Category Archives: Customer Service

Shock & Awe

Surprise and DelightI’ve been reading Starbucks Experience by Joseph Michelli, and he points out one of the five key components of Starbucks’ success: Surprise & Delight.

When is the last time you genuinely surprised your customers? When is the last time you exceed the expectations of your clients?

Meeting expectations is expected. What can you do to positively shock the socks off of your customers?

The Name Game

I received an extremely pleasant surprise today at an Applebee’s in Phoenix.

As I entered, the hostess took my name and told me it would be about 10 minutes.  As predicted, I was seated within a few minutes, ate my meal, paid, and got up to leave. As I was walking toward the door, the hostess looked up and said, “Have a good day, Brett.”

I’ve never had a hostess remember my name like that. It made me feel a little special, and think a little higher of the place.

In other words, it was a simple thing that made a difference. I’m no master of remembering names, but when you do remember someone’s name, make sure you use it. Carnegie was right: it’s the sweetest sound we ever hear.

Similar Posts on Brett’s Blog:

Is Customer Service a Part of Marketing?

Customer Service is part of marketingJim posts about the alarming fall of the Chief Marketing Officer and the rise of the Chief Customer Officer in today’s business. Which only prompts the question -is Customer Service a part of Marketing?

I guess it depends on your definition of Marketing (or, more importantly, your company’s). If Marketing is advertising and promotions and graphics, then Customer Service probably doesn’t belong there. They just need to be equipped and prepared by Marketing.

Of course, since the above definition is not what Marketing is, then I think Customer Service will always work best when it answers directly to Marketing from an organizational standpoint. Because Marketing is about facilitating evangelism. Helping other people spread the word. Making people feel good just when they brush against your brand. Exceeding expectations whenever possible and fessing up and making up for it when you don’t.

And Customer Service can accomplish all of that. It’s ultimately a Marketing Function.

The idea of having a Chief Customer Officer is pretty humorous, but it shows how today’s businesses are groping and reaching for a way to succeed in a market when, more than ever, the customer really is always right.

Similar posts on Brett’s Blog:

  1. If You Can Think It . . . .
  2. Love Thy Customer

Is This Really What Facebook Wants?

Robert Scoble has been kicked out of Facebook. Regardless of the reasons, is it really wise to treat the owner of one of the most popular blogs on the web like everybody else with a quick policy response of “disable the account now, ask questions later?” Especially if he’s firmly got his hand on the pulse of all things tech?

Better question: is it smart to treat anyone with a “disable now, ask questions later” attitude? I think you know the answer.

Thank You, NFL Network

Thanks to Roger Goodell and the NFL Network for making tonight’s Pats/Giants game available for us simpletons. It’s the right move.

It’s the right move because it’s right for the fan. The NFL could very well be sacrificing revenue, DISH network subscriptions, the likelihood of cable networks picking it up and mere validity in the future. But they’ve done right by me, even though I had this to say about them a couple weeks ago. Tonight could be historic, and its right for all of us to celebrate together.

Thanks, NFL.

Lazy Email Marketing

This isn’t a case of bad customer service, but rather, just lazy marketing.

About 3 weeks ago, I purchased this Thomas Kinkade “Glory to the Newborn King” tabletop item for my wife via Collectibles Today. We received it last Friday, December 14, and everything’s great. She loves it, I’m a good husband, and we have a cool Christmas decoration.

Like most e-tailers, Collectibles Today started sending me emails after my order (which I gave them permission to do). No problems with that, until I received their promo email on Saturday, December 15. The call to action?

This Christmas, wouldn’t it be special for you and your family to experience the miracle of the Nativity in a whole new way? Now you can, with the FIRST-EVER Thomas Kinkade “Glory To The Newborn King” Nativity Tabletop Christmas Tree!

They’re asking me to purchase something that I’ve already purchased and just received from them the day before. I’m already “experiencing the miracle of the Nativity in a whole new way.”

The good thing is that Collectibles Today is staying in touch with me. The bad thing is I’m obviously just one of many emails they have, and they’re going to sell me what they want to sell me, not what I want to buy. This was the item of the day. It’s clear they haven’t paid attention to my order history, or at the very least, there’s a disconnect between marketing and order placement.

Here’s the point: take a few simple measures to be just a little bit more specific with your customer communication. Especially when it comes to email marketing. Clean up your database, focus your message and don’t give your customers a reason to think you’re being lazy.

And by all means, don’t waste your time convincing them to buy something they’ve already bought.

What the NFL Network and the iPhone Have in Common

NFL Network AdThe NFL Network and Apple both have one thing in common: they’re screwing their potential customers.

For the NFL Network, they’re only allowing their channel to be on the DISH Network, which most of us don’t have, and therefore most of us can’t watch this week’s Redskins/Bears game, or last week’s Cowboys/Packers game, or possibly the most historical game in NFL history when the Patriots take on the Giants on the last Thursday of the regular season to see if they can go 16-0.

Even though I had to hear Jerry Jones lobby for signing up for the DISH before his Cowboys took the field last Thursday, I have to think this kind of doing business is pissing more people off than it is generating new DISH customers. More importantly, it’s giving us all a sour taste of the NFL network and its new commissioner, turning them from possibly the last sports league that actually cares about its fans into the profit-hungry conglomerate that makes self-centered deals like this.

Then there’s Apple and its iPhone, sacking up with AT&T (at the time Cingular) as the only carrier of service for the new phone. Forget the fact that Apple’s discounting and apologies have taken a huge hit in the public the last few months. The fact that I’d have to possibly change carriers between now and 2011 just to get a cool phone is nothing shy of stupid. Pre-launch, Apple was on the verge of exploding. Why do they enforce these kinds of self-inflicted limiters when they didn’t need it?

In short, it’s cuz of money. More specifically, it’s cuz of money from someone other than their customers.

It’s always tempting to chase money from third-party services because you assume your loyal fans will do just about anything you ask them to. I’ve been a part of such schemes before. I’ve been in favor of them, in fact.

But they don’t work.

The simple principle is that your business should succeed because you’re offering more to your customers. Not by limiting them. Not by offering their loyalty to other “partner” companies. This is where the NFL and the iPhone is falling short, and they’ll keep falling until they change it.

If You Can Think It . . . .


Computer ThinkingYears ago, when I worked at AdvoCare, Donna Cash made a statement that has stuck with me ever since. Donna was certainly no computer whiz, but she had an attitude about what computers could do that should drive every business model.

“If you can think it, a computer can do it.”

Simple (many programmers are probably thinking too simple as they read this). But still profound.Too often, our business models are driven by our current processes. Our processes are often driven by the programs our networks and systems currently allow. It’s a really bad case of the tail wagging the dog, if you think about it.

I’ve had countless experiences where a coder or Java developer tells me that the checkout process online can’t be the way it needs to be because the system won’t allow it. I’ve had as many experiences from a database standpoint when a promotion or pricing structure is completely nixed because it would screw up our inventories. But if you can think of an end result, you have believe that there is a way to program it so your system likes it.

Yes, it might take money. It will definitely take time and work. And it will take brains. Hopefully, most programmers live for this moment rather than for ways to continue in the status quo.If your company is more in love with its own processes, inventory structure, databases, ecommerce capabilities, and everything in between more than it is its customers (and moving said inventory on a more regular basis), then failure is eminent.

The goal is to overwhelm where you are today with what you’ll do tomorrow. And this requires constant focus on what makes any business grow: the customers buying what you’re selling. So start thinking of ways to make that better. Cuz if you can think it . . . .

Love Thy Customer

The way you feel about your customers says a lot about how you feel about your current niche. Simplicity Rules says it much better than I can here.

It’s easy to think your clients don’t know what’s hip, what’s acceptable, what’s “real” design, what’s “real” marketing.

It’s easy to think down on them for not knowing these things.

But that’s a bad move, cuz they’ve asked you to help them figure it out. That doesn’t mean they’re just going to hand over the keys to the mansion and sit back and watch. Too many design firms and consultants think that’s what will happen.

But it won’t. And because it won’t, maybe part of your job is to hold their hand and guide them in the direction you think they should go. Gradually, and incrementally.

Maybe along the way, you’ll learn a thing or two about them, too.

Sales Tactics I Don’t Understand

Used Car SalesmanWho ever started the lie that these sales tactics work?

  • Why do used car salesmen think they have to yell at me in a dumb hick voice and tell me that “they don’t care how I git there, just git there.”
  • Why do furniture store salesmen lurk in the interior ‘circle’ of the store while you shop the perimeter of the store, popping up out of their ambush with a sniper’s attention the minute you pause for one second?
  • Why do cell phone kiosk salesmen in malls assault me every time I walk by, wanting to see my phone?
  • Why do charity telemarketers always tell me they are counting on my donation this year just like they did last year, even though I never donated last year?
  • Why do gym membership salesmen work on commission, when most people are looking for a gym that makes them comfortable, more than anything? (and there’s nothing more uncomfortable than spending time with most commissioned salespeople).
  • Why do Jehovah’s Witnesses keep showing up at my door even if I nicely tell them I’m not interested in changing religions today?

The sad thing is that most of the above tactics are based in a motivated form of trickery, aggression, lying or all of the above.