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

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

Faces of Customer Experience: Richard Shapiro

Meet Richard Shapiro!

Richard R. Shapiro_10.26.11Richard loves being involved in an industry that has a direct impact on improving customer service for us all. As President of The Center For Client Retention, he has a clientele of Fortune 500 companies and small businesses who rely on his firm’s research and consulting to improve the customer experience.

As a consumer, he is always thrilled to find a Welcomer, a frontline associate who innately delivers a memorable experience beyond anyone’s expectation.

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 working in my dad’s retail store when I was a teenager. I collected money at the cash register, which always gave me a thrill. But more than entertaining, it was an education. It was as if I was taking a college course in customer service. I could see my dad interact with people as they entered his store. And the key word is people. My father saw all customers as people first, customers second.

Read More

3 Customer Service Lessons I Learned From Kids

When we opened and closed our first backyard restaurant in 2012, we had no idea it would become an annual event. It was just my family of five _M4A2950
entertaining and acting on our then 7-year-old’s desire to skip over the summer lemonade stand and do a full-fledged restaurant instead. He drew the logo, made the menu, and set the prices (the place was a steal.) We agreed all the proceeds from the restaurant would be dedicated to a Columbus charity of the kids’ choosing.

We just wrapped up our third year, having grown from 40 guests to 150 guests this August for our one-night-only event. The neighborhood kids, along with our own, prepare food, work the kitchen, wait and bus the tables, and earn tips. Reflecting on this annual event, three customer service lessons really stand out.

Display Genuine Enthusiasm

The day of our first backyard restaurant was mass chaos; we had never done anything like this before. But once the customers started to arrive, the energy in the place took over. Read More

How Do You Make Your Customers Feel?

In the days that followed Maya Angelou’s recent passing, people from across the world took time to remember the woman and her body of work. One of  Maya Angelou’s most popular quotes that made the rounds online delivers a message that should be emblazoned on the front of every customer experience training binder:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 

Maya Angelou

To better understand how this idea has played out in the real world, I set off to find stories of exemplary customer service that left people remembering a great feeling as a result. What I found was a little different.

  • “I felt unwelcome.”
  • “I felt taken advantage of.”
  • “I was so annoyed.”
  • “I was flat out angry.”

origin_3078856253I found the truth of Maya Angelou’s statement, but not in the way I hoped. It seems that when an organization gives a customer a negative feeling, that one stands out much more than a positive one.

Fortunately, it is possible for this to work in a positive way as well. Read More

Empowered To Solve The Problem

Recently my family became urban chicken farmers. After six weeks living in an indoor “coop” under a heat lamp, our new pets were ready to move outside. Our next step: get a coop.

We turned to the Internet to do our shopping. After a week of searching, we picked one out, clicked and ordered.

It arrived right on time, yea! But it was broken, boo! Four major parts had significant breaks. The thought of putting all the pieces back into the photo 2-4large box and shipping it across the country so they could send us a new one seemed crazy, costly and time consuming. So we called customer service in hopes of discovering a better solution.

I could tell you about the 20 minutes I sat on hold to talk to a customer service rep. Or the multiple emails that went unanswered. But that’s another blog post on wait time.

The part of this customer service encounter I really want to emphasize is problem solving. This company’s return policy is for the customer to repackage the broken product, drive it to the nearest Fedex, wait for the return to show up on their card, and then finally go back online and order another one. That’s a lot of work for me to continue doing business with them, and it doesn’t solve my problem of needing these chickens moved out of my house.

I decided to politely help them solve my problem by suggesting two solutions that would leave me relatively satisfied.  I went so far as to inform them we were ready to purchase some additional products as soon as this was resolved. Read More

USB Cable | Effortless Big Kahuna of Customer Experience

Effortless: The Big Kahuna of Customer Experience

Chip BellGuest Poster: Chip R. Bell

Chip R. Bell is a renowned keynote speaker, customer loyalty consultant and best-selling author. His newest book is The 9½ Principles of Innovative Service ( He can be reached at


One Sunday evening at my computer, I was online ordering promotional visors from Stitch America in Bremen, Georgia. I had selected the visor color, style, and words to be stitched in a particular font and thread color. After loading in my credit card information, I sent the order off into cyberspace. I was about to turn out the light when I received a text message on my smartphone.

“Mr. Bell, may I call you about the order you just placed?” I responded, “Yes.” Within less than a minute, the phone rang. “This is Tonya. Thanks for your order. I want to make sure you get exactly what you wanted.” I was thrilled! Someone cared on a Sunday night about an online order.

USB Cable | Effortless Big Kahuna of Customer Experience“The font size you’ve chosen will be too hard to read.” She continued, “May I suggest doubling it? I can send you a PDF photo showing the front of the visor in the actual size.” I agreed and hung up the phone.

When I turned on my computer the next morning, there was the promised PDF from Tonya. With it came a short email note, “As soon as you give me the word that this is the best-looking visor you have ever seen, I will get it into production.” Two days later I got an email and text message from the production department that the visors were finished and being packaged for shipment. Later that day, I got an email with a photocopy of the tracking order. Two days later a follow-up e-mail came indicating that their system showed the order had been delivered.

Then Tonya called again. “Are you totally thrilled with your order?” I totally was! And the Stitch America service made me want to give up shopping centers forever. Read More

Customer Service Training: Principles Over Procedures | Food Sign with Seagulls

Customer Service Training: Principles Trump Procedures

Last week, I went to a national “market” restaurant to grab a quick lunch. I do not go to this chain often but have been an infrequent customer since I discovered it back in 1993. So, I have a bit of a long term perspective on its business and its customer service.

In the past year or so, the chain has impressed me with their customer experience initiatives. Here are some of the initiatives “The Market” seems to have adopted.

  • Real plates and silverware have replaced paper and plastic.
  • Trash cans have been removed from the dining area; employees bus your plates at the end of the meal.
  • Employees make eye contact and welcome you when you walk through the door.
  • An employee walks your plates to your table for you after you checkout.

This last initiative is in some ways the most impressive — but it is also the one that inspired this post.

Customer Service Procedures Are Not Enough

As I was checking out with my food, a gentleman wearing a headset picked up my plate and asked me where I would like to sit. I was still early in my transaction with the cashier and told him not to worry about it.

He held onto the plate. Read More

Angry Guy Yelling

Why I Don’t Call Out Bad Companies by Name on This Blog

I have a terrible customer service story to share. It is a story of bait and switch advertising so blatant that everyone I tell it to is shocked by the brazenness of it. People literally get mad just hearing the story.

But something happened as I began writing the story this weekend: I found myself having to explain why I was not mentioning the company by name.

As I wrote, I realized that I have never really discussed why I generally don’t call out companies by name on this blog (there are rare exceptions), and I realized that the answer was going to take more than a quick paragraph — that it deserved a blog post of its own.

So, today I would like to explain the reasoning behind that philosophy, and if you would like to hear my enraging customer service story, please come back on Thursday.

Why I Don’t Call Out Bad Companies By Name on This Blog

Obviously, here at Customers That Stick we focus on discussing customer service and the customer experience. Customer service stories are an important part of that discussion, whether they appear in the comment section or in our customer service stories series (as highlighted on our menu below).

Why I Don't Call Out Companies by Name on this Blog | CTS Sidebar MenuWe can learn a tremendous amount through stories, and as humans, stories are often more powerful than simple facts or lists of 3 ways to rock your customer’s world.

Here’s the catch though: some stories are positive and some stories are not. Read More

Office Depot Customer Service | Purple Clipboard

Office Depot Customer Service: Competition Is Right Next Door

I am pleased to introduce Donna Gurnic, our Market Development Coordinator here at CTS Service Solutions. After hearing about Donna’s Office Depot story, I encouraged her to share it in her own voice for our Customer Service Stories series.


Last week I had the most unique experience I have ever had as a customer.

I was searching for a specifically sized clipboard and was using only a picture text message for reference.

I walked into a major office supply chain and asked a store associate where the clipboards were. He groaned and mumbled, “Oh boy, I don’t really know.” He then asked another associate who was on the phone, and the associate rattled off something about aisle 10.

Aisle 10 was a bust. They didn’t have what I was looking for, and it was obvious the staff had hit the limit of what they could (or would) do for me, so I left the store without even receiving a “have a nice day.”

Competition Is Always Waiting

My next stop was at Office Depot in Altamonte Springs (Store #30), where a cashier warmly greeted me as soon as I walked inside. I told him I was looking for clipboards, and he directed me to the appropriate area of the store.

On the way, I was intercepted by a friendly associate, we’ll call her Lucy, who escorted me to the clipboards.

Office Depot Customer Service | Purple ClipboardAs we walked, I commented on how much better they were at helping customers than the folks over at the other office supply chain. I told her that I had just left there, and they really didn’t do much to help me.

She stood with me while I deliberated over whether to get the clipboards with the purple geometric patterns or the blue checkers. After about a minute, I told Lucy that I would text a photo to my boss for approval, and told her, “I promise I’m not going to buy them online.”

She replied warmly, “We can always order them for you if you’d like.”

I finally bought all of the purple geometric clipboards they had. As Lucy walked me to the register, I told her how much I loved coming in the store and how nice everyone always is to me.

Then she did something that surprised me.

Read More