Tag Archives: customer service

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, our 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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It’s time for a Customer Service Culture Transformation to Customer CARE

Is customer service the frontline? Really? Are we called to duty on the frontline battling customers? Doctors and nurses don’t serve their ailing patients. They care. So shouldn’t customer service be customer care? Or even better …

We are the Customer CARE team.

We CARE for each member of our team:

  • COMMUNICATE openly, transparently, interactively, and frequently any information that their people need to know. We will listen empathetically to the people’s suggestions, concerns, and complaints.
  • APPRECIATE our team’s role, responsibilities, and actions, and their suggestions and recommendations.
  • RECOGNIZE, honor, and offer accolades for our team’s acts of service.
  • EMPOWER our people to act on their own to do what is right for our team and our customers.

We CARE for each customer:

  • COMMUNICATE with each customer with a smile, eye contact, and polite interaction. We 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 us.
  • RESPOND empathetically and compassionately to each customer’s questions, concerns, and complaints.
  • ENRICH the experiences of every customer.

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

Customer service is for a job. If all a person did was for a job, then it would be to satisfy a customer. Satisfied customers feel that customer service is good, but not more than was expected, just average. Nobody raves about average. And satisfied customers may leave when they find something better or less expensive. So don’t have a job that satisfies customers.

Instead, invest in Customer CARE to develop your people to wow your customers. And when your people are energized and engaged to enthuse your customers, everyone’s lives will be enriched.

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Karen Hertzberg: Improving Customer Retention Through Great Customer Service

Customer loyalty is not by offering discounts, upgrades, or subscriptions to repeat customers. Real customer loyalty is built on service so great that customers return again and again, raving to others along the way. This week guest blogger Karen Hertzberg offers three QUI strategies to improve your service to keep customers coming back. You can read more about Karen at the end of her post.

What’s better than gaining a new customer? Keeping an existing one.

That’s why a high customer retention rate is an important goal for many businesses. Excellent customer service is one of the best ways to achieve this goal.

Customer retention supports long-term growth because it creates a loyal customer base. When these loyal customers are supported through great customer service, then they don’t have a reason to seek out other businesses.

Why Does Customer Service Impact Retention?

The quality of your service or product helps determine your company’s success, but a positive customer experience truly solidifies a strong relationship with your customers.

When a customer encounters great customer service, they trust that your company will treat them right no matter what issue pops up. This, in turn, makes them more likely to stick with your company the next time they need your products or services. You’re a safer bet than another company whose customer service quality is unknown.

Many business owners focus on building their customer base over delivering excellent customer service. But customer service shouldn’t be an afterthought. Your business is going to make mistakes sometimes, and solid customer service is the only way to make sure those mistakes don’t come back to haunt you.

How Do I Know if My Customer Service is Hurting Customer Retention?

Asking customers to complete a survey after a customer service experience will show you where your weaknesses are. Many times, businesses think they’re doing the right thing but they don’t have a solid understanding of what their customers actually want.

Let your customers tell you where your strengths and weaknesses are. For the best results, make your survey quick, easy to understand, and offer a reward, such as a discount on their next purchase, for completing the survey.

What Are Some Customer Service Strategies I Can Implement Today?

Not sure where to start to improve your customer service quality? Try some of these strategies below to guide your business. 

Write a Mission Statement

If you’re ready to rebuild your customer service strategy for the better, start with writing a mission statement. You should always strategize with your long-term goals in mind and a mission statement helps keep you focused.

Set Reasonable Expectations

While it’s tempting to brag about your excellent customer service, it’s far better to pleasantly surprise your customers than to disappoint them. That doesn’t mean you should set low expectations for your customer service. Just be mindful about making claims that your customer service team might not be able to live up to.

Be Honest About Mistakes

Don’t try to cover up any mistakes when you’re dealing with a customer service complaint. If something went wrong, your customer knows it. They won’t appreciate your dishonesty. 

If you acknowledge your mistakes and do something to make it up to your customer (a future discount, refund, etc.), this shows your commitment to improving the customer experience.

I hope these tips help your business prioritize the customer experience to build up your customer retention. If you’re looking for more information about customer retention, the visual below debunks some customer service myths to set you on the right path for long-term growth.

Karen Hertzberg is a writer and digital content marketer from the Seattle metro area. Along with consulting on content strategy, she creates effective how-to and thought leadership content for several B2B and B2C companies. Empathy is her superpower, and she’s obsessed with clear, thoughtful written communication.

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With my heartfelt gratitude this Thanksgiving

Some of you may know that I suffered a stroke in April. Ever since then, I have been sidelined with extensive recuperation and excruciating rehabilitation. 

In the United States this week we celebrate Thanksgiving. So I want to take this opportunity to express my appreciation and gratitude for many who have wished me well as I recover.

Today I would like to give a very special mention to the following people:

  • Edgar Gum, regional vice president for Marriott Vacations and his team, along with my fellow colleagues in Hawaii at the time, David Wong and Amy Shiroma
  • Gustavo Salazar, Marriott Vacation Club Pulse
  • Femy, Naty, Rebecca, Tammy, Tracy, Haas, Jackie, and Mike of The Henry Dearborn
  • Genovev, Janice, Joyce. Kathy, and Marsha, associates who were in hotels I managed

During my time at the properties, these individuals personified customer care over customer service. They not only served their guests to take care of them, they really cared for each guest and every associate. They cared for anyone who was feeling confused, angry, sad, or alone. They cared for everyone on or off the clock. And, as I recuperated, they expressed their genuine concern and well-wishes more than once.

I also want to thank customer service speakers Steve Curtin, Shep Hyken, and Adam Toporek and leadership speaker Rick Olson who wished me well beyond a simple “Get well soon” card. I very much appreciated their genuine concern and well wishes.

To those who were not aware I had a stroke, thank you very much for sticking with me for months without my blog, Facebook and Instagram posts, LinkedIn articles and posts, and tweets. I certainly have appreciated you following me now after I had a long hiatus of publishing and posting while I recovered.  

Since this is Thanksgiving, let me share with you quotes about Thanksgiving and gratitude that I have found to be more meaningful given my personal hardship and now, a most bountiful response from so many of you:

“Give thanks not just on Thanksgiving Day, but every day of your life. Appreciate and never take for granted all that you have.” Catherine Pulsifer

“The struggle ends when gratitude begins.” Neale Donald Walsh

“We must find the time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” John F Kennedy

“No one has ever become poor by giving.”  Anne Frank

“Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other.” Randy Pausch

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”  Voltaire

“No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.” James Allen

“Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return.”  Ralph Marston

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” William Arthur Ward

“Appreciation can change a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.” Margaret Cousins

“An attitude of gratitude brings great things.” Yogi Bhajan

“Thanksgiving is a joyous invitation to shower the world with love and gratitude.” Amy Leigh McCree

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