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.

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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!


Don't Let Conformity Stifle Ideas | Asch Conformity Experiment

Don’t Let Conformity Stifle Ideas

The impetus to conform is strong for many.

Don't Let Conformity Stifle Ideas | Asch Conformity ExperimentOften, the conformity is steeped in solid reasoning and thoughtful consideration — wearing appropriate clothes to work, for instance.

In other cases, the conformity is subconscious and almost frighteningly instinctual. Hence, the existence of the term “mob mentality.”

In organizational settings, conformity can be a positive, helping to create a uniformity of purpose and action; however, conformity can also be detrimental to the organization, stifling the free exchange of ideas, innovative thinking, and perhaps most importantly dissenting opinion. Read more

Our Customer Service Podcast: One Year In

Our Customer Service Podcast: One Year In

On December 2, 2014, Jeannie Walters and I launched a podcast dedicated to all things customer; we called it Crack the Customer Code. With Crack the Customer Code, we wanted to explore the wide range of customer service and customer experience challenges that organizational leaders face on a regular basis.

Our Customer Service Podcast: One Year InWith 71 episodes behind us, it is fun to look back at the incredible variety of interesting and exciting topics we’ve covered in the past year.

A Year of Learning

From Why Does Customer Service Still Stink (047) to Why Customer Service Must Be Profitable (061), we’ve explored customer experience and customer service from a number of different angles. Even better, we’ve had the opportunity to talk to a wide range of guests, from thought leaders in content marketing, online superstars, and those transforming customer experience for large organizations like the Arizona Diamondbacks and PEMCO Insurance. Read more

9 Ways to Empower Employees

9 Ways to Empower Employees [SlideShare]

Too many customer experiences are ruined by one simple problem: frontline reps are not empowered to solve customer issues on the spot.

Easy-to-resolve, minor issues soon become difficult-to-resolve major issues because an employee was constrained by policy, process, or simply bureaucracy.

The customer, who just wanted a simple fix, now has to jump through hoops to get her issue resolved. A $5 problem just became a $500 problem — or a $5,000 problem depending on the lifetime value of the customer.

An empowered employee, who had the authority and autonomy to take care of the customer in real time, could have made the difference.
Read more

You Need Customer Service, No Matter How Good Your Experience

You Need Customer Service, No Matter How Good Your Experience

I’ve come across the following concept a number of times in the past few years:

“Customer service is a failure of customer experience.”

For some customer experience practitioners, the concept seems to stem from a worldview that customer service is obsolete — that the ever-important idea of a complete customer experience successfully executed makes traditional customer service unnecessary.

You Need Customer Service, No Matter How Good Your ExperienceThis notion may be useful, but by predicating the existence of customer service on the failure of customer experience, it sends a dangerous message that the skills needed for customer service are “backup skills” and that investment and priority should be centered on customer experience enhancement.

Of course the line between customer service and customer experience is already a specious one, as customer experience by definition includes customer service.

For the purposes of this post, we will adopt the rather general framework I used in Be Your Customer’s Hero:

CX differs from customer service (CS) in that CX entails the entirety of the customer’s interactions with the company. …There’s no consensus about where the line between CS and CX truly is, but the best way to look at it is that CX represents the customer’s entire journey, whereas CS is what happens at specific points along the way.Read more

5 Millennial Traits to Improve Customer Service

5 Millennial Traits to Improve Customer Service

Alleli Aspili of Infinit-O

Alleli Aspili

Guest Poster: Alleli Aspili

The following is a guest post from Alleli Aspili, a Senior Specialist for Business Development in Infinit Outsourcing, Inc. (Infinit-O), an ISO-certified BPO company that caters inbound call center, finance and accounting and healthcare outsourcing to SMEs and who is also responsible for maintaining online brand and content for Infinit Contact, Infinit Healthcare and other Infinit properties.

Alleli explores how the traits common to the Millennial generation can provide a roadmap for providing these consumers the experiences they desire and collects the trends we’ve all been seeing into a handy list.

And now, Alleli…

 


Businesses looking to have continuous success must learn more about Generation Y, also known as Millennials. This group’s behaviors, beliefs, interests and shopping habits are shaping the global marketplace. Understanding them will help brands improve how they provide customer service to this highly important market.

5 Millennial Traits to Improve Customer ServiceTo do this, businesses must take note of these following Millennial traits.

#1 Millennials use multiple channels and devices

Millennials grew up in a world of technology so it’s not surprising that they are a tech-savvy generation. They are on multiple platforms, use multiple web-enabled gadgets and are online 24/7. They are so addicted to their devices that one study reveals 53% of Millennials said they would rather give up their sense of smell than give up their technology. Read more

Negativity Bias and Customer Service | Lion Hunting

Negativity Bias and Customer Service

Unfortunately, for those working in customer experience and customer service, human beings are inherently biased towards negative information. It is why the local news is known for “if it bleeds, it leads” and for promoting stories with headlines such as “is your child’s new toy a health hazard?”

Negativity Bias and Customer Service | Lion HuntingWe are evolutionarily attuned to watch for threats, and this programming makes us prioritize negative information.

Researcher Daniel Kahneman explains it this way:

“The brains of humans and other animals contain a mechanism that is designed to give priority to bad news. By shaving a few hundredths of a second from the time needed to detect a predator, this circuit improves the animal’s odds of living long enough to reproduce.”

It’s evolutionary; there’s no changing it.

For all of the talk about positivity and great attitudes, people are simply more attuned to negative inputs.

What’s worse for customer experience professionals is that these negative experiences stick around much longer than the positive ones.

Neuropsychologist Rich Hanson says it this way:

“The brain is like Velcro for negative experiences but Teflon for positive ones. That’s why researchers have found that animals, including humans, generally learn faster from pain (alas) than pleasure.”

This means issue resolution is not what we thought it was. The issue was resolved, but the impression made by the issue likely wasn’t.

So, how can we counter negativity bias to make customer experiences as positive as possible? Read more

Why All Experts Should Be Two-Handed Economists | President Truman

Why All Experts Should Be Two-Handed Economists

President Harry S. Truman once famously quipped, “Give me a one-handed economist! All my economists say, ‘on one hand … on the other.”

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Photo Credit: White House

While I can completely relate to President Truman’s frustration, his economists were doing exactly what they should have been doing — adding context and perspective to a fluid and complex topic.

Yet, “two-handed” experts are increasingly more rare. All too often short form advice supplants deeper counsel. We live in a world increasingly awash in bold pronouncements from the disconnected.

The manager gives them to the front lines.

The CEO gives them to management.

The consultants give them to the executives.

This general, disconnected advice can be useful as a form of motivation, but it is often useless or — worse — misleading when applied to any deeper purpose. Read more