Month: September 2010

“Lip Service” Please make it STOP!

Here’s some advice. I normally charge for advice, but I’m in a giving mood today. This advice is for any manager, owner, or anyone involved in some type of customer service implementation or strategy. Ready?…………

If it’s more than 5 questions, and takes more than the click of a mouse to answer e.g,  “Click 1 for Horrible or 10 for Outstanding”  you’re kidding yourself and should get what you deserve, Nothing! If you have a follow-up “Customer courtesy call” and you don’t shop your own call center, you’re wasting my time, your time, and everyone’s money. So please I beg of you, Stop! The longer this facade goes on, the more damage it does to any company offering true customer service. You’re giving your peers a bad name and it’s embarrassing.

Here are a few examples I’ll use that yours truly came across within the last month. Remember, I’m a repeat customer, I buy often, and I pay for membership privileges to these accounts. One would think they truly want my opinion, but oh the “Lip Service” makes them prisoners of their own fate. So here we go…………….

“Please take our survey to tell us how were doing, it will only take 20 minutes to fill out.”………..You’ve got to be kidding me…20 MINUTES!..I’ve also had others only ask for 10 MINUTES!  So I guess some brainiac believed they’re improving my condition by cutting the misery in half?  Yeah, that’ll do it!

“Please type your answer in the box provided. Please answer in detail to your overall experience”…….Sure, hold on while I review my notes. Should I include how aggravating getting this survey is to the experience also? How many words can I type here, this could rival War and Peace.

Here’s a great follow-up call I received from my cable company after an “Upgrade” I just purchased…..Hello Mr. ah Street..ah Sirey…I know my name can be hard for some at first glance..but anyone with experience in meeting or talking with people will tell you, Trick #1…Say who you are and why you’re calling…then politely say, I don’t want to get the pronunciation wrong, can you say you name for me? It’s not that difficult and should be known by anyone dealing with people!  Here’s the rest…….

Caller : You had an upgrade to your equipment yesterday, how’s it working?

Me: So far it seems OK…but I was supposed to get another service also, but it’s not available.

Caller: Oh..That wouldn’t be us…You need to call this phone number..1 800 blah blah blah…

Me: Excuse me, but aren’t you calling me to find out if I have any problems with the equipment?

Caller: Yes but I’m just calling about the equipment, you know, the new box the installer put in, how’s that working?

Me: OK..well..Yesterday when your installer came, the poor guy went through 3 boxes that all of them were junk and didn’t work. It wasn’t until he went through hooking up a 4th box that it finally seemed to work. I felt embarrassed for the installer, he apologized, and I understand it’s not his fault, but whoever is putting these boxes out for delivery and……….

Caller: Sir, that wouldn’t be me who would handle that, you would need to call this other number..1 800 blah blah blah….

Me: What is the reason why you are calling me again?

Caller: To check on how the equipment is operating.

Me: This is the most useless call I have received that I can remember in a Long… Long time…goodbye…and don’t call again……click.

Epilogue: Ten minutes later, my televisions went blue screen stating..”Your service has been temporarily suspended for Non-Payment..Please contact..1 800 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ “. I called and the issue was resolved, I told my story to this customer service agent…The response?  “Oh My!”    The result…just more lip service.

Mark

The Impending Resurrection of…”The Middle Man”

I can hear you all now…“He has lost his mind!”…but I don’t think so, and here’s why……

Anyone who is able to remember the wonderful tones of a dial-up modem connecting to the internet can also remember when a company offered true customer service. Not the so-called “customer service” that everyone encounters when they have a real issue, e.g, “Hello…You’re call is important to us, you are number 453,264 in line. Your expected wait time is…14 months, 22 days, and 13 hours, So please stay on the line….” Gives me a headache just typing that line, but I digress. Before that time you more than likely made your purchases through a so-called “Middle Man.” Before Wal-Mart it was  the local retailer, before Amazon it was the local bookstore, you catch the drift I’m sure. Now it’s the internet, with just about everyone buying something whether it’s a dog collar or a 5 bedroom home on a beach. You want it? Just enter your credit card number….done! However, what you can’t do is experience the product and have all the minutia explained in ways you truly understand. What’s even more valuable than that? The true customer service that came with dealing with the local retailer.

In a world that’s now acutely aware that you can instantaneously compare prices from around the world, what you can’t do is experience true customer service unless you’re face to face with the merchant. The beauty of this model is becoming acutely aware to both retailers, and customers once again. It is a fact, you can not give superior customer service at bargain basement prices. It just doesn’t work, and it never has.

The entrepreneurs that are seeing the value that has always been in the true customer service model are finding that there is, and will always be a market for this service. The beauty of the model if you dare to embrace it, is the fact that you might not be the “biggest”….but you might surely be the “best,” and that will lead you to higher profits, better employees, and loyal customers. That’s a strategy worth aiming for rather than trying to be the cheapest. After all…..It’s hard to compete with “Going Out of Business” sales…..So why try?

Mark

From My Perspective…9/11…Life and Death

In remembrance of  Peter Hashem…Flight 11,  Seat 20A…Struck the North Tower at 8:46:40 am EST.

This column is different for me, this one is a little more personal. Unlike my usual columns, this is to give perspective for not only myself, but maybe for you also. The only thing I can say to start is…. Life is precious, and when it ends for what ever the reason at any time, chances are you will not have any control of the timing or the circumstances. So live to the fullest everyday regardless of where you are in life, because the unexpected, and the horrific can also happen to you, not just someone else.

When the tragedy on 9/11 happened, it changed many of us, if not all. Like most, I remember exactly where I was. I remember also standing in line at my local bank moments after it happened, and watching the televisions while waiting in line in utter disbelief along with everyone else in the bank. For all of us…time had stopped.

The days and months that followed with the heroism and the outpouring of help and support is well documented else where. Living in New England at the time, you either had gone to Ground Zero yourself to try to offer any help, or someone you knew had. I owned a local Deli at the time. The owner of a company who supplied me with breads went back and forth to GZ to pass out muffins and pastries to the rescue teams at night only to come back up to New Hampshire and then start his deliveries. No one complained, no one said how hard it was to do, no one was looking for credit, it was just done….period! It’s just the way it was.

On that day many of us changed. We viewed life a little bit different. It suddenly hit you with laser like focus that life is precious, and death can come at any moment, from anywhere. No longer was this an esoteric exercise. This was life at its core, and it was playing out in front of our eyes leaving no gray area to ponder. You either got it…or you didn’t.

In honor of that tragic event, I myself set new rules, new guidelines how I was going to go forward in life. I decided I would live life my way, by my rules, and if I was to die today, so be it. I could say that because I was going ensure I was  living, not just trying to exist or just get by like so many other do. That was not why we’re given life. It’s for us to live!

September 11, 2001 changed my life forever, but in honor of that tragic day, I decided to use it as a reminder that while on this Earth, I should live. Live everyday, take nothing for granted, take no one for granted, and live to chase today, the dreams of tomorrow. For if I do that one simple step, whether I reach those dreams or not…I will have Lived!

You see, Peter was not only someone who tragically died on that day…He was the younger brother of my close friends growing up. Life doesn’t just happen to someone else. It happens to us all.

Mark

© 2010 Mark St.Cyr   All Rights Reserved

 

Drifting Backwards vs. Moving Forward

Let’s cut right to the chase. Things are tough, they might get worse, they might get terribly worse…..So what!

Everyday since man has been on this little rock we call Earth, stuff happens. I could sugar coat it. I could get out my dictionary and look for the perfect word to capture it, but it doesn’t matter. I think the word “stuff” just about captures what is going on right now without getting vulgar. Let’s remember one crucial point most forget in times like these. Crisis creates opportunity to those who view it as such, and are prepared to act, rather than drift.

Drifting is easy, it takes no effort, but the effort you might need to regain your original heading maybe unattainable, depending on how far you’ve allowed yourself to drift. Here’s an example why you need to be aware and to be continually on point moving forward in times like these……….

Alan Weiss, Ph.D. Pres. of Summit Consulting Group introduced his 1% Solution® a while back. It a great, easy to understand formula that yields results. I’m paraphrasing here …..Improve by 1% a day…and in 70 days…you’re twice as good. That’s an important formula that is achievable by anyone, in any profession, in any economic climate, if your serious!….And in tough economic times like these I’m convinced it will yield even greater returns. Why?  Everyone else is drifting! Don’t dismiss the significance of those last four words….Think for a moment…..most are just waiting to be rescued, waiting for the boss to promote them, hoping for the raise, hoping for a new client, hoping it’s not them that gets canned next, hoping, wishing,………..drifting.

If the power of Dr. Weiss’ 1% Solution ® can be employed to move one forward. Just think about the multiplier effect it can have on a person or company who is committed to moving forward 1% a day…while the competition is allowing itself to drift backwards 1%.

Sometimes simple math can set you free!

Mark