Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Respect and Loyalty

Last week, I shared with you an awesome customer service experience I had with 360 Computer Maid. As I wrote that post, I realized I had another post that would illustrate the good and the not-so-great about customer service.

I’ve been in my house for just about five years. It is my first house. As a renter, one thing I never had to worry about was landscaping. When I purchased my home taking care of a lawn was a completely new experience. Luckily, I had an acquaintance who had just started a lawn care company. I went with them. For the first two years, I had no complaints. Then a drought decimated everyone’s yard in in my neighborhood.

After the drought, my lawn had large gaping bald spots. They aerated and seeded but no luck. I took a lot of the blame because I wasn’t good at watering … especially when I was told the best time to water is in the morning. I already get up at 5:00 to work out. I’m at work by 7:30. My mornings are packed.

I did some research and found out that Bermuda grass would be better than the fescue that we’d been trying to grow. When I said I wanted to switch to that grass, I was told we’d have to seed in the spring and not the summer.

So this spring we seeded and I watered. I watered daily. My water bill doubled! Still no luck. I googled and found out that Bermuda shouldn’t be seeded until the ground temperature was 65 degrees. We were still going down into the 40’s at night. But I gave them the benefit of the doubt. They are the experts; I’m just someone that has a Google app on my smart phone.

I did email and ask about the seeding. The reply I received was shocking. In fact, I didn’t want to jump to conclusions so I forwarded the response to a few friends. They came to the same conclusion. Basically, I was told that I hadn’t actually watered my grass at all and that my claim of watering was not truthful. I was lying.

At this same time, my neighbors grass was beautiful, and they had been exactly where I was, with an ugly lawn, a few months before. I got the number to their lawn care company. Our discussion was eye-opening.

First of all, he looked at my grass and was stunned that it had not been aerated and the seed was just thrown on top of the soil. Of course, it wasn’t growing and the amount of watering I was doing wasn’t going to make it better.

The representative agreed that the best time to water is in the morning. However, he told me I could get an inexpensive timer for my hose. My original lawn care people never mentioned this to me. Basically, they felt I should just get up and water the lawn.

Finally, we talked price. The new company’s rate was half of what I had been paying. Needless to say, armed with all of this information,  I switched lawn care companies.

So what did I learn?

As a customer, …

  • Loyalty is important to me. However, being loyal to a company that isn’t meeting my needs is just ridiculous.
  • More important than loyalty is respect. Accusing me of lying was the height of disrespect. That, even more than the sorry state of my grass, was what made me pick up the phone and call another company.
  • Price is king. However, price alone didn’t fuel my decision. It was going to a company that made me feel like they had the knowledge and ability to meet my needs. Telling me about the seed and echoing what I had read for myself on Google made sense to me. And the nugget about a timer for the hose was invaluable. Compared to the information I’d been getting before, it was critical in the decision I made.

For the Company/CSR…

  • Make it easy for the customer to be loyal by offering a strong product and wonderful service. Had they grown my grass and treated me better, I would have continued to pay a premium for their service. Price alone would not have driven me to a competitor.
  • The customer and client should be on the same team. The customer wants a good product or service and the company wants them to have a good experience. Informing me of what I could do to make my lawn better would have helped both of us. Why did it take 4½ years for me to even hear about the timer solution (remember this is my first house and my first lawn).
  • There are customers out there who would lie, but a customer with no history of lying, misrepresentation or other negative behaviors should not be assumed to be a liar, or anything else. 
  • Your price should be competitive but if your price is going to be higher than average be able to justify that cost
  • Don’t assume that your customer isn’t going anywhere. The way my lawn was seeded was simply not acceptable, nor was the strong implication of lying.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A-M-A-Z-I-N-G Experience: 360 Computer Maid

A few weeks ago, I decided to take the time to do some overdue maintenance on my PC. One of the applications I chose to run was my registry cleaner, 360 Computer Maid. It’s the best registry cleaner I have come across. I decided it would be great if I could schedule automatic registry cleanings. I found that I couldn’t. When I went to the web site to try and find a solution, I realized that I was using an out-dated version of the software. They were on version 4. 0. I had version!

I knew that once I had purchased the software I shouldn’t have ever had to repurchase it. However, when I bought it, it was $9.99. It was now $24.00. I contacted support expecting them to tell me I’d have to pay again. However, they responded promptly, even though I contacted them on a Saturday, and honored their promise. The representative sent me a link to download and an updated product key. I was pleased.

Well, I was pleased until I installed the software. It wouldn’t work. I was crestfallen. I loved this software and even the outdated version I was using gave me great results. I really wanted this to work.

Over the next few days, we went back and forth. They gave me suggestions and steps to follow. I responded with screen shots and details of what happened when I tried what they had suggested. After my last email, I hadn’t heard from then for over 24 hours. I thought they had given up on me in frustration.

Finally, they got back to me. They uncovered the problem. I tried this final upload and it worked perfectly! In fact, I had helped them uncover a bug they hadn’t known was there. They immediately uploaded this new version and contacted previous customers to let them know about it.

This was an incredible experience. Email customer service is usually the worst. I hadn’t expected the prompt replies. But each time, they got back to me. It would have been easy for them to ‘lose’ my email and stop responding at all, especially when the solution wasn’t easy to come up with.

Each email was friendly and professional. At no point did they pass the buck and say it wasn’t their problem. They stuck with me until the problem was resolved. I loved 360 Computer Maid before. I really love them now.

Great product + Outstanding Customer Service = Customer for Life.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Be Our Guest!

Thomas Peterson is quoted as saying ““The magic formula that successful businesses have discovered is to treat customers like guests and employees like people.”

Think about how we treat our guest. We make sure the house is clean. We stock the bathroom with amenities and make sure we have good food on hand. We plan activities for them. And we do all of that before they arrive. When we finally get that knock on the door, we welcome them with open arms and a smile. If they have a request we didn’t anticipate, we do what we can to accommodate it. We do these things even when we aren’t crazy about the person visiting!

So what does this look like one the job. Well, the anticipation phase would require us anticipating the questions and requests that come in most often and preparing ourselves to answer them. This could mean everything from having the right software open and/or directions for how to complete a task to rehearsing what you’ll say when the system is down or running poorly. It may even involve finding other ways to complete a task.

We also want to be prepared to answer that ringing phone with the same enthusiasm we would answer the door for a guest. Okay, we are humans not robots so maybe we aren’t quite THAT enthusiastic. However, we always want to be professional and courteous. And for goodness sake, we never want to answer the phone as if we are dreading that visit!

The second half of his statement involves treating employees like people. People are people and not machines. This means, from a management perspective, expecting bad days … they happen. People get sick, the have emergencies and sometimes they just get up on the wrong side of the bed. This doesn’t excuse poor treatment of customers, but in these cases a little bit of understanding can go a long way.

Also when it comes to improving production remember the horse. There is a carrot as well as a stick. Constantly cracking the whip and making all sorts of demands will only go so far. Use the carrot sometimes. This doesn’t always mean a monetary reward. It could mean stopping by and asking someone how things are going or sending an email to let people know how well someone is doing or of a particularly great customer service experience they created.

For co-workers, it means that you don’t have to love or even like all of your co-workers but that you treat them with the respect you would like to be treated with. Keep gossip about co-workers to a minimum as well as complaints. Likewise, give the kind of help to your teammates that you’d like to receive.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Retail Chains with the Best Customer Service

This article is a reprint of from Barbara Farfan of Click here for the entire article.

What make a good customer experience? According to the Temkin Group research and consulting firm, it's a combination of three aspects of a customer's interaction with a company - functional, accessible, and emotional. The annual Best Customer Experience ranking list is based on these three aspects of the customer experience. In 2013 customer rating and rankings reveal that in 2013 they viewed their experiences with retail grocery store chains Publix, Trader Joe's, Aldi, and fast food restaurant Chick-fil-A to be better than their experiences with This is significant since and its leader Jeff Bezos are well known for an almost fanaticalcustomer satisfaction commitment. 

When consumers are asked just three questions about their latest interaction with a company, it can be determined how they rate their experience with that company for functional (completely failed to completely successful), accessibility (very difficult to very easy), and emotional impact (upset to delighted). Individual opinions are averaged and a customer experience ranking is obtained based on the average customer scores. 

Even though the 2013 Temkin Customer Experience rankings included ratings of companies from 19 different industries, it is clear that the masters of customer experience in U.S. business is the retail industry (which includes restaurants, automobiles dealers, and companies with significant retail operations). Of the top 20 companies that consumers rated as having the best customer experience, 19 of them are retail companies. Banks, insurance companies, financial services, wireless providers, TV services, computer manufacturers, and car rental companies crowd the bottom end of the customer experience rankings. As in 2012, of the companies that are strictly retailing companies, RadioShack received the lowest customer experience ratings from retail customers. 

What follows is a list of the retail companies that were rated by consumers for customer experience in the 2013 ranking report. The list is arranged according to the customer experience ranking each company received, when compared to all companies rated. The number in the left column is the ranking number, out of a total of 246 companies. (The companies sharing ranking numbers received the same average ratings from the customers surveyed.) 

Which retail chains provide the best experience to their customers? The ones that can best answer that question are the customers themselves, which they do each year in a customer experience survey conducted by Temkin Group research and consulting firm. Customers have rated and ranked Aldi, Amazon, Publix, San’s and HEB as multi-year customer experience bests and Dell, AT&T, Ford, and RadioShack as multi-year customer experience worsts. 

By comparing customer experience rankings from 2011, 2012, and 2013, it’s possible to see the trends of individual retailers as viewed by the customers they serve. What follows is a multi-year customer experience comparison of all retail chains that were included in the annual Temkin research from 2011 to 2013. The numbers to the right of the dates are the ranking numbers that each retail company was given based on the ratings of emotion, function and accessibility provided by their customers compared to all other retail companies, as well as companies from other industries. 

1       Publix 
2      Trader Joe's 
3      Aldi 
3      Chick-fil-A 
5      Sam's Club 
7      H.E.B. 
7      Dunkin' Donuts 
5      Save-a-Lot 
7      Sonic Drive-In