Monday Motivation: Getting Job Offers Customer Service

hiredI love any opportunity to be served by someone who really gets what AWESOME customer service is all about.  I appreciate the way these people make me smile and command a deep sense of loyalty for the company they represent.

As a customer service leader, I so often want to take this a step further.  Though I’ve never acted on this impulse, a good part of me wants to offer these folks jobs.  Doesn’t it make sense to want to collect the best of the best to represent your brand and serve the customers that are so important to us?

At Phone.com, our awesome customer service representatives are frequently offered jobs, gifts and even marriage proposals.  That means we’re doing something right!  The moral of this story is simple: Be the type of customer service representative who receives job offers from your customers!

Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Service at Phone.com with 13+ years experience as a customer service professional. He is also the co-founder and regular contributor on Communicate Better Blog. Jeremy ranked #85 on the Top 100 Most Social Customer Service Pros on Twitter by the Huffington Post in 2013. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ YouTube 

Coffee and Customer Service: Cultivating Awesome Customer Experiences

NateIn today’s hangout, we had the privilege of speaking with Nate Brown from CustomerCentricSupport.com.  This was a wonderful opportunity to discuss our three part series on Cultivating Fantastic Customer Experiences.  If you missed the series, take a few moments to catch up on your reading here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Now take a moment to watch and enjoy today’s hangout!

It’s Not Always So Obvious For Your Customer

UPSThere is a UPS Distribution Center right down the street, about two minutes away. Convenient, huh? Especially since I’m moving cross country and need to ship my belongings home.

A couple weeks ago, I attempt to drop off two boxes at this location. It seems like such a helpful option to drop it off right where it will be shipped out, rather than going to a store and then having to pay a bit more for it to be shipped to the distribution center.

Since I work during the week and they close at 5pm, it makes it difficult to stop by. But, they have Saturday hours so on Saturday I went!

When walking into the customer part of the distribution center, there are many conveyer belts and shelves. It definitely isn’t your regular UPS store. The representative approached me asking how she can assist. I said that I’m here to ship two heavy boxes and need to know where to put them. She then says,

“Obviously, we only do pick up here on Saturday. It says on the hours of operation sign out front. You can’t ship from us. You have to go to an actual USP store.”

Baffled, I asked why and she didn’t know–just that they don’t ship from there on Saturdays.

And, their sign on the front of the store was really small. Plus, it’s on the “Hours of Operation” sign–I’m not actively looking at this when I approach a store that is clearly open.

So, back in the car I went and off to the local UPS store about 20 minutes away.

Yesterday, I packed up another box that needed to be shipped but only had about 20 minutes before I needed to begin work. I knew I’d have no time to get to the store and back. So, I looked online and saw that the distribution center said they ship packages. I figured I’d try the distribution center one more time to see if they’d help me…and if not, find out why it says on their website that they do.

When going back to the store, they help me with the boxes and I’m able to ship them, no problems.  I share what happened on the other Saturday and the representative informs me that they don’t ship on Saturdays to allow the franchised stores in the area an opportunity to make more money.

But, on this day, I have my packages on the conveyer belt and within 10 minutes, I am back in the car, heading to my desk to start work.

Overall, the distribution center may want to revamp their customer experience. While this was convenient and I gave them my business despite the situation, you can bet I’ll keep this in mind in the future when I go to ship and have more time to figure out what company to use.

This is a great lesson in what we share with our customers–ways that seem obvious to us, who work at the company, may not be so obvious to those that do not. Don’t stiff your customer because of this!

Jenny is the Customer Success Manager for Phone.com with almost a decade of customer service experience. She is co-founder and a regular contributor on Communicate Better Blog.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ YouTube 

The Evolution Of The Customer Service Hike

The view from my customer service hike today at Kwaay Paay Summit.

The view from my customer service hike today at Kwaay Paay Summit.

About a year ago, I was reading one of my favorite customer service blogs written by Jeff Toister.  In this particular post he talked about the friendliness of the people he encounters while hiking.  While reading that post, I quickly realized that Jeff hikes many of the same San Diego trails as me.  (If you live in San Diego, Mission Trails Regional Park is a gem. Check it out!)

So one thing led to another and Jeff Toister and I began embarking on customer service hikes.  On these hikes we generally discuss anything from baseball, to vacations, to interesting hiking factoids–oh and of course we talk about everything having to do with contact centers and customer service.

Never being one for stuffy networking events, this is the kind of networking I can get used to.  While I’m in no way proposing that we turn all networking events into hikes, I do want to take a moment to reflect on just a few benefits of networking with other professionals in a similar line of work.

1. Getting an outside opinion- We are so good in our companies at getting wrapped up in our issues and operating like we are the only company that has experienced such an issue.  I’m positive that there is someone else out there who has been in your shoes.  Networking enables you to find those people and they just might be willing to help you work through the problem.

2. Gateway to other opportunities- Networking enables you to learn about opportunities for learning and growth in your industry.  Some of the many include conferences, webinars, books and other resources.

3. Getting away from the desk- Couple the fresh air with a healthy discussion about what’s going on in your company or industry and you have a recipe to breathe fresh life into your work and your company.  I return from every customer service hike inspired and equipped with a bunch of ways to do my job better.

What are your favorite ways to network with other professionals in your line of work?  If you’re into customer service and you’re ever in San Diego, give me a call and we’ll go on a customer service hike!

Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Service at Phone.com with 13+ years experience as a customer service professional. He is also the co-founder and regular contributor on Communicate Better Blog. Jeremy ranked #85 on the Top 100 Most Social Customer Service Pros on Twitter by the Huffington Post in 2013. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ YouTube 

Do It Right For Your Customer, Even If It Means Canceling

wpid-photo-nov-11-2011-1228-pmMy pup, Miso, is a member of the PetSmart Banfield (@Banfield) Wellness program. The program is designed to cover shots and vet visits plus discounts on flea treatments and medications. Miso and I are pretty happy with this program–the vets are friendly, he remains healthy and I don’t have to worry. Plus, my pocketbook stays full since it’s fairly inexpensive. What also makes this program wonderful for constant movers like me is that it’s located within Petsmart. And, there is a Petsmart in just about every town.  When I moved from San Diego to Philadelphia, it was so easy to change his “home hospital” to the local store. The price per month stayed the same as well.

Then, I moved from Philadelphia to New York City.

I knew I’d only be in NYC for one year but I still felt it was a safe idea to change his “home hospital” to the Manhattan location.  Sadly, the positive service levels Miso and I knew and appreciated took a downward spiral. However, it was one year so I pushed through it.

Flash forward to Miso’s final check up at the NYC store. They tell me, “Your plan will be increasing on your annual renewal date because you changed your home hospital to our store.

Oh, I wasn’t aware of this. How much of an increase?

“Well, we charge about double here in NYC. You’ll pay almost $28 more for the same service.”

“WHAT? Why wasn’t I told about this before? What can I do?”

“No clue why you were not told, sorry. Better call our customer support to help you. We can’t change our prices.”

Since I was left with no help, I reached out to their call center and spoke to a woman who was very attentive and kind. She told me flat out the best thing I could do would be to…

C A N C E L. 

Yes, she told me to cancel. She cannot modify the pricing either, since I don’t have a new home hospital set up yet and doesn’t want me to stress about paying extra when I have already moved from that location.

She then assured me that, even if I cancel, Miso’s paperwork will still stay on file.

Then, once I move and find Miso a new “home hospital”, they can restart the service at the lower cost again, pull up his file and go from there .

So, I cancelled.

While I was pretty disappointed in having to cancel, I was thankful for their honesty. And, for not being stuck in paying extra for something when I didn’t have to.

We do everything for our customers. We have their best interest in the forefront of our minds. And, if it means helping them cancel due to things out of our control, then we’ll do it. We want the service to work FOR our customer, not against them. Making an unhappy customer remain with us and not doing anything about it will only fuel them to them RUN at the first break in the fence.

PetSmart did a great job helping customize the experience to meet my specific needs. For that, Miso and I will continue to be customers.

Jenny is the Customer Success Manager for Phone.com with almost a decade of customer service experience. She is co-founder and a regular contributor on Communicate Better Blog.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ YouTube 

 

 

4 Ways To Stop Scaring The $#!@ Out Of Your Customers

dangerOn a recent walk through my neighborhood with my kids and dog, a sign in a front yard caught my attention.  The sign (pictured) read, “Area Dangerous To Animals.”

As a parent and dog owner, this sign was enough to set off alarm bells in my head.  What are the potential dangers I should watch out for?

Are there land mines buried in the front yard?

Is the soil laced with poison– perhaps a corrosive, flesh-eating chemical?

Is this some sort of quicksand? 

Is the danger limited to animals or does it apply to humans as well?

Those are just some of the thoughts that raced through my head when I read this sign.  Can you see how just a bit of clarification to this message could either put my fears to rest or prompt me to make alternate plans on my family walks?

Now think for a moment about how we talk to our customers and the messages that we send to them.  In many cases, the customers you are serving have significant amounts of time, money and sweat invested in their business.  So any message that threatens their ability to do business may be enough to send them into a panic.  It’s critical that you only put your customers on alert when it’s absolutely necessary.

Here are four ways to ensure that you communicate clearly with your customers:

1. Always put yourself in your customer’s shoes-  When communicating a message to a customer, ask yourself, “How does this impact my customer?” and speak directly to those potential concerns.

2. Ask what they understood-  Give your customers the opportunity to share what they understood from your message and voice any questions or concerns they might have.

3. Listen to your customers-  You are ALWAYS listening.  Whether it’s on the phone, email, chat, social media, or a survey, customers are voicing their concerns and questions.  Commit to daily listen to them and find ways to communicate better.

4. Watch out on your automated communications-  Are you offending customers with automated emails.  It is critical that automated communications be read and reread to ensure they fit the company voice and address any possible concerns that might be raised by the reader.  Otherwise, you’re guaranteed to receive a panicked phone call from a customer.  It also helps to make sure your front line staff is aware of those automated messages so they know what the customer is talking about when they call!

Remember the way a customer feels about your company is critical to their loyalty to your brand.  Scaring the $#!@ out of them or otherwise sending them into a panic is not the way create loyal customers.

Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Service at Phone.com with 13+ years experience as a customer service professional. He is also the co-founder and regular contributor on Communicate Better Blog. Jeremy ranked #85 on the Top 100 Most Social Customer Service Pros on Twitter by the Huffington Post in 2013. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ YouTube 

Coffee And Customer Service With Doug Sandler

dougsandlerIn today’s Coffee and Customer Service Hangout, we had the fantastic privilege of talking customer service with DJ, Professional Nice Guy and Customer Service Expert, Doug Sandler.  In the hangout we discussed his philosophy as a DJ and the way he uses customer service to delight his customers.  This has spun off into a speaking career where he shares his Nice Guy 30 Challenge with other companies.

Don’t miss out on this inspiring hangout with a truly gifted communicator and customer service expert!  Also, be sure to checkout his website and subscribe to his blog at DougSandler.com.

Cultivating Fantastic Customer Experiences – Part 3

cultivate3In part one of this series, Nate Brown (@CustomerIsFirst) talks about putting the focus on the employee experience to benefit the customer experience.

Then, Jeremy (@jtwatkin) follows up in part two with his “poomatoes” and how fertile soil can grow toxic cultures.

And now, here I am to roll it all together. Or, something like that.

I have little to no experience in gardening. I gave up before I even began. I over water and under nourish every plant I try to grow, even when I follow the instructions on the tag! So why even bother?

When I was a child though, we had a garden in our backyard. It was my responsibility to “harvest” some of the vegetables that my younger sister and I planted. One day, after school, I was in the garden, picking carrots out of the dirt. One particular carrot was jammed in there pretty good and was tough to get out, so I began digging in the dirt beside it. As I’m digging, I hit what appeared to be an air pocket in the soil. Out crawls a giant, hairy wolf spider from it’s cozy den that I just destroyed. I fell back and screamed as the spider scuttled away. I then ran inside to share the story with my sister, who never stepped foot into the garden again for fear of running into the spider.

So you see, even with a bounty of fresh vegetables to harvest, there will always be some unexpected gaps in the soil with creepy, crawly things ready to leap out at you. These are the holes and challenges in your company culture.

While you may not be able to prevent or predict what happens or when it happens, being prepared for those culture pits begins with having a strong, passionate team, working together, with the right tools for the job.

Because, when you encounter a surprise like that, it can leak over into your customer experience, possibly shying them away from doing business with you.

So how can you “mind the gap” in your company culture, keep everyone on the same page, including your customers, without everyone freaking out about what lurks below?

It’s not an easy job but sometimes we just have to step into the shoes of what we’re trying to grow!

Be the Carrot

A carrot grows underground with its green leaves sprouting out of the soil. As a leader, you have the tough job to keeping one ear to the ground and one to the sky. Being present and mindful about the culture that surrounds you helps you be ready for action when something goes awry.

Be the Sunflower

Sunflowers are the leaders that grow tall in the garden. Sunflowers turn and face the sun.  In the company culture, it’s important to have people who are focused on the greater vision and mission of the company so we are moving in the right direction. Their many seeds (of knowledge) are shared with the soil to grow more flowers or given as a snack to squirrels, birds or us humans. They don’t hold back! They are can grow together successfully as a group and they can grow successfully on their own, which is a huge part of building a strong relationship and culture (i.e. taking care of yourself to take care of others).

Be the Pumpkin

The pumpkin grows on the vine, together, with it’s pumpkin friends. Pumpkins are harvested and used for so many different things from scrumptious pie, to stage coaches to Jack-o-Lanterns. On a team, it’s important to acknowledge and appreciate the variety of unique qualities of each team member and what they bring to the garden.

Cultivating customer experience can be dirty business.  With so many obstacles (i.e. rocks, poomatos, wolf spiders, etc.) there will inevitably be moments you will want to throw in the towel.  Don’t give up.  The fruits of your labor will take shape in lasting customer loyalty…a treat cherished in any organization!

Jenny is the Customer Success Manager for Phone.com with almost a decade of customer service experience. She is co-founder and a regular contributor on Communicate Better Blog.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ YouTube 

Let’s Play: “Who Is Your Customer?”

shutterstock_135207236-1We all have customers but sometimes it’s not as obvious WHO they are. And, sometimes you have more than ONE set of customers. I’m not putting the answers for you but would love to hear your responses! So, get ready…it’s time to play:

 

 

 

Who Is Your Customer?

  • You work in the IT department and work on client escalations given to you from customer service agents on the front lines. Who Is Your Customer?
  • You flip hamburgers for a local fast food chain. You are handed the order, cook the burger per the instructions and then send to the “topping” team to put the finishing touches on. Who Is Your Customer?
  • You work with a team of mechanics to repair diesel trucks dropped off by local transport companies. Who Is Your Customer?
  • You are a photographer for an elementary school portrait company. Who Is Your Customer?
  • You are a veterinarian for a local zoo. Who Is Your Customer?
  • You are an actress working with a cast on a TV show. Who Is Your Customer?

There are so many unsuspecting roles we play in our jobs and customers that we have, internally within our company and those that are outside of the company, purchasing our product or service. Can you think of more situations of figuring out who your customer is?

Jenny is the Customer Success Manager for Phone.com with almost a decade of customer service experience. She is co-founder and a regular contributor on Communicate Better Blog.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ YouTube 

Flaunt That BIG Personality!

hamitupLast Sunday I completed the America’s Finest City Half Marathon.  It’s a beautiful San Diego race from Cabrillo National Monument, along the harbor, and ending in Balboa Park.  All participants are required to park at Balboa Park before 6am and take a bus to the starting line.

Due to the early hour and perhaps the nerves of the impending race, the bus ride is generally very quiet–that is until Pam the Ham came along.  Pam was our bus driver on Sunday and made it very clear that this would not be the typical, quiet bus ride.  From the get go, she used her outgoing personality to encourage passengers to enjoy their upcoming race.  Her style truly left her passengers, AKA customers, with a smile on their faces.

People with outspoken, outgoing personalities are truly at an advantage in customer service.  I’m here to tell people like Pam the Ham that regardless of what anyone says, they have the gift of an outgoing personality and should absolutely use it to their advantage when working with customers and coworkers.

Customer service professionals come in as many different shapes and sizes as the people they serve — and each must use their unique strengths and abilities in order to thrive.  That’s just a fact.  For those of you who have BIG personalities, you have a gift.  Flaunt it!

Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Service at Phone.com with 13+ years experience as a customer service professional. He is also the co-founder and regular contributor on Communicate Better Blog. Jeremy ranked #85 on the Top 100 Most Social Customer Service Pros on Twitter by the Huffington Post in 2013. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ YouTube