Customers Rock!

A blog about customers, their experiences, and how businesses can make sure their customer experiences rock!

Archive for January, 2007

The Intersection of Customer Service and Marketing

Posted by Becky Carroll on January 31, 2007

road-sign-roundabout.jpgAs you may have noticed, here at CustomersRock! I write about both customer service as well as marketing.  In my opinion, every touch point is an opportunity to market to your customers.  I would suggest, then, that everyone in your company who interacts with a customer is a “marketer”.  Of course, we need to have marketing specialists!  But we also need to ensure that each customer touch is giving the message we want to give about our products, services, and brand.

Customer service is one of the main points of interaction between company and customer.  So let’s explore it together!  On behalf of Maria Palma at CustomersAreAlways, CustomersRock! will be hosting the Carnivale of Customer Service on Monday, February 5.  The theme will be Marketing through Customer Service

Here’s how it works.  To take part in the Carnivale, simply write a post on the topic of Marketing through Customer Service.  When you are finished, email me at bcarroll7 at gmail dot com by Monday, February 5 at 12:00 PM Pacific Time.  I will include a link to your post at the Carnivale here at CustomersRock (link love)!

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • How customer service reinforces the brand (or not!)
  • How customer service impacts customer relationships
  • How the words used in customer service affect customers
  • How can customer service market to customers?

If you have a great customer service story, we’d love to hear about that as well; it is great marketing!

Thanks, and I look forward to reading your posts soon.

P.S. Check out this week’s Carnivale at CustomersAreAlways, featuring an article on customer service words from me, a company shoes/customer shoes story from Phil Gerbyshak of Make It Great!, and thoughts on voicemail from Meikah of CustServ.

(Photo: stockxpert.com uploaded by disorderly)

Posted in Carnivale of Customer Service, Customer experience, Customer service, Marketing | 6 Comments »

Debrief on Meeting with the Mouse

Posted by Becky Carroll on January 30, 2007

mickeyshouseattractionthumb.jpgI just went to Disneyland (one of my favorite places!) with my kids at the end of last week, and I promised to report back any customer service observations I gleaned.  Disney is always a great place to find great customer service.  Cast members (Disney-speak for employees) are friendly, and they usually take the time to make kids happy or do something special.  My sister was treated like royalty this past summer when we went to Disneyland for her birthday; that “It’s My Birthday” sticker they give you to wear, with your name written on it, is a nice tip-off for cast members (Disney-speak for employees) to make an extra effort.

I would say that weekdays in the month of January are very quiet at the Magic Kingdom.  On Thursday, there weren’t any lines to speak of, we could easily walk through the parks without getting caught up in crowds, and most of the attractions were operating (except for my favorite, “Small World”, which was down for renovation/removal of Christmas decorations).   We had a blast.

There was only one thing missing – the enthusiasm of the cast members!  We didn’t see many smiles, there weren’t many “how is your day going” comments, and there wasn’t much conversation in general from cast members.  I was a bit surprised, as I had expected we might get even more attention since there weren’t very many people at the parks.  No problem, though, as we had a fabulous day going on all the popular rides several times over.  (Mental note – go again in January!)

On Friday, the action started to pick up at The Happiest Place on Earth.  Lines were longer, and towards the end of the day, there was a fair-sized crowd.  As the number of guests (Disney-speak for customers) increased, so did the enthusiasm of the cast members!  We heard a lot more singing, more joking around, and in general, we had better customer service on Friday.  We even asked a few cast members about this.  Answer: “We get bored when there aren’t many people here.”

I guess we (the guests) get so involved in the magic of the Disney experience that we forget how the parks must look to the people who do the same thing, day after day, as they deal with the public.  I understand boredom.  I just don’t expect to see it at Disneyland.  Funny how noticeable it is when the famous Disney attitude is missing.  We don’t notice what is wrong when things go well; it is only when expectations are not met that we see something is awry.  Guests have high expectations for Disneyland.

What do you do for your customer service employees to keep them happy?  Some of them have the hardest jobs of all — dealing with customer complaints, day after day.  Yet this is the touch point that most customers experience.  Are you helping create the best customer experience by taking care of your employee’s experience?

At the end of the day, it’s the people who make the difference.

(Photo credit: http://www.disneyland.com)

Posted in Customer experience | 2 Comments »

Where Did My Dress Go?

Posted by Becky Carroll on January 29, 2007

shopping-cart.jpgI am generally a fan of Coldwater Creek.  They focus on their customers, they provide great customer service, and they use a variety of techniques, including mystery shopping, to make sure they stay on top of their customer experience.  I have personally had some fantastic customer experiences shopping there, as well as two very different retail experiences doing volunteer mystery shopping for Coldwater Creek (yes, I will post on those in the near future).  Today, I want to share a rant about Coldwater Creek’s online experience as well as share a few suggestions from which all online retailers can learn.

As Kevin Hillstrom notes in his post, Coldwater Creek has made a successful transition from catalog to retail/online.  They are good at using their email lists to send out relevant promotions to their customers.  Towards the end of each month, I get a flurry of emails from Coldwater Creek about items in their online Outlet store.  Last week, as I was perusing my morning email, the deals looked especially good, so I clicked through from the email to their outlet site.  There were 17 pages of items to go through.  In the first few pages, I did find a number of items that were screamin’ deals — a velvet dress with a sparkly brooch, a silk tank top, and a stretchy t-shirt.  I put those items in my cart and clicked “Keep Shopping”. 

Unfortunately, most of the items I clicked on took me to a page that said, “Sorry, this item is no longer available.”    OK, so the East Coast shoppers had a head start (I am in California), but this isn’t very customer-friendly. 

Website tip #1: Don’t show me an item and then make me click-through to find out it is no longer available.  If an item isn’t available, make sure it is removed from the web page.  Better: Let me see all the items that are (truly) available, in my size, and all on one long page if I want (rather than 17 separate pages of 25 items each).

To continue the story, I moved through the shopping pages quickly and found one more item I liked (a silvery belt) and put it in my cart.  This brought up my empty cart!  It did have a note in it which stated that items which had now sold out had been removed from my cart (which was all of my items).  What?!  Those were my items!  Now, I don’t know how shopping cart software works, but if I had been shopping in my local Coldwater Creek, I would not expect someone to come up to me, take my items from my arms, and tell me someone else was checking out before me who wanted these exact same items.  From looking at the forums at SlickDeals.net, an online shopping deal site, I am not the only one frustrated by this.  Some customer posts on the forum expressed a distrust of Coldwater Creek’s ability to follow through on anything from their web store.

Website tip #2: To be successful at moving customers to an online shopping experience, we need to consider their offline shopping habits.  Most customers won’t care how your online shopping cart works; they will only care that they can purchase their desired items.

Needless to say, I didn’t purchase the one item I had just put in my cart.  I closed the window in disgust and emailed Coldwater Creek’s customer service department.   I shared the situation with them, I shared my dissatisfaction with them (politely!), and I then asked them whether this occurs regularly with their shopping carts.

Less than two hours later, I received this reply:

Dear Ms. Carroll,

Thank you very much for contacting us.  It is wonderful to hear from you!

We are very glad that you decided to write to us today and share your thoughts about our website, Ms. Carroll.  Your e-mail has been forwarded to the appropriate department for review.  You are very important to us.  We look forward to serving you in the future.

We appreciate the time you have taken to write to us today.  If you have any further questions please visit our web site at www.coldwatercreek.com or call us at 1-800-510-2808.  It is always a privilege to serve you.

Sincerely,

Sue, Coldwater Creek Customer Service

While this is a very cordial email, and more friendly than most form letters, it does not give any indication that a person has actually read my concerns. 

Website tip #3: When you are responding to unhappy customers, acknowledge your customer’s concerns and reassure them that a person will get back to them.  Then, do it! 

Coldwater Creek, I am glad you consider it such a privilege to serve me.  Now, can I please have my dress back?

Posted in Customer experience, Customer service, Marketing | 9 Comments »

Meeting with the Mouse

Posted by Becky Carroll on January 26, 2007

rockinspotlight.jpgJust a quick note to let you know I am at Disneyland with my kids this weekend, so not much time to post right now.  Next week, I will be back to post on Xerox, Coldwater Creek (a rant), and any insights I get while spending time with the mouse.

‘Til then, check out this post John Todor at The Perfect Customer Experience, which is a good read after my articles earlier this week on taking the customer’s perspective.

(Photo credit: http://www.disneyland.com)

Posted in Customer experience | Leave a Comment »

Tidbits From Around the ‘Sphere

Posted by Becky Carroll on January 24, 2007

global-hello.jpgBased on positive reactions to my Marketing Tidbits post last week, I am going to continue it with a weekly post of links from around the ‘sphere.  Enjoy!

Starbucks – The New “Pub”

Over in the UK, going to the pub means going to meet up with your friends, have a few drinks and a few laughs, maybe play the quiz, and just relax.  Starbucks is a similar experience (minus the quiz and the beer!).  Lewis Green posts today on bikers at a West Hartford Starbucks and the great experience there.   Per Lewis:

Explains one biker, there just aren’t many places in communities anymore where people can get together and just talk. Another speaks the Starbucks mantra: It isn’t work, it isn’t home (and it isn’t a bar).

Mind you, these words are not being read from a corporate brochure or being spoken by a Starbucks agent of marketing. They are words out of customers’ mouths. These customers are brand evangelists spreading positive word of mouth (WOM).

 My local Starbucks used to have bikers as well; we got to know each other, as we were all frequent visitors!  In addition, they had a chess club that met once/week for a few hours at a time.  I think they were Italian (but my Italian skills are limited!).  This doesn’t surprise me, as Europeans tend to have many cafes where they can congregate socially, sometimes lasting into the night.  Application: create a great experience for your customers that meets their needs (in this case, a comfortable place to socialize), and you will build loyalty while you are building community.

Best Buy Rewards Zone – Does it Fit?

I posted recently on customer loyalty programs and the importance of making sure they fit the customer expectations.   From Doug Karr’s great blog comes a link to another blogger, Chris Baggott, and his post on Best Buy’s Rewards Zone loyalty program.  Basically, Chris is not impressed, as he feels his rewards are not only irrelevant, they are junk mail.  As Chris shares:

I get paper based junk.  My reward for spending around $10,000.00 since joining the program…..and the most recent offer following the holiday season?

A Credit Card Offer!!

Man do I feel special.

This is a campaign, nothing more.  Marketing 1.0 just like the airlines.   Monetize your list, not build better relationships with your “special” customers.

The comments are just as telling as Chris’s post.   Best Buy is doing a lot of things well, but if they really want to build loyalty, they need to keep it relevant.  Customers can always see through the junk, no matter how it is dressed-up.

Tag – You’re It, Part Deux

My new blogging friend Katia Adams over at Hola! Hi! Oi! recently tagged me in the “5 Things You Should Know” meme.  Since I have already done this once (as have many others), I will tell you five more things about me then list for you some blogs that I have recently added to my reading list.  That should help keep the link-love going!  :-)

1. I have a bunny rabbit named Bugsy (Bugs for short).  He is an adorable black lop-eared dwarf bunny that we adopted at an animal rescue.  He makes sure I keep an ample supply of carrots, parsley, and Italian parsley on hand!  Here he is: bugs-photo.jpg

2. I own a Nintendo DS and love playing Brain Age- Train Your Brain.  I asked for this for Christmas, and I am having lots of fun with it!  It tracks how “old” your brain is based on how well you perform on various timed tests.  I use it to keep me sharp, along with doing crossword puzzles with my hubby!

3. I love Disneyland and recently became a Season Pass holder, now that we live close by (in San Diego).  I am heading over there tomorrow and will be looking for great customer service examples to share.

4. We used to have au pairs live with us when the kids were little.  Our au pairs came from Norway (2), France, Germany, and Spain.  We still keep in close contact with the Norwegian au pair; she lived with us while we were in England, then joined us in America (despite her parents’ concerns that “California is too dangerous!”)   As a result, I speak a tiny bit of Norwegian.  :-)

5. When we travel as a family, we love to live in small, family-run places rather than the big hotels.  It helps us get closer to the local culture, and we always make great friends.  Maybe that’s why I like blogging so much; it enables me to keep making great friends internationally, even if I am not out traveling!

Five blogs I have recently started reading:

The Shifted Librarian: by Jenny Levine about keeping libraries alive using cool new technology, including gaming.  Lots of great insight on customer experience.

Tell Ten Friends: by Jordan Behan, another great Canadian blogger, talking about marketing and new media.

BrandDNA: by Stan Lee about brands, ads, and marketing.  I love his cool pics of interesting ad finds!

Customer Relations: by Meikah Delid, focused on customer service.  Check out her Friday column of positive customer service experiences from bloggers; I love the positive approach! (Note: she included my Westin post in her post last Friday – thanks, Meikah!)

Write Now is Good: Kristin Gorski writes about – writing!  She is a great encouragement in my pursuit of blogging.

Let me know what you are reading lately!

(Photo credit: T. Carroll)

Posted in Customer experience | 4 Comments »

Experiencing the Lifecycle

Posted by Becky Carroll on January 23, 2007

experience-sign.jpgYesterday, I urged you to think about the customer lifecycle in your industry and how you are addressing the customer experience at each stage.  Today, let’s look at the customer lifecycle itself a little more closely.  Beware — I am not discussing the product lifecycle here.  I am also not discussing how that lifecycle looks from a company’s point of view.  Rather, we will have on our customer lenses today and look at the lifecycle a customer goes through with a product or service.

Companies tend to list lifecycle stages such as prospecting, acquisition, service, and retention, which are all internally-focused.  Often when marketers (and other corporate functions) look at this customer lifecycle, they only try to figure out which messages are most appropriate to send at which stage.   These are not the lifecycle stages from a customer’s perspective. 

Looking through the customer lenses, the lifecycle stages are these (in simple terms):

  • Research - everything having to do with learning about the need and how best to meet it, including looking at internet ratings and reviews, asking friends and colleagues for recommendations, reading up on blogs, seeking expert opinions
  • Purchase – everything having to do with buying the product/service and taking it home/to the place of business
  • Usage – everything having to do with set-up/installation, actual usage of the product or service, and getting help when things go wrong or there is a question
  • Repurchase – everything having to do with buying the product or service again, including renewals, buying again from the same company, or switching brands/companies
  • Retirement/disposal – everything having to do with getting rid of the old one, including return of equipment, recycling, or selling it to someone else

Each of these stages can be broken down further, and I will endeavor to do so in future posts!

Back to the customer.  From a customer perspective, they begin with their personal or business needs and then look for products and services that will help them meet those needs.  There are many facets to understanding customer needs.

The needs may vary depending on what “life stage” a customer is in.  For consumers, this may be similar to the stages of personal life: student, single, married, divorced, has little kids, has big kids, is a big kid them self (!), kids grown and left home, kids grown but still at home, retired, widowed.  For a business customer, this may vary depending on either the stage of the company (start-up, growth, acquisition, decline, bankruptcy) or on the needs of the customer within the company (C-level, line of business, admin, HR, purchasing).

The needs may also vary depending on the reason for seeking out this product.  Here is where we can start to break down our customers into segments based on what drives customer behavior.  For example, one set of needs in someone looking for a restaurant may be a quiet environment conducive to conversation, a great menu with lo-cal choices, and their favorite wine, while a different set of needs may be a fun environment to party with friends, good music, and cheap drinks.  These needs are not necessarily based on the demographics of the customer.

The company’s goal should be to craft the optimal customer experience at each stage of the customer lifecycle, taking the needs of the customer into account.  Put simply, for each place that customers touch your company, ask yourself what you can do for your customers to help them achieve their goals. 

You may find it necessary to craft differentiated experiences based on the lifecycle and needs of your customers.  It can be accomplished very simply, such as asking customers a single question which helps you differentiate their needs, or it can be more involved through the smart use of data and analytics.  However you decide to do it, this type of treatment strategy will go a long way towards helping your customers be successful and, in turn, it will bring them back for more. 

Posted in B2B Marketing, Customer experience, Customer strategy, Marketing | 3 Comments »

Marketing Experiences, not Products

Posted by Becky Carroll on January 22, 2007

hockey-game.jpgCustomers don’t just purchase products or services.  They experience them.   I wrote last week about how my experience of getting my car repaired was about much more than how well those repairs were done. 

However, not many companies are focused on how their customer experiences are impacting their customers (unless they really blow it, and multiple blogs and YouTube videos pick it up).

The customer experience encompasses all aspects of a customer’s interaction with us.  It spans the sales, the packaging, the “out of box” experience (opening the product), the registration and installation/set-up, the usage, and the ongoing maintenance of the product or service (think PCs).  Or, in retail, it spans the in-store experience of the shelf displays, the size of the aisles, the crazy wheels on the shopping cart, the employees, the restrooms, the check-out lines and clerks, and the ease of returns.  In service, it spans the sales, the installation, the usage, the subscription, the monthly bills, and the upgrades (think cable/satellite TV).  Take a moment now and think of what this looks like for your company and your industry!

In the above-described customer lifecycle scenarios, many departments are responsible for the customer experience, including marketing, sales, R&D, manufacturing, customer service, field service, as well as training.  Thus the entire company plays a role in “marketing”, yet each of them has their own areas of expertise which they need to bring to the table in order to design the optimal customer experience. 

Yet as Mack Collier discussed in this post from The Viral Garden, many marketers are more focused on meeting their own needs than the needs of the customer.  Per Mack:

“Good marketing is any effort by a company/ individual/ association/ etc to DIRECTLY satisfy the wants and needs of its customer.”  I don’t think it has to get any more complicated than that.

But the hitching point is that ‘directly’ part. Most marketers want to satisfy their OWN wants and needs directly, and let satisfying the customer be a byproduct. Turning it around and using your marketing as a tool to directly satisfy the wants and needs of the community takes a pretty big leap of marketing faith.

When we focus on how many customers we can market our products to, we are focusing on our own wants and needs directly (sell more, get better leads, improve marketing campaign ROI).  When we focus on which products and services we can sell to each customer, we are focusing on meeting customer wants and needs. 

In other words, rather than focusing on increasing our market share and marketing ROI, we focus on increasing our customer share-of-wallet and value of each customer.  These latter measures are often left out of board room discussions but are essential for truly understanding the health of our customer base.

Once we understand our customer’s wants and needs, we can begin to market to them through the customer experience.  CustomersRock! companies create a strategy for a consistent, satisfying customer experience across the entire customer lifecycle.  Tomorrow, I will continue with part two of this series and begin to look at the various stages of the customer lifecycle as well as ideas for optimizing the customer experience at each customer touch point.

(Photo credit: D. Carroll)

Posted in B2B Marketing, Customer experience, Customer service, Customer strategy, Marketing | 7 Comments »

The Delight of Unexpected Great Customer Service

Posted by Becky Carroll on January 19, 2007

auto-dangle.jpgSome customer service stories are great; some are not.  Here is my story of ups and downs, with an ending of delight.

Just before Christmas, I was involved in a car accident which significantly damaged my car’s left front door and fender. I decided to go ahead and use El Dorado Collision Center in San Diego, CA, which is the collision company that partners with my insurance company. The car was taken directly there, disassembled to look for additional damage, and repaired. When it was ready, I was told I could just bring the Enterprise rental car there, and El Dorado Collision would take care of returning it for me (nice!).  They even stayed open for me when they knew I was coming to pick up my car late (nice!).

As I drove the car home, I noticed it was pulling to one side quite a bit.  Since it was after-hours, I called the next day and was told to bring it back in (bummer; why didn’t they catch this before they gave it to me?!).   A quick look confirmed it needed to go to a different shop to get the alignment adjusted.  The next day (Thursday), I took it to the suggested alignment shop and sat around while the “30 minute repair” turned into 1 hour and 30 minutes (not nice!).  Worse, when the technician came out, he informed me the car’s right strut was bent, and they needed to order the part (bummer!).  They would call me when it came in.

The weekend went by, and not having heard anything I called El Dorado Collision.  My contact John apologized that I hadn’t received a call, and he told me the part was already in the shop (bummer not to know sooner!).   He told me it would take 2 hours+ to replace the part, and I started getting concerned, until… surprise!  He offered to have someone come to my house, pick up the car, and deliver it back to me when it was repaired; I only needed to let him know what time I needed the car back.  Unexpected delight! 

I have never heard of a mechanic doing this for a customer.  It went very smoothly — they arrived on time, and they brought my car back on time.  I never even had to leave the house, which allowed me to keep doing my work, uninterrupted.  This service made for a very productive day from what could have been a complete waste of my time. 

I don’t know whether El Dorado Collision Center does this on a regular basis, but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to others.  Not all businesses will be able to offer this level of service, but there are things that can be done for our customers to make their lives, either business or personal lives, easier to manage.  Surprise and delight.  Isn’t that what customer service is all about?

Find something you can do for your customer that makes doing business with you more convenient, more useful, or more fun.  Then surprise them and go and do it!  See Andy Nulman’s blog on surprise if you need ideas; he has some great ones!

Posted in Customer experience, Customer service | 5 Comments »

Are You Among the Best in Customer Support?

Posted by Becky Carroll on January 18, 2007

gold-service-people.jpgKeeping with my customer service theme from yesterday, today I want to highlight two different ways to help you find out if you are among the best in customer support.  As I have stated before, customer service and support is a key part of the customer experience, and for some customers, it may be the only place they directly interact with you!  There are two industry awards that showcase best-in-class customer support, and if you think your service and support organization has what it takes, you can enter it for one or both awards.   Even if you don’t believe you are the best, you can learn a lot of valuable information from the winners of these awards. 

I will list the award with the nearest deadline first.  The Service and Support Professionals Association, also known simply as The SSPA, has its annual STAR Awards for best practices in service and support.  The SSPA is a great organization that provides a myriad of resources for support professionals such as newsletters, research, and podcasts; I have had the pleasure of writing two articles for the SSPA News.  The SSPA seeks to highlight those companies who have really innovated in this area and can prove it by undergoing a detailed review.  Categories for the award include online service, on-site service, metrics, knowledge management, services marketing, support staff practices, service delivery optimization, value-added support, and my favorite, customer commitment.  Here is a list of past winners, or you can go to the link above to get additional information about entries and details on the award categories.  They also have a Hall of Fame and a Service Excellence list of winners on their site. 

Deadline for nomination: January 26, 2007, with applications due February 16, 2007.

Another service and support award is run by the Association of Support Professionals (the ASP), the Ten Best Web Support Sites award.    A panel of judges who are experienced in service and support review and rate entries based on several criteria, including overall design and usability, knowledgebase, interactive features, the customer experience, and a final criteria of a major site development challenge which the entrant has overcome.  There are two categories for awards, the Open division (for anyone to enter) and the Small Company division.  The top ten are written up in the annual publication by the ASP with details of their entry submission.  A pretty cool aspect of this award is the feedback each entrant receives.   Whether or not you win, you get a detailed report of how your site scored across the 25 criteria, including how your site compared to your peers.  You also get comments from the judges (I am honored to say this is my third year as a judge) with suggestions for improvement.  Click through to the link above for more information, the application, and a list of the 2006 Ten Best Web Support Sites.

Deadline for entry: March 2, 2007.

I highly recommend checking out these two awards, if not to submit your own organization, then to learn from others who have been recognized as doing customer service and support well.  I will report back when I learn of the winners in both cases!

Posted in Customer service | 1 Comment »

Yes, The Words We Say Do Affect Customers

Posted by Becky Carroll on January 17, 2007

mouth-headset.jpgOne of the unspoken tenets of customer service is the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  Then why is it that customer service personnel use words that they would never want used on them?  I don’t mean nasty language (although there are instances of that).  I am talking about meaningless phrases.

We use them everyday.  When we walk down the hall and see a colleague, we say, “Hi, how are you?”, but how many of us really wait around to listen to the answer?  Glenn Ross over at AllBusiness.com got me thinking about words in his post on the subject.  Here are some phrases found from the UK website Plain English Campaign which are considered cliches over there (thanks to ManagerTools for this link from the comments):

  • 24/7
  • absolutely
  • address the issue
  • awesome
  • ballpark figure
  • basically
  • basis (‘on a weekly basis’ in place of ‘every week’ and so on)
  • bear with me
  • between a rock and a hard place
  • blue sky thinking
  • boggles the mind
  • bottom line
  • crack troops
  • diamond geezer
  • epicentre (used incorrectly)
  • glass half full (or half empty)
  • going forward
  • I hear what you’re saying..
  • in terms of…
  • it’s not rocket science
  • literally
  • move the goalposts
  • ongoing
  • prioritise
  • pushing the envelope
  • singing from the same hymn sheet
  • the fact of the matter is
  • thinking outside the box
  • to be honest/to be honest with you/to be perfectly honest
  • touch base
  • value-added (in general use) 
  • Customer service, especially the contact center, has its own set of over-used phrases.  I have included a few here to get  started:

    • We value your business
    • Your business is important to us
    • How are you doing today?
    • I understand your concern
    • Thank you for your feedback
    • For faster service, go to our website at…
    • Due to a large call volume
    • Customers are our business
    • I will need to transfer you

    Many of these phrases are examples of poor customer service scripts.  Unfortunately, when customers hear these types of phrases, they begin to question the sincerity of the customer service representative.  Trust may also be affected, especially if a customer has a problem to resolve, if this is a repeat call, or if the customer has been transferred multiple times.  “If my business was really important to you, you wouldn’t treat me like this!” 

    A great attitude and kindness on the part of the Customer Service Rep can help bad-scripting situations.  See Doug Karr’s recent post on his problems with AT&T to get a real-world example of a loyal customer trying to make his way through the system.   Even though he was frustrated, he was able to see that the agents themselves were friendly.  Agent/customer service rep friendliness can help some situations, but not all!

    Three Tips for Improvement 

    CustomersRock! companies understand that every interaction with a customer impacts not only customer satisfaction but the brand as well.  Here are three tips for companies when planning how to interact with customers.

    1. Review your scripts for all customer touch points.  Look for key phrases that are overused or can be irritating to customers and replace them with something customer-friendly.

    2. Train agents not to repeat phrases that are on a script if the phrase doesn’t make sense in a given situation.  This requires agents that can think on their feet!

    3. Make sure your most valuable customers are treated with special care.  Flag them as they come in so they can be recognized appropriately in conversation by the agent.

    Finally, be honest and speak from the heart.  Customers can always hear truth.

    (Thank you to Maria Palma at CustomersAreAlways and Tom Vander Well at QAQnA for getting this conversation started a few months ago.)

    Posted in Customer experience, Customer service | 10 Comments »

     
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