Holiday Shopper Stress | Shopper Holding Head with Presents

Monthly Mash and The Sympathetic Holiday Shopper

Welcome to the Monthly Mash, a mashup of tools, tales and tips on customer service and the customer experience from around the blogosphere.

VOLUME 37: November 2014

Thoughts on the Customer: The Sympathetic Holiday Shopper

If you read our December 11 blog post, you know that we recently conducted a survey of consumer attitudes on holiday shopping. One of the findings you might have noticed was that 86.8% of respondents said they have “felt sorry” for retail workers who work on holidays. This idea is supported by a recent survey from LoyaltyOne which found that 50% of consumers think that stores being open all day on Thanksgiving day is a bad idea.

Holiday Shopper Stress | Shopper Holding Head with PresentsIt should be noted that both our question and LoyaltyOne’s only scratch the surface of this topic and also don’t (seem to) account for the difference in feelings people might have for industries that are generally expected to be open on holidays, like movie theaters and restaurants. However, the two data points do give an indication of overall sentiment.

In our survey, we collected some interesting anecdotal data as well through an open-ended question: “What do you dislike most about holiday shopping?” We received a wide array of responses to this question, and some of the strongest, most impassioned responses were around the commercialization of the holidays and making staff work on holidays.
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Consumer Holiday Shopping Experiences Infographic from Customers That Stick

Infographic: What Customers Experience Holiday Shopping

Here at CTS Service Solutions, we recently performed a survey designed to find out how consumers feel about holiday shopping and to see what customers are actually experiencing during the holiday shopping season.

The Holiday Shopping Experience: Customer’s Viewpoint 2014 was conducted on November 24, 2014 and surveyed 450 male and females between the ages of 18-65 living in the United States. The survey revealed a number of things about the holiday shopping experience:

  • Other customers are a big source of unpleasantness. Some of the experiences reported in surprising numbers include observing customers screaming at retail employees, feeling unsafe in a crowd, and seeing other customers have disagreements with each other (small number but large considering what it is).
  • Retailers are leaving business on the table. From long lines to lack of assistance, many respondents reported walking away from a purchase due to one annoyance or another.
  • People have strong feelings about the holiday shopping season. We asked an open ended question: “What do you dislike most about holiday shopping?” The word cloud in the infographic below gives an idea of some of the major themes but does not capture how strongly some consumers feel about retailers who have staff work on the holidays and about the commercialization of the holiday season in general.

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Crack the Customer Code Podcast Cover Art

A New Podcast All About Customers

Customer experience isn’t easy — it just seems that way! From bargaining with the C-Suite to negotiating with customers, from maximizing profit to ensuring loyalty, providing great customer experiences in today’s environment is a continuous challenge. It’s a roller coaster, and I have teamed up with Jeannie Walters to provide a new resource that can help you with the strategies and tactics you can use to smooth out this wild ride!

Enter our new customer experience and customer service podcast…

Crack the Customer Code Read more

Holiday Customer Service | Red Gift Boxes

6 Ways to Kickstart Your Organization for The Holiday Shopping Season

With the official Black Friday starting gun for the holiday season now officially fired, we thought we would share some tips for helping you prepare your teams for the remainder of the season. Remember, Black Friday and Cyber Monday still account for only a small percentage of holiday sales. The bulk of the holiday season is still ahead.

Preparation is the key to not only surviving but thriving during the holiday season. Do you have adequate labor? How will you inform customers of changing store hours? Can you augment your parking if needed to accommodate customers? Preparing for the season’s challenges ahead of time is the best way to make sure that increased traffic does not result in increased customer service issues.

Below we’ve assembled 6 tips to prepare your organization for the holiday season. While not every tip will apply across business models, most are fairly universal.

1. Learn From the Past

Have an informal meeting with your frontline teams to determine best, and worst, practices from the previous year. Make an assessment based on your conversation about where you are and what you can do to enhance your winning strategies and to avoid repeating bad performances.

2. Take Inventory

No shock here. The holidays are prime time for running out of inventory — and supplies.  Make sure you are well stocked with both.

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The Official Launch: Customers That Stick 2.0

Welcome to the brand new CTS Service Solutions and Customers That Stick™ website! We’ve been working for some time to create a new vision for our site that would better help you, our readers and clients, engage with us and our content. We want to take this opportunity to take you through some of the new features of the site.

We’ve got a lot going on at CTS this month, and you’ll also notice a number of new and exciting projects as you navigate through the new site.

New Layout and Feel

To begin, we’ve adopted a much wider, flexible layout . The previous site had a narrow frame, which resulted in less text across the page and significantly more scrolling. Using current technology (we’ll leave out the technical details), we were able to deploy a flexible format that adapts to your screen and device.

We’ve also adopted a cleaner, more minimalist style, focused on better readability and enhanced presentation of content.

You can even check our shrinking header, which takes up less space as you move down the page.

New Navigation

cts_posts_2014-12_cts-new-siteOur wider, more flexible format allowed us to restructure our new navigation menu on the top of the page. You will notice more items both in the menu and in the submenu, which you can easily get to by placing your mouse over a menu item. You can now get to many more key areas of the site with a single click.

All of this has enabled us to create a more logical site design for you to easily find the information you are looking for.

Redesigned Homepage

Our home page has been redesigned to be easier to use and to get you information quicker. We wanted to make sure that you could access the parts of the site that are both most popular and most current easily and visibly.

You will notice a few new feature areas

  • Welcome video (just so we could say hi!)
  • Feature box above the fold
  • The last six blog posts
  • Easy access to join The Customer Conversation

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Sean Hawkins

Faces of Customer Experience: Sean Hawkins

Meet Sean Hawkins!

sean_hawkinsI am a Customer Experience and Contact Center Manager with over 15 years of contact center experience. My years in contact center leadership have provided me a solid understanding of the call center environment.

I have a terrific pulse on incorporating innovation into the contact center having implemented social, outsourcing partners, new technology, and new products, while maintaining an award-winning contact center.

False Dichotomy

We know that the answer is often somewhere in between, but the fun of this section is that you have to pick just one!

Paper < Plastic

Personalization Privacy

In-Store Shopping Online Shopping

Transactional >Relational

Mac PC

Customer Service > Customer Experience

Captain Kirk < Dr. Spock

Talk Text

Dog Cat

Movie Theater > In-Home Rental 

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The Omnipresent Customer | Businessman checks his watch

Monthly Mash and The Omnipresent Customer

Welcome to the Monthly Mash, a mashup of tools, tales and tips on customer service and the customer experience from around the blogosphere.

VOLUME 36: October 2014

Thoughts on the Customer: The Omnipresent Customer

If you are involved with customer experience at any level, you have likely heard the word “omnichannel” so many times in the last few years that you are seriously considering naming your next pet Omni.

The Omnipresent Customer | Businessman checks his watchWhile buzzwords and strategies that fall out of favor after a few years are often hard to spot in real-time, the importance of omnichannel strategies seems likely to stand the test of time. Customers want to talk with us where they want to talk with us, and they want the experience to be seamless and consistent across channels. Based on current technological trends, it seems unlikely that this trend will weaken with time.

Thinking about omnichannel ideas has me pondering whether the next buzzword will be omnipresent? More and more customers are expecting answers in real-time, and an increasing number of customers are becoming less tolerant of not being able to be serviced because of once quaint notions like “evenings” and “weekends.”

Of course, in a few industries this is already true, and in a few, it is likely to never be true. However, I wonder if we will see an increasing number of industries and organizations moving to be more omnipresent, to have active service channels (not just passive ones) accessible many more hours a week?

I have my doubts for a number of reasons, but it is interesting to consider.

The Month in Customer Service Blogging

A collection of the best posts about customer service and the customer experience we read this past month. Read More


Documentation and a Tale of Four Phone Calls

The following is a post from Tricia Keels, Social Media Manager here at CTS.

What I like most about Tricia’s story is that it demonstrates how great systems and training can make a high effort experience as effortless as possible. While the product design could be more customer friendly (wait until the screwdriver part), the call center handled the situation like champs from beginning to end.

And now, Tricia…


large_6005186410Electronics and I don’t mix. Electronics and our 11-year-old son, Atticus, do. So you can imagine how upset he was to find his little sister had shoved the SD card into his Nintendo 3DS backwards. The thing never worked the same after that. It was time to call customer support.

My expectation was that I was going to waste my entire afternoon on hold, not understand what the techie was saying to me, and endure lots of noise, not only from my three kids running around, but from a noisy call center as well. You can see why I didn’t want to pick up the phone.

But, I love our son, and he bought this Nintendo 3DS with his own money, and it wasn’t even a year old.

What actually happened was the exact opposite of my expectations.

As customer service professionals, we are always thinking of ways to respect our customers’ time. Nintendo’s documentation, their expert call center reps, and their patience with us flipped this on its head. In the end, they had me, the customer, respecting their time as we navigated the steps to get this device fixed. Read More

Hero-Class Customer Service | CTS Man With Cape

A 3-Point Checklist for Reducing Customer Hassle

“First, do the customer no harm.”
The Hero-ClassTM Oath

Hero-Class Customer Service | CTS Man With CapeOne of the interesting things about writing a book are the things you leave out. I am wrapping up the final edits on my upcoming customer service book with the publisher this week, and one of the few areas I made last minute changes to were on the topic of delight, amazement, and Hero-ClassTM customer service.

It will be of no shock to readers of the Customers That Stick blogTM and The Customer Conversation that my approach to delight and amazement is steeped in a focus on service basics, with an emphasis on reducing hassle and executing consistently. WOW moments are great, but they should be layered on a solid base of meeting or exceeding expectations consistently.

I wanted to include the checklist below in the book; however, the book is focused on frontline customer service and this checklist is truly designed for organizational leaders who have the ability to influence process and systems decisions.

The 3-point checklist below will help customer experience leaders analyze the hassle factor their customers are experiencing: Read More


Faces of Customer Experience: David Janusz

Meet David Janusz!

photo-65While not an adherent to astrology, I am a true Cancer in that my work history is riddled with lateral moves. I’ve been a paper boy, a janitor, a paint factory worker, a waiter, a bar manager, a bicycle mechanic, a track and field coach, a personal trainer, a librarian and now a program coordinator for the city of Sherwood, Oregon.

False Dichotomy

We know that the answer is often somewhere in between, but the fun of this section is that you have to pick just one!

Paper < Plastic

Personalization < Privacy

In-Store Shopping > Online Shopping

Transactional < Relational

Mac < PC

Customer Service < Customer Experience 

Captain Kirk > Dr. Spock

Talk > Text 

Dog > Cat

Movie Theater In-Home Rental 

Tell Us More About Yourself…

What was your first job and what did you learn about customer service in it?

My first job was as a paper boy, slinging the scoop to up to 100 doorsteps a day. This was back in the day when kids actually delivered the papers on the saddles of their bikes.
Read More