Customers Rock!

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

Posts Tagged ‘Customers Rock!’

Feedback for Customers Rock!

Posted by Becky Carroll on August 11, 2008

I have been writing this blog for over a year and a half and have developed a nice following of loyal readers.  Thank you, loyal readers!!

I would like to get some feedback from you on what you would like to see on Customers Rock!, plus get to know you a little bit!  Please take 5 minutes and answer my really short survey.  Feel free to be honest about what you like and don’t like here.  I will take it to heart!

Please click here to take survey

You can also leave suggestions for me at my new Suggestion Box:

Thanks a million!

(Photo credit:nfsphoto)

Posted in Feedback | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Focus on WOW for Customers

Posted by Becky Carroll on April 10, 2008

 I just got back from my local branch of Wells Fargo, and something caught my eye behind the friendly teller, Jennifer.  Another employee was preparing a chart to go on the wall entitled, “11 Ways to WOW the Customer.”  Of course, being the customer-focused professional that I am, I had to ask about the chart.

Great Customer Service

Jennifer told me it was to help remind the team about customer service, with the main goal being that customers feel welcome each time they come into the bank.  They want the experience to be such a good one that customers will seek them out for their future banking activities, even if this is not their home branch.  Most of the items on the chart are simple, such as welcoming customers into the bank verbally when they come in the door.  Smiling.  Or, as she said, “Keeping your grump to yourself!”

This is consistent with Wells Fargo’s corporate focus on customers.  Here is an excerpt from the Customer Service page on their website, describing the 11 Ways to WOW.

“Welcoming”

  • you make me feel at home.
  • you care about me.
  • you make me feel special.

“Delivering value”

  • you give me the right advice.
  • you provide me value.
  • you keep your promises.

“Following up and building relationships”

  • you help me when I really need it.
  • you know me.
  • when you make a mistake you make things even better.
  • you thank me.
  • you reach out to me.

Employee Retention

Jennifer said this customer focus makes the branch experience not only better for customers, but also better for her and the other employees that work there.  She enjoys her job more when she is able to truly help customers with their needs.  She spends time talking to them about the task at hand, but she also spends time listening to them talk about their lives.  Customers have become her regulars, and one of them even brought in not one, but two cakes for the team.  The pace at this branch is a little more leisurely, so the employees there have time to chat with customers, their kids, and even their dogs!

I love this line, again from the Wells Fargo website: “We’re only as good as our first impression and last connection. This is all about culture and attitude.”

That, my friends, is what this blog is all about. 

 

WOW Your Customers

I encourage each of you to think of how you can WOW your customers.  Don’t leave it to chance or count on just hiring great employees.  That is not enough.  Customers Rock! companies set a goal for WOW customer interactions, then they make a specific plan to meet that goal.  Finally, they check back with their customers to see whether they made a difference from the customer’s perspective.

Jennifer, you guys rock!  Thanks for making it special, and I will work on baking you some cookies for the next time I come in…

(Photo credit: ChrisL_AK)

Posted in B2B Marketing, Customer experience, Customer loyalty, Customer service, Customer strategy, Customers Rock!, Marketing | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Musician’s Friend Rocks With Great Customer Service

Posted by Becky Carroll on January 3, 2008

cymbals.jpg Just before Christmas, I placed an order on behalf of my son for a new set of cymbals for his drumset.  These were much anticipated cymbals, as he was paying for them with money he earned himself.  We went to Musicians Friend, a great website for musical instruments, and ordered the cymbals.  Since we were getting ready to leave for the holidays and my son was quite anxious to get them in time to play them, we ordered the cymbals for overnight delivery.

On the day they should have arrived, my son was anxiously waiting near the door.  The time of arrival passed.  The cymbal stand arrived, but no cymbals.  I called Musicians Friend and spoke with a customer service agent who told me they should arrive by the afternoon.  Later that day, still no cymbals.  Calling Musicians Friend again, they gave me the package tracking number so I could see where the cymbals were.  Turns out they were still in Missouri (I am in California)!  They hadn’t been picked up by the shipping company.

Frustrated, I called Musicians Friend again.  This time, I was connected to a wonderful agent named Brit.  Brit went above and beyond for us.  He spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out what could have happened.  He called the shipping company 3 or 4 times in a row but kept getting disconnected (I always wondered if that only happened to consumers or if it happened to merchants, too!).   He refunded me my shipping charges as I didn’t get the product when promised.

We had now been on the phone together for about 30 minutes.   As I understand that many call center agents are measured on talk time, I thanked him for taking the time with me to resolve the problem.  I asked him if he would get in trouble for taking so long!  He turned around and asked his supervisor that question; the answer was no – we only use call time stats when we are looking at potential raises. 

I then told him about gethuman.com, a database which tells you how to get through to a live person for assistance (which was what we needed right now).  He tried their strategy, and it worked (in this case, it was to keep repeating the word “representative”).  He finally got into the queue for the shipping company.  Afraid he would lose me, he conferenced me in to the hold queue so I could hear the conversation.  Completely silent, I listened as Brit went to bat for me.  He was very professional and made it clear he had a very dissatisfied customer who paid for overnight shipping and didn’t get it.  The next day was Saturday, and Brit didn’t hesitate to offer to pay for Saturday shipping fees so we could get our cymbals.

Brit did his best for us, and I was very happy that he went out of his way and took the time to try and make a bad situation good.  He spent nearly one hour on the phone on our behalf.  He was positive and cheerful throughout.  We actually had a great conversation!

Thank you, Brit, for making this experience better.  Plus, thanks also for your help, as we did get the cymbals on Saturday, and I have not seen my son that happy in ages.

Customers Rock! for Musician’s Friend.  Thanks you guys!

(Photo credit: stephconne)

Posted in Customer service, Customers Rock! | Tagged: , , | 14 Comments »

How to Take Care of Existing Customers

Posted by Becky Carroll on November 6, 2007

bird-in-hand.jpg Business is tough to juggle sometimes.  We have to focus on two main areas when it comes to our customers: bringing new customers in and taking care of existing customers.  The old idiom, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” comes to mind here.  I like this definition from the New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy (Third Edition, 2002). 

The things we already have are more valuable than the things we only hope to get.

From my experience, many companies spend most of their time and budget focusing on the sale to new customers and end up neglecting their existing ones.  This works in the short-term, but eventually these companies find themselves losing more customers out the back door than they bring in the front door. 

Example

Here is a hypothetical example.   Company A, a business-to-business  manufacturer, is growing rapidly and has had a big year-end push on getting new customers to purchase their product.  During their latest promotion, Company A saw a lot of interest in their product and was able to acquire several new business customers.  As the promotion drew to a close, the focus remained on bringing in those last few customers who had expressed interest but weren’t yet “in the fold”.  Company A succeeded in beating their promotion goals by bringing in additional business for the year.

Was Company A successful?  Yes, with their goal of bringing in new customers.  Were they successful in taking care of existing customers?  Yes.  They didn’t lose sight of those that had already purchased before and during this big push because Company A has a team of people that focus on keeping and growing existing business.

Five Tips

Here are a few tips for companies to ensure they aren’t letting go of the “bird in the hand” while pursuing those in the bush:

  • Be sure to thank customers when they buy from you.  Whether products or services, you want customers to know you appreciate their business!  If possible, a personal thank-you card is best when you have a small or targetted group of customers. 
  • Recognize a return customer.  If a customer has purchased from you before, acknowledge that in your thank-you note.  A customer doesn’t feel valued when they get a note saying “Thanks for trying us.” when they have been buying from you for 5 years!
  • Properly welcome a new customer.  This could be a customer who is new to you altogether, or they may be new to this part of your company.  Best practice organizations provide “welcome kits” to help customers navigate the system or get started.  It could be as simple as the name of their account manager along with that person’s phone number.  The kit is usually sent after the “thank you” note goes out.
  • Follow up with existing customers on a regular basis.  This could be an email or note to customers (especially useful if you have a lot of customers, as many consumer-focused companies do) or a quick phone call to see how things are going.   Use whichever interaction approach your customer prefers.  NOTE: This is not a sales call!  The best way to turn off existing customers is to constantly pressure them for business (see Seth Godin’s post today on Spam for examples of how not to do it, especially his Dell example). 
  • Look for ways to improve the relationship.  Let your customers know you truly value their relationship with you by asking them how it could be made better.  Needs change.  Budgets shrink and grow.  By keeping in touch with your customers and understanding their needs and preferences, you will be aware of these changes and can react to meet those new needs.

Taking care of existing customers can’t be left to random chance.  It also can’t be left only to great customer service personnel who react when there is a problem.  Taking care of customers needs to be an ongoing, proactive part of the business.  This will take time and budget. 

But it’s worth it: just ask Harley-Davidson!  They were the subject of one of my first blog posts here at Customers Rock!, and they have legendary customer loyalty.  They are truly a great Customers Rock! company.

(Picture credit: Erika Aoyama, November 16, 2002)

Posted in Customer experience, Customer loyalty, Customer strategy, Marketing | Tagged: , , , | 13 Comments »

A Tale of Two Doctors

Posted by Becky Carroll on October 15, 2007

compare1.jpg Can customer service make or break a sale?  You betcha!

We recently found ourselves in need of a “primary care physician” for my husband (he was very sick).  Not familiar with the doctors in this area, I asked a good friend for a recommendation.  Here is what happened:

Doctor #1: I spent 20 minutes on hold with this doctor’s office before I ever reached a live person.  The lady who answered the phone was fairly abrupt and matter-of-fact with me.  As we are considered “new patients”, I was told my husband would have to take a 30-minute “new patient” appointment (as opposed to a simple office visit); could he also show up 30 minutes early to do paperwork?  At this point, the lady checked the appointment schedule – and informed me the doctor was fully booked for 2 days!  She referred me to the local urgent care clinic.  I thanked her and hung up.

Doctor #2:I found this doctor’s office online.  I spent about 3 minutes on hold before I was connected to a very pleasant lady.  She was friendly and sympathetic, acknowledging my husband’s illness right away.  She quickly found an appointment for him to come in a few hours later (a regular office visit), with a request that he come 15 minutes early for paperwork.  Relieved, my husband saw this doctor.

Takeaways from this story:

-WOM (Word of Mouth) referrals mean nothing if the customer experience is poor.  The first doctor was a referral from my friend.  I trusted that this would be a good doctor.  However, the customer service we had (long wait for phone, surly phone agent, no appointment) discouraged us greatly.

I found out that the person who answered the phone was a call center rep that answered calls for all the clinics in this particular physican’s network.  A nurse from the office called me later in the day to chastise me for not taking the “new patient intake” appointment as they are apparently very difficult to come by.  When I told her I wasn’t sure I wanted to have a doctor that was this busy, she told me all their doctors were very busy.  I told her that was fine, and we would find another doctor!

- You can hear a smile over the phone.  Just by listening to the lady from the second doctor, I could actually hear her smile; she sounded glad to be talking to a potential new patient.  I felt welcome!  This is important for anyone representing your company by phone, including not just customer service but also sales and marketing.

- Make the process convenient for the customer, not for the company.  Requiring a very sick patient to take a longer (and harder to come by) appointment because they are new to your office is not the right thing to do for the customer!  A follow-up appointment would have been more beneficial and probably would have allowed my husband to be seen sooner.

- Look for the long-term, not just the short-term.  A patient-doctor relationship can last for many years, as once someone finds a doctor, they don’t go shopping around for a new one very often.  Making it easy for customers to do business with you helps start the relationship in such a way that there is room for trust to build.

Amazing how the customer service experience affected our decision of which doctor to begin seeing as our family doctor!  Even before we were customers, the customer service experience mattered.

What does your experience say to your potential customers?  Will they come back to you, or will they walk on down the street? 

Customers Rock! organizations make each encounter count!

Related post: Customer service can make it or break it

(Photo: Eraxion)

Posted in Customer experience, Customer service | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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