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.
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…)
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!
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…)
What do your customers expect from you? Do you live up to their expectations or only reach your own perceived “ceiling” of service? Are you “good enough”? Maybe. But good enough for whom?
Once we believe we have little to learn about the needs of our customer we no longer deserve their business – and shouldn’t expect it.
Why should someone do business with you?
- Is it because you are in their neighborhood? Not good enough…
- Is it because you keep up with the latest trends? Not important enough…
- Is it because you run weekly specials or offer discount coupons? You’re not showing value…
- Is it because your business is “the best”? Not realistic…
If customers should do business with you because “you are the best”, what makes you the best?
No business is perfect, we all make mistakes. Some customers may forgive a slight misstep in service or delay in an order being processed.
Others won’t. They expect perfection. But is that possible?
Should you, we, expect to be perfect? Why would the customer? They “must realize” that mistakes happen, right?
Here’s My Idea of “Perfect Service”
April is Customer Loyalty Month. To celebrate, I share a few examples of great service that were submitted by the loyal readers of this blog. It’s nice to read something positive – aren’t we all getting tired of that United Airlines story?
Lindsey Hartig, Marketing Manager at Martin Resorts on California’s Central Coast, shares this story…
“At Pismo Lighthouse Suites, a son collected sand dollars for his dad since his dad couldn’t be with him on his trip. Unfortunately, he left them in the suite when he checked out and housekeeping threw away. The boy was very upset when he told his father he left them and the father called the hotel just to see if we had them.
Matt, a Guest Services Supervisor, took the call and said he would go to the beach and collect some for them and then mail them. Matt went to Morro Bay on his day off and collected a bunch, including the ‘dime sized’ one the son had found. They were shipped off the next day.”
Helene Wein, Director, Global Accounts at HelmsBriscoe, shares this story…
“Just got back from a work trip. Wish I would have gotten the name of the attendant, it happened so fast, and I was so impressed. Having just come from our group meeting at the restaurant, we had walked upstairs to attend an after dinner reception. I hadn’t gotten but just a few feet from the door and I started sneezing. Not usually a big deal, I sneeze in threes. (more…)
Here’s one of the best examples of how to create customer loyalty that I have ever seen. It happened while I was working at the Hilton Newark Airport Hotel in 2003.
We had a fantastic staff, happy employees and a robust business. One day there was a buzz that traveled all around the hotel. “Did you hear what happened?” “You’re kidding, I don’t believe it.” “When did that happen?” “He really did THAT?”
We had a great front desk employee, Alberto. Always smiling, he knew the hotel like the back of his hand and the guests loved him. A model employee.
One Sunday evening, a guest checked in and, after emptying his luggage, realized that he had forgotten his suit. That’s bad enough, but the story gets worse. The next day, Monday, he had a job interview scheduled at 10am. He quickly began to panic, knowing he would never be able to go to the interview without a suit on. He was confident he would miss his chance at this job, the job he flew 1000 miles for. He called down to the desk hoping to find out if there was a late night department store in the area where he could purchase a suit, ANY suit.
Realizing the dire circumstance of this guest, Alberto sprang into action. (more…)
Following in his father’s footsteps as a baker, and at the age of 23, Armando Leyva and his wife Lorely, started their own bakery business. Still a novice to the bakery world, Armando leaned on his father’s many years of experience as a bread master and, much to his surprise, realized the bakery was much more than just bread. Soon he and his wife would discover the many talents needed to operate a successful business. There was much to learn.
The business’s staple, bread, was the start then pastries and desserts came next. Finally, special occasion cakes and the personalized decorations that came with it rounded out the core products they so willingly shared with their customers.
The neighborhood bakery, named La Gran Via Bakery, became the place to be when in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn NY.
Fast forward 39 years and the business is now operated by the next generation of Leyvas, Royd and Betsy.
During a trip last month to Brooklyn, my hometown, my wife suggested we stop off at her “favorite Spanish bakery” to get some treats not available in my neighborhood. How could I resist?
As we entered the store my senses were quickly met with the aroma of fresh pastry, chocolate and strong coffee. Then a friendly voice came from behind the counter, “That’s ok, that’s ok, I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that”.
As I turned around I saw (more…)
Life is stressful. The societal pressures of work, providing for your family, body image, social media, etc. are bad enough; the last thing you need early in the morning is a grumpy ticket agent to start your day off on a miserable note. Here’s my story…
I haven’t taken the train into New York City, from my home in New Jersey, in roughly 10 years. I sure don’t miss the crowds or the unfriendly ticket agents. Guess dealing with fellow commuters gets to them too. Today was to be different…
On the New Jersey Transit trains there are blue-suited attendants, ticket agents, who monitor the passengers to ensure they have a valid ticket to ride the train. One by one they stop by each seat and collect the ticket, punch a hole in it and move on to the next passenger.
This is what you usually hear…
“Tickets, get your tickets out”. “Have your tickets ready” or some similar phrase.
Never a please, or hello and definitely not a good morning.
Sliding into my seat I waited patiently for the “floor show” to begin. That’s what I used to call the banter between the agent and hapless passenger.
“Hey, good morning, thanks. Have a great day”. “Morning, how are you doing today?” “Hello, may I have your ticket please?” “Great, thanks and have a wonderful day”.
I couldn’t believe my ears. (more…)
After 146 years, the show that has created memories for countless children of all ages will finally come to a close. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, citing a “variety of factors” will end its spectacular traveling road show in May of this year.
The company started by Phineas Taylor (PT) Barnum brought joy, amazement and wonder to millions of people through the years by providing sights, sounds and circumstances not normally available to the public.
Thinking back on the fond childhood memories, as I sat with my mother in the seats of New York’s Madison Square Garden watching the elephants parade around or looked up in wonder at the daredevil trapeze artists, I still can place myself in the arena. Images forever etched in our mind allow us to relive the experience as we see fit. PT created an experience.
And, if you do, what kind of experience is it?
Is it one of joy, satisfaction, or frustration? Is it full of unexpected “extras” given with an abundance of smiles or a less than adequate attempt of service due to poor preplanning? Do you provide a service that is memorable or spend too much time explaining your shortcomings?
The PT Barnums and Walt Disneys of this world created experiences that were/are unrivaled in the world of business. They took hold of your emotions and wouldn’t let go until all your senses were touched. (more…)
A week or so ago I was again taking part in my favorite tweet chat, #custserv, hosted by Marsha Collier, Roy Atkinson, Al Hopper and Greg Ortbach that takes place every Tuesday evenings 9pm ET.
During the chat I answered a question as you can see below:
It was answered by fellow chat member Nate Brown who innocently tagged Zappo’s in the tweet…
In the freewheeling spirit of the chat I answered Nate…
Lo and behold, within 1 minute we received this tweet from Zappo’s… (more…)
Year after year we hope service and the customer experience gets better. But great service comes at a cost, a high labor cost that many businesses are not willing or able to pay. So what are their options? Technology, that’s it. Or is it?
Ever see those little boxes that pop up on the bottom right of your screen saying “Hi, I’m Susan and I’m here to help you”? Come on, do you really think Susan is there to answer your questions? Well, when these “bots” first started to appear, I must admit I did! I felt so foolish when I realized it was just another way to interact with the online customer.
“Chat bots”, short for chat robot, is a computer program that simulates human conversation, or chat, through artificial intelligence.*
I thought email was the preferred method to contact a business’s service or help desk. Now I need to deal with a talking computer? I guess I’m still old fashioned.
Virtual Reality and Holograms
This cutting edge technology can allow a customer to stand still while they virtually “try on” various articles of clothing. Just (more…)