fellow customer experience expert, James Dodkins, has a great way of saying it:
If you want to put your customers first, you need to put your employees first, first.
The coffee? Really? Okay, I get it. One little detail can give you a glimpse into a much bigger picture. The idea is that the coffee machine and the quality of the coffee is an indication of how the employees are treated. Continue reading
Over the years I’ve taught a concept I refer to as the One Thing Question. This is a very simple question to use in a survey as a follow-up to the simple survey question, like the Net Promoter Score question (NPS). For those that may not be familiar with the NPS survey question, it is simply this: On a scale of zero to ten, what is the likelihood that you would recommend us to a friend, colleague or family member. This simple question gives you an idea if your organization did well enough for the customer to recommend you. The follow-up question is this:
Is there one thing you can think of that would make doing business with us better? Continue reading
Some people are just naturally good at providing great customer service. They are people pleasers. They pay attention to details. And, it seems to come naturally to them. So, are they born with it, or do they learn it? How do they recognize that this is what they are good at? Continue reading
I can’t make this “stuff” up. It really happened! The other night I was at a very nice – and very expensive – steakhouse restaurant. This place was top rated for their steaks and seafood. We all ordered a salad. As the server was setting down the salads, we noticed that one of the salads had a tiny portion of salad compared to the others. It was less than half the amount. The salad didn’t even cover the entire plate. So, my friend spoke up and mentioned it to the server, who replied, “I don’t make them. I just serve them.” And, then he walked away. Continue reading
Customer service and customer experience (CX) have become as hot of topics as any in business. Owners of small businesses and leaders of the largest companies recognize the importance of CX. It’s what drives our business. It’s become a customer expectation. Don’t deliver on the CX and the customer will find someone – or some company – that does. And, not only do you have to deliver on the experience, you have to stand out and be different. Continue reading
There is an old saying: It is better to give than to receive. The interpretation of this is that giving is an act of kindness. There is another old saying: The more you give, the more you get. So, is the act of giving truly an act of kindness, even if you know you’ll receive something back, and even if you don’t know exactly what it is? I think so, especially if the act of giving has no strings attached – even if giving more means you get more, then it truly is an act of kindness. Continue reading
I just stayed at the Crowne Plaza in Lansing, Michigan. I’ve stayed at many Crowne Plazas in the past, and they are nice hotels, however, the experience at this one was quite unique. It was a personalized experience, and the way they went about it is an excellent lesson we all can learn from. Continue reading
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
What does a good customer experience look like at your company? What does good customer service look like? Ask everyone on your team and listen to the answers. Will they be the same, or different? It will be interesting to see if your team recognizes the difference between experience and service. Continue reading
In 1945 George Orwell published the literary classic, Animal Farm, which was required reading in my middle-school English class. I always remembered the line: All animals are created equal, just some animals are more equal than others. Someone recently referenced the book and this famous line, and it made me think about how customers are treated. 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