Tag Archives: customer experience

In customer service, your people are not your most important assets.

In retail customer service, your people are NOT your most important assets.

In the book Good to Great, Jim Collins writes that “People are not your most important asset. The right people are.”

Stephen Covey, the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, claims that success in any job is 20% knowledge and 80% interpersonal skills. Ultimately, success in retail customer service is all about interpersonal skills.

There are a lot of people wanting to enter the retail business. And for an industry set to take advantage of retail sales that will be generated by Gen X and baby boomers, that is good news. Unfortunately, while there are people who want to work in retail customer service, there are many who simply are not the right people. As a resort general manager who personally interviewed every candidate finalist and as a former college instructor interacting with students and displaced workers from other industries, I feel that many people lack the necessary interpersonal skills because they have grown up or interacted with others in a generation far different from our own.

I am convinced that people can only deliver an experience that they themselves have experienced. In order to succeed in retail, they would have had to personally experience and learn from great examples of others exhibiting stellar interpersonal skills in their day-to-day interactions with them.

But those opportunities to learn firsthand from face-to-face interactions have all changed in less than a generation. Not too long ago there was no direct deposit or internet banking. If we wanted to deposit our paycheck, we would have to go weekly to the bank. After a while, the teller got to know who we were, where we worked, what we did there, and regularly asked how work and our company were doing. Remember when gas station attendants checked your oil and tire pressure, cleaned your windshield, and asked you if there was anything else they could do for you for a little over a dollar per gallon? How bad has customer service gotten when we never see an attendant and actually pump our own gas for more than four dollars per gallon?

The average Facebook user today has 338 friends. When a person posts on his or her page, they don’t have a loss of self-esteem when only 50 “like” the post. The other 288 have ignored them and they are OK with that! Today, we have cell phones. But what are many doing with their cell phones? I’m so old I remember someone actually laughing out loud on my phone. Texting is really one-way communication. You don’t hear voice tone or inflection or a pause. In real life, there is no “delete” or “backspace”.

Where is the reinforcement of interpersonal skills in those experiences?

So, the experiences for many people are not full of good examples of emotional intelligence, body language, or verbal communication that only face-to-face interactions can teach. I believe that translates into the real world that is OK to ignore the customer and your co-workers. You don’t have to greet your co-workers every morning or every customer who walks through the door. Having not experienced often enough good examples of communication, collaboration, or relationship-building skills, how will those people entering retail customer service, the people you entrust to customers, be successful? And if you allow yourself to accept that level of performance as adequate, how will your businesses succeed?

The answer is that you, as manager, are responsible for the education of those who do not have those skills. For you to succeed in this very competitive retail marketplace, you will need the right people. You will need people who know how to consistently welcome your customers with eye contact and a smile, inform each customer transparently and interactively of the product’s or service’s function, liabilities, and advantages to them, listen and respond empathetically, and bid them a sincere fond farewell. So, you will need to ask the proper interview questions with the specific intent of finding out if the candidates have the necessary skills of expressing sincerity, empathy, and trust. And you will be the one who will have to educate the people you select to deliver that experience for your customers. Interpersonal skills training cannot simply end after the first-week orientation. It must be consistent and continual. Only then will you build the interpersonal skills of your staff to drive their success and yours.

#customerservice #customerexperience #custserv #custexp #cx

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Customer CARE is the New Marketing

Through social media, people are talking about you whether you know it or not, like it or not. Customers who are dissatisfied with your service rant about their no class experience to others. They’re not just talking about you to their friends on social media. They’re telling everyone, even complete strangers.

If they’re not talking no class, then they’re just not talking about you at all. Customers who are satisfied with your service feel that their experience is good, not better, just average. Nobody raves about average. And satisfied customers won’t come back when they find something better or less expensive.

So don’t just serve to sell your products or services to customers. And don’t just serve to satisfy customers. Instead, serve to WOW them. Serve to CARE.

  • COMMUNICATE with each customer with a smile, eye contact, and polite interaction. Inform each customer transparently and interactively of the product’s or service’s function, liabilities, and advantages to them.
  • ACKNOWLEDGE each customer’s presence and value to you and your company.
  • RESPOND empathetically and compassionately to each customer’s questions, concerns, and complaints.
  • ENRICH the experiences of every customer.

And when you CARE, each customer is WOWED and happy, intent on returning again and again, raving to others along the way. 

The New Marketing is not advertising online to your customers. It’s your customers raving about you to others on social media.

QUI QUOTE: Customer CARE is the New Marketing.

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Merriest of Christmases and Happiest of Holidays and New Years!

Ever since I had my stroke in April last year, writing has been literally a labor of love. I hope that you have gained some insight into how to Deliver the World’s Best Customer Experience by not just serving to satisfy customers, but rather to WOW them.

I want to thank each of you for reading my blog this year. I very much appreciate you. In appreciation, and in paying it forward, for this New Year, I don’t wish you good luck in the future. I wish you GREAT success and fortune, literally and figuratively.

Merriest of Christmases and happiest of Holidays and New Years! May your New Year be GREAT out there!

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Filed under Customer Experience, Customer Loyalty, Customer Satisfaction, Customer Service, Employee Engagement, Hospitality, Leadership, Training

Enthuse Your People to Delight Customers with The Revelation Conversation.

Business leaders are happy because their customers are satisfied. But that’s not good enough. Customers feel that service is good, not better, just average. Nobody raves about average. And satisfied customers will leave once they find something better or less expensive. So don’t serve to sell to customers. And don’t serve to satisfy customers. Serve to delight them.

And just exactly how do you do that? In his book, The Revelation Conversation, Steve Curtin will tell you. But he doesn’t expect you to train your people.

Training is top down, one-way, “I know everything, you know nothing” instruction. Training is the how and what of customer service. Training is to develop THE BUSINESS. Training is for a job. And the job of employees is to serve to satisfy the customer. In the end, training instructs your people on how to TAKE CARE of the customer.

Instead, Steve is speaking with you as a coach, not at you as a trainer. He recommends that you educate your people. Your education is interactive and frequent, so much so, that you remind them every hour of every day. 

 Your education gives you the how, what, and WHY Of customer service. You not only give your employees job knowledge and skills, but also the PURPOSE of customer service. Your daily reminders will inspire your people to focus on the purpose of delivering exceptional customer service. Your education will develop YOUR PEOPLE. And the purpose of your employees is to serve to delight your customers. In the end, your people will CARE for your customers.

Reminding yourself and your people of Steve’s stories, examples, and encouragement, you will enthuse them to engage with customers. Your customers will be delighted and happy, intent on returning, raving to others.

Be sure to read The Revelation Conversation and take action to enthuse your employees to delight customers. And when you do, everyone’s lives will be enriched, literally and figuratively.

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QUI QUOTE: Nobody raves about a company that meets customer expectations.

QUI QUOTE: Nobody raves about a company that meets customer  expectations.

When you are working in customer service, you have been happy that your customers leave satisfied. You have sold them a product or service that meets their wants or needs. Or you solved their problem for them. You were happy because, in the end, you met their expectations and they were satisfied.

But that’s not good enough. Satisfied customers feel service is good, not better, just average. Nobody raves about average. And satisfied customers will leave when they find something better or less expensive.

So don’t serve to satisfy customers. Don’t treat customers as they would have expected. Instead, treat them a little better than they want to be treated. Serve to WOW them.

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Enroll Now in Customer CARE University.

We don’t offer customer service training. Training is top-down, one-way “I know everything, you know nothing” instruction. Training is the “how” of service. Training is to develop THE BUSINESS. Training is for a job. And the job of employees is to serve to satisfy the customer. In the end, training instructs students on how to TAKE CARE of the customer.

Instead, enroll in Customer CARE University. We don’t have trainers or instructors. We have mentors and coaches. Our education classes are interactive. Our education is the “how” and “why” of Customer CARE excellence. As mentors, we educate you with customer CARE actions to practice your interpersonal skills. You will learn and appreciate the value of telephone etiquette, service recovery, and customer CARE. After graduation, as coaches, we remind you with our customer CARE excellence strategies. With suggestions, recommendations, and encouragement, we empower you and your colleagues to develop YOURSELVES. Ideally, all of you will be enthused and energized to engage customers. You and your colleagues will create an emotional connection with your customers. The more emotional the connections, the more memorable the experiences, the more loyal the customers. And everyone’s lives will be enriched.

In Customer CARE 101, our passion is to CARE for you and your colleagues.

  • COMMUNICATE openly, transparently, interactively, and frequently any customer CARE information that you and your colleagues need or want to know. We will listen empathetically to your suggestions, concerns, and complaints.
  • APPRECIATE your role, responsibilities, and actions, and your suggestions and recommendations.
  • RECOGNIZE, honor, and offer accolades for you and your colleagues’ role-playing acts of customer CARE.
  • EMPOWER you to act on your own to do what is right for you, your colleagues, your customers, and your business.

In Customer CARE 102, we will educate you on how to CARE for your customers:

  • COMMUNICATE with each customer with a smile, eye contact, and polite interaction. Inform each customer transparently and interactively of the product’s or service’s function, liabilities, and advantages to the customer. Listen empathetically to understand the customer’s questions and concerns.
  • ACKNOWLEDGE each customer’s presence and value to you and your business.
  • RESPOND compassionately to each customer’s questions, concerns, and complaints.
  • ENRICH the experiences of every customer.

And, yes, we educate everyone. If we’re not caring for customer CARE representatives, we better be caring for your colleagues who are.

When we create a great experience for you as much as we do for your colleagues, you will earn the loyalty of both colleagues and customers. And soon, without your focus on profits, profits will grow, for you and your business, literally and figuratively.

Enrollment starts now. Tuition is free. But you must attend to learn each of the classes of the two courses or you will fail.

Enroll today. You won’t be sorry. And neither will your customers.

DISCLAIMER: Customer CARE University classes are my posts for either Customer CARE strategies for customer service people or Customer CARE actions for customers. You are always invited to “attend” the classes. Our discussions have been very interactive with open and honest opinions and complaints from some who have disagreed with me. With each interaction, I hope we can agree to disagree or agree. Whether you have the opportunity to “attend” regularly or can only “attend” when you can, I encourage you to remind yourself or your colleagues who interact with customers, when you say, “Let’s be GREAT out there!”

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Customers are paying for their experience, not your service.

Customers perceive service in their own unique, idiosyncratic, emotional, irrational, end-of-the-day, and totally human terms. Perception is all there is!” Tom Peters. Customers are paying for their experience. It’s ALL about them, NEVER about us. To them, perception is reality. Image is everything. Feelings are facts. And they buy with emotion and justify that decision with reason. 

Some customer service people will believe that customers will understand and be empathetic to the new employee. I get it. Customers will get it, too, but many are not going to like it. Customers are paying for THEIR experience. And they seek the best value in their experience, so, someone saying, “I’m in training” is, bluntly, a poor one. When someone new doesn’t say anything, the customer feels that the person must be knowledgeable and the problem is difficult. But that’s OK because the problem is the problem. But when someone says, “I’m new here,” that’s not OK, in fact, dissatisfying because the problem is not the problem. The problem is the person. They will leave and rant to others via social media. Customers thinking about coming to your company will decide otherwise because of his rants. It doesn’t have to be a customer they know. If you say you’re great, that’s advertising, but on social media, if they say you’re poor, that’s the truth. People are talking about you, whether you like it or not, whether you know it or not. You can give them a story that “We’re new here,” or be new here but not tell them. You decide.

The customer is paying for his experience, not your company’s service. Customers don’t care how many new people you have hired. They don’t care if self-service works for you or not. And customers don’t care if you think scripting will or will not work. What they care about is how big you care about them. New employees or not, self-service or not, scripting or not. To a complaining customer, you are not a representative of the company. You ARE the company. So own it. Be the CEO of the moment. DO take it personally. DO take it professionally. Just DON’T take it home. Simply apologize. DON’T offer an explanation. Customers feel that your explanation is an excuse. Customers want action, not excuses. Just do whatever it takes to fix it fast.

And when all alternatives don’t work, DON’T fire the customer. Simply ask him to resign. “I’m sorry but we aren’t able to resolve your problem. Could I recommend Brand X for your solution? I could contact them if you like.” Both are happy. And both will remember. The customer is happy because he has a  fix. He has an emotional connection with you. The more emotional the connection, the more memorable the experience, the more loyal the customer. And loyal customers will return.  Ideally, he will come back to you. The competitor is happy because you recommended them. Later when one of them cannot resolve the problem for the customer, they will recommend you. A Mutual Admiration Society of Sorts.

So you decide. Are you telling customers you are or have people who are in training? Or do you simply not say anything and do whatever it takes to fix the problem, even if it means going to a competitor? Whatever you decide, customers will decide, too.

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Don’t offer customer service training. Develop your people with customer CARE education.

Don’t offer customer service training. Training is finite, usually only one to several days. Training is top-down, one-way “I know everything, you know nothing” instruction. Training is the how and what of service. Training is to develop THE BUSINESS. In the end, training is for a job. And the job of employees is to serve to satisfy the customer. The mission is to TAKE CARE of the customer.

Instead, have customer CARE education. Don’t have trainers or instructors. Have mentors and coaches. Your education is interactive and frequent. Your education is the how, what, and, why of service excellence. As mentors, educate your students with role-playing customer CARE (Communicate, Acknowledge, Respond, Enrich) actions to practice their soft skills. Your students will learn and appreciate the value of appearance standards, telephone etiquette, service recovery, and customer care. After “graduation”, as coaches, remind the people interactively, frequently, and continuously of your customer CARE excellence strategies. With suggestions, recommendations, and encouragement, empower your people to develop THEMSELVES. Your people will be enthused and energized to engage customers. They will create an emotional connection with your customers. The more emotional the connection, the more memorable the experience, the more loyal the customer. And everyone’s lives will be enriched. Your passion is to CARE for everyone, your people and customers alike.

And, yes, educate everyone. If you’re not caring for the customer, you darn well better be caring for the person who is.

When you create a great experience for people as much as you do for customers, you will earn the loyalty of both. And soon, without your focus on profits, profits will grow.

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Don’t serve to satisfy customers. Serve to WOW them.

Don’t serve to satisfy customers. Serve to WOW them.

We don’t have a “Peak-End Rule”. Customers don’t “journey” sequentially over time, from start to finish. They journey emotionally with “ow” and “WOW moments”. The more ow or WOW, the more emotional the moment, the more memorable the experience. The more ow, the more disgustingly memorable the experience, the more disloyal the customer. The more WOW, the more delightfully memorable the experience, the more loyal the customer.

So when we analyze the journey, we first ask, “What are the customers’ expectations? Then we ask, “What are the potential dissatisfiers and how can we remove them?” And when we ask and take action, a negative customer experience has turned into a neutral one. But that’s not good enough. Satisfied customers feel service is good, not better, just average. Nobody raves about average. And satisfied customers will leave when they find something better or less expensive.

So don’t serve to satisfy customers. Don’t treat customers as they would have expected. And don’t treat them as they want to be treated. Instead, treat them a little better than they want to be treated. Serve to WOW them.

Customer loyalty is not one BIG WOW to a customer. It’s one little wow delivered consistently to every customer. And when you consistently deliver a little wow, you transform a neutral customer experience into a positive one. 

So Be Magnificently Boring! Consistently deliver a low-cost, no-cost “a little better than the average experience that customers expect” product or service so tediously repetitive that you feel it is boring, but to the customer, at that moment, you are Magnificent! For retailers, start opening 10 minutes earlier and closing 10 minutes later. For hotels, offer bottled water at arrival or departure. For auto service repair businesses, wash the car before returning the vehicle. For fine dining restaurants, personalize the menu with the customers’ names. Customers have an emotional connection with you. The more emotional the connection, the more memorable the experience, the more loyal the customer. And loyal customers will return again and again, raving about you to others along the way. Consistency builds trust. Trust builds loyalty. Loyalty builds your business. Deliver consistency Magnificently!

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When It All Comes Down to Business, It’s “People First”

For many years, there has been a stranglehold of the “Profits over People” mentality in business. Senior executives care about top-line revenue, product and labor costs, market share, the stock price, bottom-line profits, and even their competitors, more than their people. Listening to the sweet cha-ching sound of profits, these bad bosses do not hear their grumbling employees and complaining customers many hierarchical rungs below. Even if bosses could hear, they would wear noise-canceling headphones, oblivious to the employees’ concerns and customer complaints. And “Profits over People” bad bosses would demand “My way or the highway” to the employees. Bad bosses didn’t care much about employees and employees could care less about their bosses or customers. 

Today, instead of focusing on “Profits over People”, envision “People First” as the solid foundation for everlasting business success. One caveat is “Employees First”. Managers will always see people as “employees”. Despite preaching “Employees First”, senior leaders would always have the rank and file employees “first”, on the bottom of the ladder, well below the leaders.

Recognizing “People First”, leaders will CARE for their people.

  • COMMUNICATE openly, transparently, interactively, and frequently any information that their people need and want to know. Listen empathetically to the people’s suggestions, concerns, and complaints. Express compassion with their recommendations and encouragement.
  • APPRECIATE the important roles, responsibilities, and efforts of their people.
  • RECOGNIZE, honor, and offer accolades for individual and team achievements, accomplishments, and acts of service to colleagues or customers.
  • EMPOWER people to make the right decisions for themselves, their colleagues, customers, and their business.

Whether it’s the turmoil of the pandemic, Skimpflation, or The Great Resignation, businesses will invigorate the New Normal with the “People First” culture. No longer are people taking second or third seats to customers or profits.

This cultural transformation of “People First” and the leadership commitment to CARE will enthuse and energize people to be engaged with their colleagues, customers, and the business.

When we create a great experience for people as much as we do for customers, we will earn the loyalty of both. And soon, without our focus on profits, profits will grow.

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