Posts Tagged ‘customer service’

Great Customer Service Earns Rewards and Loyalty

Monday, June 20th, 2011

Jan Carroza

Large and small companies can benefit from large and small efforts to provide best-in-class customer service. The rewards, both small and large, with consistent effort can be accumulative and measurable over time.

Think what it costs you to acquire a new customer. Now think about what it costs when one of your customers tells about their good experience with you. You have got to like the cost of a new customer that comes from word of mouth. Free.

It makes some sense to put some time and maybe a little investment into making sure that most, if not all, of your customers have the best of all experiences. From the smallest, creative gestures, to an overall mission to your own testing and surveys of your customer experience by your own staff, a stem-to-stern review should be worth every moment spent in rewards and loyalty.

Even the smallest of gestures can resonate with consumers. We had dinner at Mykonos, a Greek restaurant in Tarpon Springs, Florida. The food and services were very good. What knocked my socks off was the crowning touch. We didn’t order dessert, but the waitress just brought out a plate with some thinly sliced apple, drizzled with honey and sprinkled with cinnamon. No charge. A delightful presentation. Did that small gesture increase her tip? You bet it did. It brought a smile to our faces and made the experience unforgettable. The benefit goes beyond a tip. I’ve become a loyal fan and evangelist for their restaurant and I have told and will tell others about how they went the extra mile.

With most companies these days, you often get lost in endless loops of voicemail and never reach a real person. I had occasion to try to reach someone at Gevalia.  Not only did I reach real people, but they followed up with me to make sure that I got all the help I needed. In this day and age, I was blown away by their customer service staff and deeply appreciative. I will always have warm fuzzies for Gevalia and their staff. I am very impressed with a company that puts these measures in place. To me, these efforts are worthy of sky-high loyalty.

This past Mother’s Day I had a wonderful experience with ProFlowers because both my mother and mother-in-law were impressed with their flower deliveries, presentation, and duration of the arrangement. I feel that ProFlowers made us look good with some not-very-easily impressed ladies. That goes a long way with me. Completely unprompted, they each expressed their pleasure and comments. Who do you think I’m going to order all my flowers from? Not the company that gave me a terrible experience on a previous Mother’s Day when their call center was overwhelmed and their email response was nil. It continued through the Mother’s Day weekend. The frustration level was such that it’s not likely I would order from them again. However, it’s very likely that I could be wooed back with follow-up attention and special offers. How little the cost would be to reach out to a previous customer with a small amount of personalized TLC? I’d wager that a little attention could increase retention and re-acquisition rates for less than the cost of new customers.

Take a look at your own processes. Go through the experience of a customer yourself. Talk to your customers. Build a team to go through the customer touch-points and reevaluate these experiences on a regular basis. Survey your customers periodically and build a process to respond to issues. You are bound to reap rewards for your time and trouble.


Using Social Media Strategically to Boost Business and Serve Customers

Monday, April 11th, 2011

By Jan Carroza,

I just love this. We’ve already shared this on Facebook, but the story has some great legs. It’s a PERFECT example of how hotels can use social media to increase revenues. It’s also a wonderful example of superb Customer Service (see my latest rant) where a hotel manager planned a strategy to supply and staff to serve anticipated customer needs.

George Jordan, Area General Manager for Hotel Felix and Hotel Cass in Chicago took advantage of the Blizzard of 2011 to work social media: Facebook, Twitter and their website’s blog with a special $79 Blizzard rate, generating an immediate 41 extra bookings and almost completely selling out.

Read in detail what happened next as he arranged to keep staff overnight, dispatched staff for supplies, kept the property accessible and fed happy guests from Hotel Interactive.

They weren’t alone: The Hyatt and Peninsula Hotel also used social media during the Blizzard to service customers. They’ve clearly use social media to keep “a good pulse on the guests’ experience.” All 3 hotels received acknowledgement of their response in 435 Digital’s “How hotels can use social media to help stranded travelers.”

Here’s the hotel’s Twitter message:

Special #Blizzard rate of just $79 per night!, check rates for reservation & click on “Corporate Rates” & use… 11:35 AM Feb 1st via HootSuite.

The buzz continued afterward with a “Now Revolutionary of the Month” Award and notice in social media guru’s Jay Baer’s blog.

So kudos to @HotelFelix for quick thinking and great planning during Snowmageddon to create a safe, comfortable environment for Chicago commuters and travelers. We’re delighted this great story has gotten wonderful attention.


Customer Service: Times They Are A-Changin’

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

By Jan Carroza

When 75% of its business comes from repeat customers, it’s no wonder that Zappos is a great role model for customer service.

Channel choices for customers to reach out are exploding and customers are taking advantage of them to post public reviews and ask questions. Expectations for a new standard in response are elevated by both merchant and consumer. Bob Dylan’s lyrics may talk about change with more poetry, but it’s definitely coming for the customer experience.

The consumer wants answers that are:

Fast Accurate Consistent Complete

In all the channels where they want to be (social, website, call center)

On top of that, 77% expect incentives from online engagement, according to eMarketer.

Merchants also have a vested interest in great customer service to:

  • Increase the # of sales
  • Increase the average sale amount
  • Reduce demands on resources (staff, IT, etc.)
  • Improve reputation
  • Increase customer satisfaction
  • Give feedback to improve/add products/services

How’s It Working for You?

If  9 examples of household brands handling customer service in a Fortune survey, while not statistical, reflect in a small way how merchants are doing, there is a lot of room for improvement.

It’s interesting that these 9 tests were Twitter vs. website live chat and call center scenarios. Most often, the call center, the oldest of the forms, was the most responsive channel. However, the response times and answer completeness could generally use improvement.

Steps to take towards improvement

1)      Track and report interactions and share with other departments: sales, product development, operations and finance.

2)      Empower customer service staff with a choice of tools: discounts, coupons, special offers and decision-making authority, no matter how limited, to grant instant gratification.

Interesting Reaction: Chief Customer Officer

A delightful direction companies have taken in response to marketplace pressures in an economic downturn, customers in open social media spaces and competition is to develop a new C-Suite executive role: the Chief Customer Officer. Forrester Research cites the “desire to accelerate growth and response to rapid growth” as two more reasons for this move.

A quote from a Boeing exec sums up current corporate culture in a nutshell. “We knew we needed to change our culture to better serve the one reason we exist – our customers. Our operations departments were focused on products, our finance teams on collecting payments, and our sales and business development focused on short term revenue goals.”

No one was minding the customer.

It’s laudatory when companies make the commitment to a senior position and give it the punch of authority.

Clearly a lot of forces are bearing down on these efforts to improve customer service. The transparency of the social media movement is bearing a lot of fruit, but it’s a process that will continue to get more interesting. I’ll enjoy watching the progress.


7 Criteria E-Commerce Merchants Need to Meet

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

By Jan Carroza

According to Anna Solomon of Fast Transact in The Green Sheet, if these requirements are not met, the processor may place a 100% hold on funds in the merchant’s account, keeping the merchant from having access to the funds, until the requirements are met.

Make sure you have these elements in place and posted on your website:

1.    Refund/cancellation policy
2.    Privacy policy
3.    Terms and conditions
4.    Products and the corresponding pricing listed
5.    128-bit, SSL page where personal and credit card information is obtained
6.    Telephone contact number
7.    Shipping and handling method and time shipped after the sale (if applicable)

Make sure your URL is in the identifier line on the customer’s statement as well as your customer service number. Your call center can also explain how the charge will look on their statement. These things help to reduce the number of chargebacks where consumers call their credit card companies. Working to minimize your chargebacks will keep you in good standing with your processor.

Continue to talk to your processor about their criteria for underwriting and risk as these points will change with ecommerce, laws, security and fraud issues and the like.

Source:  The Green Sheet: