Bank of America has taken a new approach to customer service–Twitter. The banking giant, now in a bit of hot water thanks to Merrill Lynch, has decided to reach out to the masses in with help in only “140 characters.” Many readers on Consumerist.com have reported quick help with the website, refunds in fees and cancellations. Check out the Twitter helper at: twitter.com/BofA_help
This post is cross posted on JoAnna Brandi’s blog.
I was schlepping myself and my luggage through the airport this week feeling tired and old when I heard my friend and teacher Scotty’s voice in my head. ‘Walk like a dancer JoAnna, walk like a dancer.’ I have to tell you that at that very moment I felt myself grow taller, I felt my gaze rise from the moving sidewalk to what passes for a horizon in an airport, I took a deeper breath, I lifted my head and heart and then exhaled. I thought of how a dancer might move her body through an airport pulling luggage. I figured it had to be different than the way I’d been doing it. So I made up, in my mind, a vision of how I thought a trained and graceful dancer would be moving herself through the tunnel between terminals A and B ‘ a mighty distance. Scotty, tries to teach me to dance, and once in a while succeeds. (That is, if I’m in town when he’s in town and there’s space in our schedules.) I’m a tough student. And if I never learn to dance that’s okay. Scotty taught me how to walk ‘ forward and backward ‘ across a stage, down the aisle forwards and backwards with confidence, poise and grace. I’m not sure of the score he would give me if he actually saw me work with an audience, but I know that I can continue to improve if I allow myself to keep hearing Scott’s voice in my head. ‘Walk like a dancer, JoAnna, walk like a dancer.’ What a beautiful reminder for me of a principle I teach (and sometimes forget to practice myself) Act ‘As if.’ I wrote about it in my first book ‘Winning at Customer Retention, 101 Ways to Keep ‘em Happy, Keep ‘em Loyal and Keep ‘em Coming Back’ Here’s an excerpt on that wonderful practice. ‘Service providers can’t be expected to be nice all the time, to be polite all the time, to care all the time, can they? No ‘not human ones, anyway. However, there’s a skill that’s easy to apply that can bridge the gap between the times you feel genuinely, positively involved in your interactions and those you don’t. I call it acting ‘as if.’ What if you’ve had a tough day? Can you act ‘as if’ you haven’t? Or, if you feel confused about solving a customer’s problem, ask yourself how you’d act if you weren’t confused. Suppose you’ve just heard some not-so-encouraging words from a supervisor about the status of your big project, and now you have to get on the phone with a customer. Can you act ‘as if’ the interaction with your supervisor didn’t take place, muster faith in your ability to overcome adversity, and go on to help the customer? You have a headache; can you act ‘as if’ you don’t? As a performer, [and you ARE] you’ll be called on to perform when you simply don’t feel like it. Skilled performers ‘ actors, speakers, service reps, and salespeople ‘ have developed great confidence in their ability to ‘do what they have to do.’ Many know the act ‘as if’ secret. As a performer and frequent traveler, I can assure you there are many times when a delayed flight, a night of fitful sleep in a hotel room, overwork, or a cold threatens my ability to do my best in front of an audience. But what are my options? Cancel the perfor??mance? Resign myself to giving a bad show? Beg the audience for forgiveness? I’ve never considered any of these acceptable alternatives. With faith in my ability to rise to the occasion, I act ‘as if’ ‘ as if I had a good night’s sleep, as if I were feeling terrific. Very often, I find myself starting to feel just that way. When I’m nervous, I remind myself how it feels to be at ease ‘how my voice sounds, how my face looks, how I stand. I try whatever I can to affect that other feeling. Very often, by changing something in my body, by acting ‘as if,’ my mood changes and then my attitude and state of mind follow suit. Begin right now to act ‘as if’ you have faith in your ability to succeed as a performance specialist and relationship expert. (Of course, this includes taking action, not just harboring positive thoughts.) Remember, if you act helpless, you’ll be helpless. If you act creatively, on the other hand, you’ll be creative. Acting resourcefully can make you resourceful. Cultivate the habit of acting like a first-rate, best-in-your-class customer-care expert, and it will be so.’ Well said, even if I say so myself. So there I was standing tall, breathing deeply, pulling my luggage through the strangely psychedelic underground tunnel in the Detroit airport, acting ‘as if’ I was one of those people on ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ The experience was fun. It gave me energy, It stretched the muscles in my body and it put a smile on my face. It simply had to be healthier then schlepping through the airport with my head down and my shoulders bend. . ‘Act as if,’ is a simple and powerful concept used by people in all walks of life. When Billy Joel is struggling with writers block he puts on a particular set of clothing ‘ relaxed and easy ‘ goes down to the coffee shop where he has successfully written things before, buys the same kind of beverage, and takes out his old familiar notebook and pen. He puts himself in the same spot ‘ ‘as if’ the words and music were flowing from his fingertips. Because the body and the mind are so connected, he knows that when he puts his body in the same place, his mind will follow. Where will you find the opportunity this week to ‘Walk like a Dancer’ and act ‘As if’? May you have many opportunities to excel!
Looking to learn more about what it takes to give great customer service? Look no further than Disney! I am here at the NACCM Customers 1st Conference being held at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, and today the event kicked-off in style. I chose the ‘Disney’s Service Challenge’ pre-conference workshop, led by Bruce Kimbrell of The Disney Institute. This workshop focused on teamwork and taking care of employees (a critical part of taking care of customers is to take care of employees!). Bruce is also the keynote speaker tomorrow at the Pre-Conference Summit talking about ‘Loyalty Disney Style’. Today, Bruce invited us to spend several hours discovering the service opportunities that Disney gives to their guests in ‘Pluto’s Pursuit’. I took the challenge, along with about 30 other attendees. Bruce started us off with a great ice-breaker activity, with the promise of a PPR (positive plastic reinforcer – in this case, a small plastic statuette of Pluto). He had seven of us get into a circle and toss a ball back and forth in a set pattern. He then kept adding balls to the mix until we finally fell apart, balls flying all over the room! It was a great way to start talking about teamwork as well as multitasking (something we obviously didn’t do well). We then talked about what the necessary ingredients are for a team; they included sharing a common goal, cooperation, and interdependence. (Customers Rock! note: great customer service organizations have highly efficient teams that operate on trust and work well together.) He also introduced the notion of different personal goals for different types of people one might find on a team, contrasting those who are motivated by achievement (goals – wanting to get to a ‘destination’ with the team) vs. those who are motivated by affiliation (friends and enjoying the journey to the goal). More on this later. We were then split up into teams and given a common goal to achieve in a 90-minute time period, a sort of ‘scavenger hunt’. We had to go into Disneyland Park and find answers to a long list of questions. Some of the questions had to do with cast member (Disney employee) behaviors; other questions were about signs it the park or park attractions. We also had 2 challenges we could attempt as a team (of the puzzle variety). Into the Park Off we went on our hunt, where we relied on each other to look for the details in everything from the cast members and their on-stage behaviors (no sitting or smoking while on-stage!), their uniforms (name badge, please, and be well groomed), as well as trivia questions (do you know how much the piece of petrified wood in Frontierland weighs?). We covered the entire theme park, from Fantasyland to Adventureland to New Orleans Square to Frontierland – and beyond! Interesting observation – we were so busy looking for our scavenger hunt items, we didn’t get to stop and enjoy the park. A few notes. All of the attendees at this conference are customer-focused, so when some of my teammates saw a woman at the park trying to navigate a curb with her stroller, four of them went over and helped her! That’s customer service. Also, Bruce is a veteran Disney guy; he has worked for them for nearly 30 years. As we were walking back to the conference from the theme park, he stopped and picked up every piece of trash he saw on the ground, throwing it away when he got the next trash can. He didn’t make a big deal of it; it just came naturally. I could see real pride in working at Disney. Team Success Factors When we returned, Bruce discussed more about the differences between the Destination teams and the Journey teams. We discovered that 3 of the 4 teams were ‘Destination’ teams and were all vying for the fabulous prizes offered. The fourth team was a ‘Journey’ team – they took their time, ate some food, did some shopping, and enjoyed their activity. One of the key areas we went over was employee rewards and recognitions. Bruce told a story about a long-time employee who had 32 years of perfect attendance. They decided to throw a big party for him to celebrate. He didn’t show up! Turns out he wasn’t comfortable with that kind of attention being showered on him, so he stayed home. The team had forgotten to find out what kind of recognition he might like; they just assumed he would want a party. Taking Care of Employees At Disney, they foster a culture of reward and recognition because that fosters other good things (like employee loyalty, which leads to great customer service). We need a little bit of that ‘destination’ mentality to get things done, but we need to balance it with the ‘journey’ mentality to make the job more fun! The Conference Nuggets Are Just Starting! I am blogging this conference, both on my blog Customers Rock! as well as on the Customers 1st Conference blog. During the sessions, I am not able to blog but will be updating you via Twitter; I am @bcarroll7, and the conference tag is #naccm. I am also posting any photos I take on the NACCM conference flickr group.
Posted today on examiner.com, Mr. Stevens outlines the main components to problems businesses have with customer service. Here’s a hint, it’s the businesses who are the culprit. What with a huge gap between 8% of businesses actually providing good customer service and the 80% of businesses who claim to do so; Stevens provides some tough love that business owners big and small should seriously consider. How do you rate the customer service of your business? Do you find these percentages correct?
In this previous post we had discussed a new position that had been created by Comcast called “digital care manager” whose responsibility was to manage customer service through new media methods. This latest news report, however, gives no indication that customer service is looking up for the cable industry. As the article states, cable customer satisfaction score is 60 out of 100 with 70% of respondents citing that they would have no qualms about jumping to a competitor. The article also reports that:
“the industry average was was weighed down by the scores of Comcast Corp. (58) and Charter Communications Inc. (51).”
In addition to the threat of changing to competitors Customers also cited, that they would
“dump cable, given the chance, because of poor customer service.”