Posted by Becky Carroll on June 29, 2007
Heard on KPRI 102.1 San Diego this morning:
Marketers wanting to build customer loyalty can take a lesson from musician Chris Isaak. He is one of the few rockers who will stay after a concert and sign anything fans want him to sign, and stay until everything is signed. When asked by the KPRI morning DJ why he does this, Chris shared a story from when he was a kid. One of his favorite musicians growing up was B.B. King. Chris tried to go to one of B.B. King’s concerts and was stopped by the guard at the door, who told him it would cost $8 to get in. Chris only had $2. Feeling sorry for him, the guard let him in the concert. Afterwards, he got to meet B.B. King, who asked Chris if he wanted an autograph (apparently, B.B. stayed after concerts to meet the needs of all his fans). Chris commented to the DJ that the way to get in with people is to be nice to them. Chris seems to be one of the nicest rock-and-rollers out on tour!
(For more Rockin’ on Friday, be sure to check out Lewis Green’s blog, where he focuses on rock ‘n roll every Friday! Today’s post is about Lou Reed. Rock on, Lewis!)
Support vs. Sales Treatment
I have blogged before about how one is treated differently when one is a support customer versus a sales customer. I had a perfect example of that last week with AT&T. Our DSL modem completely stopped working (wouldn’t even power on) last Friday morning, and I called AT&T Technical Support to help me troubleshoot it. I was first connected with Ben (from India), who walked me through the usual script (“We are very sorry you are having problems with your DSL modem today, and we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you”). After determining it was not a simple solution (we had cycled power, unplugged everything then plugged it all in again, etc)., I asked Ben how long these modems should last (I had it less than 2 years). He did a “warm transfer” to Angel (also from India) who I was told could help me diagnose the modem. Angel walked me through another script, very similar to the one Ben had walked me through (but this time, I was told to take the model into another room to plug it in!). After a few more pointless exercises, and modem was deemed officially dead. I again asked the question of how long this modem should last. Angel told me “we have many customers who have been using your type of modem for several years, and they are still working fine). This did not make me feel better; I actually felt worse, as this is the second AT&T DSL modem I have had in the past 4 years! Angel offered to transfer me to a sales rep so they could help me figure out what my options are (translation: sell me a new modem). She said the sales rep might be able to do something for me, since I had bad luck with the modems.
Enter Michelle from the “retention center” in Los Angeles, California. I told her I wasn’t sure I wanted to buy another modem from them, and I shared my story. She said, “What would you like me to do?” I asked her if there were any deals she could get for me. 15 minutes later, I had a new modem on its way, a $50 rebate for the modem (a promo going on), and a $50 VISA Gift Card coming to me. I asked Michelle if the gift card was part of the promo. She said, “No, that is from me to you.” After chit-chatting a bit more while the transaction was being processed, the call ended pleasantly and with my needs being met.
How do I feel about my experience? Well, the support transaction felt frustrating. I had a dead modem, and they couldn’t fix it. OK, that was not the frustrating part. I was not really “talked to” with support. I was grilled via a script, which felt very impersonal. The only empathy was also completely scripted. It didn’t feel genuine. Of course, when a customer has an issue, they don’t necessarily want to sit around and chit-chat! But something a bit more warm-feeling would be a good start. The sales transaction felt like talking to a friend (no, really, it did!). She was professional yet caring, and we talked about her vacation coming up, among other things, while we waited for processes to be performed by the computers. It was very pleasant.
I am glad I stayed on with them and talked to Sales. If I had hung up before that, I would have a bad taste in my mouth from the support experience. Every touchpoint counts with our customers, especially those where there are a lot of emotions involved! Customer service and support, often viewed only as a cost center, needs to be viewed as a key customer contact.
Next week, I will share the interview I had recently with Diane Berenbaum at Communico, author of the book How to Talk to Customers, and you will see more about how to make the customer service experience shine.
(Photo credit: solarseven)