Archive for the 'Customer Service' Category



Good Job Taco Bell!

A cashier at Taco Bell caught me off guard this week.  I was at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in Nashville.  The Taco Bell was small and crowded with the lunch rush; but it was moving fast.  Before I could even greet “Kenya”, she had handed my six year old son his own kids size cup.  She was talking to him right away and patiently letting him give his own order.  After we all ordered, she asked him directly “How about some cinnamon crisps?”  I must say I was at least a little curious, that she just let my son add a buck to our order; but I was enjoying it and just went with it. 

Once we sat down, I looked at the receipt.  No charge for the kids drink or the cinnamon crisps…wow.  I was impressed!  Sure it was only a 79 cent gift; but it was a big deal to me.  She had gone out of her way to greet us and to make a hospital lunch time fun.  I have a rule that I never let a business out give me.  Seriously, they may’ve made a small gesture; but it was given so cheerfully and it meant a lot at that particular time.  So not only do I brag online about Kenya’s generosity; but I also enjoy shooting the corporate site a quick email to brag on how Kenya is such an asset to Taco Bell and how I will tell all of my friends and go out of my way to eat there more often to make sure their investment in us was a good one.  Good job!

Missed It By That Much!

Staying positive is a big deal to me.  So I try to catch people doing things right when it comes to customer service instead of looking for people doing things wrong.  The exception is when we can learn from a less than great customer service experience in order to win next time. 

Just last week, I was considering hiring a broker to help me purchase a vehicle.  He was out of state, so we had to interview each other by phone.  It should be mentioned that at no fault of his own, he was already at a disadvantage since most decisions are made based on non verbal communication.  So you might say I was paying extra attention to his expressions, responses, etc.  The purchase was a big deal to me, so I wanted to hire someone who understood that.  But as much as I needed his help, I chose not to hire him.  He lacked enthusiasm.  He just wasn’t interested enough.  And then there was one or two sort of sarcastic tones when I explained what I was looking for.  I think it shocked him when he didn’t get the sale.  He obviously knew his business well.  Yet, I’ve had so many great customer experiences lately that I just chose not to settle for any less.  Why work with someone who doesn’t value customer experience as much as I do right? 

Back to being positive…it was a good reminder to me that being an average sales person is never going to get great results.  The only way to rise to the level of the elite, the really wealthy, and the sought after is to always have your A game ready.  Sometimes it’s the slightest difference in how you perform that determines coming in first place or second…and in sales, second place is last place. 

First phone call gets the biz

In sales?  Like leads?  My business is connecting seriously interested consumers with seriously committed business people.  Sales people today are spending an unheard of amount of time, energy and money to generate referrals or leads.  But would you be shocked if I told you that a majority of small biz people today spend the time and money to make their phones ring & never return the calls?  It’s true. 

I was recently at a real estate confernece and the speaker said that nearly 75% of all the referrals sent to real estate agents never get opened

Even with our own referral program, even after we interview, screen and find the very best people in the business who commit to serve our referrals, the most difficult challenge is getting them to simply call the referral quickly.  Now because we are so hard on quick call backs, we now have a group that carry blackberries and call the referrals back often within 15 minutes, often while they are still at their computer (talk about a good first impression); but getting biz people to understand the importance of an almost instant response to an online referral is still an uphill battle. 

The great news is this:  If you will do this one thing ten times better, you will win.  You can have an average website, an ordinary name for your business, and speak highly of your own competition…and if you will find a way to have someone from your office call back every missed call or email within 5 minutes, you will win the customer every time. 

What we have learned is that when your customer does not understand the technical in’s and outs of the thing they are calling you to do for them, whether it be investing, taxes, insurance, real estate, car repair, etc., they will use something they do understand to determine whether or not to trust you.  An instant call back = trust.  A slow call back or no call back = no trust.  And once trust is lost, it’s lost. 

The only call back that’s more important than a first impression call back is a complaint or concern call back.  When an existing customer calls you worried because the stock market is dipping or because their car is making a funny sound…don’t miss this…everything is on the line.  A quick and sincere call back makes 95% of their worry vanish because they were afraid you would disapear once you had their money.  A slow or non call back confirms their worst fear that you were only interested in their money.

If you’ll do this one thing 10x better, your customers will not be able to wait to tell their friends that they’ve finally found someone they can trust.  It is the most important single thing you can do to win or lose your customers and clients.

“The person who knows “how” will always have a job.  The person who knows “why” will always be his boss.”  – Diane Ravitch

Publix rocks when it comes to customer service!

  Publix is one of my favorite customer service stories.  Want to know the difference between smoked turkey, cajun turkey, & oven roasted turkey?  Well, they’ll be cutting you slices of it faster than you can say Boar’s Head.  Want to win a $5 bet with your buddies?  Bet them $5 that the next worker you pass in a Publix, whether the worker is facing you or not, will stop to ask you how you are doing and if they can help.  You’ll win every single time.  Just try to tip the guy for putting your groceries in the car for you on a rainy day…nope, they won’t take it.

I once got in line and had to wait behind maybe two customers in line to check out before me.  It was like a fire alarm went off and managers were coming out of every door to come open another line so that I would not have to wait. 

My favorite Publix story is when a new one opened in my neighborhood in Cool Springs (Franklin) TN.  It was my first experience with Publix and I knew they were trying hard to provide great customer service.  So I went to their corporate site to shoot them a quick email to brag on them a little.  The next day,  I was at home with my family and in laws, when the MANAGER OF THE STORE KNOCKED ON MY FRONT DOOR TO GIVE US FLOWERS AND A ROTESSORIE CHICKEN JUST TO SAY THANKS.  Two days later, I got a handwritten note from the asst mgr.  Crazy.

I’m totally spoiled now and will always be a Publix fan.

The Next Big Thing? Really?

Really.  In a day of email, voice mail, snail mail, ipods, web, blogs, and increasing demand on our time, money and attention, I am firmly convinced that the single most powerful element in a company’s success is their relationship with people.  The business plan has to make some sense; but it’s how we communicate with people that will determine our level of success.  The tricky thing is that customers don’t always complain when they are unsatisfied with your company’s communication skills…sometimes they just leave.  And rather than face the reality that they simply went to someone that provided them with a higher quality of the most basic things like returning phone calls quickly, we often choose to focus more attention on better marketing, better employees, and a better product when those things had very little to do with our lack of success.  I look forward to peeling back the layers of the onion of a topic as worthy as customer service with you.  ~  Jack


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