Tag Archives: customer service experience

Never Eat Alone

Never Eat Alone was advice that I followed a few years ago when I attended the North American Conference on Customer Management.  I had lunch and conversations with like-minded people that wanted to learn more about customer service excellence.   Experts gave presentations of the best practices of building relationships with clients, as I nibbled on my croissant.   At the cocktail reception, I connected with other attendees and presenters as they shared their passion for customer service.   After I returned home, I connected with many of my contacts.  One of the exceptional speakers was Kelly Cook, Senior Vice President of Marketing at DSW.   As a founder and Board Director of Texas Women in Business, I asked Kelly to keynote at the annual anniversary luncheon.  Her presentation on Women in Leadership Roles was well-received and DSW even hosted a reception at one of their Austin locations.
Customer Service & Shoe Lovers!

At the Total Customer Experience Leader’s Summit coming soon in Miami, Keith Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone, will speak on Changing Behavior Towards the Customer Experience.  His insights on helping others and ourselves break bad habits will be helpful in our personal and business lives.   Ferrazi, son of a steelworker and a cleaning lady, developed the practice of connecting with others that helped him earn a scholarship to Yale, a Harvard MBA and top executive positions.   His principles are based on generosity & genuine relationship-building.  As you attend the Total Conference, a few key principles to follow are:  

  • Don’t keep score:  It is never simply about getting what you want.  It’s about getting what you want and making sure that the people who are important to you get what they want, too.
  •  “Ping” constantly:  The Ins and Outs of reaching out to those in your circle of contacts all the time – not just when you need something.  
  • Never eat alone:  The dynamics of status are the same whether you’re working at a corporation or attending a social event – “invisibility” is a fate worse than failure.   

Each day there are opportunities to follow thought-leaders on the topic of Factoring Empathy into the Stakeholder Equation.  Amazing speakers are on the agenda and you will have the opportunity to not only connect with the experts but determine your own strategy for exceptional customer experience.  Learn from my personal experience and set the intention to never eat alone but to create relationships with attendees and experts.  

Download the brochure for more information: http://bit.ly/1idxeUe 

NACCM 2009: The Little Things Are the Biggest Things

‘Oh no you didn’t!’ Have you said this to yourself after having an unbelievably disrespectful or frustrating experience on a customer service call? Emily Yellin, author of Your Call is (Not That) Important to Us, shared with us that we should focus on the little things that have the biggest impact on service.

Yellin is a Journalist who has traveled the globe covering 4 continents to talk to CEOs and customer service experts. What drew her into the customer service conversation was that she sat on hold for what seemed forever on a customer service call with a home warranty company. Not happy with the experience, she decided to investigate why customer service folks keep missing the mark.

Yellin reports that Americans make 43 million customer service calls a year. About 70% of businesses use call centers today as the main way to interact with customers. In studying the call center industry, she uncovered several things they are doing right and several things that can be improved. Yellin states that ‘this is a time in customer service that is really exciting’.

She talked about an experience she had with a call center employee by the name of ‘Pablo’. After several frustrating attempts to get a product delivered, she was ultimately able to speak to Pablo who was able to take care of the problem. Pablo worked as a supervisor for a call center in South America. She contacted the company and arranged a visit where she met with management. And there sitting at the end of the table was Pablo. He told Yellin he had never met a customer before.

Her research led her to discover three themes that companies who have ‘got it right’ have been following. These are:

1) Design for it
2) Follow through
3) Provide value

Design of a customer service system is important. Getting feedback from front liners can be critical to creating good customer service systems. Putting yourself in your customers ‘shoes’ or observing your customers as they experience your service are some of the best ways to evaluate your design.

Follow-through will make or break the perception of your service experience. In her research, she discovered that what call center employees say and what customers interpret are often two different things. For example, when a call center employee says ‘I’m not authorized to do that’, it really means ‘I’m not going to help you’ to the customer.

Yellin suggests we watch the words we use to describe our roles. For her, Customer Relationship Management has a negative connotation. She doesn’t want to be managed. Words are an agreement between us, she says. Be sure you are speaking your customers’ language.

One thing the customer wants to hear from you is ‘Yes’. Anything you do to get in the way of ‘yes’ is a problem. She identified typical call center mistakes:

1) No information
2) They don’t have authority
3) They don’t care

The final theme is that successful companies provide value. We cannot lose our humanity, says Yellin. It starts from the top down. When you’ve had your very worst experience, what emotions did you feel? asks Yellin. Feelings include frustration, disappointment, and anger which spread easily. According to a Customer Rage study, 70% of angry customers felt rage, 28% raised their voices to an employee, 8% cursed, and 57% of customers took their business elsewhere.

The opposite feeling is when the experience is good. ‘Shouldn’t that be our goal’? asks Yellin. Let’s spread the good and create those good feelings. Minor indignities are the seeds to horrible things says Yellin. When we talk about the carbon footprint, we refer to the little things we can do to make our earth better. Yellin suggests that those of us in customer service should be encouraged to make a ‘karma’ footprint. What does your service footprint say about you?

NACCM 2009: Managing the Customer Service Experience

Customers today are more interested in the experience they have with you, your products and services than ever before. Making the customer experience your value proposition should be our goal according to Lewis (Lou) Carbone, founder and CEO of Experience Engineering and author of ‘Clued In, How to Keep Customers Coming Back Again and Again.‘ Carbone reminds us of a quote from Peter Drucker that brings light to this concept, ‘The purpose of a business is to create value for its customers and the reward for that is profit.’

Two companies, Disney and Howard Johnsons, have influenced his thinking about the customer experience. In working with Disney, he found that their management was concerned more about the customer experience, i.e., concerns over the melting rate of ice cream in their different theme parks, the scent of chocolate chip cookies to enhance the experience, down to the design of Main Street in a way that visitors perceived a long entrance that went on forever and perceived a quick exit after a long day at the park. Compare this to Howard Johnson’s model which lost its customer focus over the years.

According to Carbone, the economy has affected how we look at customer service today. One way a business can differentiate itself is through the service experience. Companies must move from a ‘make and sell’ product-based mentality to a ‘sense and respond’ experience-based mentality. The ‘sense and respond’ mentality focuses on what our customers really want from the service experience and examines the impact of cultural influences and psychological needs. When we factor these into the service experience, we can significantly improve customer loyalty and retention.

An experience audit can help us compare a current customer service experience with a desired customer experience. We can audit our current customer experience with a variety of tools including, language analysis, clue scanning, one-on-one customer interviews, etc. Clue scanning, for example, allows us to look for clues in a service experience that can be improved to better meet the needs and desires of the customer. By using these tools we can close the gap between the current and desired customer experience.

Carbone believes that improving the customer service experience involves both art and science in today’s world. ‘It is not enough to say ‘let’s treat them well,” says Carbone. We must look beyond that and decide what we want our customers to feel about themselves when they do business with us. Managing customer clues will become extremely important as time goes on. He foresees a day when every customer is treated as an individual unit as we perfect our ‘clue-consciousness.’ Until then, we must continue to keep our eyes focused on improving the service experience to remain competitive and successful.