Book Club: Top Customer Service Articles 1/11/2012

As we’ve mentioned in past posts we like to do a book club at our office to learn new things about customer service and life in general.  Having just finished “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” we are waiting for our new book “Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach To Customer Service” to arrive.  For this week, I asked each person on the team to find one article about customer service and share it along with what they learned with the group.  Here are the articles:

1. @jtwatkin brought “Exercise Enthusiasm” which is a terrific article example of an employee at The Home Depot who had a terrible attitude.  We are all familiar with “hit and miss” customer service experiences where sometimes an employee will go out of their way to help you find something and others where the employee will say “I think it’s on aisle such and such” without lifting a finger.  Steve Curtin’s suggestion on how the employee could have engaged him in a discussion about furnace humidifier is right on.  It’s like upselling without intentionally upselling.  Taking this example and applying it to our company, I want to build a team and a culture of people willing to go the extra mile for customers.  This is a team that chooses to have a winning attitude every minute of every day.

2. @jennysuedempsey shared the article “7 Habits of Effective Customer Experience”, courtesy of @flavmartins, which aligns with our most recent book club selection, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. The article breaks down each habit and how it applies directly to the customer experience. Flavio sums it up well, “Exceptional experiences are about the principles and best practices that have the greatest impact for the customer. Covey’s teachings inspired us all to think outside of ourselves, and deliver a world-class customer experience in our specific line of work.” Here are some ways the 7 Habits translate to customer experience:

  • We must provide proactive service, taking responsibility for the customer.
  • Create plans and goals by thinking with the end in mind.
  • Organizing of your day to put first things first for your customers.
  • Seeking a mutual benefit by working with your customers using a win/win frame of mind.
  • Being understanding and empathetic with your customers.
  • Focusing on clarity and synergy with your customer relationships.
  • And always, always growing and learning every day.

3. @melissakayle brought “12 Principles for Responding to Negative Online Comments”. This article discusses how customer satisfaction is important to all businesses and a positive experience can result in referrals and fewer calls to customer support. Charlie Pownall mostly focuses on social media; however these ideas could certainly apply to our email support system. I thought it was cool how it also mentioned how more customers are taking to Facebook & Twitter to escalate their issues – since I’ve heard that’s something will be doing soon too! Some of my favorite of the 12 principles (even though they are ALL important) –

  • Moving fast – It’s extremely important that customers receive updates WITHIN 24 hours (If before-then, even better)!
  • Accurate responses – This is so important – Especially when the communication with the customer is in writing. Since we have the time to double check, we should be taking the time to double check!
  • Being human – People don’t really seem to like, ‘Dear valued customer’ anymore. The article talks about trying to use language that is engaging & empathetic while remaining at professional & objective. The best way to do that is to use the actual name of the customer. I am going to make a goal to do this with each interaction I have with customers today!

4. @jdmaa brought two articles:

“Sony’s Latest Retail Strategy: Follow Apple’s Lead”

“2012 Customer Service Hall Of Fame”

As a consumer one of my favorite brands is SONY and the service they provide.  As I researched some of their customer service articles I found that they implement the “walk out working” concept.  This concept includes setup with personalization and educating the customer on the product, but the service doesn’t stop there.  Later on customers receive assistance with installation, troubleshooting and much more.  Sony then follows this with a survey following the purchase, 30 days from the purchase date as well as 90 days from the purchase date gagging the following,

  • Shopping experience
  • Setting up the product at home
  • Using the product
  • Getting support later

One idea to apply this towards would be to send all new customers immediately to support for setup assistance.  Another idea is to gather as much information about our customers including their network configuration right when they sign up, making supporting them in the future, that much easier.

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  • Thanks for the mention in your post. It’s true that employees choose their attitude at work. The late Norman Vincent Peale said, “Think enthusiastically about everything; but especially your job. If you do, you’ll put a touch of glory in your life. If you love your job with enthusiasm, you’ll shake it to pieces. You’ll love it into greatness.”

    • Wow, that’s a fantastic quote! Thank you for your encouragement to break out of the mundane, every day work world and to really choose to make a difference!

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