Monday, September 26, 2011

Does Attitude Matter? Customers and Employees Think So. What About You?.

We’ve all heard the platitudes about having a positive attitude.
Does it really make a difference in the workplace?
It is an interesting question since none of us are perfect and attitude
may not be our strong suit. A 2010 study by Stanford Research Institute
and Carnegie Mellon Foundation with Fortune 500 CEO’s found that
75% of long term job success depends on people skills, while only
25% depended on technical knowledge. The soft skills seem to matter
the most. Executives want team players and people who can work well
with each other.

The soft skills needed are:
- Communication skills
- Positive and productive interactions with others
- Showing manners and kindness
- Being on time
- Willing to be accountable
- Having a positive and professional attitude.

I have always questioned why they are called soft skills since for many they are the hardest
skills to practice everyday. How about calling them “common sense skills for any person

The secret to job security may be - show up, be a team player, do your job, act
appropriately and have a positive attitude. The benefit will be satisfied customers, happier
co-workers and possibly a richer bottom line.
Lisa's Site

Monday, September 19, 2011

Is Your Customer Service a Game Changer or Just Keeping You in the Game?

All companies would love to be able to say they are a game changer. Whether it is
with their service, brand or innovation, few companies really can claim such a grand
statement. Some of the few can, include Ritz Carlton, Southwest Airlines, Target,
Starbucks and Apple. My experience tells me more companies are just trying to stay
in the game because for them to change does not seem to be a reality.

Do this to keep up with the best:

1. Be easy to find. Is your 800 number visible on the front page of your website?
Stop hiding the number. Forrester Research shows customers still want to talk to
you. In a recent study customers were asked, “Which method do you prefer to use
when interacting with customer service?” The response showed 79% preferred
the phone and email came in at 33%. Customers still want a real person in a call

2. Let your people be “real”. Give them power to build a relationship. Scripts
are old school. Hire and train well so you can trust your team to talk
to the customer.

3. Appear seamless. Customers do not want to repeat themselves. Have data
systems that allow the next employee or department to be aware of the customer’s
situation and conversation. I am amazed at how many organizations have not
cleaned up their act on this issue.

4. Create access at the customer’s preferred contact point. Social media,
email, live chat, call center, web self serve, automated phone system, video –
all options must be available and you must be able to track their usage history
to win their loyalty. All these interaction points have a great chance to frustrate
the customer. Make certain you create a winning experience instead.

5. Deliver on your promise. Is it that difficult to callback and follow through as
promised? Your brand is at risk when you do not deliver. It is too easy for
customers to broadcast their dissatisfaction quickly. The negative comments gain
traction fast as others start to pile on their input. Don’t let your lack of reliability
and responsiveness allow this to happen.

What will you do today to make certain your customer service is keeping you in the
game? Be better, think differently, innovate your service delivery and you might have
a chance at changing the game.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

For a technology company, XM Radio is really behind the customer service curve.

My husband is a subscriber of XM Radio. Recently it was time to renew his subscription. He got notification that his account would "Automatically" renew at a much higher rate than he had last year. The year before, he had called in and was offered a rate at HALF the automatic renewal figure. It was clearly in his renewal records, and as is the case with many companies, this “deal” was never offered for this renewal and he had to threaten to leave the service entirely before being offered a rate that should have been "automatic" to a current loyal customer.

He called this year and got a pleasant employee who took all of his account information. She was quite thorough, however could not renew at this same rate. She admitted that she “cannot do anything” and would have to transfer him to another department. He was routed to the retention group. His information was not transferred, another mistake. This always ups the hassle factor when the customer must repeat the reason for the call. Once my husband stated the reason for his call, the representative was quick to say, “No problem and happy to do this”. The rate remained the same and it turned into a very short interaction. Which is the way is should have been to start with.

So what is the story here? XM Radio, does not have the software or desire to "automatically" keep a loyal customer at a rate THEY offered in the first place. Then, one employee has her hands tied when it comes to serving customers and another is given authority to take care of customer’s reasonable requests. This company is living in the dark ages compared to service leaders. I bet employees are frustrated with their lack of ability to serve customers. These policies do not lead or help create engaged employees. And worse, the customers are frustrated with the customer experience.

Look at your systems and processes. Are you giving enough power to team members and putting more relevant information at their fingertips? The customer focus starts at the top. Hire well to start, train thoroughly, coach, empower appropriately and lead - it is an everyday job.