Posts Tagged 'Customer Service'

Nice Job Chick-fil-A!

chickfila-cowQuick sighting of excellent customer service I couldn’t pass up:  Yesterday, I went to our local Chick-fil-A drive thru and it was packed…I mean wrapped 1.5 times around the building packed.    Here’s what they did to make me thrilled with my wait:

  1. The line was so long that the people pulling away from the window with their food were having to drive through the line of cars waiting in line to order.  They had a full time person directing traffic to get them out safely and to help people pull into and out of parking spaces safely and quickly.
  2. As I got in line, a young man with a menu came and took my order and handed me a piece of paper with my order on it.
  3. Next, as I approached the next Chick-fil-A guy, he took my paper with my order on it, called it in and told me my total.
  4. Then I pulled up to window number one and gave them my money.
  5. Finally, I pulled up to window number two where my food was waiting.

All of this took maybe 5 or 6 minutes max.  Not only was all of this fast, and my food hot and fresh and my order correct; but they did all of this with tons of enthusiasm and confidence.  Nice job!

“The best job goes to the person who can get it done without passing the buck or coming back with excuses.”  ~ Napoleon Hill

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A New Standard Of Service

146A friend of mine recently asked me if I could refer a good attorney.  I have one that I have used with no real problems, and yet I hesitated to share the referral.  Referring someone is a very personal endorsement and your quality of referrals says a lot about you.  I had to ask myself why I chose not to send my friend to this attorney. 

The reason is not that he has done anything extraordinarily bad.  Sure he has been hard to get in touch with recently and hasn’t returned a few emails, but nothing unusual.  The reason is in fact that I have recently had such great experiences with some other professionals that it has sort of set a new standard of who I want to work with on a regular basis. 

For example, a call returned within 24 hours is absolutely good customer service for busy people.  In fact, most customers will not complain if they get a call back within the week.  And yet my financial advisor returns my call within an hour.  He returns emails within minutes. 

Another example is the idea of who the expert is.  Old school business says that it is normal for your doctor to tell you what’s wrong in a language you don’t quite understand, and then tells you what to do about it and you do it.  But wouldn’t you rather see a doctor that explains things in a way you understand well enough to re-explain it to your spouse, gives you several options along with his or her suggestion of which will fit your health needs best?  And what would you do if your doctor saw you within ten minutes of your appointment time and wasn’t in a hurry when he or she met with you?

Once you have had excellent experiences with other professionals, it’s just hard to go back and settle  for less.  I want to challenge you today to set the new standard of service in your line of work.  Be the one that people just can’t wait to tell their friends about.  Ask yourself how you can manage your time in a way that allows you to meet or exceed every time commitment you make.  I am watching business people with less experience steal market share from the old guard on a daily basis just by being willing to set a new standard in their line of work consistently.  Providing excellence in the ordinary is quite possibly the best and most affordable marketing tool you have & the good news is that you have the power to raise your own bar starting now.

Take Away:  Get creative about the little things you can do to communicate to your clients their importance to you.  Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself what it would take to make them tell their friends about how “over the top” you are.

Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between right and wrong; rather it is telling the difference between right and almost right.  ~ Charles Hadden Spurgeon

Flu Season Is Coming…But What About OCS Season?!

There is a disease…if you catch it, it is professionally fatal.  I call it “old client syndrome” but you might also call it “old team member syndrome” or “old church member syndrome” and it can bring down your best team members or even you if you are not watching for it.  Old Client Syndrome or OCS for short is when things are growing; but your older clients or someone on your team can’t embrace the future simply because it’s different than before.  Comments like, “I used to just be able to do it the way I wanted…” and “I remember when I used to just be able to get it done without having to get permission…” are symptoms of OCS. 

The ironic thing about OCS is that clients or team members don’t have to have been around that long to catch it; just long enough to get attached to the old way of doing things.  One of the dangers of OCS is that it is invisible to the person that catches it.  Left untreated, the person with OCS can allow a bitterness to start to develop.  And as more and more change occurs, they slip further into the OCS coma…

The worst thing that often develops in a severe case of OCS is that a new person joins the team…a new person with no attachment to the old ways…a new person that has a good attitude about things and begins to excel and to generate new results using the new ways as the older, more senior member of the team slips further and further out to sea. 

As a leader, it becomes impossible to ignore the progression of the disease in your old client, team member or church member.  They continue to get bogged down while your new clients continue to thrive.  And often times, you end up losing your old client or team member as they walk away telling you that you have treated them unfairly by asking them to live up to the new standard.  And in many cases, it is time to be big enough for both of you and let the person go before things get too bad.

There is one cure.  First, a brotherly direct acknowledgement of the condition has to happen.  Second, there must be a conscious decision to be an “eternal new guy on the team”.  This means that without abandoning the principles that are important, you are willing to abandon the processes that you used before.  That when things are growing and you get asked to change cubicles for the third time, that you do it quickly and enthusiastically.  That when younger people come on board with new talents, that you are the first one to show them around and acknowledge their strengths.  That when your leader asks you to buy into well thought out changes that allow your team to win at the next level, you not only agree; but that you sincerely buy in and cheer others on to do the same.

Take Away:  Refuse OCS thoughts and determine to be an eternal new guy with your attitude.

“A cynic is not merely one who reads bitter lessons from the past, he is one who is prematurely disappointed in the future.”  ~ Sidney J. Harris

“Processes change.  Philosophies & principles don’t change.”  ~ Dave Ramsey

“Everything has its limit.  Iron cannot be educated into gold.”  ~ Mark Twain

Intention vs. Execution

One of the things I love to do is to understand different types of people.  I love to look for patterns in people and learn how they think, how they make decisions, and to try and find similarities in extremely successful people. 

In studying people, I have learned that most people have very good intentions…really.  Most people intend to do good things.  They intend to get things done, to pray for you when they say they will, to read more, to improve themselves, to lose that 10 lbs, get out of debt, and so on.  Good intention might be defined as the process of having a sincere desire to do something we know needs to get done.  Let’s say that at least 90% of people have these kinds of thoughts.

Executing might be defined as the ability to formulate a plan to get a thing done and then following through with the plan until the thing is fully done.  This is where the pack starts to thin out.  Few people are really good at this part of the equation.  How many people do you know today that when they say to you, “…that sounds great.  I’ll call you this week to confirm.” that there is a slim chance they will actually follow up.  It’s widely accepted that things just fall through the cracks sometimes.  We are all busy right?  Wrong.

I suggest to you today that the gap between intention and execution is the exact same gap between your dreams and success.  The smaller the gap, the larger your success.  People who drop the ball with little things will drop the ball with big things.  Successful people don’t drop balls…period.  Some have assistants that help them, some have systems in place that work for them, but one way or another they do the things they commit to do or they simply don’t commit. 

If you are in business, I especially want to challenge you today to eliminate the gap between your intentions and the execution of every single thing you say you will do.  No more casual commitments.  If you can’t do it, say no instead of casually committing.  Your reputation depends on it.  Your success depends on it. 

“Repeat anything often enough and it will start to become you.”  ~ Winston Churchill

“99% of failures come from the people who have the habit of making excuses.”  ~ George Washington Carver

Seize The Moment!

This week’s lesson is worth the entire price of admission!  : )  If you are looking for a competitive edge in the area of customer experience, this is it.  From day one, we are taught that in business you don’t get what you deserve; but rather what you negotiate.  You negotiate with your clients exactly what they will pay and exactly what they will get in return.  But I read something in Jack Welch’s Straight From The Gut a few years ago that I have found to be HUGE.  That is giving your client an unexpected, unrequested “extra” once the deal is done. 

An example of this is that just today, I was at an event our company is doing at a local resort.  Twenty five of my top clients were in attendance and I was there to personally welcome them.  I was looking for a way to do something extra for them; but honestly our team had done such a good job already I was struggling to find what I needed.  Then just before I left for the office, I heard that lunch was not provided and that attendees had only an hour to get lunch and get back.  This is nearly impossible in this area with a large group.  Bingo!  I headed straight for the Hotel restaurant and found the manager.  Within 15 minutes, we had arranged for 25 of our top clients to have a specially prepared lunch on the patio on a gorgeous fall Tennessee day.

The lunch was good, the convenience was very helpful; but that’s not what made these clients feel special.  It was that they got a private note from one of our staff during the event just before lunch time that I had taken care of everything.  Not only did this solve a big problem for them, but it was spontaneous and most importantly unexpected.  The clients were floored and I had made a huge deposit in our “relationship account” that said they were worth far more than any agreed upon terms of business.

Don’t miss these.  These opportunities come quickly and without notice.  If you are not watching for them, they will get away.  Keep your eyes open for spontaneous, unexpected ways to give friends, spouses, and clients more than they asked for.  The extra 2% effort will communicate trust and appreciation. 

Minor things can become moments of great revelation when encountered for the first time.  ~ Margot Fonteyn

Great Customer Service Siting: Mapco

Here in middle TN, hurricane Gustav has caused a gas shortage.  Very few stations have any gas.  The ones that do have extremely long lines, policemen directing traffic and even breaking up fights. 

So I set out a little after 7:00 am on Saturday to hunt down some gasoline.  I found a Mapco near my house that had gas, along with two long lines of cars coming from two different sides of the station.  I got in line. 

Now let me paint a picture for you…  There are twelve pumps.  Cars are lined up maybe twenty cars back in each line.  One line of cars comes from the front of the station, one from the rear entrance.  Different cars have tanks on different sides, adding to the chaos.  Even when your turn arrived, gas trickled out very slowly.  People are not quite themselves.  There is just something about 9 out of 10 gas stations being out of gas that gives you an eerie feeling.  There is also a very good chance that the station could run out of gas while you are in line or even once you start pumping your gas and you have to start the process all over.  I was prepared for the worst.

But I want you to know that Mapco had two employees out early in orange vests.  They weren’t just directing traffic, they were in charge.  They were smiling.  They were shouting updates to each other from different sides of the parking lot.  “You’ve got room from two over here!”,  I would hear.  Air traffic controllers had nothing on these two Mapco employees.  They were talking to people in the line, letting them know their turns were coming and which pump they would go to.  People weren’t fighting, or even cutting each other off in line.  They were laughing and talking about the day’s events. 

It was really an enjoyable process to watch these two Mapco employees take charge, that instead of dreading the next four or five hours until they ran out of gas, they stepped up with enthusiasm.  They set expectations and met them.  People in line knew their turns would come and that they didn’t need to push their way through to get treated fairly.  Not only was I impressed with their teamwork and attitudes, but it reminded me that even in situations where emotions are volatile and their is a tinge of fear in the air, people respond to leadership that is confident and enthusiastic.

Take Away:  In volatile or uncertain situations, take your communication skills up a notch and people will follow your lead.

Why Sell Ice To Eskimos? sales negotiation

Why sell ice to Eskimos when you can sell life jackets to drowning men?                                                                  

 So why would anyone boast of being able to sell ice to an Eskimo?  The Eskimo clearly doesn’t have a need for ice.  He will certainly experience buyer’s remorse when reality sets in.  And in addition to losing his future business, you’ll probably annoy the Eskimo.

A sale, in addition to the rest of life, is a negotiation.  We may not naturally assume this or even enjoy negotiation.  If, however, you are in any form of sales this is reality.  Due largely in part to my natural awkwardness when it comes to negotiation, I have been studying this subject for years.  Selling is negotiating.

In addition to many aspects of negotiation, I have a special interest in the area of sales negotiation.  I have learned one specific concept that has so influenced my life that I just knew that I wanted to share it with you.

 Instead of the Eskimo thing, wouldn’t you rather be in the position of selling life jackets to drowning men?  Don’t feel bad; you are not the cause of their situation.  You are the solution.  They need life jackets.  Wouldn’t you agree that the worst life jacket sales person in the country could close this deal?  Price will likely not be an issue.  And the drowning man will almost certainly feel good about the purchase for years to come… 

            So Jack, you ask, what is the point?  The point is that this sales person, or negotiator, has a tremendous POSITION OF STRENGTH.  He has walk away power while the drowning man does not.  POSITION OF STRENGTH could be defined as anything that you do to increase your opportunities and alternatives to a given situation.  In your career, this may include finishing that college degree, reading everything that you can get your hands on about your area of expertise, and even getting out of debt.  These types of things make you more valuable while making the sale less urgent.  Assume your job is lost today.  You are negotiating your compensation with a potential employer.  Wouldn’t you agree that having $25K in an emergency fund and no debt would take the immediacy away and you would certainly negotiate a better deal?  And what about your current employer?  If you are constantly investing in yourself by creating relationships and becoming indispensable, would a raise or promotion not be much more comfortable to discuss?

            In sales, if you are selling the right product (life jackets) to the right group of people (drowning men), you have a powerful POSITION OF STRENGTH.  You are now in control.  If you cannot afford to walk away from the sale, you have already lost the deal.

            This principle will translate into every area of your life.  If you are always working to increase your POSITION OF STRENGTH, you will be a better negotiator.  While the other guys are looking for the overnight method to greatness, you are investing long term into something that follows you and continues to build.  Don’t worry about the Eskimos.  Be ready for the drowning men because they are on the way…will you be ready??


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