A Sense of Urgency

September 23, 2015

by Kim Stangle

Customer Service is a topic that’s been written about ad nauseam, but no matter how much we read, it always seems worth it.  Sort of like when you get that extra nudge to drink at least eight glasses of water a day—you’ve heard it before, but the reminder is always welcome.

When we talk about customer service, we’re often focusing on the way we’re treated by other service professionals … did the server smile when she took my drink order or was that product I mistakenly bought returned without a hassle.  Beyond friendliness, one thing that defines good customer service is whether a business and its employees operate with a general sense of urgency.
nullThink for a moment about a time when you were in a store with four or five employees in sight, but only one actually doing the work.  Or at a deli counter with a line of customers 10-deep and the slowest-moving sandwich maker you’ve ever seen.

A sense of urgency doesn’t necessarily translate to literal actions. Even if you can’t get to your customer that second, they should have the feeling that if you could, you would.

Do your customers or clients feel like you operate with a general sense of urgency?  If not, what could you do to improve?

Disconnected Customer Service

June 24, 2015

by Kim Stangle

Social Media has changed so many landscapes.  One major change is how consumers communicate with brands.  And it’s proven to be a difficult landscape to navigate for many.  How quickly, if at all, do you respond to complaints and praise?  When do you take a conversation offline?  Do you respond to everything?  If not, how do you determine what to respond to?

Many advanced brands have seen the value and invested in teams to manage the process.  Laurie Meacham shared Jet Blue’s remarkable customer service strategy at last year’s Social Fresh conference.  One of their key points is collaboration between all team members, not just those in one department or another.

I was reminded of the importance of this connection when our cable modem was zapped by lightning last weekend.  Instinctually, I called the 800 number for our local provider, Brighthouse.  The call was fine, a service call was scheduled and I was on my way to a working modem the next day.  Or so I thought.

When the tech didn’t show up in the service window we agreed to, I again called customer service.  This time, I was met with a less than helpful customer service agent who couldn’t offer much assistance.  In fact, there was an overall sense that it didn’t matter much at all that we’d shelved plans to be available for the service window that they’d scheduled and missed.

Naturally, I took to Twitter.  Within minutes of my tweet, I received a response from @BrighthouseCare.  Not only were they helpful, but they were empathetic and apologetic for the misstep.  Beyond that, they rescheduled the service call for me and asked that I follow up if there were any issues.

How could the service have been so vastly different?  One left me wanting to cut the cable cord immediately, while the other deserves a pat on the back for above and beyond customer service.

Brighthouse, if you’re listening, it’s time to insist that customer service is handled the same across the board.  And, if you need some training tips, look no further than your own social media team.

Consistency is Key

July 28, 2014

by Julie Hall

By now, you’ve probably heard the viral recording of a Comcast customer service call that went very badly (to say the least).  Comcast’s senior vice president of customer experience has since issued an apology stating that, “The way in which our representative communicated with them is unacceptable and not consistent with how we train our customer service representatives.”

However, an internal Comcast memo was leaked this week that paints a slightly different picture.  Dave Watson, Comcast’s chief operating officer, wrote that, “The agent on this call did a lot of what we trained him and paid him – and thousands of other Retention agents – to do.”

I’m sure Comcast’s PR team helped craft the memo and most of the message points are on target—that the incident is regretful and not representative of the typical Comcast customer service experience.  But just one poorly worded line in an otherwise well-crafted statement can overwhelm the entire message.

In today’s digital world, you must assume that any communication, even if it’s intended to remain internal, will become public.  Maintaining a consistent message across all communications—internal and external—is an inherent part of any sound communications strategy.  If two of your executives are singing an evenly slightly different tune, your whole message is off key.

No Guac for You!

May 30, 2013

by Kim Taylor

Hopefully you read that headline in the voice of the legendary Soup Nazi from “Seinfeld,” because standing at the counter last night at Chipotle reminded me of the famous episode.  Only, instead of yelling about soup, Chipotle was preempting orders for its delicious guacamole with this in-your-face sign.

I love everything about this approach to customer service.  It’s blunt and to the point, but then you read below the boldface print and you get a warm fuzzy feeling about their rationale for not serving lousy guacamole.  Frankly, it’s possible their GM just forgot to order avocados, but I don’t care.  The message is consistent with Chipotle’s brand and image of serving only the freshest ingredients (remember this Super Bowl commercial?), and even though their guac is my No. 1 reason for going in the first place, I decided to stay in line and order my salad sans avocado.


Customer service that’s authentic is sometimes as effortless as taping a sign to the glass.

Gogo Walks the Talk

July 11, 2012

by Roger Pynn

Gogo Internet … the provider of online services to travelers strapped into an airline seat has to live up to a pretty high standard: they sign emails “fly classy.”

I complained to Gogo that I felt sucked in when, while on the check-in page of the Delta Airlines website, I was offered the opportunity to save money by pre-purchasing wireless Internet services as I checked in for my pending 11.5 hour flight from Venice, Italy, to Atlanta, Ga.

I’ve used Gogo many times and love their service … and I thought “here’s a way to get a head start on returning to work after a European vacation. So I agreed to spend twelve whole dollars for the ability to use my iPad to connect to my desktop, retrieve files and work through those boring hours across the Atlantic.

Except … you got it … there was no WiFi on the flight.

So when I contacted to Gogo on my return, I first got an explanation that the company only offers service on domestic flights … but, good news, my credit would never expire and could be used on any Delta flight.

But, I explained, I hardly every fly Delta … and I certainly wouldn’t use the equivalent of a 12-hour pass on my frequent 1.5-2 hour flights — usually on Southwest Airlines.

No problem. The folks at Gogo lived up to their motto and their customer service agent said “I have canceled your pass. I have included a promotional code for free service on any future flight on any Gogo equipped plane …”

That’s classy. It took just two e-mails to straighten out the problem. The folks at Gogo clearly understand that reputation and responsiveness go hand-in-hand.

Hopefully someone from Delta will read this and figure out that it isn’t nice to trick flyers into a purchase they can’t use.

Customer Disservice 101

December 28, 2011

by Dan Ward

If you have a few minutes, you owe it to yourself to read this GeekWire post about what is quite possibly the worst company/customer email exchange in history.

If you’re interested in learning every single thing you should never say to a customer, this one has it all. Curse at him? Check. Call him names? Check. Get his name wrong? Check. Belittle him? Check.

And when a member of the gaming media gets involved, make sure you get in a war of words with him as well. Don’t forget to drop names of the people you know, make a couple of empty threats and fail to do any research on the journalist you’re berating.

Oh, and by all means, don’t apologize until after your email chain has gone public.

Honestly, folks, this is one for the record books.

Christmas Story

January 6, 2011

by Roger Pynn

Everyone loves a good Christmas story.  The folks at Spanair wrote one that unfolded on Christmas Eve and demonstrates the value of thinking outside the box and of going above and beyond to exceed customer expectations.  The airline did what no one would have expected and has YouTube followers clicking away on this video.

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