Archive for the ‘Customer Service’ Category

Keeping Up Appearances

Monday, October 14th, 2013

When Jan Carlson took over the reins of Scandinavian Airlines, he identified “Moments of Truth” –the moments when customers form an impression of the business. If a customer saw a coffee stain on a tray when it was pulled down from the seat back, Carlson knew that the person’s first thought would be, “Oh my goodness, I wonder if they remembered to service the engines.”

That same attention to detail has taken many companies from also-ran to extraordinary. And ignoring those details can take you right back into the pits just as fast.

One of the most profound impacts an employee can have on customer perceptions is their own personal appearance.

It’s true that looking your best takes effort. But more importantly, it shows effort. If you greet a customer with your hair uncombed or your clothes wrinkled, it speaks loudly of a lack of effort. The customer can’t help making the subconscious connection between that moment and the rest of the company. If no effort goes into the appearance of the front line, I wonder if any effort goes into the products and services?

So each morning on your way out the door, take a quick glimpse in the mirror. If the face staring back at you is not the image you want to be promoting, turn around and make it right!

Words Matter

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Mark Twain said, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—It’s the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning.”

The words we use can convey more than we think. It’s worth taking a moment to choose your words carefully—especially the phrases we use every day.

One phrase that customer service people often fall into is “No problem.” Sounds harmless enough, right? But that phrase turns a lot of people off because “No problem” conveys the subtle message that there might have been a problem, but lucky for the customer, you are willing and able to help them. But who knows about the next request they make? That might be a problem.

Even if you don’t mean it this way, it can sound like you’re doing the customer a favor by doing your job. The message is subtle, but it’s there.

Now consider the difference if you say, “I’d be delighted to do that for you!” Now you haven’t just avoided a problem—you’ve leapt at the chance to make sure they are happy. That’s a message worth sending.

Tape a small piece of paper to the desk by your phone or at the edge of your computer monitor—wherever your eyes are likely to fall on it naturally during a call—with the words “I’d be happy to!” or “I’d be delighted!” It takes a little effort to drop a habit, but once you do, the new habit will become just as automatic as the old one.

Put Customers at the Center of Your Business… REALLY

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

When it comes to running a customer-centered business, everybody talks a good game. “Where The Customer is #1” is one of the most common taglines for businesses of all kinds—even those that treat the customers like #2, if you get my drift.

Create Better Results by Revisiting Your Company Values – Video

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

The core that everything else is based upon is your company values. Revisit the values that you stand for as an organization because as you grow and become better and different, your values change. Do you suppose Bill Gates has the same values today as he did when he was 19 years old starting his first business? No – he’s become much more philanthropic and had to grow as a human being. His values had to change to create better results. There’s always a need to go back and revisit your values.

You don’t have to have the standard values that every company has. Here’s a list of company values my team came up with a few years ago:

  1. Extreme commitment to customer success. Customer satisfaction doesn’t matter. Customer Success is what it’s about. Everything anybody does should be defined by “Does this help the customer succeed more?”
  2. Blue Vase. Watch the video to hear the whole story about the blue vase. Do you ever have people who are really busy telling you why something can’t be done when they could be spending just a little bit more energy to just figure out how to get it done? Blue Vase in our office is code for “I know this is impossible, but figure it out anyway because it needs to get done.”
  3. No excuses. Excuses don’t replace results. Instead of making excuses say, “I blew it. Here is my massive corrective action so that this doesn’t happen again.” Making excuses to cover up mistakes really creates chaos in organizations. As soon as you start allowing excuses, you will see a decrease in your results.
  4. Having and Spreading Fun!
  5. Commitment to personal growth and commitment to professional growth. In order to have an organization that grows, you better have people who are committed to reading and learning. You should read at least one book a month in your profession so you can make yourself better at what you do.
  6. Sense of urgency. One of the most limited resources that we all share is time. People’s time needs to be used effectively.
  7. Positive reinforcement to fellow associates. People always think they don’t get enough appreciation from their manager, but the research show that it’s really from their fellow employees where it matters. So you better have people who are givers and always showing their appreciation for others.

What are some of your company values?

Turning Your Market into a Buzzing Hive of Opportunity

Saturday, January 9th, 2010
© Inventori |

© Inventori |

If I owned a tattoo shop for businesspeople, I’d ink the same thing over and over onto client after client:  Life gives to the givers and takes from the takers.

It’s not just pithy, you know—it’s true.  If you want to put your business on the receiving end of the giving, it’s time to dig in and give like crazy to your customers.  The key is to abandon the terrible goal of “customer satisfaction.”  You don’t want satisfied customers.  You want customers who are passionate.

Comedian Demetri Martin gets at the difference between satisfaction and passion when he calls graffiti “the most passionate literature there is.”  It’s always something like “U2 ROCKS!” or “I LOVE SHERYL!”  He wonders why you never see “indifferent graffiti,” like “TOY STORY 2 WAS OKAY,” or “I LIKE SHERYL AS A FRIEND,” or “THIS IS A BRIDGE.”

Of course he knows why, and so do you.  That’s why it’s funny.  People don’t act on mere satisfaction.  They don’t express mere contentment in five-foot-high spray-painted letters.  They act on PASSION.  And the best thing you can do to turn your market into a buzzing hive of passionate customers is to spend the first 90 days of your relationship giving and giving and giving.  And giving.

Research has shown that businesses with ongoing client relationships (as opposed to one-time transactions) generally have 90 days to convince the client that they’ve chosen the right business.  Let those 90 days expire and you’ve lost the best chance you’ll ever have to capture them heart and soul, earning their undying devotion—and getting them to buzz to their friends and colleagues about the great decision they made.  Yet many businesses close the sale, then turn their attention to other sales, other prospects.  And the honeymoon’s over before it even begins.

You want to make those first few weeks a time of tremendous generosity on your part so your new client knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that he or she made the right choice.  Short, sweet, personal touches are best.  If you know your client is relocating, send a pizza during move-in week.  Send over a lawn-mowing service.  Promote their businesses in your lobby.  Send laminated articles pertaining to their business or offer shredding service.  Offer a customer orientation program to help them maximize their own potential.

If you let your customers know that you are not just satisfied but THRILLED to have their business and eager to make their lives easier and better, why on Earth would they keep it to themselves?  Your name will end up in a thousand sentences beginning with “Oh my gosh, you won’t believe…” as they share their good fortune with everyone they know.  Be of extraordinary service to your customers, especially in the first blushing weeks of your relationship, and you won’t be able to STOP the buzzing even if you tried. 

And who’d even want to try?