Customer Service Around The World


sears.jpgSears has been in trouble for a while now, with an ancient business model and a seeming shortage of vision for the future.  

They've been struggling in the traditional retail world for over a decade. And now, they are demonstrating that they also don't have what it takes to compete in the world of e-commerce.

The bar, of course, has been set by Amazon.com, Indigo.ca and Zappos.com. Their sites are easy to navigate. Their delivery is fast and reliable. Their customer service is off the charts. Not the least impressive are their service recovery practices. When things go sideways, their teams are empowered to make things right. And with very few exceptions, they do.

But Sears? Well, It's like Sears is actually trying to fail. Go online, and you will find thousands of complaints. Example #1,  Example 2,  Example 3, Example 4

The people at the very top of Sears need to be profoundly embarrassed. The board of directors needs to be embarrassed.  This is a company that, 25 years ago, had one of the best reputations on the planet for their customer service, their policies ad their processes. Now, there is absolutely no-one who would hold them up as an example that any business should follow.

I've experienced their horrendous service levels first-hand. Most recently with an item I'm still struggling to get delivered. I've called their customer service line a half dozen times. I've been lied to and stalled. Nobody in the organization cares enough to do anything about it, nobody has empowerment, and they have no effective escalation process.  Seriously?  Who was it in Sears that decided that this was acceptable.

The sad part is that the fix wouldn't really be that complex. All they really have to do is remember what it was like when they used to give a darn about their customers.  Unfortunately, their time seems to be running out.  Sears will soon the the object lesson of how your customers will stop caring about you as soon as they realize that you have stopped caring about them.


Shaun Belding is CEO of The Belding Group of Companies, and has been consulting in customer experience for over 23 years.  

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call centre.jpgHere's a really cute, fun and VERY poignant video about call centre customer service.  How come so many "professionals" struggle with something a 4-year-old seems to have no problems with?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWXWJfusydo&feature=youtu.be

Enjoy!


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broadway.pngWell, this is going to fall in the top ten worst customer service stories this year.

Imagine staying at a hotel, having an unsatisfactory experience, then writing some negative comments on TripAdvisor.com.  Then imagine getting fined by the hotel!

Here's the story about the Broadway Hotel in Blackpool England

I'd make a comment on how ridiculous this is, but none is really necessary!

 


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Change Your Words, Change Your World

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Daniel Webster once wrote, "If all my possessions were taken from me with one exception, I would choose to keep the power of communication, for by it I would soon regain all the rest." Truer words were never spoken.

It's amazing how much of a difference small changes in our language can have on our ability to influence, persuade, motivate - or even just get along better with people.

Eighteen years ago, a retail client of ours allowed us to do a little experiment. We wanted to see if we could change the number of customers who reflexively said, "No thanks, I'm just looking," when engaged by an employee. In ten stores, we had employees begin their interaction with the traditional, "Can I help you?" In ten other stores, we had employees begin with, "What can I help you find today?" A subtle difference, but the outcome was profound.

In the "Can I help you?" stores, a little over 60% of customers responded that they were just looking. In the stores where we added the "what" prefix, fewer than 40% of customers responded that way. Wow.

In another instance, a few years back, we had front line employees of a financial institution make a subtle change in how they gave direction to customers. Instead of giving an instruction, they were asked to frame things in the customers' best interests. So, for example, instead of saying, "You're going to have to talk to a loans manager about that," they would say, "Our loans manager will be able to help you with that better than I can." Again, the impact on customer response was remarkable.

Making small changes to the way we communicate can influence every aspect of our lives. You can say to your spouse who would like to go to an Italian restaurant, "Yabut you always want to eat Italian food. I want sushi." Or, you could say, "I know how much you love your Italian food, but can we try sushi tonight?" You can say to a child, "You're doing this wrong," or you can say "You might find it works better if you do it this way." Little changes can have big results.

Like it or not, people judge you based on your language skills. Think about the first impressions you've gotten from people you've met. In a very short period of time, you might assess them as intelligent, nice, narcissistic, funny, arrogant, friendly, shy - any number of characteristics. A large part of that has come a subconscious interpretation of the way they speak.

It's not an easy skill to master, because there is a situational component to effective communication skills. The most successful people you will meet have the ability to make subtle changes to their language based on the people they are speaking with and their environment. They recognize that while more formal language may be effective in a boardroom, for example, it has the potential to be counterproductive in relaxed social settings.

So how do we improve our language skills? The answer is awareness. Be aware of your surroundings. Be aware of your own speech patterns. Watch how people respond to you and others. Learn. Try different tactics. Be willing to change your approach. The payoff in both your personal and professional life will be huge.

Shaun

http://twitter.com/ShaunBelding

Reprinted with permission from the Winning At Work newsletter


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The Belding Group helps companies stand out by providing Outstanding customer service training and customer experience consulting and measurement


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disney.pngAsk 10 people to identify World-Class Customer Experience providers, and 9 of them will say "Disney."

It is, of course, unarguable that the Disney concept is unequalled.  But is it possible that they have become so certain of their superiority that they are beginning to forget about the basics of customer service?  There have been a few anecdotal stories over the last few years that make one wonder.  This most recent one comes from Taryn Hillin, an individual who is a loyal Disney supporter and season pass holder.  Here's the full story.

When she called to voice a very reasonable complaint, the response from Disney simply "Well you must be the only ones who feel that way because we're still selling tickets. In fact tickets sell out."

What Ms. Hillin was looking for, at minimum, was a little empathy.  Instead, she described her feeling like this, "When we called Disneyland we were considered nothing more than the dirt under their diamond tipped shoes. As the woman told us, people are still buying tickets so we can take a hike for all she cares. We did, thanks."

Is The Happiest Place On Earth slipping?


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Thumbnail image for staples.pngThirteen days ago I wrote in to Staples regarding a question on their printer ink guarantee. (Here's the post)  Still no response.  The question becomes, of course, is this good enough in today's hyper-competitive world?

Recent research tells us that "Ownership" and "Caring" are the primary levers for creating Wow customer experiences.  (Wow experiences are defined in the research as those top-of-mind experiences that people are most likely to share via word-of-mouth or social media.)   Similarly, the conspicuous absence of these two things were identified as the primary attributes of Negative Wow experiences.  One startling fact is that 7 out of 10 positive Wow experiences begin initially as negative situations - with employees turning them around into positive solutions. 

The take-away for organizations is that there is there is great benefit in being responsive to customers, and great risk to being perceived as uncaring. 

So why has Staples not responded?  My guess is that they probably don't have enough staff to deal adequately with their volume of feedback, so they have triaged the comment into a low-to-no-importance queue. They likely see it as a simple economic reality that they can't have more people in contact centre roles doing non-revenue-producing roles.  If that is indeed the case, they then they also likely haven't done the math on the importance of customer engagement

We'll touch base in another thirteen days, or when Staples gets back to me - whichever comes first!

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The Belding Group helps companies stand out by providing Outstanding customer service training and customer experience consulting and measurement


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staples.png"The large print giveth.  The small print taketh away."  Most organizations are moving away from this mentality.  In fact, many of the best customer service organizations go to great lengths these days to make sure people don't feel taken advantage of or deceived in any way.  One of the biggest mantras they follow is that if something is ambiguous; if it falls into a grey area between what you are offering and what a customer is expecting, you should always err on the side of the customer.

Staples has a printer ink guarantee, it turns out, that falls into the ambiguous category.  They advertise an in-stock guarantee which, I discovered yesterday, isn't quite as clear-cut as it seems.  When I asked the people in the store, it was pretty clear I was just an annoying customer who didn't understand Theeir Rules.

I don't get too upset anymore when I experience a customer experience faux pas.  I more look at it as an opportunity to see how companies are doing, and how well they respond to service experience failures.   So let's see how Staples responds to this, shall we?

Here is the text of the email I sent them.  (Their feedback portal needs a bit of work as well!)

HI:

I went into your Kanata store yesterday. I needed printer ink for an Epson nx420. The gigantic banner across the printer section advertises the in-stock guarantee.

In the little flip-through guide for finding the right cartridge, it identifies a 2-pack of black cartridges. This was my first choice, given that I needed a few, and assuming that multiple packs would be a better price.

This product was not available, so I asked about it at the counter. I was told that they don't stock the item, and because of that, the out-of-stock guarantee doesn't apply. (??) I ended up having to buy three singles.

It would seem to me that if you have a guide in the store telling me what SKUs I should be looking for, then it is reasonable for me to assume you carry those. No? I chose not to make a big deal of it in the store, but I was very disappointed in Staples. It's not so much that guarantee is misleading - which it is, or that I didn't get the few pennies difference in cost between a 2-pack and a 1 pack, or even that I didn't get a $10 coupon. I'm disappointed that, for the relatively trivial cost, the Staples response was, basically, 'sucks to be you.'

I expected more from you.

Stay tuned!

Shaun

http://twitter.com/ShaunBelding


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The Belding Group helps companies stand out by providing Outstanding customer service training and customer experience consulting and measurement

Shaun Belding is a global expert on customer service ane workplace performance.  To enquire about Shaun's speaking availabilities, contact info@beldingskills.com


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I actually laughed out  loud when I read this. (If you click on the image, you'll see a larger version.   This is a winner from an Amazon.com rep who goes by the name Thor.  Talk about someone who knows how to engage a customer!

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The rep recognized right away that this was a customer who might have a sense of humour, then leveraged it to an outstanding outcome.  This is what customer service is all about - connecting with each customer as an individual, having compassion and building a relationship.

Sure, any rep could have responded to the inquiry and satisfied a customer with a one-day delivery freebie.  But Thor took the opportunity to turn it into a memorable experience.

This one's going in the books for one of the best customer experiences of 2014!

Shaun 

http://twitter.com/ShaunBelding


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The Belding Group helps companies stand out by providing Outstanding customer service training and customer experience consulting and measurement

Shaun Belding is a global expert on customer service ane workplace performance.  To enquire about Shaun's speaking availabilities, contact info@beldingskills.com


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CB107704.jpgCustomer service is a popular topic pretty much everywhere you go. Hardly a week goes by without you hearing about a customer service horror story from someone - a friend, acquaintance, family member or coworker. It's inevitable. If there's one thing that everyone likes to do, it's complain about bad service.

Now, improving customer experience has been a laser focus for businesses around the globe over the last five years. And, truth be told, the bar has been steadily moving to the positive during that time. Despite this, however, it still seems to be pretty much of a hit or miss proposition.

So, what should you do if you're a customer? Should you just cross your fingers and hope for the best? Sure, you make a point to do business with companies you know will treat you well, but what about all of the other places you spend your money?

There is a way for a customer to improve the chances of getting good customer service. All you have to do is be a bit proactive. Here's how:

1. Smile and be friendly
Service providers get more than their fair share of narcissistic, entitled customers who don't seem to appreciate their efforts. Most welcome the opportunity to work with someone who is friendly

2. Respect their jobs
Make an observation about their occupation that lets them know you understand and respect the challenges they face. For example, you could say something to a server in a restaurant like, "I don't know how you remember all of these orders. I can barely remember what I ordered!"

3. Learn a little about them
Dale Carnegie once wrote, "You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you." Truer words were never spoken.

4. Compliment their performance
A well-placed, sincere compliment goes a long way. Even if you just said something like, "Wow - you're timing is perfect!" when your coffee arrives, you'll make someone smile.

Try these four things, and see if you don't find yourself getting a lot better service. They don't work 100% of the time of course, and yes, it's technically not the customer's job to create a positive experience, but there's absolutely no downside to trying.

These same principles, by the way, also work with your coworkers, employees and internal service providers. As our parents taught us growing up - 'you get what you give.'

Shaun

http://twitter.com/ShaunBelding


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The Belding Group helps companies stand out by providing Outstanding customer service training and customer experience consulting and measurement

Shaun Belding is a global expert on customer service ane workplace performance.  To enquire about Shaun's speaking availabilities, contact info@beldingskills.com


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reardon.JPGThere is a terrific article in the Globe and Mail that talks about the huge impact that a focus on courtesy has on peoples' success.  (see the story here) The back story is even more interesting.

The editor-in-chief of high-society magazine Tatler, Kate Reardon, had  given a graduation speech at a private girls' school in Gloucestershire.  The context of the speech was that good manners were at least as important, if not more important, than good grades.  Ms. Reardon's comments were instantly taken to task, with one prominent blogger referring to it as "sexist crap."

The fact is, Me. Reardon is absolutely correct.  When you study highly successful people, it doesn't take long to see that knowledge and skill are only part of their success story.  The other part - and sometimes the larger part - is the ability to connect with and engage the people around you.  As the Globe article points out, courtesy, etiquette and interpersonal skills are pretty much absent from the education process these days.

And we wonder why customer service, which is founded on the principles of interpersonal skills,  seems to be on the decline...


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Sears has been in trouble for a while now, with an ancient business model and a seeming shortage of vision for the future. They've been struggling in the traditional retail world for over a decade. And now, they are demonstrating that they also don't have what...



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