Posts Tagged ‘quality customer service’

Is Anyone’s Customer Service WOWing you this Christmas?

December 13, 2013

Tis the season…to be wowed by fabulous customer service.  Are you feeling the love?


I do a lot of shopping online for Christmas.  I find it easy, efficient and productive.  This year?  not so much.  Cyber Monday was a disappointment for me due to a variety of bad online experiences.  I understand if I was shopping on December 20th, but promoting products that aren’t available early in the shopping season is frustrating and does damage to the brand.

Here are my bad brand experiences to date followed by my one wow experience so far:

1. Negative – Timberland.  Their top sellers are out of stock yet they promote 30-40% off online.  The reality is you can’t get the product you want in any ‘normal’ sizes.  Who planned their inventory for the holiday season?

2. Negative – Vineyard Vines.  This brand has taken off like a rocket, yet their inventory was wiped out very early – I am talking November.  Their catalog arrived and immediately I checked on some items and there was limited to no availability by color, size and item.  Bummer.

3. Negative – Carbon 2 Cobalt.  I like their styles and last year had great luck with this store and ordering online last Christmas.  This year?  Not so much.  I found a sweater I wanted to buy for my nephew, went to the site, searched for the item number – nothing.  No message.  Searched by name – nothing.  Searched by product type – Men’s Sweaters.  The sweater I wanted to order was the featured image on the landing page – perfect I think!  There it is – now I just need to order it.  That was the problem.  The sweater is nowhere to be found on the website.  Huh?  No one thought to have a message appear that the product is sold out, out of stock, something?  I left the site and they lost my business.

Being a glass half full person, I kept on shopping online, determined to find something I liked.  I started to do a search to address my frustration with BOTH Vineyard Vines and Carbon 2 Cobalt and I found the online Bloomingdales website with available product for me to order.  Not only did I find items I liked, they had sizes in stock!  Bonanza!  As I started my order for 3 nephews, I noticed a promotion to get an additional 10% off by signing up for emails.  Perfect.  The 10% represented a decent savings so I signed up, received my text alert that I was enrolled…but then there was no promo code to complete my online order.  Bummer.  I picked up the phone and called customer support as chat was not available at the time.  (Odd as chat should be available late afternoon during Christmas don’t you think?)  Anyway, my wow moment was about to happen so back to the point.  The customer service person was great – friendly, empathetic, and resourceful.  I explained I did not get a promo code for the additional 10% off my order.  She explained that that code would not be sent for 1-3 days (no where on the website) and she apologized for that not being clear.  She offered to give me 15% off my order and placed the order for me to ensure it went through and the discount was applied.  WOW!  She exceeded my high expectations.  Kudos to Bloomingdales for doing what no one else has done this holiday season.  I got great deals and had a wow experience.

Let me know what business is wowing you this Christmas season.  I want to know!

When coffee is not enough.

November 22, 2013

cup of coffee

Hey restaurant owners and managers.  Pay attention.  Two things not to do when anyone on your team screws up someone’s order at a restaurant:

1. Offer them a free dessert.

2. Bring the check and say, “I did not charge you for your coffee”.

Lesson to all business owners: when you screw up, and we all have and will, do the right thing.  Do more than the customer or guest expected.  Wow them – this is your chance!  This is the BIG moment to shine.

I met two dear friends this week for our GNO dinner.  We waited 45 minutes for a table, ordered quickly and got right down to business – talking and catching up.  Dinners were served and my meal was no where in sight.  The waitress neglected to order it.  She apologized.  I understood.  It happens.  She offered us free dessert – we explained we did not want dessert.  We ordered coffees.  I purposefully did not ask for a discount on my meal.  I wanted to see what she would do.  She opted for the weak path, the cheap path, the ‘she-won’t-care’ path.  She didn’t charge us for two coffees.  How pathetic.

My guess is she did not tell the manager.  She did not want to draw attention to herself by making a mistake to discount my meal.  She and the restaurant – Not Your Average Joe’s was very average.

How do we all avoid being weak, being average and disappointing the customer?

1. Training – get your team trained using examples and scenarios clearly defining your expectations

2. Believe in Wow’ing and create that mentality in your business

3. Empower your employees to WOW

4. Share ‘wow’ moments with your team; share the feedback that you get from customers

5. Think like a consumer, client, customer.

Don’t be an Average Joe.  Be above average.  Be excellent. Let’s get to wowing and make your peace-offering more than a cup of average Joe.

Size matters – how customer service unravels

December 15, 2012

In your small business, who manages customer service?  If you are a small business owner, maybe you do.  It is truly the buck stops with you.  As you grow, how do you continue to manage and have a pulse on customer service?  Many large companies seem to completely lose any sense of how to deliver quality customer service.  They are lousy.  The poster child of lousy service is cable.  Until Verizon Fios came into the area, cable was essentially a monopoly.  So, I stuck it out with Comcast.  This week, they proved again that changing their trucks to deemphasize the Comcast brand and to lead with XFinity does not change the fundamental issues this large corporation has with service.  Paint the trucks with whatever name they like – who cares?

They do not have a handle on serving their customers.  Their services are ‘bundled’ but they can’t service you in a bundled way.  Is that logical?  You have to speak to different technicians when you have an issue even if your issue is with both high-speed internet and TV.  The automated phone system does not allow you to choose both – really?  Does that make sense from a customer point of view?  How hard would it be to tell there is an outage in an area by address/location in this world of GPS and Google Maps?  If multiple people with similar street addresses have called over a short period of time to report problems, shouldn’t Comcast be able to figure that out?  They can’t.

So, what does that mean for SMBs?  Most of us are committed to high quality service and to growth.  How do you scale your business AND keep the sense of focus and commitment on serving your customers?  What is it that makes large companies be so stupid in how they operate?  One aspect is organizational structure works against quality customer service.

When your customer have a question or an issue, are they faced with your organizational hierarchies?  Are they handed off to another person?  Do you make it easy for them to know who to speak to?

We all seek to grow.  Growth is good.  Usually.  Thinking small, maintaining a customer perspective is key.  I don’t miss corporate America at all.  I just wish I had a small local cable company to work with to avoid having to deal with Comcast.  As you grow, don’t lose sight of the customer.