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April 2nd, 2009, 10:47 AM #1Provide Superior Customer Service
Sometimes I'm amazed at how bad customer service is with some companies. It's like they have an unwritten policy that if things go wrong with a customer, they will make things right but only if they can do so without losing money on that particular order. Many companies make it a real hassle to get problems resolved. Often, you have to go through numerous people, make several complaints, and be persistent before you can get a satisfactory resolution. This isn't a good policy.
Years ago, I had a problem with a floral shop. I had ordered flowers for my anniversary, and they delivered them a day early. That got me in a lot of trouble with my first wife, who thought I forgot the day. I called the floral shop to complain. The owner apologized and offered to issue a full refund AND send a replacement bouquet that was even bigger the next day. Their won me as a customer for life.
I've always shared this story with merchants who have consumer issues that are brought to my attention (encouraging them to go beyond what is expected), but I've never had any sort of emperical evidence that this is a good policy. Today I found some.
If you've ever been to Disney, I'm sure you've seen how incredible their service is. What you've probably never seen is how well they do when there is a problem. Today, I found this blog entry from a former cast member, which describes what every employee is empowered to do and gives the numbers behind the policy. Emphasis below is mine:In 2000 I did an internship with Walt Disney World in Orlando. Disney’s guest service is legendary. From the top down, every “cast member” is commissioned and empowered to provide guests with a “magical” experience. For example, even though I was merely a “custodial engineer” I was given Guest Service Recovery cards: fill-in-the blank vouchers to right the wrongs of the Magic Kingdom. See a guest drop their ice-cream cone? Give her a GSR to get a free replacement. Seagull crap on a guest on the River Walk? Give him a GSR for a free Mickey Mouse sweatshirt to change into. Parents freaked-out because it took an hour to find their lost six-year-old? Give them a GSR to skip to the front of the two-hour line at Splash Mountain…
Disney learned that a guest who has a bad experience but receives exceptional guest service recovery is 85% more likely to plan a return trip than is a guest who has no bad experience in the first place. And so, every cast member, even the ones responsible for cleaning up vomit, can give away free merchandise and break protocol at their discretion to ensure the quality of the guest’s experience.
How you respond to customers who have problems makes a HUGE difference. Make it easy for them to reach out to you. If something has gone wrong, don't just make it right. Make it better than right. By turning that bad experience into a positive, you'll win a customer for life.
Another aspect of this is the word of mouth that you receive from customers or have bad experiences and those who receive exceptional service. Someone who has a bad experience will tell many friends. Someone who has a bad experience turned into an exceptional one will probably tell many friends as well.
April 2nd, 2009, 12:20 PM #2
Honestly, all aside, It is truly amazing how much CS can do to save a customer who has a bad experience. I started in CS with my company before moving into affiliate management. 9 out of 10 customers that had an issue were saveable. And even better, like you've stated, the ones that we put in the extra effort of showing that we truly cared about their concerns ended up being repeat customers after that.
Apologize from the start and tell them you want to make it right with them. Apologize again. Then make it right. That is our strategy. 100% satisfaction guarantee means exactly that. Back it up with how you talk and true concern and you will save and endear customers to you.
April 3rd, 2009, 03:03 AM #3
Business is so much about customer service - I've had 2 issues in as many days with local service providers (hair dressers, etc.) - The owner of one of these places went so far out of her way to make my bad experience good, she turned me around and now, yes, has me as a customer for life. I had decided to never go back because a stupid receptionist gave me a hard time - she was "just following policy." My circumstances were unusual and the owner recognized that and made it all up to me plus some.
The other place has no owner in sight ever and he will probably never know how he lost a very good customer who sent them at least 3 other customers because his receptionist is a moron. Too bad for him. The place is customer hostile anyway. Many issues there that make it apparent they don't care about the customer, just making as much profit as they can.
The merchant who recognizes that customer service is gold will be in business much longer than the one who ignores this.
And good for Disney for recognizing the value of a good customer.Peace,
Loving Everyone's Child Creates Magic
April 3rd, 2009, 04:13 AM #4
ABSOLUTELY AGREE !!!
The CS staff at Friendly Planet Travel go one step further though. They have been known to act as ombudsmen for travelers who have problems with other agencies (especially airlines and cruiselines whose customer service usually leaves much to be desired). Because of this exceptional "friendly" service, sales at FPT have grown every year since inception, with repeat clients and referals. After travel satisfaction surveys are purer than ivory soap (greater than 99.44%).
High CS levels are also what built such stalwart B&M stores as Nordstroms.
April 3rd, 2009, 09:49 AM #5
Michael Coley - you're absolutely right.
As a 2002 Walt Disney World College Program "Cast Member" - I went through the training and learned about how passionate Disney is about customer service and empowering each employee to make a "magical" guest experience. The reactions from guests when you take that extra step to set things right are wonderful to see - and do make a lasting impact. This model is a great example of how to retain long-term, loyal customers.
April 3rd, 2009, 10:03 AM #6
Less than three weeks ago I started a Twitter experiment with daily updates about the beach resort town where I have a niche site. Earlier this week I got a DM (direct message) from a follower asking questions about hotels in one particular area of town. Turned out to be seven questions (DMs) - which I answered as well as I could, hoping to help out.
The next day I got one more DM - telling me she had just booked a weekend through the site in my Twitter profile. I checked the (real time) stats with my merchant on that site and, sure enough, she did. I have always tried to respond to questions about our fav beach town. It does pay off. Customer service is absolutely important - in any business.
April 13th, 2009, 07:37 AM #7
I just ran across a book that looks like it expands on the benefits of superior customer service quite a bit. The title of the book is "The Cult of the Customer: Creating an Amazing Customer Experience That Turns Satisfied Customers Into Customer Evangelists". You can look inside the book on Amazon. I clicked the "Surprise Me" link and found a real nugget on page 154:
It talks about a guy who lost his wallet while traveling and how two different credit card companies responded. One sent a replacement card to the hotel he would be at in three days. American Express pointed him to the nearest office and said he could pick up a replacement card in two hours. The bottom line lesson is:There are two types of problems that we can solve for our customers: complaints and needs. Needs are the problems that aren't our fault but are opportunities for us to prove to customers why they should always do business with us.
Who doesn't need more customer evangelists?
April 13th, 2009, 09:09 AM #8
Michael, thanks for posting this. The original post, which I missed, points out the those with bad experiences who are then recovered are even MORE likely than those with no bad experience in the first place to come back.
That is a statistic that most people would never guess, but it proves that NO customer is beyond saving and that even the most ornery, ticked off customer has the potential to be a raving fan.
I would suggest the following books regarding service:
Raving Fans by Sheldon Bowles and Ken Blanchard - Get the AUDIO of this one. It is a classic!
Customer Mania - Ken Blanchard and some other guys. This one is a profile of Yum! Brands (Pepsi, KFC, Pizza Hut, etc) and their customer-focused companies.
The Five Languages of Apology - Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas. This may seem like a strange one, but there are some great applications to customer service. While the main focus is on interpersonal (husband-wife, parent-child, etc) relationships, their are plenty of examples from the business world. The basic message is that there are 5 languages of apology.
Expressing Regret - 'I am sorry'
Accepting Responsibility - 'I was wrong'
Making Restitution -'What can I do to make it right'
Genuinely Repenting - 'I'll try not to do it again'
Requesting Forgiveness - 'Will you please forgive me?'
Everyone typically has a primary apology language that you must speak in order to gain forgiveness and repair the damage. Most people have a secondary one as well.
Saying you are sorry to some people means nothing. They want you to request forgiveness and try to make it right.
Others want to hear a genuine apology and want you to accept responsibility.
It's worth a read / listen for all aspects of life.
April 16th, 2009, 03:54 PM #9
When I was 15 I got my first job working at Chick-fil-A. They have a very similar policy to the Disney one. I remember from the training video that we you dissatisfy a customer, you haven't just lost that customer, but at least 3 of his friends for at least the next year. My boss always tried to stress that our first goal was to meet expectations, and then we had to exceed them.
April 16th, 2009, 04:01 PM #10Originally Posted by brett-e2
You remind me of something my father used to pound into me. He was in the golf business. He always said...do something right and the customer will tell 1 person. Do something wrong, they will tell 16.
April 16th, 2009, 04:12 PM #11
Its really strange how the culture of that place just really brings out friendliness in everyone that worked there. I remember several people getting fired simply because they just didn't smile. I think that's the kind of support staff that companies need though, people who can smile.
July 23rd, 2009, 07:57 AM #12
i had a prof in my MBA classess who had worked for Disney before. She used to have smile on her face always nd she used to say that she was taught this in Disney because tats the one main thing tat customer wants from u the most.
July 24th, 2009, 05:42 AM #13
Great Post Michael!Cheers,
Mondera Affiliate Manager
Winner of the LinkShare 2004 Golden Link Awards "Affiliate's Choice Award"
Winner of the 2002 Abestweb.com "Best Affiliate Program Award"
July 31st, 2009, 08:28 AM #14
Hmm I went to Walt Disney World a couple of times now and I don't remember any employee that were happy, the ticket lady was grouchy, the maintainence people were all picking up things the only happy workers were the ones in the stores and the ones in costumes.I attract success and abundance into my life because that is who I am.
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