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
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
Some 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
What does it mean to be a customer-centric company?
That seems to be the question of the week. It started off with one of our subscribers emailing in the question, followed by two reporters wanting my take on this now-popular phrase for their interviews. 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
The Dollar Shave Club continues to impress me with their amazing customer service. I have used them as an example of how to create a membership experience, but now I want to focus on their ability to deliver amazing customer service. Continue reading