Do All Your Touch Points Need to be Perfect?

...or, does allowing a little "customer pain" actually help?

Pursuing excellence, customer centricity and continuous improvement are obsolete; so says Sampson Lee in his 2015 article “Turn Upside Down How PAIN is Perceived in Innovating CX and Brand Management”.

Touch Points

I am glad to say that I haven’t really had many bad customer service experiences, just some that fell short of expectations or I was disappointed in. Did this cause me “pain”? No, not in the literal sense but it did show a gap between expectations and my willingness to “accept” what was not to my liking.

The most recent example came when I took my wife to a great resort spa for her birthday, just a quick overnight stay at a spa that was rated in the top 5 in the country. Everything was top notch, a beautiful property, excellent bellman & front desk service and the spa was fantastic!

The employees were so friendly and professional, we had a great time.

Now I know why they are rated so high, they deserved it…

But when most of the company is operating at such a high level, the departments that do not maintain the same level of service really stand out.

This happened with the (more…)

10 Keys to a Better Sales & Marketing Team

The best companies don’t hire sales employees and put them at a desk to “sell”.  The new “sales department” employees must first understand the overall company mission and processes by which the mission is achieved.

Keys to a Better Sales & Marketing Team

I believe that… “You can’t sell what you don’t know”. Click To Tweet

The best sales people are those that have actually done the job and come from the rank and file employees that make, service or deliver the products.  They are the backbone of any company and the ones to deliver the dream presented by the sales team.

10 Keys to a Better Sales & Marketing Team

1. Understand Your Goals

It is much easier to promote/market/sell your business and its products and services when there is a clear understanding of what you can actually provide and how your product can benefit the customer.

2. Feedback From Your Customers

Proper feedback will help determine what they desire and provide a measure of satisfaction and adherence to product specifications, capabilities and performance.

3. Marketing is Like the Bait on the Fisherman’s Hook.

That’s only the advertisement and the beginning of the journey.  The good fisherman is the customer service/support team and will quickly know if the marketing (bait) is successful. But he still must “sink the hook” and make the sale later.

4. Pre-Qualify

How do you expect to sell “the right” product or service to (more…)

What’s The Proper Amount to Tip a Waiter?

…your 11 step expert guide

American diners are a fickle bunch. We love going out to eat but when the check comes we don’t know what to do. How much should we tip? Is it 15%, 18%, 20% or more?

What's The Proper Amount to Tip a Waiter

It’s gotten so bad that many restaurant chains now place a “tip guide” on the bottom of their checks that list the recommended tip in percentage and dollar amounts. Yes, this makes it easier to figure out the totals but what do we base these amounts on?

Well it depends.  It depends on:

1.      Did the waiter greet you with a warm sincere smile?

2.      Did the waiter make you feel welcome?

3.      Did the waiter inform you of the various possibilities of food substitutions for your meal?

4.      Did the waiter make your children feel important and not like a nuisance?

5.      Did the waiter get your order correct and present it to you as advertised? (more…)

On today’s video we welcome our special guest Jeff Toister.

As a customer service trainer, advocate and author of “The Service Culture Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Your Employees Obsessed with Customer Service“, Jeff discusses his thoughts on how to improve your company’s service culture.

Topics of Discussion:
1. How do you define a successful customer service culture?
2. Why we should NOT copy another company’s service culture model.
3. Why it’s important to align every employee to the customer service vision.
4. How do you get your employees more engaged?

Join co-host Tal Shnall and me to welcome Jeff Toister.

How Bed Bath & Beyond Cares for its Customers and Drives Revenue Too

While walking into my local Bed Bath & Beyond store last week I was preoccupied with the thoughts of an upcoming major event; my daughter going away to college. A milestone, a traumatic event, a “relief”…

Bed Bath & Beyond Cares for its Customers

We had just completed all the college applications, financial aid packages, decisions on which school to choose, and dorm type. All that’s left is for her to enjoy her “last summer” as a high school student before the big jump to college, and the mountain of “stuff” we’ll have to pack and get ready for the dorm. I’m not looking forward to that part either…

Then it happened…

On a revolving rack in an auspicious location I noticed a detailed list of “what to bring to college”. There, out in the open, is exactly what we were looking for, a systematic guide of what, and what not, to bring to school.

The individual listings were classified by school with most of the major colleges and universities in New Jersey represented. This was my nirvana!

It also included the specific school address and directions, school contact and housing information and a transportation map. Great!

No longer would we have to guess if we were allowed to bring a coffee maker to her school, it was listed right there. There was no question if a refrigerator would be provided, that’s mentioned there too. And, all the 100’s of miscellaneous items needed; laundry bag, underbed storage cases, clothes hangers, extension cords, etc. were clearly listed with a check off box.

This was our must-have packing for school document – or as Bed Bath & Beyond called it, their “Campus Ready” list. This is genius!

Why is it genius? Because (more…)

Here’s The Top Reason Training Your Employees Doesn’t Work

…plus 6.5 reasons to NOT train your staff

Ah, the ever-present argument about the proper training of your employees…well, you’ll get no argument from me. Training is the key to a well-motivated, knowledgeable and efficient staff. But is THAT all what’s needed, just training?

Training Your Employees

Here are some benefits of training:

  • Training bolsters employee confidence which is then noticed by the customers = perceived better service = more $$$
  • Training can identify areas where revenue is “left on the table” and not captured.
  • A well trained staff allows management to focus on other aspects of the business and not micromanage the staff

Throughout my years in the hospitality industry I’ve sat through more “service culture” and customer service training sessions than I care to remember.

We discussed how to create a memorable experience for the customer (guest), how to empathize, how to diffuse an irate customer and when to offer compensation for poor service. We spoke about the customer’s expectations and how to match and exceed them. Another well-worn topic is employee morale and how important it is and its direct correlation to the service provided. All worthwhile topics.

But, we rarely spoke about the “elephant” in the room…

All the training in the world won’t work if the underlying issues are not resolved & removed. Click To Tweet

I once had a boss tell me, “you need to do more training, then they’ll get better. We’ll just fire those that don’t improve, it’s simple!” Great attitude boss…wonder why service is poor! (more…)

6 Leadership Techniques to Inspire a Team

Today’s guest post is from Alex of Apex Window Werks. Here he discusses leadership styles that he uses to develop and inspire his team.

Being a leader today means leading a team in a world that is constantly evolving. Whether leading a sports team, a debate team or a team in the professional working environment, finding a way to keep ones team motivated helps the group meet the end goal.

Leadership Techniques to Inspire a Team

For team members to successfully carry out their tasks leaders need to be creative in developing techniques tailor made for their group and including them into their personal leadership style.

The following 6 leadership techniques have proven to boost team moral and inspire team members to go beyond just being an employee.

Know Your Leadership Style

As a leader it is important to know your leadership style and identify whether it will work for the group you are leading. Leaders need to be open to altering their leadership and management style so that they steer the team in the right direction.

If the leader is more autocratic, and the team members work better on their own (function more efficiently under the laissez-faire leadership style), leaders should consider taking a step back so progress is made in the group but supervise, and make themselves available to give input and feedback where necessary. This way the team morale is maintained and a sense of pride for the work done can be the reward. (more…)

Today’s Generation Just Can’t Give Good Service, Agree?

How can “kids” brought up with immediate access to information and short attention spans provide the service experience our “older” generation expects? Good question…

Today's Generation Just Can't Give Good Service

I remember watching old black and white movies where the “old guys”, sitting in front of the barber shop, would complain about the kids of today not having the same respect for others or the work ethic as they did. And they may, or may not, be right. But I bet that every generation has said the same about the up and coming kids.

It happens with the style of clothes and music too…remember your parents complaining about your rock-&-roll music?

So, is it realistic that those accustomed to “fine dining” or the steps-of-service from high-end retailers should expect the same from people who have never experienced this same level of service? Probably not…

Today’s society has changed in many ways; here are some examples: (more…)

3 Reasons Why I’ll Never Insult You and Install a Chatbot On My Blog

…I have too much respect for you to do that

Technology is your friend. You have an obligation to your readers to use every possible means to interact with them or, what are you afraid of? These are some of the comments I’ve received when I asked a few friends if I should put a chatbot on my blog.

Install a Chatbot On My Blog

In case you don’t know, a “chatbot” is a computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the Internet.

“It will increase your reader engagement”. “People will think you are actually there typing answers to them”. “It keeps readers on your blog longer, you should add one”.

Listen, being in the customer service industry all these years, and training countless employees in better and more effective ways to interact with our customers, has prevented me from trying to “stimulate conversation with human users”. What the heck does that mean?

Here are my 3 reasons why I’ll never put a chatbot on my blog. (more…)

Where’s The Nearest Bookstore & Why That’s Important

...a restaurant story adapted from my book

Do you know the other businesses around your restaurant or hotel?  Are you one of those that just drive straight from your home to work without noticing what’s around you?  If so then snap out of it!

Where’s The Nearest Bookstore?

You need to be a fountain of knowledge… and I don’t mean about the menu.

If your guest at table 14 was interested in buying a gift for a friend of theirs and asked you if you knew where the nearest bookstore or men’s clothing store was, could you steer them in the right direction?  Or would you say “I’m not from around here, sorry”.

If so, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Would you give that same lame excuse to one of your friends?  Or to your grandma?  Heck no!  You would go out of your way to find the answer.  You would ask someone else, get out the telephone book or of course get on the internet, plug in your zip code and search through countless results to pick the best store nearest you.

Would you do this for the lady at table 14?  Now I realize it’s not practical to expect you to go searching the web during your shift to help your guest, but what if you did?  What if you didn’t know where the nearest book store was but you DID want to help your guest?

Maybe you could tell your manager about this and get permission to do just that, search the web.  After all, you are doing your best to satisfy the needs of your customer right?

Use your phone or the nearest office computer but do it fast!  Plug in the info, get the answer and rush back to your table and say… (more…)