Posts Tagged ‘word of mouth’
Customer Service has the potential for many major screw ups – but this takes the cake!! We’ve all heard stories about customer service reps doing their nails on the job, and this is a serious grooming “no – no.” But, even my jaw dropped when I saw this one. Read on for the rest of the story. . .
I was walking into my favorite gym – and I say “favorite” because they seemingly do everything right. They have pictures with a little bio of their trainers on the wall, they have the manager’s name prominently displayed, they recognize me (even when I haven’t washed my hair for 2 days and wear no make-up and dark sunglasses), greet me by name and wave goodbye when I leave. I’m really sensitive to good customer service, and I like this experience.
So, imagine my shock and awe when I swung open the double doors expecting the usual “Hi Verena”, and see my friendly gym rep, hovering over the check-in counter, with an eyebrow tweezers and a mirror in her hand. Okay, I want to give her every benefit of the doubt, so I say to myself, “Self, she must need those tweezers to perform some helpful, technical maneuver on me that requires a teensy, very sharp, needle-nosed implement.” (Yikes!) Or perhaps she’s just giving me a hint that I need to watch the “How to tweeze your eyebrows” video on You Tube.
Nuh uh. There’s no doubt what is going on here. This girl assumed the tweezing posture. And if you don’t know what that is, imagine chin in the air, whilst gazing into a magnifying mirror held approximately three inches from your nose, arm gracefully arched above the head like a ballerina, with tweezers grasped firmly between the thumb and forefinger, poised to pluck the offending – whatever!
And as she continued her grooming ritual – totally ignoring me, (but continuing her conversation with another gym employee!) I punched in my ID number, scanned my fingerprint, and got the “Enjoy your workout!” message. I scurried away, flip flops flapping, and couldn’t wait to tell everyone in my Yoga class what I had just seen.
I expected an “Oh my gosh!” reaction from my gym rat compadres, but they were not at all shocked. It’s sad to think that when it comes to customer service, they expect nothing.
So the moral of the story here is simple – never, ever, think you’ve got this customer service “thing” nailed down. You can check and re-check, observe frequently, but you have to talk to the staff about what is and is not appropriate in your work place. Don’t assume that they know what you expect – or when your back is turned, your front desk can turn into a beauty parlor!
Think about it. The phrase says it all . . . “C-O-L-D Call.” Why would anyone want to make one – or receive one? After all, according to Mirriam Webster.com, the definition of “cold’ is: lack of the warmth of normal human emotion, friendliness, or compassion – detached, indifferent, impersonal
and lastly. . .
giving the appearance of being dead
I don’t think any of us will win friends and influence people (let alone get a new customer) using the ”cold call” approach!
I have a better idea. Why not make a “WARM Call”. For example, after a customer buys a product or receives a service from your organization or company, why not give them a call and see how they’re doing? or if you can help them in any way? That’s impressive! And, then they’ll tell all their friends to buy from you – because you really care about your customers.
Voila! FREE Advertising at it’s best! And no more chilly phone calls!
I always recommend keeping factoids about your purchasers – slips of paper in a file folder, notes in a database, or handwritten scribbles in the margin of an invoice. Humanize your call center -build trust – create word of mouth, and increase sales by “rapping” with a client about their vacation, business conference or family reunion. It’s a very powerful and impressive tool, and the perfect technique when combined with “call backs.” Read more at www.theserviceadvisors.com/blog, or in The 11% Solution. A book all about no cost tips to get your customers to do the advertising for you!
Let your customers do the advertising for you – and increase sales via Word of Mouth Advertising! It’s FREE! Sound good? Are you ready to rev up that Word of Mouth Engine? There are 4 Gold Star customer service strategies that are guaranteed to do just that. (So you can remember them easily, I’m going to apply these techniques to a great customer service story that I ran across on the Internet):
(1) Be Helpful – the customer’s car broke down, and when he called the garage, they offered to pick it up for him. Now that’s Helpful! Gold Star #1.
(2) Update Frequently - Keep the customer informed – In this example, the garage kept the customer posted re the status, what was wrong, and how much it would cost to fix the problem. I think you’ll agree that there’s nothing worse than wondering what’s happening, or sitting by the phone all day waiting for that status call! Gold Star #2.
(3) Give a Token of Appreciation – the garage didn’t charge the customer for the tow. Wow! What an unexpected treat. That’ll be sure to create some buzz. Gold Star #3.
(4) Call Back - the Big Daddy of Delight! Several days later, the garage called the customer just to see how things were going and check to see that everything worked out OK. Gold Star #4.
This customer is now telling his story on the internet. Do you think this is worth the cost of the tow? Yep. Many times over. Follow these 4 Gold Star customer service strategies and you’re guaranteed lots of FREE Word of Mouth Advertising and increased sales! Get more NO COST tips at www.theserviceadvisors.com.
Why is it that so many business owners don’t realize that you can control how customers feel about your product or service? I recently spoke with an owner who was bemoaning the fact that the PROBLEM is a customer that just walks away – in silence. Never to visit you again, and you never know why. He’s been in business for 40 years and was resigned to just throwing up his hands in despair. He asked me what to do and I suggested “Call Backs”. It’s a very easy process – just call back in 2 or 3 days after the purchase to “check in” that everything is OK. Invite the customer to call you Personally at any time if there’s a problem. (I like to give out my cell phone number – I’ve done this for years and no one has ever called me!) People will appreciate the attention and caring and buy from you again and again. This is definitely a NO COST solution that keeps your customers happy. For more tips go to http://www.theserviceadvisors.com
Ooooh. . . we all have a service story that has left us spitting and sputtering. I’ll bet that at one time or another, every one of us has left an establishment saying, “How in the world do they stay in business?”
I know you’ve got some customer service horror stories that you’d love to tell me, but here’s one of my own. In fact, by the time I’d finished with this ordeal, I was so mad my chin quivered!
Several years ago, I needed a new microwave. . .
(to get the rest of the story and meet Rox”E” the doxie go to http://theserviceadvisors.com/The-Problem.html
Since name badges done wrong is one of my pet peeves (hardly anyone does it right) I’d like to offer some food for thought. Name badges foster a bond between the service employee and the customer! When one wears a name badge, “bonding” is for sure going to happen, but I don’t want to bond with someone’s belly button! What’s up with that? Please don’t buy your staff laniards to wear around their neck and use as a name badge holder. I know this is convenient (they won’t get strangled the next time they have to use their badge to open a door!), but it really doesn’t add to the professionalism that you’re trying to achieve. Plus, I don’t wear my glasses. But, even if I did, the type face on some name badges is so small that I’m squinting while looking at someone’s belly button!!!! Not good! Check out the name badges at Sam’s Club. They’ve got two out of three steps right. First, they require name badges, second, they use really large font to spell out the first name, however, they don’t require that you wear the name badge at shoulder height, so I am familiar with the navels of some of their staff. Even if I don’t want to know them that well. Check out some more NO COST customer service tips at www.theserviceadvisors.com and leave me your comments on the blog.
Below is a blog posted by Emily Coltman at http://askm-videos.blogspot.com/2010/11/trust-me-im-customer.html. This is the perfect testimonial about a business that knows how to “recover” using trust. And, as a result, they just got some FREE advertising on the world wide web? Now, isn’t that worth it? Kudos to Lakeland. And, thanks, Emily. I couldn’t have said it better. Thanks, Emily.
Sunday, 28 November 2010
Earlier this year I read a great book by Stephen M. R. Covey called “The Speed of Trust“.
It’s not easy being a customer service rep. Wait a minute – I take that back. It’s not easy being a GOOD customer service rep. After all, what’s a rep to do when a customer is really angry, demanding, calling names and throwing things!
Yep, it happens. And, the most common response to the situation is defensiveness – on both sides. The rep points out the customer’s mistakes (“you should have”. . . “our policy is”. . . “you kept changing your order”. . .), the customer bristles with hostility and takes it out on the rep. GAME ON! The power struggle ensues, and I guarantee, it never has a happy ending.
The end result is a customer who never comes back, or one who tells not just their friends and family, but the entire world. The angry customer just advised millions of web users never to go to your place of business, and bloggers delight in chiming in with shared sympathy.
Let me give you an example of how hard it is to “counter” a bad review. I was recently contacted by a photography studio who received a bad review, on Google, from an angry bride. Her wedding photos were not up to her expectations, and she wanted her money back.
The studio was in quite a kerfuffle, didn’t see their contribution to the problem, refused to give the customer her money back, nor did they apologize. On the other hand, they did offer to re-shoot. (This offer wasn’t acceptable to the bride, because many of her guests had left town.) Rather than concentrate on working it out with the bride, the studio wanted advice on what they could do to offset the bad review.
The owners of the studio chose to go to their local Chamber of Commerce and raffle off ten free portraits in return for a review on Google. In addition, they made sure to ask all of their future customers to post a review. Yes, it was manipulative, and what if a solicited review was not positive? However, they were confident in their service, and wanted to take the risk.
I visited their studio and checked out all their photos (excellent work). They had other problems with the studio “experience”, but since English was not their first language, I committed, as a liaison for the Chamber, to helping them with the project. (I never did see the bride’s “unacceptable” photos.)
I recently checked Google and saw they had seven new reviews. Whoo hoo! All positive! So, their strategy worked, right? Well, almost. The angry bride kept posting terrible reviews, and only these negative reviews showed up on the initial search page on Google. You had to click again to see the remaining positive reviews .
I drove by the photography studio last week, and I was sad to see a “For Lease” sign in the window. I’m sure that there were other factors that contributed to their demise, but certainly, the bad reviews on Google didn’t help.
If you still have doubts about the impact of an angry customer, just GOOGLE “customer service nightmares.” You will not win the battle with an angry consumer – not in this day and age. Angry customers are taking their grievances to the web, and feel a sense of justification when they use the w.w.w. to recount their poor customer service experiences. The customer ultimately wins the power struggle and relish in getting in “the last word.” They name names, enjoy describing their aggressive behavior (how they threw and broke things), delight in sharing their cleverness and originality in name calling, and don’t blink when it comes to typing profanity on the web (one angry guy called a rep a “f – - – ing trollop”). Yikes! Not only is the customer service rep freaked out, but the supervisor has his/her hands full in dealing with the aftermath and the uproar.
Now, is it possible to convert these bad experiences to positive encounters and loyal customers? Yep. No Kidding. I do it all the time. And, you can, too. It’s easy and the ultimate “win.”
But first, let me finish the customer service rep story. . . I’m going to put myself in the shoes of the “supervisor” of that customer service rep. No doubt, the rep will run to me (and to anyone else that will listen) and tell the story of the angry customer’s reaction – making sure to convey their sense of outrage at the “abuse” they’ve received from the customer. The rep will be unproductive for the rest of the work day as they describe the encounter, over and over, to everyone, and repeatedly justify their actions by telling their co-workers all the things the customer did “wrong”. Their next step will be to tell me that they shouldn’t have to “take it” when a customer swears at them (“f—ing trollop”), and just what are they supposed to do when a customer uses profanity or acts aggressively. Jeesh. This is really snowballing and is turning into a multi-factorial disaster – FAST!
Granted, I want the staff to recognize me as a good supervisor, and not feel like I’m going to punish them for an out-of-control customer interaction. However, as a supervisor, if you walk away from this situation, and fail to correct it, your staff will lose respect for you, and assume that you agree with their position. Customer service will suffer, and probably, just get worse and worse. So, what is a supervisor to do?
Assuming that the customer is not available to give his/her side of the story, it becomes a “he said” “she said” situation. The customer service rep is, no doubt, looking to me for sympathy, and is fully aware that I cannot investigate both sides of the story. The rep may also be feeling rather smug and confident in their position – looking forward to getting my sympathy and support for having had to endure such unwarranted abuse.
How do I give the customer service rep the attention and support they crave, while convincing them that something in the transaction “triggered” the customer’s reaction? My challenge is to find a way to turn this into a “teachable moment”, and show the rep how to do it differently.
Unfortunately, not every supervisor will see this as an opportunity to improve the experience for the customer AND for the reps. It’s much easier and quicker to just commiserate with the rep and get on with the day. But, let’s not forget the customer who’s just gotten out the door before you’ve had a chance to “recover’ them.
As a supervisor, I would do everything in my power to not lose the customer. Just because the customer has had an outrageously bad experience, doesn’t mean you have to let them walk out the door to tell everyone on the planet! If you jump on it quickly, they might just walk out the door and tell everyone that you really know how to handle the situation when things go wrong. (And, they will!)
But, this isn’t just my problem to fix, it’s also the customer service rep’s. They should be part of the service recovery process, so they know that there are consequences for losing a customer’s good will. The rep will also learn how to do “service recovery” correctly – and, the next time something goes wrong (and, like I said before, it will!), they will know how to handle the situation themselves (customer’s like this!)
Don’t let an unhappy or angry customer get out the door! Stemming the tide of that bad PR is worth much more than the cost of service recovery. Think of the photography studio. Now that their space is for lease, would they do things differently?
After the apology, offering the customer options is a very successful service recovery technique, because it returns some of the power to them (which has ultimately been stripped away by the bad experience). Some examples of options are: (1) credit the customer’s charge card with the amount of the product + give a additional product/service/refund (my token of appreciation for being a valued customer). (2) Gift card equaling the amount of the product or service + the token, or (3) a new product or service of your choice, equaling the original amount. Having to come back to the store for their new product is a hassle, so it’s really nice if you can deliver the new product or service to the location of their choice.
Wait a minute, I’m doing all the work here, so let me share an example of how you may want to handle the staff. This worked for me, and I bet it will work for you, too.
I had a customer service rep once, who ticked off everyone on the phone. The angry customers would always call me to complain. And, although I didn’t mind speaking with them, handling their complaint would take hours that I could use more productively elsewhere.
I finally got wise, and started having the customer service rep participate in crafting the solution. She also had to call back the customer , apologize for the situation getting “out of hand,” and if appropriate, work with the customer to develop options.
As a result, instead of her walking into my office, putting a phone message under my nose, and informing me that this customer hung up on her, I never had a problem with that customer service rep again!
Now, I want to caution you. People have very different attitudes when it comes to an apology. And, even though this technique works like a charm, it can meet with resistance. Go to www.theserviceadvisors.com
And learn more about how to convert an angry customer to your most loyal fan!
Most businesses lose 11% due to unhappy customers. What does that number mean to you?
Why would you want more customers to call you or come through your doors when you don’t know how to treat them? They’ll just leave unhappy and tell 15 more people that your service isn’t worth your great prices!
Did you know that you can win back that 11% by building a culture of service? And, you can do it for NO COST!
Don’t fall victim to churning customers. This practice will cost you way more than keeping an existing customer happy. Let your current customers do the advertising for you by spreading the good word to their friends and family. When this starts to happen, then you’re ready to bring in the new customers.
I’ve been in the service industry for 25 years, and I’ve helped companies of all sizes win back that 11% by using my “7 Step System”. So, I support doing everything you can with the resources you have – all in-house, if possible. My recommendation is to try out these NO COST strategies – first – to start to develop your own culture of service. You don’t have hire a professional consultant, yet. You can do it!
Here’s a summary of the first step – “Check Your Engine” to get you started:
Did you know that it costs six times more to get a new customer than to retain an existing one? Use this easy step to start that Word of Mouth Engine and save the expense of having to advertise furiously to get new customers!
Pay and Educate is a process that can de-escalate and de-fuse a problem, making you appear to be naturally helpful and concerned, and all the while, you’re building trusting relationships with your customers. Here’s how it goes:
-Apologize for any confusion
-Gently educate the customer on the product or service and, again, apologize for any confusion
-Give the customer the product or service at a reduced rate, refund their money, give them a generous discount, or offer their next visit at no charge.
-Thank the customer for bringing the problem to your attention.
A sincere apology costs nothing – and believe me – it works wonders. That’s all a customer really wants to hear. Repeat it , sincerely, as many times as necessary.
Now go out there and use word of mouth to get some FREE Advertising!