Did He Really Say Have a Sparkling Day?

...I thought I was hearing things.

Deep inside my sleep-induced stupor I heard a faint “ding” every once and awhile, then the murmur of a man. A slight heave left or right and the clang of metal finally woke me. Then the ding came again.

Have a Sparkling Day

This time I opened my eyes. Nothing was unusual, just a few people walking down the aisle of the Amtrak train I was on during a recent trip to Boston. As they headed for the exit doors the conductor came over the loud speaker and thanked the “customers”, NOT riders, for joining him on the trip today.

The usual canned banter from most employees when tasked with making announcements was replaced with a friendly, comforting and surprisingly welcoming change from what I’ve been accustomed to hearing.

He informed us of the name of the stop along with the one coming up next followed by the weather. He ended with a most unusual phrase; (more…)

Are Your Service Employees No Better Than a Statue in the Park?

…if so, here’s 5 simple ways to fix it

I watched the customer’s eyes scan the area, first to the left then to the right side of the store. He hoped to make eye contact with the sales woman but alas, no luck. Apparently she had more important tasks to do than tending to the customer. What was so important that she had to give statue service?

Statue Service

Sending a text to a friend, updating her Facebook page, combing her hair and then checking her makeup. These are all “important tasks” but not while working. There are customers to serve…

I was watching too. I saw the sales person finish her tasks then just stand there and not offer help to the customer. What was she waiting for?

Should the customer search aisle after aisle for help or should he toss up his hands in frustration and just walk out. The latter happens more than we realize.

Most lost business comes from the customer we haven’t serviced or were even aware of. The customer expected service and received none so they went elsewhere. When employees are more focused on personal or administrative tasks that take them away from the service floor where the sale is made, we shouldn’t wonder why our revenues fall.

Here are some facts that back this up: (more…)

What’s More Difficult; Dealing With a Customer Face-to-Face or Over the Phone?

Well I think it’s very easy to answer; face-to-face communication is definitely more difficult. When you’re dealing with somebody face to face you’re not just listening to the words they are saying, you are also judging them by the actions of their entire body.

Face-to-Face or Over the Phone

You’re looking at their eyes and their hand gestures. You’re looking at how they’re standing, their facial expressions and overall body language.

The situation may change their words but their body says more and it’s usually correct. Click To Tweet

If they show a “closed up” posture, shoulders slouched with a head down; they may just be shy or introverted. It’s more difficult for them to state their case. If their hands are in pockets or covered they may be deceptive and hiding something. If they’re standing tall, hands out in front with palms up and looking you right in the eye while smiling, they’re probably being honest.

When dealing with a customer over the phone body language is not a factor. You, or your customer, can be in the office in pajamas and fuzzy slippers. It doesn’t matter what you’re wearing as long as the words that come over the phone line are pleasant and are appropriate for the situation. (more…)

Why The World is NOT Full of Guys

...please use the correct words

Respect. We all want it, need it and deserve it. But when we use words that have “no meaning” we carelessly speak with disrespect to our customers. Why do we continually refer to “everyone” as a guy?

the world is not full of guys

Over the course of my training career I have constantly said “words have meaning”. We must speak with clear intent, understanding that our words bring life to all situations. Click To Tweet

With a few sincerely-meant words we can easily take a dissatisfied customer and turn them around, providing we use appropriate actions to match. Just as easily, we can take a content customer and, using a few seemingly innocent words, show disrespect, imply a lower status and diminish their worth.

Here’s an example that I bet most of you have encountered…

(more…)

Read How CD Baby Turns a Mundane Email Into an “Exceptional Conversation”

Correspondence from most members of the retail industry is reduced to little more than a form letter with a few “mail-merged” names; the letter can fit most circumstances and usually does. Isn’t it about time someone uses their imagination and creates a response that we look forward to read…and share?

cd baby shipping letter

Derek Sivers, who founded CD Baby in 1998, once the world’s largest online distributor of independent music, had a brainstorm. Initially his company sent out a standard automated e-mail with every order that let the customer know when the CD was actually shipped. At first it was just the normal “Your order has shipped today. Please let us know if it doesn’t arrive. Thank you for your business.”

But quickly, he felt he could do better. He spend 20 minutes and created an email, the shipping letter, which has since brought smiles to everyone who has read it and reportedly led to their largest increase in customers since.

Here’s the email… (more…)

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…)

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…)

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…)

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…)