Posted tagged ‘Customer Service’

The Power of Social Media and Customer Service

August 23, 2009

This past week I had a pretty crazy travel schedule.  Stuck in Chicago O’Hare airport I decided to get some work done while waiting for my flight.  Searching for the local wireless network I tried to log into www.boingo.com for the local hotspot.  For whatever reason, I couldn’t connect to get their daily service.

So, doing what any Twitter addict would do, I pulled out my BlackBerry phone and using TwitterBerry I tweeted out my sad tale: “Boingo wireless works everywhere in the Chicago airport, except where I am!”  They made me feel much better.  But the real feel good came a few minutes later.

About ten minutes after my sad tweet, I got a DM (direct message) from Boingo on Twitter asking me to call their number and they would hook me up!  Now that is cool!  I happily Tweeted this sudden change of events out to my followers, praising Boingo for excellent service and for paying attention.

What a great lesson for all of us.  Keyword search your business name on Twitter to see what others are saying, and then empower your team to respond and make a difference.  Next time I need wireless in the Chicago airport, you bet I will give Boingo first crack at it.

The power of social media lives on.  Now this happy tale is a blog post and will be Tweeted out again and again.  It is even likely that others will link to the post and spread the news as a great example of how social media can work for you.  All because Boingo decided to pay attention and empower their people.

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The Recession Attitude

August 14, 2009

I was traveling this week and had the pleasure of spending some time in the airport.  We only had about 20 minutes to make it from security to our gate and I needed to grab some food since I was on the back of the plane.  I stopped and picked up a pre-packaged salad, some water, and some nuts.  Luckily, I was the only one in line.

I say “luckily” because the dude serving me was in no hurry!  In fact, all he had to do was take my money as I had brought all of the stuff from the self-serve display (oh, he did hand me the salad dressing).  Looking at him, I realized it was also my job to grab one of the bags left on the counter and bag my own food.

Walking away from the counter I started to think.  In this tough economy does any company have to employ somebody with a lousy attitude?  I think not!  As customers we should be getting the best service of our lives right now.  If you work for a company, or own your own, think hard about this – there is a long line of people who would love to have your job or work for you.  Don’t settle for adequate competence and a bad attitude.

If you are hunting for a job right now and you have the good fortune of an interview, make sure you focus on both your competence and your attitude (you could even mention this post!), and how you are focused on solving their problems and their customers’ problems.  So many people have caught the Recession Attitude of PLOM (Poor Little Old Me) Disease that you can really separate yourself by having the attitude of gratitude!

Like Dad says, “The bad thing about pity parties is that very few people attend and those who do don’t bring presents!” – Zig Ziglar

Zappos – Hope for Us All!

July 6, 2009

I saw a great news report on Zappos by Nightline.  Zappos is pretty much the world leader in online shoe sales, and gaining ground in other areas as well.  They do this by giving outstanding customer service, and by making the customer feel 100% at ease with purchasing online.

Normally, buying shoes is all about trying on many pairs and styles until you find the right fit.  Ordering them online can be dangerous and a hassle.  Zappos makes it hassle-free by giving free shipping, and free shipping again if you need to return them, and you get one full year to return for a full refund.  That’s awesome!

Zappos also takes incredible care of their employees.  Everyone goes through an extensive training program and everyone gets cross-trained so that they understand the big picture.  Plus, they get incredible benefits, like free food at the company cafeteria and free food from vending machines at their offices.  Now that is cool, but I also think it is unfair (I will explain the unfair part in a minute).

Clearly, the Zappos business model is all about winning by treating both their customers and their employees in a fantastic way.  The more they sell, the lower the prices and the better the service can be.  Happy customers translate into profits and Zappos then puts that back into employee benefits and training, resulting in even better customer service and more happy customers.

Now for the unfair part.  I think it is really unfair that only the employees get the benefit of the free food.  I mean, there are a lot of hungry people in the world, and some of them are even their customers. Since Zappos is number one in online shoe sales, they are clearly big enough to be able to afford letting anyone who is hungry join their employees in the company cafeteria (they could even put vending machines on the outside of their offices to make it easier).

I know some of you are thinking I have lost my mind!  You are thinking, “Now wait a minute, Ziglar, those employees worked for those benefits, and there is no way that Zappos can feed everyone, it will put them out of business!  And if they go out of business, then everyone loses; the company owners, the employees, and the customers.”

Ok, so you caught me in a little trick.  Don’t worry.  Zappos is pretty smart and will not let that happen.  I even have some information that Zappos has established border security and an official checkpoint for visitors.  It seems you can’t just wander in to Zappos HQ and chow down unless you are invited.  They understand that their best chance of feeding the hungry is by staying in business.

When Things Go Badly

February 14, 2009

Dad says that when things go badly we have a choice: we can either respond or react.  Yesterday we had the opportunity to live our philosophy (respond) or just have a meltdown  (react), with hundreds of paying customers on a  live webinar.  The short story is we had several major technical issues at the beginning of the webinar that prevented our customers from hearing what we were saying.  After about 15 frustrating minutes we got it figured out and the quality improved, but it still did not meet our standards.

Following is a real time customer interaction I had with Tim Miller.  I didn’t know Tim before yesterday, but Tim represents our “ideal” prospect. He is a sales manager and he had his whole sales team on the call.  This compounds the issue: not only does Ziglar look bad, but we make Tim look bad in front of his people.  OUCH!

As you read the interaction below (I hope you feel my pain!) you may be wondering why I am sharing it with you.  Well, we are not perfect.  We have issues just like everyone else.  But we have learned that how you handle the issues and treat people in the process really does determine how well you do in business and in life.

Check out Tim’s first email to me.

From: Tim Miller
Sent: Thursday, February 12, 2009 10:57 AM
To: Tom Ziglar
Subject: webinar

Sir,

After gathering our entire sales staff to listen to and view the webinar to be presented by Bryan Flanagan, we were greeted with a continuous series of “technical difficulties” throughout the entire program.  We couldn’t hear anyone to start the program, then finally we were able to do that (quite late, I might add).  Then the slides to match the speaker were a hodge-podge of ineptitude – sometimes they would come up, sometimes not at all, they wouldn’t follow the speaker, etc. – it was very pathetic.  Despite it being suggested that we “write this down,” it was very difficult to do since the slides either didn’t change at all or flipped back and forth to slides that weren’t even part of what was being presented at that moment.

This was not at all the performance I’ve come to expect from the Zig Ziglar Corporation.  The sales training content was good and applicable, but was almost negated by the fact that the extremely poor presentation was so distracting.

The first webinar of which we took part in January was well done.  However, if this is the type of performance that will continue with these, it is a waste of our $7 and time.  From what we were able to read via the Live Chat feature, we weren’t the only ones experiencing these difficulties.

Regards,

Tim Miller, Sales Manager

My response to Tim

From: Tom Ziglar
Sent: Thursday, February 12, 2009 11:58 AM
To: Tim Miller
Subject: RE: webinar
Tim, we know and you are right.  Just sent this info out.  I apologize,

Our Pain is Your Gain – Because of the technical difficulties at the start of today’s webinar we are refunding everyone their full amount and we will be sending everyone the MP3 download and the transcript for free.

One of Dad’s best quotes is “Anything worth doing, is worth doing poorly until you learn to do it well.”  I never liked that quote, but it is true.  Unfortunately, we have had some serious growing pains with our webinar platforms (today is our third one since we started) and we are just as frustrated as you.  I apologize for this and ask you for your understanding.

Learning how to Embrace this new Struggle,

Tom Ziglar
Proud Son of Zig Ziglar (even on a tough day!)

Tim’s Response back to me

From: Tim Miller
Sent: Thursday, February 12, 2009 12:30 PM
To: Tom Ziglar
Subject: RE: webinar

Tom,

I appreciate the response and do also understand that things will go awry at times.  My question about the “worth doing poorly” part is in my experience I’ve found that a presentation done poorly will often eliminate the opportunity of doing the next one.

Our president is a big fan of your father, and he’s shared many of Zig’s insights with me.  I’ve found the wisdom, encouragement, and practical solutions to life in general to be quite interesting and helpful.

Thank you for approaching this issue in the manner that you did.

Best wishes,

Tim

My response back to Tim

From: Tom Ziglar
Sent: Thursday, February 12, 2009 1:35 PM
To: Tim Miller
Subject: RE: webinar
Yes, that’s why I don’t like the quote that much!  If you are going to do poorly, its better to do it in private!

Would it be ok if I use your emails in a blog?  We are hustling to make lemonade and perfect our current platform before Feb 19th when our next paid event is scheduled.  Pretty intense around here, as you can imagine.

Tim’s response back to me

From: Tim Miller
Sent: Thursday, February 12, 2009 12:51 PM
To: Tom Ziglar
Subject: RE: webinar

No problem on the blog – if it helps you out in any way.  I’m all for helping each other if we can.  Life is too short to do otherwise!  My only request would be that you take out the contact info.

I should say, as a high-end custom cabinet manufacturer, we know all about how issues and problems can develop, despite the best laid, detailed plans.  So I sympathize with the “pretty intense” through which you’re working right now. 🙂  To borrow a worn out cliché, “been there, done that.”

Have a great day!

Tim
__________________________________________

So there you have it!  We have gotten dozens of emails back thanking us for how we handled a tough situation.  I am confident the vast majority of our customers will give us another shot because our customers are the best in the world.

Next time you find yourself in a tough situation like this, focus on being transparent and doing what is right.  After all, isn’t that how you would want to be treated?

If you have had a similar experience that you had to deal with, would you mind sharing it with us?  Just leave a comment below.

Keeping customers informed of price increases and other not-so-good news

July 9, 2008

 With fuel and energy costs going up, so are prices on almost everything else.  I can’t think of many products or services that don’t require energy at some point! 

 

So when do you inform your customer, and how?

 

Most people hate passing on not-so-good news.  It’s never fun, especially when the news can turn around and cause you pain as well.  The answer to this question is fairly straightforward – if you were the one getting the bad news, when would you want to know it?

 

Most companies and people have plans in place that will be impacted by a price increase.  The sooner they get the news, and the easier it is for them to understand, and the longer they have to adjust, the better.  So tell them right away.  Most reasons you come up with to delay telling them benefit you, not them.