Tag Archive: customer service


At the company I work for, not unlike many other companies nowadays, they are really cracking down on people printing in color.

We’ve had several rounds of e-mails from executives (…or the executive’s secretaries, anyway), fancy graphs (in color) of how much more it is costing the company  every time we print in color, and some people have put fancy tag lines on their e-mail signatures, but people continue to print in color.

The solution is NOT that we need more e-mails and threats from the folks who make much more money than us, the solution is actually quite simple: Change the default setting!

That’s right, this printer is currently set to print in color by default. This means, any time anyone hits print, they print in color. To not print in color, they have to go into the settings and change them such that they will only print in black & white. While this simple task does not take much time (just a couple of mouse clicks), it does take effort, and people are, by nature, resistant to expending any additional effort beyond the base that is required to complete their intended task.

Now, what can this failure teach us about how to reach success? Make the “default” lead to your desired outcome! 

Another awesome example of this involves organ donations. In full text, it can be found here. Summarized, this study goes as follows:

When you renew your driver’s license, you have a chance to enroll in an organ donation program. In countries like Germany and the U.S., you have to check a box if you want to opt in. Roughly 14 percent of people do. But behavioral scientists have discovered that how you set the defaults is really important. So in other countries, like Poland or France, you have to check a box if you want to opt out. In these countries, more than 90 percent of people participate. This is a gigantic behavior difference cued by one tiny and costless change in procedure.

These examples should be more than enough evidence to demonstrate that you need to design your website, booth, product, marketing plan, etc such that, when a customer acts in the manner of least resistance, they are accomplishing your desired purpose. If you require any extra effort, you are losing sales and you are losing customers!

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Contact us…maybe…

When I was learning to play bass guitar in High School (not that long ago), I picked up this handy little doo-dad to help me strengthen my fingers so I could play faster like my idol, Victor Wooten.

Anyway, I just noticed the “contact information” on this little guy yesterday, and I have to admit that I was a little surprised and confused at the same time…

Has there ever been a time in history when fax was the only option?

Props!!!

Ok, I have to give credit where credit is due!!!

My wife and I love us some Horizon Organic Milk!

It’s expensive, but it lasts forever, and it tastes amazing (Thank you, UHT pasteurization!).

Well, I bought a 3-pack from Sam’s Club a few weeks ago, and upon removing the cartons from the box that contained them, the milk cartons tore open and milk was dripping everywhere!

I contacted the company via their website, and received a response within 2 business days.

Unfortunately, their response looked like this:

Thank you for submitting your comments to Horizon Organic?s Consumer Affairs Team.  We will respond to your e-mail within 3 business days.?

…but it was a response nonetheless.

The same day, they sent me a personal response and promptly mailed me a check for a little more than the purchase price of the milk.

…a little rough on the execution, but, overall, a great experience with Horizon Organic Milk!

Cookie Monster

So it is that time of year again…

My wife’s birthday is fast approaching at the end of the month, and I’m left to follow the trail of breadcrumbs that she has left behind her in order to figure out what she’d like for her birthday.

It’s times like these when I’d love to have some assistance, and this got me thinking:

I get weekly e-mails from Amazon.com telling me what they think I’d be interested in based on my recent searches and purchases. I can remember the days when we all used to be paranoid about this kind of thing and don our tin foil hats screaming that the internet has invaded our privacy and we’re all going to end up being slaves to robots by the year 2010, but I think, while that mentality is still out there, it has, for the most part, subsided.

That being said, I think Amazon should just bite the bullet and take it one step further. I know that Amazon knows that I’m married; and Amazon probably knows who my wife is. My account uses her debit card for purchases and, if they wanted to put in even less effort into their search, than they could just go to my Facebook page and see who it says I’m married to. On top of that, and by the same logic, Amazon knows my wife’s birthday.

Therefore, why doesn’t Amazon just send me a “Hey! Your wife’s birthday is coming up, and here’s what she might enjoy!” e-mail?

Two minutes too late…

My wife and I went to the store yesterday to return something that she had purchased two days before. When we went up to the counter, with the item in hand, we were told that there are no returns permitted.

I looked around and could see no signs stating “No Returns” anywhere in the store. In fact, there was no way to tell that there were no returns allowed until after you made a purchase; “No Returns” was printed on the receipt (Obviously, this exchange was not at the Grosse Ile Bridge; I just couldn’t find the actual receipt, so I had to resort to Google Images).

To my brick-and-mortar friends: Please don’t just put “No Returns” on your receipts and think this is sufficient! This is equivalent to putting “Poison: Do Not Drink!” on the inside at the bottom of a cup of poison: by the time you could read it, you would already be on your deathbed.

There are a couple of options here:

  1. You could actually take returns (put a time period around it, if necessary). If it’s in good condition, and you could sell it once, you can hopefully sell it again.
  2. You could issue store credit for returns. It’s not as nice as giving a return, but you still will get money out of the deal, and you most likely will be able to retain your customers.
  3. You could have appropriate signage denoting that returns are not allowed. This is obviously least desirable, but, again, it lessens the risk of you completely alienating your customers because you did make an effort to inform them.

The strategy of not notifying your customers of “no returns allowed” until after they’ve made a purchase may result in some short term gains, but it will inevitably result in larger long term losses.

Leave Something Behind!

A few days ago, I was getting ready in the bathroom when I noticed my wife’s St. Ives face scrub and had somewhat of an epiphany:

Now, there’s nothing fancy about this face scrub (what I mean to say is that this epiphany could and should apply to any other consumable consumer product).

The basic, underlying issue is this: You need to stay in the forefront of your customer’s mind, and, even better, you should strive to have your brand noticed by folks who are not yet customers and seek for ways to have conversations spurred concerning your product.

So, back to face scrub: Our face scrub is kept in the shower. Therefore, the only time that we notice or think about the face scrub is when we are in the shower, and the only time that anyone else would notice or think about the face scrub is if they were in our shower (…and, since moving into our new house last September, I don’t believe we’ve had anyone other than us use our shower).

So far, we’re not doing a good job of staying in the mind of the consumer or starting conversations…

Now, let’s say that St. Ives made a cheap magnet with a mirrored finish and a border that featured the tube of the St. Ives scrub that I have pictured with a cheesy tagline (something really corny like “You look great today!”), and let’s say that they included this free with the purchase of a tube of St. Ives.

In my opinion, a mirror is an awesome choice because it 100% relates to this product, and, of course, because people love to look at themselves. Also, while these folks are checking themselves out, their eyes are always just inches away from a picture of your product.

I’d imagine that this mirror would get stuck on the inside of lockers and on refrigerators in kitchens everywhere that St. Ives is purchased (I remember from high school that every single girl had a magnet-mirror in her locker). This also means that this mirror would get viewed, not only by the girl who owned the locker, for example, but also by her friends, and not just by the woman who owns the refrigerator, but by all of her house guests who happen to step into the kitchen.

Now, let’s say that someone gets two of these mirrors because they buy two bottles; while it is true that they may throw the extra away, I believe that it is more likely that they would pass this on to one of their friends (who wouldn’t want a magnet-mirror?).

And, just like that, your product, which is normally hidden behind a shower curtain or a medicine cabinet door, is put in the central location of a house or school.

It is so important, when you have a consumable product (especially one that is kept somewhat out of view), that you stay in the forefront of your customer’s mind and spur conversations relating to your product, and the best way to do this is to leave something behind!

I wanted to buy some rubber mats for my workout room, and I stumbled upon We Sell Mats.

…and I’m so glad that I did!

First of all, the mats were less expensive than almost any other mats that I could find, and, secondly, the mats are very high quality!

Now, I believe that those first two items should go without saying. What really set “We Sell Mats” apart from the competition was the fact that they went the extra mile with regard to customer service.

I bought the mats through Amazon, and I buy a lot of stuff through Amazon, so I’m pretty familiar with how the process goes:

  1. You buy it
  2. Amazon notifies you of your order confirmation
  3. Amazon notifies you of when your order ships (with a tracking number)
  4. You receive what you ordered .

It’s a pretty rock-solid system, and is common and expected nowadays. With this particular order, though, my process went a little differently:

  1. I bought it
  2. Amazon notified me of my order confirmation
  3. We Sell Mats sent me an e-mail with the following: “Thank you for your order and patience. When you placed your order Amazon had a ship date of 3/26/12. We are pleased to say the product arrived to our NC warehouse today and was shipped with Fedex today 8 days earlier than expected. You should have received an email thru Amazon with tracking information for your package.Please call or email if you need anything. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you.
    Sincerely,
    Missy Richardson
    WeSellMats”
  4. Amazon notified me of when the order shipped (with a tracking number)
  5. I received what I ordered

Now, this is a minor change to the usual process flow and it required no effort (or even attention) on my part, but my customer satisfaction went through the roof (to the point that I made this post about it)!

I wasn’t thinking about the delivery date being ‘too far out’, but We Sell Mats went the extra mile to write to me and let me know that they exceeded expectations that I didn’t even know that I had; they demonstrated to me that they cared more about my order than I did!

Big thumbs up to “We Sell Mats”. I highly recommend them if you ever need to purchase any mats for your workout room or for any other purpose!

So I went to Lowes last night (notice a re-occurring theme here? It’s both a blessing and a curse that I have a Lowes within 5 miles of my house!), to pick up some lumber to build my stand-up desk.

I could build the whole thing with 5 cuts out of a small piece of plywood, so I grabbed a 4′ x 4′ sheet and off I went. Unfortunately, I only made it to the parking lot because the sheet of plywood wouldn’t fit in my car (I’d fault Ford, but I suppose the Focus wasn’t designed with much lumber-hauling functionality in mind)!

I went back into the store to have them cut the board in half (which, as a bonus, would also save me one cut later), but the saw was broken. The associate brought me to where I found the plywood and showed me that I could pick up two 4′ x 2′ pieces (essentially my first piece cut in half), so I picked these up and headed over to the register.

Now, the two separate pieces were a few dollars more than the one solid piece, but I shouldn’t have to pay extra for the two pieces because the cause of the problem (aside from the board not fitting into my car) was that their saw was broken.

Nevertheless, I didn’t say a word as I was checking out, and as the cashier was processing the return she said “I didn’t charge you any extra, because our saw was broken”.

Here’s why I loved this so much: I used to work in retail and I couldn’t do anything without calling my manager to the register: no discounts, no sales, no nothing! This employee, however, was able to use her judgement and apply a discount at the register. It wasn’t a huge discount (I know that managers are still needed for those), but I love the fact that the company trusts her (and the rest of their employees) enough to allow them the freedom to give small discounts without having to create a whole ordeal and call the manager over.

Thumbs up, Lowes! You’re winning me back! Now just fix your sign!!!

(…and, for those of you who are interested, here is my cheap, yet effective stand-up desk. Day 3 and loving it!!!)

Standing Desk

If you have a brick-and-mortar business, you need to have WiFi. Period.

I don’t understand why some companies haven’t grasped this yet! If you have a restaurant, tire company, banquet hall, clothing store, antique store,  grocery store, etc, you need to have WiFi available.

You want customers to want to visit, and you want them to stay (the longer they stay, the more they spend)!

If Discount Tire had WiFi, and Belle Tire didn’t; I’d head over to Discount, so I can surf the web (and spare some of my limited data plan) while I was waiting to get my tires mounted and balanced. Also, I dread going to some clothing stores with my wife because I’ll sit outside the waiting room for (what seems like) forever, while she tries on clothes; if I had WiFi, I could surf the web, and I would put less pressure on her to make up her mind, so we could get some food!!!

Your company is probably using the internet for your own internal businesses purposes, so the cost would only be the router. Heck, if you get 1 more customer, or make one extra sale, that alone may make up your sunk cost!!!

So…What are you waiting for?

Ugh. I hate bad customer service.

Thursday, my wife and I went into a hardware store to make a rather large purchase comprising of a grill, a full-size stand up freezer, a lawnmower, and a few other items. We worked with one of the sales associates for 20-30 minutes, but we had to leave empty-handed because some of the exact items that we wanted were out of stock and we wanted to research some alternatives online before making a purchase.

The associate gave us his card and told us he could get us 10% off if we asked for him when we came back to the store to make our purchase – nice job.

Today was the day we went back.

We found the associate and told him what we had decided (going up to a higher quality grill – score!). The associate responded “Oh, I forgot which ones you were.”

Now, I understand that this associate works for a large retailer and that he probably sees literally hundreds of different people everyday, and I realize that he couldn’t possibly remember each and every person that he’s spoken with, but making the customer feel like he or she is the only person in the world is the mark of true, amazing customer service.

A better dialog would go as follows:

  • Me: “Hey, we decided to step it up to the better grill!”
  • Sales guy: “Great! Which grill, specifically? Didn’t you have some other items on your list as well?”
  • Me: “Why yes I did!”

Even if I didn’t have other items on my list, I would have said “No, that was it”, and I still would have felt like he remembered me (at least a little bit).

Instead, what I got was “I forgot”, and “which ones you were”; now I feel like a number not a person.

Even if you can’t remember someone, a good customer service/sales associate should learn some common responses to make his/her customers feel special. If I wanted something impersonal, I would have just bought everything online.