The Great Get Better and the Rest Just Don’t Get It

Where have I been, you ask? Trying to pick myself up from utter despair.

Two weeks ago I was hired to talk about make or break moments to the managers of a chain of auto repair shops. I had researched the company and their website shared customer focused words that led me to believe they understood the value of building customer relationships.

It soon became clear, as I talked about customer expectations and the importance of listening, that these people did get it. They not only got it – they owned their local markets because they did such a wonderful job building customer relationships. And so why was I there?

As I thought about the companies that have brought me in to talk about customers – I have found a theme. They already do a great job. They are striving to do even better. 

So where are the companies that really need the message to be shared and reinforced? They just don’t get it. Do they even care?

I started to think that my passion for helping companies put customers first and build those relationships is a battle that can’t be won. I have been feeling like Don Quixote tilting against windmills. If the companies that already understand the value of customers are the only ones seeking to reinforce that message – how will we ever make a dent in the travesty that is our global lack of customer service?

Customer Service is the name of the department that pisses people off!

I joke and say that customer service is the name of the department that pisses people off.

But it isn’t a joke.

So do I give up the fight? Is it hopeless?  Are the great companies going to continue to get better and everyone else just plead apathy? Help me find a reason to continue with my message of building customer relationships.

Share

It Takes a Village: Revamping A Website

women writing happyIf you have ever revamped your website or started over from scratch, you know the challenge of thinking through all of the details from functionality, design, content, and who to trust with the project. As a website writer I find myself in the position of shoemaker – focusing on writing content, consulting and training my customers and leaving my own site to grow old and stale.

As the new year approached, I decided to tackle the site myself, transferrinng the URL and the content from a web host company to my own hosted site and combining one of my blogs into the company site. It became more of a challenge than I expected and I first thank the members of the Akron Blogger Community for their monthly tips and encouragement.

I then met Crystal Pirri at a visioning workshop and liked her fresh approach and can do anything – especially anything technical – attitude, and I asked her to help me think through the process.

Crystal is an excellent example of what it means to go above the expected.

  • She offered advice and counsel for free – she is a great brainstormer
  • She taught me how to do many of the technical tasks that most would have charged for
  • She provided all the tools I needed to work on the site
  • She offered suggestions and advice and examples of what the site could look like

At the end of the day, I said – here – take it and she did. She had already proved her knowledge and expertise and the fact that she was willing to give away her knowledge for free secured my trust. I gladly provided user names, passwords and the contents of my checking account (no – she was very reasonably priced for the value!) so that she could make her website magic.

She build the site on WordPress.org so that I could work along side her by adding content and the plugins and widgets that I desired. Together we did pretty darn good, if I must say so myself. I then forwarded the link to a few trusted people (including Mom who found a typo) and they offered additonal suggestions and advice.

It was a true group effort.

It is perfect? No – it is a work in progress, but it is functional and a fine representation of who I am as a website writer. Thanks to a team of very special and gifted people.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

One last note – there was a piece of technical training that Crystal provided and I took notes but then when I went to repeat what she’d taught – I forgot the first step. How did she respond? She made a three minute video that walked me through the steps so that I now have the tools necessary for the future.

Crystal has fed me for a lifetime. This is my little thank you note to her!

Deborah and Crystal

Deborah and Crystal

Check out my new site:

AllWrite Ink: Ohio’s Best Website Writer.

Share

How Did He Learn to Do This?

car mechanicHave you ever experienced such extraordinary customer service from an associate that you wonder about the training they’ve had? Are some people just born with the skills necessary to build customer relationships or can it be learned?

Here is a story recently shared about just such an experience:

Last week I had the best customer experience I can remember in years.

 It was at a muffler shop. Mike’s Muffler Hanger, 1253 Wooster Road, Barberton, OH 44203, 330.825.7375

 It started when he was talking with a customer and I arrived and waited about 1 minute.  He completed his customer conversation and immediately apologized for keeping me waiting – for all of 1 minute – and during that time he was having an extraordinarily supportive conversation with a customer 6 feet from me.  I smiled and thought “I like him already.”  Thank you to the mechanic who referred him to me.

 I could list ten more things that he did to offer me, and everyone on the phone, and even his employees the most incredible experience.  My entire week-end was improved and significantly more upbeat because I could not get his excellent customer service out of my head.  I found myself trying to pay back his kindness by being extra thoughtful of those around me for the rest of the day.

 He was not trying to just do a good job.  He was building the most incredible customer relationship I have ever seen in a small operation.  I took cards with me to give to everyone.  I have told numerous people about this unbelievable experience.

I had lunch with Norma a couple days later and she proceeded to tell me some of the little details – the way he incorporated the use of the customer’s name, how he juggled in person customers with those over the phone. The eye contact – the smile – his genuine nature.

Is this possible to teach or just something that we find once in a blue moon? How did he instinctively know the right words?

I do believe you can teach associates how to engage in conversation with customers – but it takes practice and as managers, it also takes follow up, encouragement and support.

How would you like a customer to leave and be so thrilled with the experience that they practically “gush” to all they encounter? Pretty amazing, right?

Share

25 Customer Relationship Facts for 2011

Great article from the UK entitled 25 Customer Service Statistics to be Aware of for 2011 and the last paragraph of the entire article says it all:

  • Many businesses still don’t ‘get it’!

And, crucially,

  • Those that do will be the ones that succeed in 2011 (and beyond!)

It can’t be spelled out any clearer than that. The Internet is shrinking the world and expanding our customer’s word of mouth reach and if we don’t start facing facts that customers are people that need to be valued and treated as guests and help our employees learn how to build relationships – we are going to sink faster than the Titanic.

I don’t mean to sound like Chicken Little – the sky isn’t falling yet – but every single business needs to understand what retailers are already getting:  Customers buy from those they like and trust and if they don’t like you – they have no problem telling the world on their Facebook and Twitter pages.

So let’s look at a couple of the facts from this UK article:

24% of UK customers have stopped doing business with a company within the last six months due to a bad customer experience. Key reasons:

  • 23% Unfair fees or charges
  • 22% Poor product or service quality
  • 19% Rude or disinterested employees
  • 12% Couldn’t get hold of anyone to deal with my problem
  • 7% Discounts for new customers but not for existing customers
  • 4% Inadequate return or refund policy
  • 5% Out of territory call centres
  • 1% Inadequate environmental policy

‘Poor experience’ has forced over 10 million consumers in the UK to switch suppliers in the last six months alone. The main culprits for this switching epidemic are unfair fees or charges, poor product or service quality and rude or disinterested employees.

In a recent study reported by RightNow.com entitled the Customer Experience Report North America, they also report some interesting facts:

  • 55% of consumers recommend a company because of the customer experience
  • 79% of consumers who had a bad experience told  others about it!

Of those who decided to stop doing business with an organization the reasons were as follows:

  • 73% a reaction to rude staff
  • 51% reaction to unknowledgeable staff
  • 55% because issues weren’t resolved in a timely manner

It is all about that customer:employee relationship.

So how can you prepare for 2011 and ensure that your company is customer-focused and your employees are empowered to build those customer relationships?

TRAINING – for managers and for employees

Open conversation: with your front line employees with your customers. What do they value – how can you improve the experience

Be easy to do business with: it shouldn’t be that complicated. View the transaction experience through the eyes of your customer – where can you make changes to help streamline the process

Build a community online:  your customers are already talking on Facebook and Twitter – are you listening and participating? Social media isn’t just a new marketing vehicle for pushing out sales messages – it is a fantastic way of reaching your customers and LEARNING what they value and what they need.

Golden rule:  Building customer relationships should be just as simple as treating each prospect like you want to be treated; like a valued person rather than a dollar sign.

What will you do differently in 2011 to help empower your employees to build relationships with your customers?

Share

Us Media Radio: Where Relationships and Technology Collide

podcasting(reprint from Ohio Web Writer, my other site)

Starting this coming Tuesday, November 2, 2010 at 10am est a new radio voice will be heard.  Actually, two voices.

Candace Benson of Camp Tech will be sharing her views from a technical perspective and yours truly from AllWrite Ink will be covering the customer relationship perspective.

Us Media Radio: Where Relationships and Technology collide happened by accident.

Two weeks ago Candace and I were in a meeting and someone mentioned that since the movie The Social Network hit the big screens, there have been new lawsuits against Mark Zuckerberg for invasion of privacy. Candace was appalled. “How can he possibly be held responsible for something that a person voluntarily signs up for?”

“Easy,” I countered. “He made it so difficult to actually make sure your privacy was protected by hiding all of the functionality in difficult to find places that people thought they were safe and private when in fact, they weren’t.”

The conversation went down hill from there.  Candace standing shoulder to shoulder with Mark Zuckerberg and me – representing the privacy of 500,000,000 friends. 

“Stop!” I said, “Before we harm our friendship.  This should be a radio show!”  And thus, Us Media Radio was born.

Every Tuesday morning from 10-10:30 EST we will share thoughts on how technology is making it possible, exciting, easy and potentially dangerous to connect with customers, peers and industry leaders. Speaking of industry leaders – most weeks we will have a guest on – a “subject matter expert” that will share their views on a particular brand of social media or marketing technology and Candace will ask the technology questions while I defend the rights of the customer.

The boxing gloves are on – hope you’ll tune in!. Call (805) 285-9848 this Tuesday at 10am EST to listen to us debate the movie The Social Network and Facebook.  Mark Zuckerberg – are you available?  Call in and meet your newest best friend – Candace Benson!

Starting this coming Tuesday, November 2, 2010 at 10am est a new radio voice will be heard.  Actually, two voices.

Candace Benson of Camp Tech will be sharing her views from a technical perspective and yours truly from AllWrite Ink will be covering the customer relationship perspective.

Us Media Radio: Where Relationships and Technology collide happened by accident.

Two weeks ago Candace and I were in a meeting and someone mentioned that since the movie The Social Network hit the big screens, there have been new lawsuits against Mark Zuckerberg for invasion of privacy. Candace was appalled. “How can he possibly be held responsible for something that a person voluntarily signs up for?”

“Easy,” I countered. “He made it so difficult to actually make sure your privacy was protected by hiding all of the functionality in difficult to find places that people thought they were safe and private when in fact, they weren’t.”

The conversation went down hill from there.  Candace standing shoulder to shoulder with Mark Zuckerberg and me – representing the privacy of 500,000,000 friends. 

“Stop!” I said, “Before we harm our friendship.  This should be a radio show!”  And thus, Us Media Radio was born.

Every Tuesday morning from 10-10:30 EST we will share thoughts on how technology is making it possible, exciting, easy and potentially dangerous to connect with customers, peers and industry leaders. Speaking of industry leaders – most weeks we will have a guest on – a “subject matter expert” that will share their views on a particular brand of social media or marketing technology and Candace will ask the technology questions while I defend the rights of the customer.

The boxing gloves are on – hope you’ll tune in!. Call (805) 285-9848 this Tuesday at 10am EST to listen to us debate the movie The Social Network and Facebook.  Mark Zuckerberg – are you available?  Call in and meet your newest best friend – Candace Benson!

Share

A Teaching Moment

OhNoLadyWe can’t always provide the perfect product or experience to our customers. Often the way we handle challenging situations with our customers is the way we solidify our relationship with them.

Yesterday, I was disappointed.

I have used the same service company in my home for a few years and they always provide wonderful service. In fact, “wonderful” has become the norm and I realized yesterday, that I had begun to assume and expect “wonderful” and perhaps had lost my appreciation of their exemplary service.

Yesterday they disappointed me.

So I emailed the owner of the company and apologized for complaining but over the past two visits, what had once been spotless was now spotted.

The email I received back said this, in part:

Thanks for the detailed feedback, we very much appreciate it. This is a great training opportunity for our new Field Manager to work with our employee on this specific issue. The good news is, as you say, she is demonstrating otherwise pretty good work, and she’s been a good worker for us, so I’m sure she’ll be open to the feedback.

I loved that.  Why?

  • She acknowledged my complaint with thanks
  • She recognized it as an opportunity for a supervisor to work on her management skills
  • She supported the employee in question by reminding me of her prior wonderful work (which I had also acknowledged in my complaining email)
  • She assured me that the situation would be discussed
  • She made me feel CONFIDENT that my services would be restored to their normal off-the-charts experience

I was listened to.  I am valued.  I am one happy customer!

Not only that – I feel PART of the solution. Like we are all in this together. That is powerful stuff.

Normally when faced with a customer complaint we feel defensive and we may feel like we blew it and have lost the customer so let’s just give them a refund and say good bye.

Not necessary at all!

Our customers WANT us to be successful. They don’t want to go through the hassle of “training” a new company. 

So how do you handle customers who shine a light on your mistakes? Can we learn something from how this company handled the situation?

Share

Deborah Chaddock Brown Speaking Calendar

Just wanted to bring your attention to the new page on this site.  I have had many…well, a few….okay – my Mom wanted to know when the next event was that I’d be speaking.

So I have added my speaking calendar to the site – just click on Speaking Calendar. 

In order to make room for this new page I deleted the page that offered the free download of my Customer Relationship e-book  7 customer relationship lessons from classic fairy tales.  In case you missed it – the book is still available for download from the product page.  And yep – it is still free. 

Hope to see you at a speaking event.  Interested to learn more about what I gab about?  Visit Customer Relationship Speaker. 

Share

USAA Customer-First Approach to Business

In the March 1, 2010 edition of BusinessWeek there is an article entitled“Customer Service Champs: USAA’s Battle Plan.”  USAA provides financial services for military families and they understand their customers inside and out.  They use technology to allow service men and women to deposit checks no matter where they are stationed. They have programs specially designed for the unique nature of their customers.  They address their customers by their military title.  They have created a company that puts the specific needs of their customers first.

I was especially intrigued by what the article refers to it as their Secret Sauce. 

  • Training for call center reps lasts up to six months BEFORE they hit the phones so they have a true understanding of the customer before fielding calls
  • Employees don the attire of their military customer; walking “a mile” in their shoes, wearing Kevlar vest and eating military MREs (meals ready to eat)
  • Top notch benefits – happy employees make for happy customers
  • Huge Technology investment for both the customer service reps as well as state of the art mobile options for customers

Rarely do we find a company that is so customer-focused they require employees to “live the life” of their customers so they can understand their unique needs.  What lessons can we learn?

If we step back from our business for a moment and turn our ENTIRE ATTENTION to the customer – their life style – their needs – would we find there were changes that need to be made in how we approach our business?

Share

Launching Customer Relationship Speaker Site

DCB for the webI’m excited to announce that I’ve launched a site dedicated to my passion for speaking about the importance of building relationships with our customers. 

Customer Relationship Speaker is a site that provides detailed information about each of the programs I offer; keynote addresses and workshops. 

I’ve been on “stage” entertaining and informing audiences since the summer plays in my backyard; my younger brother, our friends and our collie Oriole’s Prince Royalton as the captive audience.  In the 70’s I was on stage in high school/college and in the 80’s the community stage called my name.

In the 90’s. with  Pearle Vision, I had the pure pleasure of leading workshops in marketing and sales for our new franchise owners and have continued that passion of sharing knowledge and getting attendees to participate and learn from each other.

Looking for a speaker for your next associate event or corporate meeting?  Visit Customer Relationship Speaker and view the different topics available.

Of course, I can always create something new just for your event – call me.  Let’s talk.  330-414-8792.

Share

Simple Isn’t Easy…It’s Just Simple

I had the pleasure of taking a class “The Anatomy of a TV Script” from Emmy nominated television writer/co-executive producer, Ellen Sandler.  Ellen worked on such popular shows as Taxi, Coach and Everybody Loves Raymond.

The two-day class covered a brief overview of the key components of a successful script, using the script entitled No Fat from “Raymond” for which Ellen was nominated for an Emmy.  During the class, Ellen had many quotable comments, but the one that really hit me between the eyes is this:

“Simple isn’t easy…it’s just simple.”

Ellen was talking about writing scripts but it also relates to customer service.  We point to examples of excellent service and we’ve even offered excellent service ourselves, but why aren’t we consist? 

Great customer service is so simple.  It’s about building relationships, effective listening skills and matching needs to solutions.  It doesn’t get any simpler than that. 

Yet, why do so few businesses offer great service?

In the words of Ellen:  simple isn’t easy.

So how do we make the simple ideas behind great customer service become easy?

  • Clearly identify what great service looks like to your customer
  • Practice makes perfect
  • Reinforce great service when you see it happen – right when it happens
  • Encourage and evaluate less than great service right after the customer leaves (what went well, what could you have done differently?)
  • Keep the lines of communication open with your customer to stay on top of their changing needs
  • Re-evaluate your service components – those things you will ALWAYS do for your customer

So simple isn’t easy but that doesn’t mean that simple is impossible. 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Share