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 a terrible 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!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Exceptional Customer Service with Co-Browsing

Exceptional customer service drives customer satisfaction. True, and in order to provide the best customer service, you should have better relationship with your prospects and customers and at the same time use different technologies that can balance their happiness.
 
Co-browsing, being deployed across many serious industries at present plays a major role in many savvy business’ routines. It’s used for customer/sales support, online shopping, trainings, collaboration, transactions and more.

Co-browsing “why”s

If you are still unaware of co-browsing “why”s, let’s start with the simplest one - with co-browsing you can see exactly what your prospect/customer sees. You, in your turn, can use the pointer to guide throughout the website, show the products/services, help to choose the best one for the case and help complete the purchase. And the most important fact is that co-browsing guaranties security while sharing your web. What else is needed for a successful business?

Co-browsing “how”s

How co-browsing works? There are many solutions in the market, but I’ll mention the way, the  best one can perform.
  • works with any browser on any computer
  • works across all firewalls and pop-up blockers
  • works on mobile devices
  • works with complex pages and technologies
  • limits view to any combination of web domains, web pages, desktop applications, documents, etc.
  • hides/blocks sensitive data like credit card numbers or account numbers
  • does not store any customer information, ensures regulatory compliance

 Co-browsing “pros”

What values will co-browsing add to the business? Really worth ones:
  • real time assistance
  • customer service improvement
  • customer satisfaction and loyalty increase
  • first call resolution rates increase
  • call handling time decrease
  • self-service tools adoption
  • agents empowerment
  • confidence increase
  • revenues increase
  • new visibility into the customer experience
Many financial and governmental services, retail, telecom, insurance and travel companies already use co-browsing and they saw significant increases in customer satisfaction scores. If you’re not in the list yet, hurry up; use co-browsing for your business success!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Twitter Usage Best Practices



Excited to speak about my favorite social platform – actually Twitter became the source of my social success. It’s so great when your followers’ number grows and they are really your targeted audience waiting for some valuable content from your side every day. Love Twitter! Are you in the same boat with me? If yes, let’s go to some interesting facts on Twitter usage.

Hashtag Usage 
We all know that tweets without hashtags are almost useless. But bear in mind to keep the hashtags to a minimum - 1 or 2 will get you 21 percent more engagement than if you add 3 or more. Hashtags can occur anywhere in the tweet without limitations – at the beginning, middle, or end, the only important thing is to use hashtags relevant to the topic.  

Image Usage 
Along with hashtag usage, keep in mind to compose tweets with images. This gets twice more engagement than those without. Images catch attention as if making the reader anxious to see the content.    

URL Usage
Tweets can be composed with or without a URL. But the ones that include links are 86 percent more likely to be retweeted.

Topic Usage In general Twitter has no limitation of topic usage – you can speak of whatever you desire. In my opinion, it’s more useful to choose a few topics and make them your favorite ones. In this way you become a fan of the topic and you have a proper audience.

Character Usage
140 character usage is the only limitation on Twitter. But this doesn’t meant that we should use it all. The optimal tweet size is 120 characters, which makes it easy for everyone to RT, share, comment. Shorter tweets get more engagement that long ones. Tweets with less than 100 characters get 17 percent more engagement.

Mobile Usage
It’s not a secret that mobile engagement changed the online presence. Twitter says that 60 percent of its active user base accesses the service via mobile devices. Compete found that 18 to 34 year olds are 21 percent more likely to be logging into Twitter primarily via a mobile device.

Date Usage
Many of us use social platforms (mostly for brand engagement) throughout the week. Only 19 percent of brands tweet on the weekends, Twitter engagement is 17 percent higher on those days for brands. So it’s wise to use some services, which allow you to schedule tweets. It makes your life easier, you can schedule for weekends, whole week, why not for a month?

80 percent of world leaders use Twitter. What about you?