Monday, September 25, 2017

We are What We Eat, We are What We Serve Others

We've heard lots of such phrases in our life and they all seem to be true. When I first read “ we are what we tweet” a smile appeared on my face, but really, we share what we are interested in, we speak about things we are comfortable about, what makes us happy or disturbs us.
And the same refers to the service we deliver. If we are a great company, we serve our customers accordingly. In other words, we serve with all our heart and willingness to make our customers happy.
Well, today I’d like to dive deeper into customer service, mentioning one of the greatest experts in the field, Chip Bell, whose book I just finished reading.
Months ago I attended ICMI conference where I was presented one of his books. I adore attending conferences, there are so any advantages - starting from making good friends to interesting content and learning new things. As you know, some of the  conference speakers sign an ‘x’ number of books and present to attendees. This is another beloved part from conferences, as I always have long flights home and book reading helps greatly to spend the time on board wisely.
The book I am going to speak about is called “ Kaleidoscope”, based on the fundamental values driving  innovative service. It was another powerful wake up call for me to start another post and bring some decisive thoughts to my readers’ attention.
Besides recommending you to read the book, I want to point out some interesting facts detailed in the book, which will help us understand if we are really here to serve and make difference to our customers:

  • Good service leaves customers satisfied, innovative service makes them swoon and become zealous advocates for your business. Innovative comes from your core; it evokes an experience of genuineness, a sense that its source is deep, not superficial.
  • Good is the key to customer retention, but unique is the secret to customer advocacy.
  • It is an innovation to all service providers to constantly up their game.
  • Generosity is the key to opening a door into a garden of opportunity for a more expansive relationship.
  • We live our lives on promises. Service begins with a promise made or implied.
  • Honor and trust are the lifeblood of repeat business.
  • Be slow to blame, quick to affirm and the very best at celebrating your customers. Always do what you say you will do. If you cannot, renegotiate early.

Chip also recommends us to start every day with an “ it’s showtime!” attitude. And when I met him, I did understand that his attitude was similar! Just imagine this and your life becomes full of adventures.
So what? Are we here to serve and make a positive difference in our customers’ lives? Many will say “sure” Can you act like every day is your customer’s birthday, treating different customers differently? Can you be the giver you hope your customers become? Can you be a rainbow in someone’s cloud…?

Friday, July 28, 2017

Social Customer Service - a Company-Wide Value

In the world of social, where everyone is engaged in at least a few social platforms, the value of social customer service changes, becoming everyone's job, regardless of employee position. Social channels present an amazing opportunity for companies to engage with existing and potential customers. And when many employees are involved in delivering customer service across social channels, it becomes a strategic opportunity for the company.

It's clear, that not everyone can handle the customer message to the end, they can at least pass the issue to a trained ear to figure out what actions need to be taken to help and satisfy the customer. Besides having skilled, knowledgeable people behind company's social media handles, whole staff should be trained for delivering minimum care when occasion occurs.

What is the Secret Sauce to Great CX?
Well, the secret sauce to great CX is providing fast support and when many people are in the game, success is inevitable. Social customer care gives you the ability to think carefully about the reply and do all that in a casual, friendly conversational voice.
People trust other people more than company official representatives. Side help can lead to better results, agree?

What is the impact of your team in your organization? Do you coach and mentor all employees to be ready for minimum support? Can they all become key contributors by solving problems independently?

Keep in mind that omnichannel customer service starts with every single employee and only ends with technology, coach employees for primary knowledge readiness and you will win the competitive game.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Let's Change Customer Service This Year!

Well, I made up my mind to put some efforts in changing today’s bad customer service and will exchange all personal bad experience with my readers this year (anyway hoping not to have many).  We all are experiencing unsatisfactory customer service interactions here and there, but in most cases we keep our emotions to ourselves, thinking that nobody cares, or that it’s pointless to complain. In this way we let it slide without any punishment, make a mental note to avoid the company in the future, and that’s it.

My previous article was about airlines’ bad service, and today’s experience is related to hotels. Both services are very popular nowadays for many people who travel for both pleasure and business.

Recently I had an unpleasant customer service experience with a well-known hotel chain Citadines, a member of The Ascott - a Singapore company known as the world's largest international serviced residence owner-operator, functioning in 95 cities across 27 countries.
Citadines is one of its three award-winning brands which we liked during our vacation spent in Lyon last summer. As all loyal customers, we decided to spend our winter vacation in the same brand, but this time in Tbilisi, Georgia. It’s our neighboring country and it is usually a four-hour ride from Yerevan where I live.
So, without even imagining that we’ll have any force majeure, we booked a non-refundable family room for four people. When we heard the weather forecast with heavy snowstorms for the next few days, we sent an email to announce about the weather “surprise” we had, asking to cancel our reservation. Well, we “may” have reached Tbilisi in fourteen hours instead of four, but when you travel with kids, you try not to disturb them so much.
Soon we received a reply from the hotel representative asking for our phone number to speak to us. We called the hotel, and the lady told that when their management is back, they hope to refund our money back. Afterwards we received another email, saying that they cannot refund, instead next time when we book the hotel, they will make some discounts. 
I couldn’t imagine, that the “reputation” of a worldwide operator could cost 550$. Is this a huge amount for a hotel chain? Was it worth spreading the world about hotel bad experience? I am complaining not about Tbilisi, but the whole chain policies and normal human interactions.
My next step was tweeting to the company, and imagine, they have a “good” social care - the respond came the next day with the usual regretting tone for the bad experience we had, asking for the details of our reservation… Anyway they haven’t refunded. Later on we received an email, saying that they will try to make 50% discount on our next arrival. And what would you do in our place? Would you book the same hotel any more after all this?
They really had an opportunity to turn our negative experience into a positive one, an opportunity to make us remain loyal and not walk away. But reality is that they earned 550$ instead of maybe thousands of dollars, and which is more important – they could escape negative word-of-mouth. 
This is today’s reality and I am sure many people all over the world experienced such incidents. But time changes and we should express our opinion, tell about our poor experience in hope that one day we’ll really have a better service with better human interactions. We should build our future! Build it today!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Recognizing Airlines Poor Customer Service

If the customer service is the new marketing, this means many airlines lack marketing at all. I thought that I’m the only complainer in my surrounding, but after reflecting my “mood” on social channels, I did understand that it’s a global problem and should be solved somehow.
I’ve been traveling much recently, and I already know that US domestic flights almost never depart on time, accordingly arrivals are also late. You may be lucky a few times, but it’s just a chance.
Another thing is when you arrive in the airport and they say that the landed plane is too small and some of the passengers cannot get on board. “We are sorry, but you can take another flight tomorrow only”. But do I have that tomorrow at my disposal? And why should I stay one more day away from family? Yes, this happened to me while travelling from Bozeman, Montana to LA. And that was United Airlines. But United is not an exceptional example of a bad service.
When you have multiple flights with a company, you can use your bonus miles, right? And this is the only reason I’ve been travelling with Aeroflot for many times. It really used to be a good company, but what happened to it?  
Once I had to wait three hours on board in New York airport, we even had lunch during this period - I never had any meal on board before the flight in my life...
Then this happened again, but with a two-hour delay. But today I started thinking that the world doesn’t like “Russian airline”, maybe it’s politics? My London flight was also delayed…
But the delays are not the only reason for my “unmoody”post. Last time one steward made me very angry. Personal behavior is worse than company’s one, and the steward’s bad service was a slap for me. In case of flight delays many reasons can be found, sometimes even reasonable ones, but the crew selection factor is within an airline’s control, within their customer service obligations.
Imagine sitting in the plane for two hours waiting for the flight. You cannot sit any more, especially thinking that after departure you’ll have to sit nine more hours to get to your destination. I stood a while, and then walked in the direction of the 1st class. It was 70 percent empty. A steward was approaching from the economy class… “I’m sorry, can I change my place from the economy class?” was my question to him. He replied in a very rude way “NO” and left. 
I started thinking how impolite he was, he could have explained me that he had no right to do so, as my ticket was a cheap one, etc. Although I heard thousand times, that passengers give some 50-100 dollars to crew members and they change their seats without any difficulty. Money works everywhere…
Well, I went to my seat. Three hours later I could think about nothing, but standing. I decided to walk to the lavatory to stand a bit. A man was sleeping with his feet stretched in the front row. He was alone in that row, two vacant seats next to him. I sat to stretch my feet for a while, when I noticed the same “Sergey” passing by. He looked strangely at me and came back, asking if that was my seat. I explained that I sit next to the window in the same economy class, next to a fat lady and decided to have some rest here…
“You should return to your place, and the sooner, the better”, was his reply. But why? In this case I was in the same class, I wasn’t disturbing anyone, and I used to change my seat lots of times with different companies and never had such a bad experience with the crew.
I was more than insulted. Now when customer service is a priority in every field, for any biz, when we do speak about exceptional customer service in all the parts of the world, why do you keep such rude and unfriendly employees, Aeroflot? Why do you put the company reputation in the hands of such individuals? Why should a steward change the face of the whole company? Why Aeroflot, why…

Monday, December 14, 2015

ICMI's Top 50 Thought Leaders of 2015 - a Proud Team

An intriguing title, right? Yes, I am both proud and honored to be listed among ICMI's Top 50 Thought Leaders of 2015! One thing is being in the same list with customer service experts and another one is being #5!  I’m so appreciative to all who voted for us. Also special thanks to CallCenterICMI!

I’ve been following most of the team members already and would recommend you doing the same. You’ll only benefit having this team join your community, believe me. 
  1. Marsha Collier | @marshacollier | Author, Speaker, and Founder of #CustServ chat
  2. Shep Hyken | @hyken | Customer Service Speaker and Author
  3. Kate Nasser | @katenasser |Coach, Trainer, and Speaker
  4. Flavio Martins | @flavmartins | VP Ops at @DigiCert, Author of #WinTheCustomer
  5. Anna Sabryan | @annasabryan | #SocialMedia & #DigitalMarketing Professional, PM @OracleServCloud
  6. Doug Sandler | @djdoug | Professional Speaker, Best Selling Author of Nice Guys Finish First
  7. Peter Gregg | @pfgregg | Philanthropist and Customer Service Advocate
  8. Bill Quiseng | @billquiseng | Customer Service Speaker and Blogger
  9. Rosetta Lue | @rosettalue | @Philly311 Executive Director & @PhiladelphiaGov Chief #CustServ Officer
  10. Roy Atkinson | @RoyAtkinson | Customer Service Writer & Analyst
  11. Steve Curtin | @enthused | Author of Delight Your Customers
  12. Jeanne Bliss | @jeannebliss | Cofounder of Customer Experience Professionals Assoc.
  13. Chip Bell | @ChipRBell | Customer Service Expert, Keynote Speaker, and Business Consultant
  14. Jeremy Watkin | @jtwatkin | Head of Quality for @1callres & Blogger for @commbetterblog
  15. Sheila McGee-Smith | @mcgeesmith | Contact Center/Enterprise Communications Industry Analyst
  16. Blair Pleasant | @blairplez | Unified Communications & collaboration and Contact Center Industry Analyst
  17. Al Hopper | @AlHopper_ | Co-host of #CustServ chat and Co-Founder of @Social_Path
  18. Joshua March | @joshuamarch | Founder & CEO of Conversocial
  19. Adam Toporek | @adamtoporek | Customer Service & Customer Experience Fanatic
  20. Blake Morgan | @BlakeMichelleM |Customer Experience Advisor, Forbes Write, @SOCAP Board Member
  21. Geraldine Gray | @GeraldineGray | Salesforce MVP
  22. Mark Bernhardt | @ImMarkBernhardt | Career Student/Practitioner of How Customer Service, Design, PR, Social Media & Web Support Brand
  23. Nancy Porte | @nporte | VP of Customer Experience at Verint
  24. Alan Berkson | @Berkson0 | TEDx speaker & Influencer Relations @Freshdesk
  25. Greg Ortbach | @gregortbach | Sr. Account Manager @Arcanebrand in #LdnOnt & Co-host of #CustServ chat
  26. Sean Hawkins | @SeanBHawkins | Customer Service Manager and Speaker
  27. Ian Jacobs | @iangjacobs | Senior Analyst at Forrester
  28. Greg Yankelovich | @piplzchoice | Customer Experience IQ Blog
  29. Jodi Beuder | @cx_jodi | Marketing & #CX Fanatic, Founder of jb&co
  30. Brad Clevealnd | @bradcleveland | Author and Consultant, Former President & CEO of @CallCenterICMI
  31. Andrew McFarland | @andy_mcf |Author, Blogger @ Pivot Point Solutions
  32. Nancy Jamison | @nancyjami | Contact Center Analyst at Frost & Sullivan
  33. Mike Aoki | @mikeaoki | Contact Center Trainer and Speaker
  34. Sarah Stealey Reed | @stealeyreed | Editor of @JoinRelate
  35. Jeff Toister | @toister | CPLP, Author of Service Failure, Blogger: Inside Customer Service
  36. Andrew Neff | @Andrewincontact | VP at Keynomics
  37. Erica Strother Marois | @ens0204 | Community Specialist at @CallCenterICMI, Founder of #ICMIchat
  38. Tricia Morris | @triciaemorris | Customer Service Blogger
  39. Leslie O’Flahavan | @LeslieO | E-WRITE Honcho & Writing Teacher
  40. Darren Prine | @darrenprine | Providing Information on Cloud Based Contact Center Solutions
  41. Jenny Dempsey | @jennysuedempsey | #CustServ @dmvorg & Writer @commbetterblog
  42. Justin Robbins | @justinmrobbins | Community Director @ThinkHDI & @CallCenterICMI
  43. Jess Greene Pierson | @JGPierson | Customer Experience at Insightly
  44. Nate Brown | @CustomerIsFirst | Customer Service Experience Blogger and Speaker
  45. Paul Stockord | @paulstockford | Contact Center Industry Analyst
  46. Monica Norton | @monicalnorton | Content marketer, editor, and writer (@Zendesk @JoinRelate)
  47. Neal Topf | @nealtopf | President of @Callzilla
  48. Jessica Noble | @jessicajnoble | Strategy & Customer Experience Consulting Leader
  49. Mike Maffei | @CxCallCenters | Founder of @Aledium
  50. Kevin Hegebarth | @kghegebarth | Marketing VP @hireiqinc






Thursday, May 14, 2015

Have You Earned Your Customers' Trust?

When I typed the title, a story, that happened to me a few months ago pictured in front of my eyes.
Once I took a taxi and when I got home, the driver surprised me asking for more money than I used to pay for the same distance. I guess I had the “why” expression on my face, which made the driver ask me if something was wrong. I replied that it was ok, when the driver stretched his hand out to me with some change and his business card, saying “hope to serve you again, just call me”.
A strange driver from the first sight… At that same moment I didn’t even realize how wise he was. He just seemed to be fair to me... A few days later I remembered about the card he gave me, called him and from that day on he takes me home almost every day. And the other strange thing is that he calls me every day by the end of my working day asking if I need his help. He really built some good relationship and at the same time trust. Customers don't buy from people they don't trust. From my personal experience I can assure you that relationship building is very important.
When your business demands word-of-mouth advertising (and can anyone point me a business which doesn’t need it?), you should deliver an unforgettable service, the one I received.
According to a Concerto Marketing Group and Research Now survey, when customers trust a brand, 83 percent will recommend a trusted company to others and 82 percent will continue to use that brand frequently.
Be real YOU with your customers, add a human element! When you’re comfortable, your customer is also comfortable. When you’re nervous, your customer is nervous too. Keep your eyes open and ears listening. Remember: customer experience is becoming even more important than the product itself.
Earning a customer’s trust starts with giving a great service. When customers trust you they become more patient, they can pay even more than used to pay, they will advise your product/service to their friends, they will assist and defend you. Build trust in your company, in your industry, products and services, build trust in you. Earn customer trust and the rest will follow you!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Customer Success Story - Best Reward for Any Company!

What can be better for a company than customer success stories?

The reason I decided to write this post is the story I’ve recently read in Facebook - a touching story, which made my friend's day...

One of my friends was telling about his birthday best present. You cannot even imagine - it was a letter from Lufthansa, a German airline, the largest one in Europe. It said: “The captain of the plane wants to speak to you”. After a while a call from that same captain... What a surprise! He called my friend to congratulate his birthday. Unbelievable! It really made my friend happy. I guess it’s a feeling of being important – who doesn’t need to feel special?

A minute call and the whole world will learn about it. Why can’t we make people happy and at the same time spread some good will?
Another story I read once is about a sick woman, who had recently had medical treatment that made her feet numb. Her daughter ordered six pairs of shoes from Zappos, in hope that at least one would work. Unfortunately none fit her and they had to return all the shoes back, explaining the reason. In two days they received a large bouquet of flowers from the company, wishing her health, along with an upgrade to “Zappos VIP Member". So impressive!
Every company says that their customers are #1 priority, they do every possible thing to delight them, but do they all receive success stories from their happy customers? Do they all “talk the talk” and “walk the walk”?  I’m sure not.
Providing an excellent customer service is a must. It’s the most important point in every business which will make you stand out from the rest of your “one-click-away” competition.
Make customers feel important and appreciated as my friend felt on his special day. Treat them as individuals, value sincerity and try to give more than expected. Create a culture of customer service, the best, unforgettable one; help your customers help you!