Why Amazon Will Swallow Almost Everyone

Why Amazon Will Swallow Almost Everyone

Amazon. The name itself perfectly captures the essence of what the company has become.

Why Amazon Will Swallow Almost EveryoneIt is the largest, dominant feature in its ecosphere. It provides sustenance to those who use its resources. It serves as an economic engine for those whose livelihoods center around it. And nearby bodies of water feed it more than they compete with it.

A few recent interactions with Amazon demonstrate how the company is slowly but surely going to swallow almost everyone. While these examples are certainly anecdotal, they seem to exemplify larger trends in Amazon’s continued growth and increasing dominance.

The Same-Day Suitcase

We needed a new suitcase, and our options were simple:

  • We could go to the traditional mall or outlet mall and hope to find a suitcase that matched our needs. A multi-hour proposition with a dicey chance of success.
  • We could research local retailers through phone or web for models and inventory, buy it online or call to have them set it aside, and then drive to the store to pick it up.
  • We could find the brand online and either buy it directly from the manufacturer or go bargain hunting on a variety of discount and often dubious websites, creating new logins, adding new account info, and navigating unfamiliar shipping policies and procedures.

Read more

8 Ways to Be Your Customer's Hero

8 Ways to Be Your Customer’s Hero

It’s official! We’re celebrating the 1 year anniversary of Be Your Customer’s Hero!

By focusing on the skills frontline teams need to successfully navigate relationships and interactions with customers, Be Your Customer’s Hero has directly impacted customer-facing teams and businesses teams all over the country and the world.

To commemorate the one year anniversary of HERO, we thought it would be fun to put together an infographic on customer service techniques and tips from Be Your Customer’s Hero.

Our Customer Service Infographic

Customer Service Infographic: 8 Ways to Be Your Customer's Hero

Improve Your Frontline Customer Service

Interested in upping your team’s service game? Dig deeper into Be Your Customer’s Hero using the links below.

Embed This Image On Your Site (copy code below):

When a Customer Refuses Your Help

When a Customer Refuses Your Help

When a customer refuses help, it can sometimes feel personal, like a form of rejection. As I’ve interacted with frontline reps, both as a speaker, a trainer, and a customer, I’ve seen how the simplest, most benign “no” from a customer can cause a customer-facing professional to shut down.

It’s almost as if you can see the thought bubbles above service reps head.

  • When a Customer Refuses Your Help“Can’t you see I’m trying to help you?”
  • “Really, I just want to do this, because it’s a benefit for you.”
  • “I’m just trying to do my job.”

Sometimes, this is a personality issue; it’s just how the rep is wired.

Sometimes, it is a training issue; the rep fails to see that their job is making the customer happy not performing Task X.

Often, it’s a bit of both.

Read more

Interview: GetApp's Top 25 Customer Service Apps

Interview: GetApp’s Top 25 Customer Service Apps

Suzie Blaszkiewicz, GetApp

Suzie Blaszkiewicz, GetApp

Interview: Suzie Blaszkiewicz of GetApp

Suzie Blaszkiewicz is a market analyst and content editor for GetApp. 

GetApp offers a digital comparison tool of customer service software and recently published a report on the Top 25 Customer Service Apps.

Suzie speaks with us about the methodology behind the study and some of the surprising results. If you’re interested in customer service software, make sure to check out the interview.

 


You recently published a report on the Top 25 Customer Service apps on the market today. What methodology did you use to determine this?

“Our ranking uses five unique data points to create a Top 25 list that provides a snapshot of the leading options for customer service software for small and mid-sized businesses.

Interview: GetApp's Top 25 Customer Service AppsThese data points are reviews, integrations, mobile app availability, media presence, and security.

Reviews looks at the number and rating of reviews on GetApp, giving a sense of user perception of the application.

Integrations is based on the number of integrations listed on GetApp, giving a better idea of the maturity of a product and how it might integrate with other common software that’s already being used.

Mobile app availability pulls data from Google Play and the App Store to see an app’s rating in both stores.

Media presence uses followers and fans from Facebook and Twitter to discern the relative popularity of an app.

Security is based on a vendor-completed security survey comprising 15 questions.

Each of these data points is scored out of 20, for a total possible score out of 100.”

Read more

To WOW Customers, Listen and Care

To WOW Customers, Listen and Care

Back in 2012, I wrote about the concept of 5-Second WOWs — small, simple actions that allow organizations to create memorable moments for customers without a lot of investment or time.

My wife and I recently experienced one of these WOW moments while traveling, and the experience perfectly demonstrated how easily you can WOW customers by simply listening and caring.

A Quick Getaway

Back in January, we took a quick weekend trip to Costa D’Este Beach Resort and Spa in Vero Beach, Florida.

To WOW Customers, Listen and CareOne of the features that attracts us to Costa D’Este is that it is a dog-friendly hotel. Since Vero Beach is driving distance for us, Costa is the perfect place to go for a quick weekend getaway with our Chief Happiness Officer, Dalton.

Now, when I say Costa is dog friendly; I should more aptly say dog-awesome!

They love dogs (well, at least our dog), and every staff member we have encountered on our numerous stays has gone out of their way to remember his name.

We never met a staff member that was standoffish or who gave us the “oh great, they have a dog” look.

Read more

Customer Loyalty: Winning Hearts and Minds

Customer Loyalty: Winning Hearts and Minds

Joseph Michelli, author of Driven to Delight

Joseph Michelli, author

Guest Poster: Joseph Michelli

The following is a guest post from Joseph Michelli.

Joseph A Michelli, PhD, CSP, is an internationally sought-after speaker, consultant, and New York Times No. 1 best-selling author. You can find more information about him at josephmichelli.com.

In this post, Joseph explores how important hearts and minds are to earning customer loyalty. He also touches on some of our favorite themes — such as reducing customer effort and empowering team members.

And now, Joseph…


When it comes to new customer acquisition, advertisers and marketers strive to position a brand so that it becomes “top of mind.” However, if you want to improve customer engagement, increase loyalty, and drive referrals, the challenge is to connect with both the “mind” and “heart” of your customer. Read more

How to Handle Unreasonable Customers

5 Ways to Handle Unreasonable Customers

Customers are irrational.

They overvalue what they already have, they react differently based on how an issue is framed, and they are less satisfied with decisions when they’ve been given more options to choose from.

How to Handle Unreasonable CustomersHowever, these well-known forms of customer irrationality are often easy to work around and can even be used to enhance customer experiences.

Unreasonableness is an entirely different matter.

With unreasonable customers, appeals to logic are subsumed by an emotional intransigence that is often hard to break through. Unreasonable customers are inherently stubborn; they are unwilling to accept what we (and we like to think) most others would accept as obvious.

Because unreasonable customers are detached from reality, they are among the most difficult customers to work with.

Below is a five step process for working with unreasonable customers. The techniques are most powerful when used in order but, like all customer service techniques, should be adapted to the specific circumstances. Read more

Gainesville Police Officer Plays Basketball, Customer Service Lesson

What the Gainesville Police Officer Teaches Us About Customer Service

Last week a video of a Gainesville, Florida police officer following up on a noise complaint went viral.

Gainesville Police Officer Plays Basketball, Customer Service LessonWhen Officer Bobby White arrived on the scene, he found a group of young kids playing basketball in the street.

What he did next is a lesson in human relations, community policing, and even customer service.

He played basketball with the kids.

He talked to them. He established rapport. He connected with them.

And only after he had connected and played ball with them, did he say, “I have no problem with y’all playing basketball in the street, just, if you can, try not to be too loud.” Read more

On Keeping the Customer but Losing the Business | Captive Customers

On Keeping the Customer but Losing the Business

Many organizations today are in a position of advantage. They have significant market share, weak competition, and strong pricing power. They can maintain their customer bases through sheer size, lack of competition, or high switching costs.

On Keeping the Customer but Losing the Business | Captive CustomersAs discussed in Chapter 21 of Be Your Customer’s Hero, industry consolidation trends are having a negative impact on customer experiences. Many industries are dominated by a few large players, and those industries dominated by monopolists and oligopolists tend to deliver bad customer service yet still keep their customers.

Why invest in customer experience the thinking goes? The customer isn’t leaving.

However, this approach is often shortsighted, and many organizations don’t seem to understand that while they might not lose the customer, they can easily lose the customer’s business.

What Would It Take for Me to Leave Amazon?

Amazon, with its sheer reach and breadth of services, does not fit the traditional monopolistic/oligopolistic model we so often think of (health plan provider, cable company, wireless provider, etc.). Amazon is an Internet retailer, an entertainment company, an IT company, and many other things. In addition, Amazon is known for having strong customer service.

Amazon is unique because it faces high levels of organized competition in many of its lines and businesses, yet at the same time stands alone as an industry of one. There is no other significant company that comes close to being Amazon; there is no Pepsi to Amazon’s Coke, so to speak.

I have been an Amazon customer since 1999, and I shudder to think how much I’ve spent with the company in 17 years. I am officially addicted to Amazon Prime and haven’t really considered canceling it since the first rocky year.

So, I ask myself, what would it take for me to leave Amazon?

Would I leave for any of the reasons I might normally leave a company? For a terrible customer experience? For being treated rudely by a customer service rep? For receiving a shoddy product and not standing behind it?

The answer is no. I would likely not stop being an Amazon customer; however, I could easily change my buying behaviors with the company.

How Amazon Could Keep Me — And Still Lose Me

Hypothetically, let’s say I had a bad experience with Amazon’s warranty program. The first impact would be that I was less likely to purchase the warranty on items purchased through Amazon. Warranties are super profitable, so it would be a loss.

Further, a lack of faith in the warranty program could cause me to take my large purchases elsewhere. Television sets, expensive electronics, or anything else I would want to warranty, I would no longer buy through Amazon.

Now, my average ticket price with the company is lower, making me less profitable as a Prime member, and my customer lifetime value is reduced, making me less valuable as a customer in general.

Amazon would keep me as a customer, but they could still easily lose a lot of my business.

(Again, this is hypothetical. Love you Amazon! xoxo)

About Those Banks and Wireless Providers

Since Amazon is so unique, let’s look at a more traditionally consolidated, poor service industry: banking. While banking has a more competitive landscape than many consolidated industries, large banks are often able to partially insulate themselves from competitive pressure through economies of scale and, more importantly, switching costs.

My wife and I patronize a certain mega-bank. We have both business and personal accounts there, and while the bank is large enough that we have had a range of customer experiences over the years, overall the customer service has been pretty bad.

I wouldn’t think twice about moving our accounts, and my wife (who deals with them most of the time) doesn’t have a week where she doesn’t ask me, “When can we dump bank X?”

My answer is the same every time: “Do you have time to deal with that right now?” And then another week, then month, then year goes by with us remaining as customers.

Why?

Because, as we discussed in this post on banking customer service, the switching costs are too high. It would take so much time to change all of our direct deposits, business auto-deducts, auto-payments, etc., that we simply can never justify the time.

So, they have kept us as customers much longer than they should have, but they have lost almost all of our additional business over the years.

  • As we’ve opened new businesses, opened new personal accounts, or gotten new credit cards, that business has gone elsewhere.
  • We’ve done no investing with them and would not even consider using their brokerage or investment advisory services.
  • When we bought a house a few years back, our mortgage went to another bank as well.

In short, they’ve kept a few checking and savings accounts and haven’t gotten a single bit of additional business from us.

Perhaps they look at us as a success story. On some report, it likely shows that we’ve been with the bank, holding numerous accounts, for many years.

In reality however, they’ve kept us as customers but lost our business. And eventually, as opportunities present themselves or as our schedules get more manageable, they’ll lose us as customers as well.

Millions of people across the world can say the same thing about their wireless provider or their cable company, but big businesses are not the only ones at risk with this phenomenon.

Be Your Customer's Hero

It Can Happen to Small Businesses Too

While small businesses generally do not enjoy the lack of competitive pressures that say cable companies do or the high switching costs that banks or mobile carriers do, they can sometimes replicate those effects via early market entry or real estate conditions.

For example, a small business could be…

  • The only pharmacy in a small town
  • The first coffee shop on a major morning commute route
  • The only gym close to a mega development

In cases like these, companies can often get away with lower levels of service and still keep their customers.

Until they can’t.

Eventually, the customer decides he’s ticked off enough to get set up with an online pharmacy, a Starbucks opens down the highway, or after two years of monopoly, another shopping center goes vertical near the large development and has a gym concept in it.

For small businesses, these types of monopolistic-type situations are almost always temporary. As the power declines, so will the level of the customer’s business and eventually the customer herself will move on to greener pastures.

Why Customer Experience Is Always Important

As we noted in the post, How Customer Service Can Save Cable: technologies can shift, and market conditions can change. In addition, switching costs can also decrease. When this happens, a disloyal customer base that has been held captive will leave at the first chance it gets.

However, while customers are still around, bad customer experiences can easily cause them to change buying behaviors and to spend less money with the organization.

Customer experience isn’t just an investment in the future; it’s a strategy for the present. TWEET THIS

 

By focusing on delivering Hero-Class® customer experiences, you can make sure you always keep the customer and never lose their business.

cts_post_2016-01_10-best-productivity-hacks-for-customer-service_EXP

10 Best Productivity Hacks for Customer Service [SlideShare]

Customer service teams are only as effective as they are productive.

With so many organizations and departments spread thin, doing more with less has become the mantra of many customer-facing teams.

These 10 productivity hacks will help you maximize your efficiency and deliver better customer service across the board.

Check out the SlideShare presentation below to get started!