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Saturday, March 31, 2018

How Can You Recover From Customer Service Blunders?

Every day for the last week my newsfeed has been riddled with customer service disasters, and it really does bring three issues to light: 
  • Right or wrong, it happens to everyone,
  • There is more than one side to every story, and;
  • The speed at which bad publicity spreads is lightening fast.
So, what do you do? What lessons have we learned as we witnessed (rather publicly) the good, the bad and the ugly of bad customer service:
1. Offer a sincere apology - both personally and on Social Media - quickly. The catch here is that there are two levels of response. The first is to the customer that you provided poor customer service to - contact this person directly, not via Social Media channels, and offer a sincere apology for what happened. See what you can do to remedy the situation, and assure them that you will review what happened. If possible, set up a call so the sincerity of your apology can be clear. Your second response, if the incident was posted to Social Media, would appropriately be to post an apology on the relevant channels as well.
2. Take responsibility - while initially you may not know how service went awry, it did. Review what processes failed and how to improve upon them.
3. Talk to your team - Does your team have what they need to offer excellent customer service, how can processes be revised to give them what they need? Did the poor customer service happen because training was lacking? Because communication wasn't open enough? Did your team member not feel comfortable to reach out after business hours for help? This is a constructive opportunity for the team to become a tighter and more informed unit. Embrace it!
4. Follow up - after you review with your team the highs and lows, and develop a plan to avoid such customer service mishaps in the future, reach out to your less than satisfied customer and ask them to be a part of the solution. Inform them the changes you've made, and ask for their input.
5. Try not to take it personally - as business owners we're not perfect, and neither are our staff. Even with the best of intentions, bad customer service does happen. Accept it as an opportunity for growth and development.
And of course, not all customer service blunders require a radical overhaul of your team processes. Sometimes an apology is enough, and then its time to move on. There are customers that will never be happy with what is offered, and as the business owner, you really need to dig deep to hear the full account of what happened. Don't be quick to blame your team, they may have been offering as much as they can, and were being faced with a difficult customer, determined not to be happy.
Deep breath - you've got this!
We want to hear from you! What challenges have you faced in the last 6 months, how did you overcome them? Let's learn from each other!
For more social media tips and strategies visit PMA Web Services where we share the latest information weekly! Grab your copy of "29 Ways You Can use Social Media to Build Your Business Right Now" here: http://www.peggymurrah.com/blog/

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

A Digital Shift In The New Era Of Customer Experience

How do you define, and cultivate the behavior of your customer without overwhelming them? Organizations tend to obsess over ways to innovate and remain competitive as a leader in their respective industry. All too often, this obsession puts more emphasis on the operational and revenue strategy versus the welfare of their end-user, the customer. Customers are savvier, more creative and have consistently proven how the old marketing focus and platform is now obsolete.
The customer experience goes beyond the simplicity of good service. It involves engagement, trust, education, solutions, how well you treat your workforce, social responsibility, and customer evangelism. It's about connecting to the emotion of the customer and treating them as a human and not a chatbot. How do you identify opportunities that focus on your customer, build core business data from them and better understand their behavior without disrupting their experience? The core of today's business ecosystem puts the customer first. By initially engaging with the customer, you can get a better handle on identifying their problem through researching opportunities for finding solutions to satisfy their needs.
Here are 3 primary and important reasons why it is imperative to rethink the digital shift and plan of action in this new era of the customer experience.
1. Technology is driving change. Business is social and digitized. The language customers speak is different and faster.
2. Current customer journeys no longer comply with traditional marketing funnels. Traditional customer journey stages have become obsolete. Customers do not flow in a linear fashion with new journey models, nor do they experience each stage of the process in the same fashion.
3. Build relationships, trust and earn loyalty. Focusing on building relationships and earning loyalty through delivering exceptional experiences throughout the customer journey is key for marketers. Marketing and sales teams can effectively grow tribes of customers who will advocate on their behalf and help organically grow their business to strengthen their brand.
Over 3 decades ago we strongly connected to customers through a brick and mortar location. We were in the driver's seat guiding them on decisions based on our suggestions of what we felt they needed. They trusted our expertise whether they needed what they purchased or not. Such transactions oftentimes resulted in buyer's remorse, which worked against repeat business.
In our customer-led market, we appeal to a larger base of consumers. You must build your business around your customers instead of the other way around. Building relationships, harnessing your resources to create a consumer-friendly culture, earning customer trust and loyalty by taking touch points and interactions seriously, will not pigeonhole ideas but will encourage the customer to feel comfortable getting on board your current digital marketing vehicle.
Kym Gordon Moore is an award-winning poet, author, speaker, philanthropist, certified inbound marketing specialist and an authority in strategic marketing communications. http://www.kymgmoore.com She is the Content Marketing Director for InKNOWvative Concepts, a creative disruption think-tank raising the frequency of limitless possibilities to supplement core business. http://inknowvativeconcepts.com/

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Customer Service Strategies In A Digital World

How to get your social media presence set up right so you can deal with customer complaints like a Pro
With social media being so prevalent, users often take to their favourite channel with their complaints.
75% of users surveyed said they include social media when evaluating a purchase.
32% want a response within 30 minutes and 42% expect a response in under an hour!
When you set up your social media keep that in mind.
How to use social media for customer service
Using social media to manage customer complaints may seem like a burden but the payoff is repeat business and happy customers.
Users often take to the majors like Twitter and Facebook. Don't shy away from either even if you've received some nasty feedback in the past.
When you initially set up your accounts you entered an email to register and you've probably noticed unless you changed the settings you get an email every time someone is active on your page/profile.
If you find this bothersome try creating an email like customerservice @example.com that forwards to your own account or the account of an employee whose job it is to monitor your online presence.
If it's directed to your own email create a folder or label specifically for customer service or PR that these emails automatically go to. Don't let it get lost in your emails though or you'll miss alerts.
*Depending on your email setup this will vary in execution*
These alerts will let you know when you have a new comment or message on your profile.
When you get one have a response protocol ready. You don't want to jump on a complaint and then have to wait 2 days for a decision-maker to draft their response.
One single meeting with your team on customer service/PR protocol on social platforms can save you a lot of headaches.
Have canned responses ready
Canned responses refer to an automatically generated response that is prompted by the user contacting you. You may have seen these in the past and wondered how they get set up; now you get to set them up for yourself:
Twitter rolled out some great tools last year for users who operate their business online:
That link allows you to upgrade your account with messages that will automatically send to anyone who messages you directly and will show users that you provide this option.
You account will show your support hours and users will see that you take their feedback seriously.
This is a great signal to Google too - that you're serious about your business and helping customers.
If you want more help using Twitter try our section dedicated to using Twitter for business.
Facebook also allows you to set up your account to help communicate with customers via instant messaging. To turn on instant replies to any instant message to your business's page follow these instructions:
To turn on Instant Replies for your Page:
1. Click Settings at the top of your Page
2. Click Messaging in the left column
3. Below Response Assistant, click to select Yes next to Send Instant Replies to anyone who messages your Page
4. To change your instant reply message, click Change, update the message and click Save
To turn off Instant Replies:
1. Click Settings at the top of your Page
2. Click Messaging in the left column
3. Below Response Assistant, click to select No next to Send Instant Replies to anyone who messages your Page
You can direct users in both instances towards a contact email or simply let them know you'll review their message within the next 24 hours and respond.
Once you have these set up, how you use them is entirely up to you. Each were only available within the last 2 years so not all businesses have adapted yet but those that have done it have set user's expectations.
For more tips on using Facebook look at our section all about using Facebook to grow your business.
Monitor your reviews
Whether it's Yelp (who's results are now actually trending in SERPs) Google reviews, or Facebook reviews (if you have them turned on) it's very important to stay on top of your reviews.
There could be even more players in your niche so be on the lookout for sites dedicated to reviewing your products or services.
If you get a bad one you don't want to remove it. That would defeat the purposes of the reviews.
Instead use the platform's response option to address the reviewer's concerns.
By demonstrating to users you take their feedback and complaints seriously you show them they can trust they'll be treated with the same respect should things go wrong between you and them.
The point of PR and customer feedback should not be to defend yourself outright.
While some users may be serial complainers or even thieves always assume the best in the customer.
Use their complaint or question as an opportunity to possibly address something within your business you should have paid attention to a long time ago.
Often you'll find the customer has either made an error or there's a genuine issue you need to address with your business.
Whatever the case, keep in mind what you post will be what users see when reading up on your company. Not only that but Google looks for signals of a bad business in online engagement and reviews as well.
Position yourself as a responsible business owner who will address their concerns, so whenever someone reads about your business they get the right impression.
Just because a lot of customer service has moved online doesn't change the fact that your business needs to give a good impression to potential users/customers.
Put a smile on people's faces as much as possible and your social media can really help you grow.
Susan Friesen is the founder of eVision Media, a boutique web development and Digital Marketing firm of over 15 years that specializes in designing, building and marketing professional, unique websites for entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations.
Visit http://www.ultimatewebsiteguide.ca and grab your FREE "Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website's Profitability - 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum Results".

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A Heart Warming Customer Service Success Story

What does great customer service do? Win a customer's trust or make him a loyal patron for the rest of his life? The answer is actually a bit different; good service is what defines an enterprise's core values and how much it is committed to serving the customers. It matters a lot more than just retaining your customers because it helps you establish a position in the market, which is onerous in today's competitive landscape. Exceptional service is imperative to succeed, whether you are engaged in delivering call center outsourcing services or are running a multinational enterprise. This is what will count in the long run; so don't just dwindle upon the sales and profit figures and start working on improving the service quality quotient.
United Airline Connects A Grieving Son To His Ailing Mother
In the past few years, many commercial organizations have started concentrating more on this aspect of the business. They have not just worked towards the betterment of delivered support services but have started creating unforgettable service experience and setting examples. One amongst such incidents that have proved how dedicated organizations are towards the customers is the case of Kerry Drake, who was on his way to meet his ailing mother for the very last time. Flying in a United Airline Flight, the grieving son had almost lost all hopes to see his mother in her final hours; that's when a flight attendant came to his rescue. Without any delay, the crew of the connecting flight that Kerry had to board was informed about the situation. They decided to delay the flight and help the son reach his mother one last time. He reached the hospital to meet his mother in her final hours and bid her adieu forever the very next morning. This is a humane act that is rare in the corporate world where everyone is just fighting for earning better profits.
How benevolent it is to help someone in such a somber state, avoiding the fact that the parameter of success in this domain is an on-time departure record that the United Airline didn't care about. They did something humanely right and made numerous patrons all across the globe. As said before, such acts define the enterprise's core value and this airline has earned a 10/10 for passenger prioritization. They have shown the world how much they care and to what extent they can go to help their passengers, which undeniably is the most critical parameter of success in today's business world.
Alicia Gray is a Marketing Manager in (v)WeCare Technology ( http://www.vcaretec.com ) which is a renowned call center outsourcing service provider from New Jersey, USA

Saturday, March 17, 2018

It's Hard To Steal A Happy Client & Easy To Lose One Who Is Unhappy

The salesperson delivered his pitch, complete with attractive graphics, graphs, and photos of happy clients. Embellishing the presentation were currently popular sayings like, "Building our business one client at a time," "We're building growing relationships," "Under promise and over perform," and "When our clients profit, we profit."
The listener sighed, almost rolled her eyes and said to herself, "They talk a good game, I've heard all this relationship stuff before, but I'm unhappy with my current vendor, the price is competitive, and if they do half as much as this guy says we'll be getting more for our buck, so I'll give this guy a try. And she signed the contract for a "Trial Period."
Three days later she received a handwritten(!) "thank you" note in the mail(!) from the salesperson along with a list of people in the firm that she could contact for various services. A week later she received an "Introduction to Our Company" brochure. A month later the salesperson called and asked if she had any questions or problems and, although he doesn't work with the clients directly, he checks in with her every two or three months to improve the relationship, discover if there are any problems, and seeks to find further potential opportunities.
This is a classic "Sales Satisfaction System." While most companies have their salespeople say, "Thank You" and then go on quickly to sell to the next prospect, this company has their salespeople deepen the business-client relationship by ensuring that the client is truly satisfied beyond the original sale.
A Sales Satisfaction System is designed to back up the promises made in the presentation and further establish the relationship from "vendor" to "trusted vendor we rely on." She has found their service actually is as good as all those clich├ęs in the original sales presentation. Now she relies on them, and she has expanded her use of their services substantially.
She recently received an ad for a similar service at a lower price. She glanced at it, wadded it up into a ball and lofted a three-point shot into the wastebasket, smiling in the confidence of her growing and profitable relationship.
If a company's success is based on long-term customer retention and repeat sales, then an ongoing "Sales Satisfaction System" will reinforce the commitment to the client and act as an ongoing retention strategy.
What "Sales Satisfaction System" is in place at your company?
Larry Galler coaches and consults with high-performance executives, professionals, and small businesses since 1993. He is the writer of the long-running (every Sunday since November 2001) business column, "Front Lines with Larry Galler" For a free coaching session, email Larry for an appointment - Larry@larrygaller.com. Sign up for his free newsletter at http://www.larrygaller.com

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Stress Test Your Way To Excellent Customer Service

"The only way a brick and mortar business will survive today and tomorrow is by creating an outstanding customer experience" says, Dave "The Shef" Sheffield, motivational speaker, and coach.
"Of course our business can handle high stress/peak demand situations... " says every business owner ever.
What is said is often different than reality when put to the test.
Stress testing or "Red Teaming" is when a business or organization is pushed to the limits. Whether it is in a retail business, military, cyber, or any other type of business; saying you perform well under stress is different than actually doing it.
Macy's "secret shopping" excursion:
Bryce Hoffman, author of Red Teaming: How Your Business Can Conquer the Competition by Challenging Everything, made a surprise visit to Macy's in March 2017 after the new CEO took command and had begun his restructuring plan which included reducing the sales staff at Macy's.
Mr. Hoffman went shopping at Macy's and wanted to ask a salesperson about one of their products. He looked for a salesperson for 10 minutes. When he could not find anyone to answer his question he left the store.
The most important rule for your salesperson is to be available, on time, have a positive attitude and be there to answer your customer's questions. If you are understaffed, focus on teaching your staff to recognize people who are wandering around looking for something, and what to do when they encounter them.
(At the very least have a bell or buzzer at your customer service desk so your customers can reach your salesperson.)
What are the three secrets of creating "outstanding customer service" in your business?
1. Choose and train your sales persons to be on time, to be dependable, to have a positive attitude, to be tuned in to the needs of your customers. Have a bell at the desk, if you are short help, so customers can ring for assistance.
2. Your salesperson listens to what your customer's want and need for your products to do and shares the benefits of each product including the price. Your salesperson has the solution to your customer's problem.
3. Your salesperson has a passion and knowledge for your products and happily shares them with your customers. Your salesperson knows everything about these products and when your salesperson makes a promise they keep it!
As Jeffrey Gitomer, sales expert says, your salesperson is your "trusted adviser."
To keep your brick and mortar business surviving, create outstanding customer service, by training your salespersons to be on time, dependable, have a positive attitude, to be personable, trustworthy, knowledgeable about your product, and to listen and want to help your customers. Your salespersons are passionate about your products and enjoy helping their customers solve their problems.
Madeline Frank, Ph.D. is an Amazon.com Best Selling Author, speaker, business owner, teacher, and concert artist. She helps businesses and organizations "Tune Up their Business". Her observations show you the blue prints necessary to improve and keep your business successful. Her latest book "Leadership On A Shoestring Budget" is available everywhere books are sold. If you need a speaker contact Madeline at: mfrankviola@gmail.com

Saturday, March 10, 2018

How To Make Customer Service Your Competitive Advantage

I'm often surprised to see that very few people care about providing top-notch customer service. It seems like all the energy is put into making the sale, and little to no effort is made in helping the customer once the product or service is delivered.
The Pool Example
A few years ago, we decided to build a swimming pool for our home. Given that we live in Texas, the pool comes in handy because at least half the year we experience warm temperatures. My wife and I spent a month or so getting proposals from pool companies, and eventually settled on one that offered the best package for the features we wanted.
Setting up the appointment with the architect was fast. In fact, they called us to make sure we could make the meeting. When we arrived, they had the simulation program fired up. Once we shared the items we wanted, the program would visually display them on a large TV screen mounted on the wall. It was cool to see the result based on the requirements we provided.
The contract called for us to pay in increments based on when milestones were met, such as when the plumbing and foundation were complete. We were assigned a project manager, Miguel, and he was at the house often. When he wanted to chat with us, he would arrive at the house at 7:00 a.m. to make sure he could find us. He asked for us to text him any time during the day, including weekends. When we did text with a question, a reply usually came within minutes. He was super-interested in making us happy.
The pool was complete only a couple weeks late, and this was due to big rains we had in San Antonio. We made the final payment, and it was now time to use the pool. For the next few months, the pool worked as promised - no problems. However, in September, the weather turned a little cold (like 80 degrees, which is considered cold in Texas), and we decided to heat the pool. Unfortunately, the heater was failing to work. In fact, we noticed a gas smell when the unit was triggered.
I called the project manager and other representatives from the pool company, and getting a call-back was nearly impossible. When I did reach the intended person, I was told that the problem was likely unrelated to their work. They asked me to call a plumber, and if that didn't solve the issue, I should contact the electrical company. In other words, I was getting the run-around. It was obvious that once they received the final payment, they moved on to other customers who were ready to cut checks.
The Lesson
I understand that there is eagerness in making the sale; the excitement is obvious. However, I also know that companies who are focused on keeping the customer happy even after the product or serviced is delivered, are more likely to dominate the market. The pool company I described here was just so-so with follow-up work, but they are still in business. I wonder how much better they might perform if they were just as good with ongoing customer support as they were when trying to make the sale.
I write a weekly article regarding project management, career management, and the like. Please visit our Blog! Blog Kool Derby

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Tasty Customer Service Tips

Explaining amazing customer service is a lot like having a step-by-step recipe for your favorite food. You have to know how to do it!
All businesses must create outstanding customer service whether they are online or brick and mortar.
For several years, I have been buying groceries at Farm Fresh Grocery Store in Poquoson, VA. Their cooked food department has amazing customer service and their customers keep coming back and line up to buy their freshly cooked products daily.
What makes this store so special?
The Manager and assistant cooks know me by name and I know each of them by name. We have a "relationship". Customers enjoy buying from people they like and trust. Friendly helpful sales service makes your customer feel special!
We ask about each other's families and they are willing and happy to spent a few seconds talking to you. The employees are not only knowledgeable about the layout of the store they are eager to help you find something, They are also quick to engage you in conversation if you look like you have had a hard day at work. They are eager to offer a caring ear and other times point out a bright spot that you hadn't recognized.
They care.
Happy customers tell their friends and neighbors about their experience. Word of mouth sales has been and will continue to be the top generator of business in any business. Creating a fantastic customer experience primes the pump for telling their friends and neighbors about their experience.
The chef is quick to tell me "I just made up some fresh roasted chicken, Madeline, you owe it to yourself to try some."
When you make your selection they will wrap it up or if they have run out of it, will tell you it will take 10-15 minutes for them to cook up your selection and to please continue shopping and they will have it prepared for you when you return.
Three Success Secrets for Amazing Customer service:
1) Hire for attitude. Your salespersons must have a positive attitude and smile at their customers. They are friendly and have a caring attitude, know their customers names, and truly care how their customers are. Your salespersons are personable and they enjoy their job.
2) Your salesperson "listens" to what you customers want and need to know about your products and then tells your customer the benefits of each product and the cost.
3) Your salesperson is passionate and knowledgeable about what they are selling and knows everything about the products they sell. They enjoy helping their customers solve their problems and become friends and as expert, Jeffrey Gitomer says become a "trusted adviser" to them.
By following these three secrets for amazing customer service you will keep a steady line of customers wanting to do business at your store.
Madeline Frank, Ph.D. is an Amazon.com Best Selling Author, speaker, business owner, teacher, and concert artist. She helps businesses and organizations "Tune Up their Business". Her observations show you the blue prints necessary to improve and keep your business successful. Her latest book "Leadership On A Shoestring Budget" is available everywhere books are sold. If you need a speaker contact Madeline at: mfrankviola@gmail.com

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Customer Service - Taking What You're Doing From "Good" To "Great"

Or maybe even Exceptional!
We recognize bad customer service right away, it's like a flashing beacon. We tell all our friends and colleagues about bad customer service, and the story spreads like wildfire. Let me share a recent experience with you, I'll keep it short, but it's utterly hilarious.
I just purchased a new BBQ pit, this thing is beautiful! I knew that assembling it was beyond my capabilities, so I hired someone to do it for me (I'm the queen at knowing what I do REALLY well, and what should be done by a pro!).
Now, I'm not saying that this professional assembled the pit wrong, it may have been that an incorrect part was shipped, but either way, the darn thing wouldn't light. I called the company I bought it from, and kept getting passed around until I ended up at the manufacturer (it actually took 22 individual calls to get there). After a very long conversation about the color of the wires on the ignition switch (that were yellow, even though they INSISTED that yellow was the one color they cannot be!) I convinced them to send me a new ignition switch. Ten days later I received a shipment from them, opened the box, and found a set of BBQ tongs. Not an ignition switch, but tongs.
So, there's bad customer service, in fact I'll go as far as to say bad customer "experience".
Someone along the line dropped the ball here, and trying to figure out "who" is an exercise in futility. What this does prove is that customer service is a part of every role within your company, from the moment you answer the phone, until the experience is completed (which includes putting the right part in the box that ships out the door). Where did this training go wrong?
Here are out tips for taking your customer service from good to great (and not shipping BBQ tongs!):
  1. Create a company culture that is clear to your staff. Do they know the experience that you want to create for your customers/clients? Does their mindset align with your desired outcomes? Remember, hiring someone isn't just about skills, it's about goodness of fit.

  2. Set clear objections and measurable outcomes. How long should an email sit in an inbox? How long should a caller be left on hold? Are all emails acknowledged, even if they can't be resolved right away? Do you have a clear training process that outlines how long an acknowledgement would take? If you do, are you measuring it?

  3. Does your staff understand the difference between escalation and collaboration? Many times, your customer service support is hesitant to "escalate" a case they're unable to handle because they feel it's resolvable, but are missing information that they would like to learn. So, it's not escalation they're looking for, but an avenue for collaboration within the team. Do you have a shared workspace where team members can communicate, ask questions, and learn from each other? Is there a shared knowledge base where collaboration can freely occur? Does your team know where to go for extra guidance?

  4. Does your staff really know the product/service you provide? Frequently bad customer service is due to a lack of information. If you offer consulting services, train your staff on what the experience is like for your clients. Walk them through what your client feels, so they can understand the mindset of your clients, and respond appropriately. Great training, and continued training, is essential for your team to become involved and passionate about the experience they are helping to create.

  5. Customer service doesn't end when the experience ends. Great customer service includes follow up emails or personal notes to say thank you. Always keep communication open with former clients, you could learn a lot about what additional services you could provide to continue supporting them, but they are also your best source of referrals. Stay at the top of their mind with ongoing customer care.
And of course, remind your team to listen and to respond with respect.
Customer service doesn't end when an issue is seemingly resolved (I'm still waiting for my new ignition switch). It ends when a positive outcome is achieved, and your client walks away feeling acknowledged.
I'm still trying to figure out how to fix my BBQ pit with my new tongs! Wish me luck!
For more social media tips and strategies visit PMA Web Services where we share the latest information weekly! Grab your copy of "29 Ways You Can use Social Media to Build Your Business Right Now" here: http://www.peggymurrah.com/blog/