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30 12, 2012

Has Your Showroom Been Punked?

By |2017-03-03T12:07:02-05:00December 30th, 2012|Categories: Blog, Customer Service|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |Comments Off on Has Your Showroom Been Punked?

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Customers visiting bricks and mortar stores and buying on line.

Showrooming” is the latest revenge of the retail customers.

Customers that check  out your showroom and find the product on line and of course buy. I don’t think this is anything new but now it has its own name.

One study reports that 56% of these customers hadn’t planned on buying on line but the retail store experience was so horrible that they went on line. It’s back to bad customer service.

Bad customer service looks different these days: salespeople texting on their cell phones, playing words with friends while working with a customer or Angy Birds!

 

Case in point is a friend of mine who tried to buy from a local retailer but the retailer didn’t want to ship the product. Amazon.com didn’t mind—and at a cheaper price.

Want to know how to make your retail experience different?  Check out the  Apple Store Triple Convergence to see how you can apply the apple experience to your store.

Shopping in a retail store should be fun, interesting and inviting. Building an experience is about emotions.  Companies like Build-A-Bear build their whole business around feelings and creating the warm fuzzies.

How about a showroom and a museum?  How you can make the best of a showroom. Vitrahaus-interior design.

Okay, so Internet and price-check Smartphone apps have made it easier than ever for consumers to shop on line.  Mobile payments are the future,  95 percent of survey respondents have mobile phones, yet just 36 percent have already used them to make a payment. Many consumers also consider mobile payments safer than on line payments.

Wondering how to use mobile technology for your business? Interesting case stories from AT&T; how to  use mobile technology, and how to keep your competitors up at night.

Amazon has reinvented on line shopping, Sucharita Mulpuru, retail analyst at Forrester Research. “Amazon’s whole business is a loss leader.” I can’t believe that I can buy great books sometimes for fifty cents! If you’re going to give stuff away the customer will buy. But unless you’re Amazon you’ll lose your shirt and get the cheapest customers. By the way, I never buy full retail at Amazon.

I’m the dollar customer; do you really want me?

What about Wal-Mart testing same day delivery? Why compete with the low cost provider? You’ll only lose and if you win, you’ve really lost! I remember a large floor covering retailer in the midwest who told me (1985) that he could buy tile cheaper than The Home Depot and he could put them out of business. He had 10 stores at the time and was a  big force in the marketplace. It didn’t matter, in two years he was history.

Great  customer service moments? Today at the Thruway tollbooth I realized I was out of money. I didn’t have fifty five cents. The toll take said she would pay the toll for me and I should pay it forward. Will she do it for everyone? I doubt it but it made quite and impression on me. I spent t he day looking for a way to repay my debt.

I’m still feeling uncomfortable about the debt I owe.

WHAT’S THE BEST THING YOU CAN DO TO GET CLOSE TO YOUR CUSTOMERS? Talk to your customers.

How about this? Let me share my expertise with you. I will do a free third party assessment of ten of your customers. It will open your eyes to new opportunity  for  your business. For free!

Lisbeth helps businesses build customer loyalty through customer service training and sales training. Her book, Red Hot Customer Service is filled with great ideas for stepping up your customer service. She can be reached at [email protected].

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18 12, 2012

ARE YOU GIVING YOUR CUSTOMERS “YOUR” PERSONAL CUSTOMER SERVICE FOR THE HOLIDAYS?

By |2017-03-03T12:07:02-05:00December 18th, 2012|Categories: Blog|Tags: , , , , , , |Comments Off on ARE YOU GIVING YOUR CUSTOMERS “YOUR” PERSONAL CUSTOMER SERVICE FOR THE HOLIDAYS?

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If you consider customer service an attitude rather than a department, then it makes sense to look everywhere for a place to practice  your craft!

Instead of thinking ‘outside the box’ think about venturing into other boxes. Find ways to deliver extraordinary service and value to anyone and everyone. You will be remembered for your generosity, thoughtfulness and concern.

Do these terms sound familiar? They should be they. These terms are the essence of good customer service.

The key is for you and your employees to practice these behaviors, 24/7. Holidays are the best time to deliver your brand of customer service to your special customers.

I think about the tragedy of Sandy Hook and the outpouring of generosity. This morning I saw the therapy dogs that were delivering hugs and ‘fur’  to the town.

People throughout the world have been delivering random acts of kindness, sending good wishes and extending their personal brand of customer service. If we were to think of the world and the people in it as our customers, would it cause a change? We would constantly be delivering customer service; we wouldn’t have to wait for tragedy.

What about your business? Do you have to wait for  huge problems to arise before you and your employees are at their best?

Why not make customer service your personal mantra and take it beyond your business? Consider building your own special personal customer service package.

Consider Sprint Nextel sending handwritten letters to their customers? In today’s fast paced world they have letter writing Thursdays.  Imagine, taking time to write a note, not a text, and sending it to your customers. Can this work in our new world? Read the article.

My own personal story—ATT lends me a cell phone until I get my new one. Check out my last blog, Why a Memorable  Customer Service Experience Matters.

It’s the holiday season—times to practice your personal customer service:

Consider everyone you meet a customer. Treat them with kindness and concern.

Imagine each person you meet will provide repeat and referral business. Give them something extra like a big smile.

Stay in touch with people you like. Absence does more than make the heart grow fonder—it makes the heart lonely.

I would love to know how you’re delivering your special brand of customer service for the holidays. Please share your ideas.

Happy Holidays to all of my wonderful readers.

Lisbeth helps businesses build loyal customers’ customer retention training. Book Lisbeth to excite your group and expand your horizons.  She can be reached at Redhotcustomerservice @nycap.rr.com.

 

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26 07, 2011

Does Anyone Care What Customer’s Think, Wal-Mart Better Listen

By |2017-03-03T12:07:08-05:00July 26th, 2011|Categories: Blog, Competitive Advantage|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |7 Comments

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No customer service

What's a customer to do?

What could be more fun than asking your customers what you’re doing wrong? Probably a million things.

It isn’t that much fun and that’s probably why most businesses don’t ask their customers what they think. If you have the guts and can listen you will learn amazing things about how your company is “perceived.” In fact you’ll  probably be able to create you company’s focus for the next 5 years.

Building and keeping a business is hard work; it’s not so hard if you pay attention to your customers.  You must  be able to  to stay close to your customers, seek their opinions, and be  courageous enough to change based on what they think.  

 This is the epitome of customer service.

Although companies should last for centuries few do, GE is one of those that has managed to survive. How have they done it? According to Jack Welch, by listening to their customers and changing. 

What should a business listen for? What would make them different   and how to use this differentiation to  build a  competitive advantage.

The bottom line, live  and breathe with your customers. Find out  and what turns them on and what turns them off.

I heard last week that Wal-Mart recently finished a survey with their customers. According to a recent survey by Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) analysts, 60% of consumers no longer think that prices at Walmart (NYSE:WMT) stores are lower than the competition. An amazing piece of information for a company who has built their brand on “everyday low prices.” As they say, “I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall” when that data was presented.

What do you do you do when your customer  “rocks”  the very core of your brand? You could ignore the data and chalk it up to a bunch of grouchy customers or you can begin rebuilding your company and choose a new course of action.

I have been doing studies like this for years. I find it very exciting and energizing; I feel like I’m helping  good customers become even better. My experience leads me to believe that only good businesses  conduct these studies; the rest don’t care so why bother to spend the money if you’re not going to change? 

Who should do your study? An outsider who understands your industry and can turn close lipped customers into “Chatty Cathys.”  The person should  design the questions to  make the interviewee comfortable  and then lead them to more uncomfortable questions.  The ideas is to search for a point of differentiation and use it to  build a competitive advantage. Bottom line,  to get a leg up on the competition. A study of about 50-100 customers will get you plenty of data.

Not sure if you want to invest? Start with a study of 5 customers and see what they have to say.I have never seen a disappointed business owner even with a study of only 5.

As an interviewer I’m always amazed at how much information the customer will share with a perfect stranger.

I think it goes back to customers  wanting to be heard and understood.  Isn’t this  the basis of customer service? Jack Welch talks about differentiation and how companies will live or die based on their differention and ability to compete on a world-wide level.

Today I had an interesting experience with AT&T about my cell phone coverage at my camp. Or should I say my lack of cell coverage? Prior to my visit I was investigating “things on line” to increase mycell coverage; investing in a land line or getting a Magic Jack. Bottom line, I didn’t like any of them or couldn’t find anyone to substantiate the alternatives other than a land line. I also thought about throwing my phone into the lake and getting another cell carrier.

I told my story to the woman at AT&T and she told me at AT&T I could purchase a micro cell!

“What are you talking about?” I asked.  For about $200.00 I can make a one time purchase, have my own micro cell and take it with me. How many of you have complained about coverage and been told you can purchase a micro cell? I’m a cronic complainer but have never been given this alternative. I asked the salesperson why they don’t advertise this solution and she said, “I don’t know why–we tell them that customers are always complaining about  “dead” areas. A lost opportunity for differentiation/competitive advantage and a really happy customer. Not listening to the customer? Maybe listening but not hearing.

With globalization and more competition,  listening to your customer is even more important. Listen through surveys at the end of the sale and listen through  a third party.

Ikea, the world’s largest furniture store has been listening to its customers. Thirty years ago, Kamprad set out the philosophy: ‘We have decided once and for all to side with the many. What is good for our customers is also, in the long run, good for us. He wanted to “create a better everyday life for the majority of people.”

Maybe more companies should adopt this philosophy. Why don’t they? It can be scary and it takes guts to change. 

Lisbeth Calandrino is an award winning author, trainer and blogger. She is  author of the book, Red Hot Customer Service, 35 ways to heat up your business and ignite your sales. Lisbeth can provide speaking or customer service/ sales training using the principles of her book at your place of business or through video conferences.

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