Tag Archives: Customer Service

Putting the wow into your customer service

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

Customer service isn’t what you think it is; it’s what your customer says it is.

When we work with clients, we  ask  what separates them from the competition and often the response is customer service. And that’s not surprising because I have never heard a business say they have bad customer service.

The Disney model is to anticipate what the customer wants or needs and be one step ahead of them. Few businesses do that and that’s why Disney is in a class by itself. Before anyone steps into one of their theme parks, they know who you are, where you have come from, and how long you have been listening to your kids wail “are we there yet?” Your first visit  has to exceed your expectations or they haven’t done their job. And based on their research, they do time and again. All employees take the Disney training and are empowered to do whatever it takes to ensure the customers experience the wow factor.

Putting the wow into your customer service isn’t as difficult as you think. But it requires thought and discipline.

Those who know me, know I drive a 1995 Volvo, which requires some TLC from time to time.

In recent weeks I have had two mechanics look at a particular problem with the car not starting. Paul, a mechanic at Collex Collision 
( 322 Rutherford Road, Brampton (905) 457-9250)  has been servicing the car for a number of years and is mindful of the age (read value) of the car and not spending lots of money on it.  So Collex calCollexls me to tell me they suspect a certain switch needs replacing but didn’t want to spend $500 of my money in case they were wrong. I appreciated their honesty. That’s the way Bill Strachan and his team at Collex work.

auto acumenSo, my mailman, another Volvo driver, says he has a relative who just opened a garage – auto-acumen – (310 Queen Street, Brampton (416 402 3226) and he is an experienced Volvo technician. So I took the car to Fyzal and he promised to check it out. A few hours later he listed a bunch of issues but said only one was required to get the car running again. Imagine.  It was the same switch that Paul identified at Collex.

Fyzal replaced the switch and the car is running fine. Auto-acumen also services all car makes.

A few days later, I am waiting for a haircut and my cell phone rings. It was Fyzal asking if there were any problems with the car. I was flabbergasted.

Some businesses  understand the value of customer service and practice it daily. Collex and auto-acumen get it.

Have you got a great customer service story?

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Blackberry exceeds my expectations

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

If you have read this blog in the past you know I have a thing about customer service. I believe you can charge virtually anything within common sense  if you deliver exemplary customer service.

I have a client who says he is the high cost producer, but he delivers where others can not on customer service, and has a robust business.

We all have heard of almost heroic customer services stories.

Zappos relates the story of a customer, while a guest  at the Mandalay Bay Hotel near Las Vegas realized she forgot her shoes.

According to the shoe store, the guest called Zappos, where she had originally purchased the shoes, looking for a replacement, but they didn’t have any in stock. So the company found a pair in the right size at a local mall, bought them and delivered them to the hotel – all for free.

And of course there is the Disney franchise and their world-class customer service. There are stories of trolls working the parking lots at Disney World fixing cars, repairing flat tires and retrieving keys locked inside amidst all the excitement … and all to ensure the visit exceeds customer expectations. It works.

playbookNow, my tale is not so compelling  but I had an excellent customer service experience recently. I am a proud Blackberry user and for more than a year now I have also had a Blackberry Playbook. My Playbook has almost replaced my laptop as my traveling business companion.

I think Rim, oops Blackberry, has been unfairly maligned over the past few years. The negative press is a disproportionate representation of the quality of their products. I also own  Apple products, an iPad and iPhone, and I prefer BB for business. Anyway, enough cheerleading.

My Playbook developed a problem and would not display an image. After reading multiple support forums, trying a number of reboots, I plugged the PB into my HDTV and discovered the brain of the tablet was working but not the screen. I called BB support and within minutes had Dan, the tech support person, confirm my own diagnosis. He sent a courier package overnight, I packaged the device and off it went. Seven days later it returned as good as new. No charge.

Thanks Dan. There is still hope for excellent customer service.  Tell me your story.

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Retention managers? Sounds desperate to me

By Stephen Rhodes

Retention managers are now part of big business corporate speak. Companies like Bell and Rogers have retention departments, full of retention specialists, all with their fingers in the dyke.

We used to call these departments customer service, but in 2012 we want to get right to the point, as in our indifference to you over the years may have you questioning why you are still doing business with us, so we have hired some people to keep you in the fold.

As a customer of both of the aforementioned giants, I see it as leverage, one against the other. So, I don’t like my TV package with Rogers and I threaten them with a better competitor package. Or I don’t like my cell phone deal with Bell, so I threaten them. It usually produces results. A little savings here,  a little enhancement there.

But why should I have to dance with the devil every six months? Why can’t they call me and say, we noticed you have been a loyal customer for 20 years and we are going to give you our best possible deal.

Because we are now in the retention business and not the service business.


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The Customer Service Experience

By Jeff Bowman

I had the pleasure of taking part in a podcast on the value of blogging for businesses last Friday. I had known about the recording for a couple of weeks, however it didn’t dampen my enthusiasm for my first foray into the world of podcasts.  I was recorded for a blogcast entitled “The Customer Service Experience”.

The recording lasted for about 30 minutes, and questions about business blogging, the intent, the relationship to the customer experience and some tips on getting followers for your blogs were discussed from questions posed by the hosts Michelle, Jim and Steve. It was an interesting experience as I sat in my office, phone in hand answering questions and discussing aspect of creating a better customer experience through the information sharing aspects of blogs.

The time flew by, and within what seemed mere minutes, I heard the music start to come in from the background indicating my time had expired.  I hope that I was able to provide some interesting tidbits for the listeners, and that I have gained some exposure outside the normal realm of my facebook, LinkedIn and twitter accounts.

If you would like to give it a listen see below.  I’d love to hear your feedback on my first time!  (You can fast forward through the ads at the beginning)

Listen to
internet radio with Customer Experience on Blog Talk Radio

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At what cost Air?

By Jeff Bowman

There are some levels of customer service that can’t be breached.  Sacred.  One of the last bastions of free extra value has gone the way of the Dodo.

I am fortunate enough that I grew up in an era where an oil check, windshield wash and hockey stickers were the norm with every gas fill up. “Can I check under the hood” was a familiar phrase that was heard as the smiling attendant approached the window.

If you are old enough to remember the Esso Power Player sticker series, then you are in my age bracket.  Picture yourself pulling into a gas station today where first of all the attendant is in a uniform and cap, then he checks your oil, cleans your windows, and gives you a free bonus when you pay.  It could have been a glass, a sticker book, gas cap tiger’s tail, whatever, it was free and it kept my parents going back to the same station over and over.

Times sure have changed in customer service.  Today you pump your own gas, walk into the cashier and pay, then walk out sometimes without even a simple thank you. You can check your own oil, or not, and you count your lucky stars first of all if there is clean water in the washer bucket and second if the washer itself has any foam left on the cleaning side.

Today was the ultimate value squeeze for me.  I have always gone to a certain gas station to fill up, partly because they still have free air for my tires.  Yes, free air!  Today I went to use the air and to my horror it wasn’t free.  It was $1.00.  I understand paying for suction to clean your car, but a service like providing air to fill up a low tire.  That is going too far.

Consumer’s have a right to value for the products and services they buy.  In a competitive market place, a company’s value proposition is often what creates and maintains brand loyalty.

Well it seems in a marketplace where price is essentially the same, service becomes an additional cost. And even without service, the oil companies prosper. We all have to fill up somewhere if we want to drive. It just doesn`t seem fair that this multi billion industry profits year after year, while services continue to be cut.

Imagine if that happened in banks – no tellers, high service charges and, wait that might be a bad example.  Imagine going to a grocery store where you had to scan your own items, bag your own groceries and, I guess that’s also a bad example.

When will the big wheel of service levels roll back to the consumer’s side? I predict it won’t be too long from now. Consumers need to take note of where they still get value, and let the owners know that it is still appreciated.

Isn’t it strange that when I was growing up the place where you went for gas was called a “Service Station”!

What reductions in service levels have you up in arms?

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Filed under Branding, Customer Service, Jeff Bowman, Sales