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13 12, 2012

Why a Memorable Customer Service Experience Matters

By |2017-03-03T12:07:02-05:00December 13th, 2012|Categories: Blog, Customer Service|Tags: , , , , , , , , |Comments Off on Why a Memorable Customer Service Experience Matters

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For some businesses, customer service is just a department. To others it sets the  tone for the rest of the company. We’ve all experienced great customer service as well as awful customer service. Great customer service starts  when someone goes above and beyond and creates a memorable experience.

True customer service is more than please and thank you but it starts there. If you don’t have the basics down you can’t create a memorable experience.

It means an unexpected and pleasurable  event.

Last week, I lost my very old iPhone 3. The charging port was getting worn, and it was time to get a new one but being without a phone is devastating. My contract is with  AT&T, so they were my first stop.  I looked at phones and was more confused than ever. What in the world should I buy? I talked with the salesperson Avi but still couldn’t make up my mind so I decided to check with a few other  carriers in town and see what was available.  Phones are pretty much a commodity, but the customer service person makes the difference. Notice I didn’t say a sales person.

What’s there to sell? We don’t get sold anything any  more. By the time we go to the store we pretty much know what we want.

I asked all my friends about their phones. I stopped strangers in Best Buy and asked them about their phones, and I checked on line.

After visiting six stores and  four days later, I was getting worn out. I decided to go back  my original AT&T store on Central Avenue in Albany. I said to the salesman Avi, “I just need some kind of phone while I’m deciding.” His statement, “Why didn’t you say that, I’ll get you a loaner phone while you look around!” I went home with a phone and yesterday I went back and ordered my new phone from Avi. It’s hard not to buy from a guy who lends you a phone.

Case closed.

Having a consistent customer service message is important for any company. You should know your products, what’s new, and if there’s a company policy that should be explained to your customer?

Should everyone have a script? There are certain touch points that are important to every company,  and everyone should know what they are. The message needs to be consistent, but the delivery should be sent with your personality (Unless of course, your offensive; in which case you’re in the wrong job.)

Every time you miss one of these touch points you run the risk of losing a customer so these points need to be identified.  They are  different for every company but  once identified should be part of ongoing training.

So what are the points?

  1. Show your customers love. When you call me by my name its music to my ears as they say. If you use it at least twice it’s even better. (If you use it more than twice it gets scary.)
  2. Know your customer’s standard problems and have some solutions on hand.  It’s no secret that if you’re in the northeast and delivering products in the winter that delays are in inevitable. The key is to plan on it and have  solutions on hand.
  3. Be proactive.  That means thinking for your customer. Is there something your customer always needs this time of the year? Should you remind them? Of course, you should. In the northeast, it’s time for a snow shovel, de-icer for your windshield and door locks and snow tires.  Is kitty litter still a solution if you get stuck?Suggest he get a shovel so your truck can get to this loading dock.
  4. Should you “reinvent the wheel?” Maybe so; we’ve reinvented the phone a few times haven’t we?  Is it time to change your policies or at least review them?  How about a using a square wheel; would it work better?
  5. What hidden tools do you have at your disposal? Do you have a  gift, a discount or special shipping when real problems occur? Do you have some hidden delights for your customers?  (It’s like giving the customer a loaner cell phone.) Think of your customer as your business partner. Ask how you can help them before they need help.
  6. Remember it’s the holiday season; stress is at its highest. How about calling your customers and wishing them well?

Remember, red hot customer service means going out of your way, delighting your customer and providing a memorable experience.

Lisbeth Calandrino helps businesses build loyal customers through  customer service training and providing customer retention strategies. Her book, Red Hot Customer Service can be ordered through her web site, www.lisbethcalandrino.com.

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17 10, 2010

How Much Money Are You Leaving On the Table?

By |2017-03-03T12:07:12-05:00October 17th, 2010|Categories: Advertising, Blog, Building a Brand, Competitive Advantage, Customer Satisfaction, Customer Service|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |Comments Off on How Much Money Are You Leaving On the Table?

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Can you give it away and make more money?

The other day I took my video camera to Best Buy. I was looking for a microphone to add to it as well as a stand. By the way, I didn’t buy it at Best Buy but you can always find an associate that will help. I usually ask, “Who’s the  best electronic person in the store?” and someone comes running. Being confident is at least 1/2 the sales game. A confident and friendly sales person is what most customers are looking for when they shop. He booted up his computer to tell me that a microphone wasn’t available for my camera , but he offered to print me out the instruction book, which was, of course, long gone. I asked about my flip camera, which I carry with me all the time just in case. We talked about it’s resolution as well as the  new wireless flips. As a side note, if you’re doing a closeup interview the flip is great; it also takes still photos which are better than your phone photos. If you’re taking serious videoing, it should be  done with a high definition Camcorder. I asked if there were classes available, so people like me can learn how to use what they buy.  He said they tried. They even offered to let the customers shop before the store opened and gave them the employee discount. The problem? No one came for the classes.   I see different types of training in various Best Buy stores  but nothing live in  Crossgate Mall, in Guilderland, New York. Maybe they didn’t try it long enough or put out enough publicity?

The other night I awakened at 4am and turned on the television. I started watching the Home Channel Shopping and there was the best pitch man selling my flip camera. I got up, grabbed my camera and watched while they walked me through every phase of the camera; it was so close up I thought I was on the show. They also shot a video, played the sound and showed the final  so I could see how it sounded and looked. I actually bought my nine inch Dell mini computer during one 3AM show!  I love it and by the time I received it I knew about it’s idiosyncrasies.

When you call the Home Shopping Network they make you feel like family; they encourage calls and ask if you’re a “regular”. Now you know you’re family.

What does this mean for your business? Is there a market for the “do-it-your-selfer?” Can you show the customer how to do simple installations of your products?

If you’re selling kitchen appliances, can you hold a cooking demonstration show to sell your wares?

How about a design clinic for your floors, walls and window treatments?

Are you a mechanic? How about a clinic on “car noises”, what to look out for like the Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers?

If you’re in the floral business, how about teaching the customer to design a simple holiday wreath?

There’s an interesting concept called “Freemium”. The Freemium model works off the premise that you give a way big stuff.  To some extent, The Freemium business model goes against what many of us have been taught. We’ve been taught to give away “little stuff” in hopes that the customer will come back for the “big stuff.” (Skype) is the best example of this business model, connecting millions of us with online video telephone connections  around the world. The site also offers a “premium service” at a fairly low rate. This is truly a great service. How many people use Skype? According to WikiAnswers , there are approximately 480 million people using Skype and 42 million making daily phone calls! Skye sells video cameras, phones, computer-to-land minutes and tons of other stuff. They make a ton of profit just from offering part of their basic service for free!

If you get a minute check out the Freemium model and see if it can help your business.  Remember giving customers what they want is true red hot customer service and great customer service is how you  build your competitive advantage. Why not make money too?

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