Customer Service: Pretty Please Get it Right the First Time

fragile

This article was published on the Glance blog on August 20, 2015.  Click here to read the original post.

The move

I recently had the privilege of moving my family from Southern California to the beautiful state of Oregon. While I’m excited to be here, the word “privilege” might be a bit too strong.  Moving is hard work and for each child that enters the equation, it becomes exponentially more difficult. I happen to have three.

As I reflect on the process of moving, one of the biggest decisions is the selection of a moving company. In an effort to be fiscally responsible, I selected one of those moving companies where they drop off a trailer, I pack it, they pick it up, and deliver it to the destination for me to unload.

The wrong number

When it came time to deliver the trailer, the driver couldn’t find my home. Upon trying to call me, he had a wrong number.  When they finally got ahold of me, they found that both my address and cell phone numbers had been entered into the system incorrectly by their customer service. I was able to work with a friendly customer service representative to get that updated.

That’s not the end of the story, however. I hired a subcontractor of theirs to help me unload the trailer at our new home. When they tried to call me to set up an appointment, they couldn’t reach me because my cell phone was again incorrect in the system.

Get it right the first time

In retrospect, we made it to our destination, along with our stuff, and it was rather uneventful. There’s still a valuable customer service lesson to be learned here. When working with customers, it’s so easy for information to be misinterpreted or simply entered incorrectly. That’s why it’s so critical to take the extra few moments to repeat back what you heard to the customer.

Think about it for a moment. A simple line like, “Let me repeat back your telephone number to make sure I entered it correctly” could have saved 2-3 additional calls to customer service. Awesome customer service is about delivering value to your customers. That value starts with getting it right the first time so your customers AND colleagues don’t have to spend extra time correcting errors.

Get it right the first time and you will save time, money, and customers.

Jeremy Watkin is the Head of Quality at GoFCR.com, the most disruptive and respected outsource provider. He has more than 15 years of experience as a customer service professional. He is also the co-founder and regular contributor on Communicate Better Blog. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

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You Don’t Water Your Car On The Grass?

Photo Credit: Davide Restivo – Creative Commons License http://bit.ly/1h1OP6D

Photo Credit: Davide Restivo – Creative Commons License http://bit.ly/1h1OP6D

This post originally appeared on the FCR blog on August 21, 2015.  Click here to read the article.

We are in the midst of quite a drought here on the west coast.  I just moved to Oregon and it’s been so hot and dry that I’ve stopped believing all of the people who say it rains all the time here.

I adopted a practice where I pull my car onto the grass to wash it.  When you think about water as this precious resource, the fact that I can get two uses out of every drop is a great idea.  Clean car plus green grass equals water and money saved.

I didn’t really give the practice a second thought until one of my new neighbors walked by and remarked, “Wow, what a great idea.”  I think I responded with something like “Yup, that’s how we roll in California.”

All kidding aside, it got me thinking about life in customer service–only in customer service, or more specifically, the contact center, the resource is time.  It’s been a while since I was on the front lines so when I observe my colleagues at FCR, I’m amazed at their resourcefulness.  They are experts at useful shortcuts on their computers and streamlining processes in order to minimize the amount of time spent typing and maximize time spent making real, meaningful, and empathetic connections with customers.

In a contact center where there are KPIs to meet and always more customers waiting to be served, time is of the essence.  On top of that, they must be efficient while delivery the utmost quality?  To some this might seem impossible.  To a colleague at FCR, this often calls for MacGyver-like resourcefulness– and the great ones are more than equal to the challenge.

Be resourceful. Constantly seek ways to be more efficient without sacrificing the quality of the service you provide.

Jeremy Watkin is the Head of Quality at GoFCR.com, the most disruptive and respected outsource provider. He has more than 15 years of experience as a customer service professional. He is also the co-founder and regular contributor on Communicate Better Blog. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

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Called Up To The Majors

Photo Credit: Albert Yau – Used with Creative Commons permission: http://bit.ly/1KwMb00

Photo Credit: Albert Yau – Used with Creative Commons permission: http://bit.ly/1KwMb00

This post first appeared on the First Call Resolution blog.  Click here to read the original.

I grew up in the wonderful city of Rancho Cucamonga, California.  In Cucamonga we were pretty proud of our Quakes, a single A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels.  That’s minor league baseball if you’re not tracking with me.  One of the cool things about minor league baseball is that you get to watch young players grow up before your very eyes.  The ones that develop well at each level eventually get called up to the big leagues.

One interesting thing that often occurs in this progression is that where a player might have batted with a .350 average in single A, they might only bat .260 in the majors– which is actually a respectable average.  The reason for this is that the level of talent and competition increases at each level.  The great players work extremely hard constantly to improve their game.

I was recently afforded an opportunity to leave a role as a Customer Service Director and join FCR (formerly First Call Resolution), one of the most respected outsourcers in the business.  In several years at Phone.com, I was part of an amazing team and helped build a reputation for awesome customer service.  Now I am going to work for a customer service company that is chock-full of customer service talent, working closely with the top customer service talent from a variety of companies.  This isn’t a perfect analogy because I’m not actually going from the minors to the majors, but being in a customer service role, I’m going to work for a company whose chief purpose is customer service.  Get my drift?

Needless to say, I feel a little bit like that guy that just got called up to the big leagues and is stepping up to the plate for the first time to face Felix Hernandez (or some other star pitcher).  I have butterflies in my stomach along with some mixture of fear and excitement.  I recently heard someone say:

Butterflies are a good thing.  It means you’re still in the game.

There’s something that happens when your level of competition and responsibility changes or increases.  You’re forced to either step up your game or quit.  Should you choose to step up your game, your competition will compel you to be better.  It’s that whole iron sharpening iron thing that happens.

From a customer service standpoint, that’s where I’m at.  I’m thrilled, scared, and humbled all at the same time to be a part of an awesome customer service organization, facing new competition where I have no choice but to step up my game.  Play ball!

Jeremy Watkin is the Head of Quality at GoFCR.com, the most disruptive and respected outsource provider. He has more than 15 years of experience as a customer service professional. He is also the co-founder and regular contributor on Communicate Better Blog. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

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A Customer Experience To Chomp On

dentist-hand-holding-a-syringe-making-a-numb-shot-for-woman-patient-horizontal-shot-e1390035989666I’m proud to say that I made it to my early 30s with absolutely NO cavities!

[APPLAUSE]

I do however have a few teeth with receding gum lines. Ick!

But, dental magicians can take care of this in no time!

It required me to receive some giant shots in my gums to numb my mouth. Ouch!

Then, they painted on a substance then proceed to ground down on this substance as it dried. The process took about 20 minutes total.

As I was leaving, they only told me to not drink anything dark (wine, soda, coffee, etc.) for the next 24 hours. Easy enough!

By the time I left my appointment, it was lunch time. I didn’t eat breakfast and I was ready to dive into a tasty salad.

I am at home, eating my Whole Foods salad bar to-go salad and enjoying every bite.

I found it slightly hard to chew on my left side as it was still completely numb. So, I just chewed on my right.

I am chomping down when I start to taste blood.

I realize that my left lip was completely numb and while I was munching on my salad, I was munching on my own lip at the same time.

Looking into the mirror, I found my entire left lip torn apart from my ravenous chewing. Still numb, I could not feel the pain. It wore off later and well, that was SO MUCH FUN!

Why did I just put you through this lovely scene?

The attention to detail on the AFTER situation was definitely not addressed.

We may help our customers with the present situation but if we’re not proactive about after we send them on their way, they may chomp down on some gnarly situations.

Ok, ok…so common sense should have been put into place by my own brain. But, I had not experienced a numb mouth like this before and just didn’t know what to expect.

Customers may not always know what to expect AFTER they leave your helping hands. 

The dentist office may have just assumed that I’d know I shouldn’t really eat anything until the numbing wore off. Or, that I should be mindful of the location of my teeth when biting down on my lunch. But, they didn’t. And, while they were amazingly detailed during the visit, it’s the after visit that left me with a swollen and sore lip, which I’ll always remember more so than the friendly visit.

So–keep this in mind the next time you’re working with a customer. Before you send them on their way, what are some problems, no matter how small and silly they may seem, they may encounter later on? How can YOU help prevent a gnarly situation?

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

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The Difference Between Good And Awesome #Custserv

The Extra Mile Just Ahead Green Road Sign Over Dramatic Clouds and Sky.A colleague of mine recently shared an experience with me that perfectly illustrates the difference between good and awesome customer service.  Read these two scenarios and ponder which you prefer.

Good Service

He recently had a new garage door installed.  The installer properly installed the door and it worked perfectly.  The door noticeably had handprints all over it.  The installer let my colleague know that these could easily be washed off.

Awesome Service

He had a new garage door installed.  The installer properly installed the door and it worked perfectly.  The door looked perfect because the installer went the extra mile and cleaned off any dirt and handprints.

We would all prefer the awesome service, right?  My colleague merely received the good service, which meant he had to chip in some of his own legwork to get the job done.  My good friend Shep Hyken defines amazing customer service as being consistently above average.

In this case, cleaning the garage door is above average.  Go that extra step that makes your service above average and your customers will notice the difference and tell their friends about it.

Jeremy Watkin is the Head of Quality at GoFCR.com, the most disruptive and respected outsource provider. He has more than 15 years of experience as a customer service professional. He is also the co-founder and regular contributor on Communicate Better Blog. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

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Flaunt That Pizzazz

shootingstarOver the past several weeks, I’ve been in the process of preparing to move and getting my house ready to sell. That’s code for trip after trip to Home Depot. I’m my case, several things at my house decided to break right before we moved which only increased the number of Home Depot trips.

I’ve written several posts about Home Depot in the past.  In the good ones, I named the company and in the negative ones I didn’t.  On one recent trip, I was lucky to encounter K.L., one of the brightest customer service stars I’ve ever encountered.  Let me tell you a bit about the encounter.

I had my kids with me as I approached the checkout counter and K.L. immediately engaged them.  He invited my son to come stand with him behind the counter and scan our items.  He was engaged, overwhelmed and delighted all at the same time.

I noticed K.L.’s name tag said he was fluent in Japanese.  I told him my son was also fluent (jokingly).  K.L. proceeded to rattle off several phrases in Japanese, making the experience absolutely amazing.

K.L. is one of those customer service professionals with personality, or pizzazz, coming out of his ears.  That is a talent and a gift of which few people (including yours truly) are blessed with.

The message of this post is very simple.  If you are like K.L. and have more pizzazz than you know what to do with, flaunt it.  Channel it in such a way that you leave your customers thrilled when they walk out the door.  Customer service leaders, you probably have people like this on your team.  Don’t be afraid to let them shine brightly.

Jeremy Watkin is the Head of Quality at GoFCR.com, the most disruptive and respected outsource provider. He has more than 15 years of experience as a customer service professional. He is also the co-founder and regular contributor on Communicate Better Blog. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

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3 Mindful Tips For Small Business Success

imagesBeing a small business is all the rage! And, for good reasons:

  • You are your own boss
  • Working your own hours
  • Working from home
  • Hand crafting a company out of your passion

But, being a small business is tough. Staying competitive isn’t easy. Advertising and marketing your business correctly takes time and knowledge. Money is hard to come by, especially if you’re working another full time job to make sure bills are still paid. There are some great ways to obtain a loan, such as through Kabbage.com, a friendly small business focused company that helps simplify the process to allow companies to succeed in their goals.

3 Mindful Tips For Small Business Success

1. Remove The Word “Can’t” From Your Vocabulary

If every business owner, large and small, said “I can’t do it!” then we’d have less businesses out there to shop from. Begin by modifying your self talk by removing the word “can’t” from your vocabulary. Be realistic about what you can do and search for alternatives when you are unable to find an easy solution. This simple act will open the doors to more opportunities than you can ever imagine. Do not give up!

2. Fill Your Plate Effectively

Life is a buffet and you choose what you put on your plate. Plan on being busy. Very busy. You’re trying to get your business of the ground, after all! Use your minutes wisely. With so much going on in trying to organize and create your company, managing your time is going to become the most difficult yet most important thing you do. Begin to look at your tasks from the priority perspective–what do you need to do first and foremost? Learn from experts, like Jeff Toister, who offers time management advice on his blog. If you feel you really can’t do anything at all because you’re so busy, promise me that, at the very least, you’ll set aside 30 minutes a day to read The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey if you haven’t already.

3. Put Kindness First

A small business has a lot of competition, mainly from larger companies. One simple act will set your business apart from the rest: acts of kindness! When customers come to you, they are making a choice to do so. Treat them with the utmost respect and put yourself in their shoes when problems arise. Going above and beyond for your customer can make or break a business. When others get word of the amazing service your company offers, they will flock to you and the dollar signs will follow. Research customer service gurus, such as Shep Hyken, who gives important insight into the power of creating an amazing experience for your customer. Or, Doug Sandler, who shows you that being nice can get you anywhere in the business world.

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

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3 Ways To Not Stumble In Customer Service

My sneaks looked like this!

My sneaks looked like this!

I am 13 years old. I love the Spice Girls. With a brand new pair of platform sneakers on my feet, funded through hours of baby sitting, I venture from home to the school bus stop. In my town, we do not have side walks; we have horse trails. I feel a sense of hipness, like I might have a chance of being cool for one day with these new shoes, as I cruise down the trail.

My backpack is filled with textbooks and must weigh upwards of 20 to 30 pounds. I’m running late and pick up speed on the horse trail toward the bus.

I miss the dip in the dirt as I’m moving along nearer to the stop when my right platform shoe twists sideways. I do not fall forward but rather, my heavy backpack carries me backward, flat onto the dirt.

The bus stop is full of my peers. I lay on the trail and stare at the sky, wishing I could just fly upwards and hide among the clouds. Instead, I pick myself up, with my now dirty platform sneaks and walk with my head down to the group. They laugh. The bus arrives. Off to school we go!

It’s when we think we’re being the coolest that we most often overlook the important things.

In customer service, we can be really, really good at our jobs but if we’re not paying attention to the holes on our trail, we’re going to stumble. We’re going to miss opportunities to create an amazing experience for the customer.

3 Ways To Not Stumble In Customer Service

Mind The Gap!

You may know your product inside and out but you’re seeing it through your own eyes, not the eyes of your newly signed up customer. Take a step back and see your product the way they are seeing it. What is leading to their confusion? How can you explain this process to them in a way that allows them to understand? What feedback can you give to your development team to help make the product better? By minding the learning gap, you are single handedly closing the gap for the future.

Watch Out!

Moving too quickly, without considering what lies in front of you will cause you to land on your back, like I did in those platform shoes. As a customer service specialist, you must watch where you are going but also watch where the customer is going. They do not know your service as well as you do just yet and are relying on you for hand holding. Pay attention and guide accordingly!

Get Uncomfortable!

If you normally wear flat shoes then suddenly stuff your feet into a pair of platform sneakers, you may not be able to walk correctly. They may look fantastic and you may feel like Ginger Spice, but to your customer, you just look like you don’t know what you’re doing. Now, I’m not saying don’t wear platform sneakers (hey, I ended up living in those things for a couple years), but I’m saying, if you do–be prepared for uncomfortable feet. If your business releases a flashy new product and you’re not quite ready for it, it’s going to be awkward. Prepare your team through training before setting them out on the run way.

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

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The Chickens Never Saw It Coming

Me and my favorite hen, 1998

Me and my favorite hen, 1998

I would like to preface this post by saying that no chickens were hurt. Ever. I loved those birds and simply wanted to have fun.

Now that PETA can lay off my back, I will continue to share my story.

Two words:

Chicken Bowling

It was my job to feed the chickens in the morning. I scooped out a coffee can full of seeds and throw it out on the dirt for all the chickens to munch on. The birds made happy clucking noises as they venture over to eat their breakfast.

As the birds gathered for their meal, I would go find the soccer ball that my sister and I would kick around on the lawn.

Then, I would pick up the soccer ball with my hands, swing my arms and roll the ball right into the center of the flock of breakfasting birds.

They would squawk wildly and jump into the air as the ball rolled right through their close knit circle.

Full of giggles, I’d wake up the neighborhood with the commotion.

This is another story I tell to others that usually returns awkward laughs from those who are not sure if they really should be laughing at such a thing.

But, if we can take anything away from this, it is:

  • Chicken bowling is a unique game that you should only play if you go hug each and every chicken afterward. And, give them extra food as an apology.
  • There is fun around every corner, just be creative! Even when you’re stuck feeding fowl before school in the mornings and you end up walking to the bus smelling like a chicken coop.
  • Anyone who has never had chickens is totally missing out and will most likely not understand this story.

Does this have anything to do with customer service? Perhaps! Does this have everything to do with communicating another story from my unique childhood? Absolutely!

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

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When Pigs Fly In Customer Service

pigsflyThe last baby goose at the local feed store went home with my sister and I, as a gift from the owner. More likely, it was a “let me get rid of this crazy goose to whomever will take it” sort of thing. We thought it was a boy and named it Bert the Goose. This lasted about 6 months until Bert the Goose laid an egg. Her name remained Bert.

Snuffy the pig was a rescue. He was so overweight his stomach dragged on the ground and flaps of fat fell over his eyes. He clearly was an unhappy yet friendly fellow.

My sister and I grew up with these two creatures. The relationship with Bert the Goose varied as she calmly let us pet her soft feathers then would chase after us, beak open, and bite our Achilles tendon until she left her mark to teach us who is boss. Snuffy became part of our playtime. We’d swing on the swing set and Snuffy would wander around, practically blind, underneath us. We’d grab his tusks gently and hold up the skin around his eyes to help him see.

One morning, I was sent to collect eggs from the chicken coop and I noticed both Bert and Snuffy were no where to be seen.

I peered into Snuffy’s pen and saw Bert the goose tucked in next to him as they both slept soundly. Weeks went on and these two were inseparable. A pig and a goose, moving everywhere together around the yard, cuddling at night and seemingly, quite content together and clearly in love. My mother would joke, “Here are the two that will make the saying, “When pigs fly” a reality”.

There are unlikely stories all around us. Customers approach us with the most unbelievable situations and it is our job to listen. Sometimes, we may not believe it and other times, we just give them the benefit of the doubt.

And, sometimes, the unlikely resolutions come from our side. We invent creative solutions to something that never seemed possible, making for the happiest of customers.

But, we must remember if a pig and a goose can fall in love, anything can happen.

When Pigs Fly In Customer Service

  • Listen to your customer’s story

Their story may be absolutely bat poo crazy, but can you simply just listen to your customer? Taking the time to listen to the story not only makes for a great story to share with your team later on, but it gives the customer a sense of trust–they can trust you to listen and take them seriously, despite the situation. When I tell people the story of Bert the Goose and Snuffy the Pig, I’m given a look of pure craziness and disbelief. Does this surprise you?

  • Find creative solutions

It is my hope that you reading this are empowered by your employer to develop creative solutions to problems that your customers have. Being able to hand craft these resolutions, custom to the situation, gives you more control and also gives your customer more power to believe in your business. We ended up enlarging the pen for Bert and Snuffy, as well as cushioning it with more stray, to give them more space to sprawl out comfortably when sleeping at night.

  • Don’t Doubt Yourself

Don’t doubt for one minute that you can’t help your customer. Don’t doubt that you don’t have the solution for your customer. With Bert and Snuffy, their relationship was so unique we were not sure exactly how to react, but we allowed it to be as it is and to allow them to love just as they wanted and needed to. We were confused, yes, but we didn’t doubt ourselves and take this away from them. I hope you don’t do the same for your customer, who has approached you to help fix their issues.

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

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