Posted tagged ‘customer service’

Let me hear your four seconds!

September 2, 2009

How many times have you answered the phone and some telemarketer spends the first 30 seconds not taking a breath or allowing you to get a word in edgewise? Chances are, more often than not.

Experts say that we, the business professionals of the world, have a total of four–count ’em–four seconds to entice someone into doing business with you or buying whatever product you happen to be hawking.

Did you get that? You have to say something in the first four seconds of your conversation which will make someone decide if they are going to work with you. If you haven’t got them in four seconds, it’s time to move on to someone else.

I know I need to work on my pitch, and I’m having a hard time finding others who really know how to effectively pitch to prospects. If you’ve got a good pitch, let me hear it. If your pitch needs a little work, let me hear that, too, and we can offer hints or ways to improve.

Remember, YOU only have FOUR free seconds before someone tunes you out and starts playing computer games, so make ’em good.

How ’bout it?

The End of The Ma and Pa Era

July 26, 2008

Randy Blair, whom I call a friend, sent this post to a group on Facebook. I contacted him and obtained permission to reprint the article in The Communications Factors blog.

I was born in a smallish town, called LaPorte, Indiana, in the mid 60’s, and yes, I did walk everywhere I went. Down the street, on Pine Lake Avenue, was a quaint little store owned by an older couple my kid sister and I used to call “Fred and Barney”. To this day, I don’t know what their real names were. But “Barney” was kind of a strange name for a cheery corpulent woman in her 60’s.

Their little corner store had anything you wanted in it. At least it seemed like it. My dad, a pipefitter by trade, once went down there for some supplies so he could “sweat copper pipe”, and Fred always had what my dad needed.

I bring this up because it represents a time in my life when there was no Wal-Mart, no superstores, and it was perfectly acceptable to hang out in the store and chat with the proprietors, without it being considered a waste of time. And Ma and Pa always made you feel welcome.

Here in the present, there are a couple of hardware stores I frequent, when I need stuff for home repairs or whatnot. These are ma and pa operations, and they know me by name (indeed, they should, as I have sold them my MLM wares for their businesses).

Today, I needed some hydraulic fluid for a log splitter I borrowed. (I was too sore to be a man and whack the wood with maul, sledge and wedges, like I normally do.) So, I went to my local haunts to get some.

Guess what?

They didn’t have any!


Because they couldn’t compete with the “bigger hardware stores” like Home Cheapot. Hydraulic fluid just wasn’t a big seller, and they had to trim costs. I was devastated.

Forlornly, I drove to That-Other-Place, a ten-spot frustratingly crumpled in my fist, to be greeted by…

Oh wait, I wasn’t greeted at all. In fact, nobody seemed concerned that I stood in the main aisle looking like a child who had lost his mama. It was surreal.

Eventually, I found what I was looking for. But it got me thinking, on the way back home. Are Ma and Pa truly dead?

Essentially, becoming an entrepreneur is harder now than it ever has been: There are hundreds, if not thousands, of companies pitching the same products and services we are pitching. The mega-giants make it virtually impossible to come out of the gate and make a profit within the first couple years of business.

How ’bout it?

Hell yes, I Want Customer Service

June 3, 2008

This post is in response to social networking strategist and expert Jay Deragon’s post titled Do We Really Want Customer Service?

Granted, we may actually PREFER life if every service to which we subscribed and gizmo we bought functioned the way it was intended — nay, the way we hoped in our semi-euphoric state just before we signed the deal, paid cash for our new “toy.” But that would be what people call Utopia, a land where there is no crime and everything works the way it was designed.

For that matter, we might ask, “Do we really want doctors?” or lawyers, or teachers, umpires, line-judges, prisons, mechanics, body-shops, dishwashers, replacement bulbs, or divorce courts. Things break. That’s the nature of the beast, and we have to learn to live with it.

If we didn’t need customer service, there would be no need for doctors to help cure cancer or keep us well, lawyers to help right the injustices against us, teachers to impart knowledge, umpires to call base-runners out at third, line-judges to decide if the serve was in or out, prisons to incarcerate criminals, mechanics to fix our cars when they break, and the list goes on…

Therefore, when things do happen, when life throws a curve-ball, there needs to be someone there to help us get back to where we desire to be. Rather than wishing the services a company provides be different, we need to accept that there will always be something we would change, and be open to measures those companies are taking to make “customer service” less painful.

Marguerite Reardon of CNET writes: Comcast has hired 15,000 new customer service agents and technicians over the past 18 months to help the company answer calls and provide service to customers. It has also rolled out new high-tech diagnostic tools for agents in the field and at call centers to help better assess problems. Comcast has also started re-dispatching field technicians if it looks like a certain technician may not be able to get to his next appointment.

Customer service agents are also starting to work on Saturdays and Sundays to schedule and serve customers when it’s most convenient for them. And it’s offering real time online chat services so that customers can talk live with a customer account executive.

Kudos to Comcast, which even has a team that monitors the blogosphere, and immediately addresses customers’ concerns or problems. Click here to see what we mean. Working to make the customer service issue less painless for customers should be on the front burner of every major company in the business-world today.

And I think other large companies like Verizon are also hiring teams of people to monitor blogs. So, Jay, in answer to your question, do we want customer service, my answer is Hell yes, but I want it to be faster, easier, and less painless than ever before!

How ’bout it

Lowe’s Home Improvement Doesn’t “Get it!”

May 23, 2008

A couple of weeks ago, we went out to Lowe’s to purchase a wrought-iron patio table and four matching chairs. I had stayed outside at the car while my wife went into the store to check out the selection. After a few minutes, I went in to find her. I started walking down the main isle of the store, and then asked an associate who worked there where the patio furniture was.

“Back there,” he said, pointing in the direction from which he had come. That was it. Nothing else. Sure it was easy enough to find, but I was about to be a PAYING CUSTOMER! As I found my wife, she told me that she had already been helped, and the guy wasn’t too happy about it. “Oh, yeah, I must have just passed him,” I said and began to relate the story to her of the events which had just taken place.

He brought the table and chairs out to us from the back, and then disappeared. Were we supposed to proceed to the check out pushing the flatbed cart, or would he come back to take care of us the way we expected?

As we stood there making snide remarks to one another, I began to plan my next blog entry and considered speaking to the manager. The associate finally returned and wheeled the cart to the register for us to pay. Once there, he turned and said, “If you need help loading this, there’s a guy out in the parking lot wearing a straw hat. He’ll help you.” And with that he returned to the hidden recesses of the store — where those pesky customers couldn’t harass him!

So, I paid for our items and then headed out the door to find the “guy with a straw hat.” After two or three minutes of standing there waiting with my Honda CRV right next to the cart, he finally strolled across the parking lot and toward me.

“The guy inside said that you’d help us load this in our car,” I said to him.

“Yeah,” he replied and continued to walk inside the store. By this time, I was really starting to lose my patience.

When he again emerged, I again asked him to help me load the furniture in our car. “You want to put it in there??” he asked incredulously.

“We can tie the table on the roof, if you have some twine or rope,” I suggested. And what happened next was what really sent me over.

“We do have twine on that cart over there,” he said, pointing to a wheeled cart with a box of twine on it. And I waited for him to volunteer to get it. But by this time, my wife was ready to leave, and said, “Mark, you just go get it.” So I did, complaining verbally the whole way there and back to the car.

We finally crammed the four chairs into the front seat and got the table tied onto the roof of the car. I managed to cram myself into the child booster seat in the back, on top of two 40-pound bags of top soil. It was quite a sight.

The ride home, I considered that the associates at places like Wal-Mart and Lowe’s really need to get back into the business of SERVING THE CUSTOMER, not just putting time in to get a paycheck. Maybe they should read The Emergence of The Relationship Economy!

How ’bout it?

Comcast Tries, but technical difficulties and inexperience hurt customer satisfaction

May 14, 2008

Because we were given a Mac Powerbook Pro several months ago, we’ve been spending the majority of our days at coffee shops (Panera) and other places we could get Wi-Fi. Just two weeks ago, we decided to get an aircard from Verizon Wireless which would provide me with internet access wherever my cell phone in-service.

For a time, it was incredible! I was able to connect to the internet with my laptop from the living room, the back deck, the front porch, but the problem was that the connection through the aircard was just too slow. I guess I had gotten used to the “lightning-fast speeds” which Comcast boasts.

So I decided to make the switch to a wireless connection at home. I made the appointment for a Comcast tech to come out and install a wireless modem with router Tuesday — four days later — between 8 am and 11.

The technician, who was a contractor, called shortly after 10 and said he’d be at the house at 10:30. He might have been off by a few minutes, but he did arrive before the “window” closed at 11.

Everything was going as planned, albeit a little more slowly than expected, until I was told we had “too much” signal to our modem. The tech said he would put on a splitter in the box to cut down the signal. His intention prompted me to “watch him like a hawk,” since he wanted to make our service something less than it already was.

After numerous phone calls dispatch and other people – all of which were strictly related to providing me with wireless – he told me that our cable and our neighbor’s cable should have been run in separately, and that that he would have to come back with a supervisor later in the day, since he had six appointments scheduled from 12 to 3:00.

He made sure that I was going to be at home for the next 2 ½ hours, and said he’d come back possibly with a supervisor. Again, I was considering whether I really wanted to rely both professionally and personally on the internet service he provided. Before he left, he made sure that I was able to access the internet from my desktop, so for that, I was grateful.

Around 2:00, the technician called me to tell me that I should could give him a call after I picked up my son at 3:00. I told him that I would take care of having him picked up by a friend, and that he could come as soon as he was able to – hoping that he would bring someone who had a little more experience than himself.

As of 5:25, and though I’ve watched TV, showered, done laundry, mowed the lawn, and made dinner, I’m still waiting…

However, when I called Comcast at 6:00 to make sure that he was still coming, I was assured by Chris Thompson, that “He’s on his last job and will be headed [my] way as soon as he’s finished.”

The tech did arrive as promised, and a full hour later, I was up and running wirelessly. He left the house at approximately 8:35 pm. Kudos to him for his perseverance and determination, but right now, we’re not all that pleased with the customer service provided by Comcast.

Maybe with more training for the techs, they would be able to arrive during the scheduled window and perform the scheduled service in a timely manner.

How ’bout it?

Wal-Mart Employee Engages The Relationship Economy

March 25, 2008

tre-cover.jpgNews Flash! WalMart doesn’t have the best customer-service! I know that it may come as a shock to most of us, but the Multi-Billion dollar company often isn’t synonymous with excellent — or even good — customer service. However, today we went to Wal-Mart to pick up a last-minute birthday gift for our nephew. In the toy section of store number 0659, we couldn’t find anyone who worked for Wal-Mart. However, we went over to the jewelry counter where there were two women working.

We asked if there was anyone in TOYS, and the responded that she may be on break. One of the ladies paged the associate working in toys and asked her to call a certain number. When there was no call after about five minutes, one of the jewelry associates, Marty, called the crafts department and was told that the item I sought was located in Stationery.

That was all Marty needed. She then set off, leading me over to the Stationery section, and made sure that I found what I needed.

We were floored! Not only had Marty provided us with the correct information, but she actually made sure that our visit to Wal-Mart was exceptional! Most of the time, when an associate is approached to help find something at Wal-Mart, he or she will endeavor to assist the customer if the item is in the same section in which that employee works. Otherwise, the associate will say, “That’s in Housewares,” or something like that.

Even the “Customer Service Managers” do this. Understandably, they may not be able to go traipsing around the store helping the customer find something, but they could at least find another employee to provide assistance.

But Marty actually took the time to make a page, call another department to ask if they knew, and then she led me to the exact isle and made sure I found what I wanted. She didn’t pass us off to someone else or make us feel like we were an imposition, but she made our trip to Wal-Mart enjoyable and pleasant. Thanks, Marty!

How ’bout it?

Comcast is Embracing The Relationship Economy!

February 19, 2008

customer-service.jpgAs of late, I personally have been rather hard on Comcast and its customer service department. However, just a few minutes ago, I received a phone call on our land-line, not my cell. Usually, when there is a call in the middle of the day, it’s someone asking for donations or wanting me to buy something, so I’ve learned to be skeptical when I answer our home phone.

The voice from the other end of the line gave me his full name and said he worked for Comcast in the Corporate Head-Quarters, and he read was calling about my blog.

“Oh,” I said as if I had been turned in for writing profanities on the bathroom wall in elementary school. Totally caught off-guard, I asked him to repeat his name and tell me again for whom he worked.

“Frank Eliason,” he said, “and I actually work for Comcast Corporate.” So I was speaking with someone who could actually do something about the service provided. As my mind was still trying to get a grasp on the fact that someone who could really do something about my recent blog topics, Frank went on to explain that Comcast is trying to improve on customer satisfaction. He said that Comcast has not always had the best customer service, and that they are beginning to implement new tools and techniques which will enhance the customers’ experiences.

What shocked and surprised me most of all was that Comcast, the cable Giant, was now beginning to engage The Relationship Economy! With the number influential bloggers and online social networks, companies must find a new way of maintaining customer satisfaction and creating customer loyalty.

Comcast is one of the first companies to “adopt” these new methodologies and communication techniques. By paying more attention to blogs and client forums and networks, Comcast is setting the bar very high, indeed, for all companies wanting to compete with them – and for businesses in general!

Kudos to you, Comcast!

How ‘bout it?