Category Archives: Customer Service
Are you present to the big difference between a satisfied customer and a happy-grateful one?
There is a satisfied customer. There is a happy customer. And there is a happy-grateful customer. Too often we are not present to these distinctions. You and I can create satisfied customers simply by taking care of the functional aspects of the customer experience. To create a happy and grateful customer requires the human touch that evokes positive, life affirming emotions. And, I say that the human touch makes all the difference when it comes to repeat business and customer advocacy in a services centred business. Allow me to share a story with you.
“I like Hussein. He’s friendly, kind and genuine.” That is what my daughter said to me, with a big smile on her face, as we were leaving The Daruchini, our local Bangladeshi restaurant in Binfield. I found myself feeling the same way. What had turned a usually satisfactory experience, at this restaurant, into a happy memorable experience this time?
How do you create a memorable customer experience?
On a cold windy rainy day, my daughter and I had turned up at The Daruchini, a Bangladeshi restaurant, to pick up the takeaway meals that my wife had ordered. Walking up to the bar, a young man greeted us with a smile. We did not know him, yet he seemed to know us. He confirmed the order and the price with me. Whilst he was doing this his colleague spoke to him in a language that I did not understand.
To my surprise, this young man turned to me and apologised for speaking his native language. So I asked him what language they were speaking. “Bangladeshi” he told me. Then he asked me where I came from, originally. I told him that I came from Pakistani administered Kashmir. At this point, he turned to my 12 year old daughter and asked her, in a friendly way, if she had ever been there. My daughter shook her head. I said that I had not been willing to take her there as I considered it too risky. The young man agreed with me and told me that I had made a wise choice. Right there I felt accepted, acknowledged, validated, understood. I noticed a connection and found myself asking for his name. He told me his name (Hussein) and I shared my name with him.
Then our takeaway food order arrived. Hussein opened the refrigerator where the drinks are kept. And he asked my daughter if she drank Fanta (fizzy drink). She smiled and said “Yes.” Hussein hand her a can of Fanta. I noticed that I was surprised. I noticed that I was feeling happy. And I noticed that I felt gratitude toward Hussein for his kindness towards my daughter. I thanked Hussein and we left the restaurant.
We got into our car and were about to drive off when Hussein caught up with us. He told us that it was likely that our food order had been mixed up with another food order. So he asked to take the food order away so it could be checked. He apologised for the mix up. And told us that he would be back in a couple of minutes with the correct order.
Shortly, afterwards Hussein was back, walking across the car park in the rain. He apologised for the mix-up and for keeping us waiting. Then he told us that he had given us an extra dish, free of charge, to make up for keeping us waiting. Once again, I found myself surprised and feeling happy. This is when my daughter said ”I like Hussein. He’s friendly, kind and genuine.”
What is the lesson here?
It occurs to me that how Hussein showed up, his attitude and his little acts of kindness, cannot be scripted. They cannot be turned into process . It occurs to me that your organisation will either create space for these qualities to show up or will suppress them. With that in mind I have three questions for you:
1. Does your organisation recruit and retain people like Hussein?
2. Does your organisation create a space for your people to be genuinely friendly, responsive, and kind with your customers – to respond to the unique customer situation?
3. Does your organisation call forth the best of your people – their humanity, their ability to connect with your customers? Or does your organisation suppress the best of your people through rules, scripts, process and fear of breaking the standard rules?
Issue: how do I do this online?
Travel is an essential part of my life as a management consultant and business advisor. Occasionally, whilst I am on my travels I get a call from either my wife or children asking me for help on getting some task done on the web. During these remote conversations I tend to be gripped by a sense of frustration and futility. Why? Because I get that the most effective way to help them, and not get another call, is to be by their sides guiding them through the job they want to get done online.
This week I came across WalkMe and spoke with their Head of Marketing, Boaz Amidor. He tells me that the founder of WalkMe found himself in the same boat – his mother needed the help again and again – and this is what led him to create WalkeMe.
What is WalkMe™? It is an “interactive self-guidance technology that guides prospects, customers, employees or partners through any Web experience.” As I understand it, WalkMe it sits on top of your website and as such does NOT need any integration or changes with the underlying site.
Why use it? If you use it intelligently – focussing on the scenarios/tasks that matter – then WalkMe reduces your customers’ frustration of waiting for assistance, shortens the time it takes for support personnel to handle an incoming request and strengthens your company’s support reputation. It also occurs to me that this technology can improve sales conversion as not all customers who want to buy from you call support when they cannot buy from you – some go elsewhere, I do!
How does it work? ”Through a series of interactive tip balloons overlaid on the screen, tasks are broken down into short, step-by-step guided instructions, which help customers act, react and progress during their online experience. As a result, customer support managers can empower their customers to self-task successfully even through the most complex processes.”
You can get an introduction to WalkMe by taking a look at a short demo video: http://vimeo.com/48888010
And , you can learn more about WalkMe and even try it for free. Check out www.walkme.com
What can you expect from the WalkMe team? Boaz Amidor told me that their customer support team is not called the customer support team, nor the customer services team. It is called the Customer Success team. Why? Because “The philosophy here is to make sure that our team is committed to the success of the customer. WalkMe brings the value and our team is here to ensure the success.” I say that this resonates with my idea of service.
WalkMe was founded in 2011, has offices in San Francisco and Tel Aviv. It is funded by Mangrove Capital Partners, Giza Venture Capital and Gemini Funds.
WalkMe recently WON the Red Herring Top 100 Award. Alex Vieux, publisher and CEO of Red Herring, said the following regarding WalkMe’s win: “We looked at hundreds and hundreds of candidates from all across the continent, and after much thought and debate, narrowed the list down to the Top 100 Winners. Each year, the competition gets tougher but we believe WalkMe demonstrates the vision, drive and innovation that define a Red Herring winner.”
WalkMe has been included in the list of “Cool Vendors” in the “Cool Vendors” in the CRM Customer Service and Social 2013″ by Gartner.
You Should Know
I am not a fan of complex technology, I have grappled with it (MIS, ERP, CRM, e-commerce) and it tends to be hard work to implement, and it rarely generates the promised benefits.
I am a fan of simple technologies that are easy to implement, simplify-enrich lives, and create value. This is how WalkMe showed up for me this week and this is why I agreed to write this post.
I am not being paid, in any shape or form, for writing this post. Or any other post that I have written to date. My commitment is to write from a context of service.
As with everything I write, I urge you to “try things out AND do your homework”.
Jeff Bezos and Amazon have been in the news courtesy of Bezos latest letter to shareholders. If you have any interest in what constitutes a customer-centric orientation then I throughly recommend that you print out this letter and read it. If you are up for creating a customer-centric organisation then I recommend that you read this letter every day.
Annette Franz on Jeff Bezos and Customer Experience
Annette Franz over at CX Journey has a written an enthusiastic post referring to Jeff Bezos as a CX dream come true!. I recommend reading it, and I share one particular part of her post with you:
As a leader, Mr. Bezos shows that he’s both the customer and the employee champion. Reading through the 2012 letter again, the following traits and qualities come to mind – all of which are certainly descriptive of a customer-centric culture:
- Best interest of customers
- Not being opportunistic
- Customers ahead of shareholders
Do any of those describe your organization’s values and culture?
Bruce Temkin on Amazon and the customer-centric blueprint
Bruce Temkin says that Bezos letter describes Amazon’s customer-centric blueprint. Bruce picks up on Bezos strategy of making investments and sacrifices today (to benefit customers) knowing that some of these will pay of in the long term. There is one particular paragraph from Bruce’s post that I share with you here as I say it goes to the heart of the customer-centric orientation (bolding is my work):
Bezos understands the value of Amazon’s most critical asset, customer loyalty, which I’ve defined as the willingness to consider, trust, and forgive. That focus is what put Amazon.com on the top of the retail sector in the 2013 Temkin Experience Ratings. Great leaders focus on building that customer loyalty asset with the knowledge that it will generate the best returns for all stakeholders in the long run.
My take on Jeff Bezos, Amazon and the customer-centric orientation
I say that the core of authentic customer-centricity is a relentless ongoing commitment to creating compelling value for customers. What does Jeff Bezos say? Here is an extract from his 1997 letter (highlighting is my work):
From the beginning, our focus has been on offering our customers compelling value….. we set out to offer customers something they simply could not get any other way, and began serving them with books. We brought them much more selection than was possible in a physical store, and presented it in a useful, easy-to-search, and easy-to-browse format in a store open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. We maintained a dogged focus on improving the shopping experience, and in 1997 substantially enhanced our store. We now offer customers gift certificates, 1-ClickSM shopping, and vastly more reviews, content, browsing options, and recommendation features. We dramatically lowered prices, further increasing customer value.
But we are not in 1997 and Amazon is now the gorilla of the online space not an upstart, a revolutionary. So lets take a look at the present situation. I say the real test of authentic customer-centricity is what you do when you have arrived, when you dominate the marketplace. I have worked with many large successful organisations. Again and again I have seen these organisations ‘squeeze’ the customer and take ‘advantage’ of the customer’s trust or the customers weakness to maximise profits. Has Amazon fallen into this trap? Here are two paragraphs from the April 2013 letter:
When you pre-order something from Amazon, we guarantee you the lowest price offered by us between your order time and the end of the day of the release date…….. Most customers are too busy themselves to monitor the price of an item after they pre-order it, and our policy could be to require the customer to contact us and ask for the refund. Doing it proactively is more expensive for us, but it also surprises, delights, and earns trust.
In 2012, AWS [Amazon Web Services] announced 159 new features and services……. AWS Trusted Advisor monitors customer configurations, compares them to known best practices, and then notifies customers where opportunities exist to improve performance, enhance security, or save money. Yes, we are actively telling customers they’re paying us more than they need to. In the last 90 days, customers have saved millions of dollars through Trusted Advisor, and the service is only getting started. All of this progress comes in the context of AWS being the widely recognized leader in its area – a situation where you might worry that external motivation could fail. On the other hand, internal motivation – the drive to get the customer to say “Wow” – keeps the pace of innovation fast.
Why has Amazon bucked the trend here? Why is Amazon not exploiting its dominant position? Why is Amazon not extracting value from its customer relationships to maximise short-term profits and drive up the share price?
My answer is that Bezos is not playing the profit maximisation game. I say that he is playing “maximise service not profits” game and as such he has built a culture and management doctrine that drives the appropriate thinking and behaviour. Here’s what Jeff Bezos say in his l2013 letter:
One advantage – perhaps a somewhat subtle one – of a customer-driven focus is that it aids a certain type of proactivity. When we’re at our best, we don’t wait for external pressures. We are internally driven to improve our services, adding benefits and features, before we have to. We lower prices and increase value for customers before we have to. We invent before we have to. These investments are motivated by customer focus rather than by reaction to competition. We think this approach earns more trust with customers and drives rapid improvements in customer experience – importantly – even in those areas where we are already the leader.
I say there is value in simplicity. I say that there is value in exceeding customer expectations. I say that one of the best ways of exceeding customer expectations is to give customers more than they expect. I say that customers expect companies to play dirty and take advantage. I say a sure route to delighting customers is not to do this and instead treat people right. What does Jeff Bezos say?
To me, trying to dole out improvements in a just-in-time fashion would be too clever by half. It would be risky in a world as fast-moving as the one we all live in. More fundamentally, I think long-term thinking squares the circle. Proactively delighting customers earns trust, which earns more business from those customers, even in new business arenas. Take a long-term view, and the interests of customers and shareholders align.
In amidst all this content it is easy to miss what really matters: the context. So let’s just take a look at the context. Between the 1997 letter and the 2013 letter, a span of 15+ years, there has been consistency:
- Leadership: Jeff Bezos continues to be in charge
- Focus: creating compelling value for customers
- Strategy: take calculated risks, innovate, invest today to create value for customers and look for payoff in terms of customer loyalty and market leadership in the longer run
- Management doctrine: the fundamental pillars of the management doctrine are set-out in the 1997 letter.